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Marks of a True Servant

July 20, 2011 1 comment

The Lord did not allowed me sleep last night, but put His words on my heart which I humbly pass on to you.  “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. ” (John 12:26).

As I examine my own experience and the lives of many Christians who come into my path, I see that most of us have not understood the teaching of Jesus in this verse.  Many have a desire to “serve” the Lord.  Many proclaim they are ‘serving the Lord’.  But a careful examination of our lives reveals that most have not understood the requirement of “serving the Lord”.  “If anyone serves me, he must follow me.”

We cannot serve the Lord unless with a single eye we follow Jesus.  This means that we cannot follow Jesus and a popular preacher, a particular teaching by men, or a preferred method of ministry that pleases man (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  Jesus alone must be followed if He is going to be served.  This verse clearly shows that to follow Jesus, we must be with Him where He is, not expect Him to be with us in what we want to do in ministry.  “Following Him” may require a change in my ministry focus.

A “true servant” has no agenda of his own.  A “true servant” only seeks to know what his Master’s will is and be in His presence, working side by side with his Master.  I am severely tested by this!  How much of our prayers focus on asking the Lord to join us in our agenda rather than longing and seeking with all our energy to be with the Lord where He is, doing what He is doing, working His work?  See John 5:19-20.  Let’s go over those words again.  “Where I am, there will my servant be also.”  In other words, there is a difference between ‘claiming to be a servant of the Lord’ and being with the Lord where He is which qualifies me for being a servant.  The proof that I am the Lord’s servant is not in numbers, the conferences I attend, the people I know, or the size of a church or ministry.  The proof that I am a servant is how close I am to the Lord!

My dear brother or sister, please examine your heart to see how closely you are following the Lord.  During times of testing we tend to follow at a distance as Peter did in Luke 22:54.  What a difference in Acts 2 when Peter was filled with the Spirit!  He spoke and worked where God was working through the Spirit and the result was fruitful increase in the Church.  The greatest increase and fruitfulness will come through intimacy with the Lord in everything I do.  See John 15:1-16.

Next time I will speak about the changes that take place the closer I am with the Lord.  Until then or until He comes, may our hearts be restless until we are so close that we hear the Master’s heart-beat.  In this we will find the applause of the Father, not men!

The Pain of Preparation and Waiting

Scripture: Genesis 37, 39 to 41

There are many interesting details in these chapters that surround the early years of Joseph, but most are only accessory to the development of character in this young man.  If any one of us were put in his sandals to face the hatred of brothers who want to kill you; to be sold as a slave and separated from your father who believes you are dead; to face the false accusations of a seductive woman, followed by a lengthy time in a prison, we probably would give up for loss of hope and total despair.

Perhaps as you read this, there is something you are facing that seems impossible and hopeless.  Let me point you to what is going on in Joseph while he endures what few, if any of us will ever face.

God is busy developing character in preparation for what Joseph could not see ahead.  How does God do this preparation?  There are two verses in chapter 39 that are the key.  In verse 2; “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…”  Success is not determined by circumstances.  Success is governed by whether we are actively in fellowship with the Lord and His presence in our lives.  This is more important than anything else (family, pleasure or material possessions).  There was a desire and willingness in Joseph for God to prepare him.

We see a similar approach by Jesus in Mark 1:17 where He specifically invites a few to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  It was a process of character building and empowering by the Holy Spirit.  The success will not be measured until heaven is filled (Luke 14:23).  The “making” is ongoing as long as God leaves us here.

In verse 21; “…the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”  I see two parallel things here.  In the close relationship Joseph had with the Lord, he was comforted and made steady in a very dark time of his life.  Joseph would not have known this love and it would not have impacted his life if he had not been close to the Lord.  The other part of this couplet is that God is working in the circumstances for future assignments that are not revealed.  These two things go hand-in-hand.  The first is intensely personal and largely unseen.  The second is the public arena which is seen by you and others.

APPLICATION: It does not matter how far along we are in our walk with God; He is always working on developing character.  This is best done in a close relationship.  When this is our focus, future events can be left in the Lord’s hands and they will prove to be all part of the divine plan.  Let me put this another way; little time with the Lord, little character development.  But the reverse is also true.  The process may be uncomfortable, painful and require death to self.  But the fruit will bring glory to our Father and the joy of fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Tempting Distractions

June 9, 2011 2 comments

Do you every have “tempting distractions”?  Let me explain what I mean.  A “distraction” is anything that will draw me away from what God wants me to do right now.  There many things that are not sinful in and of themselves, but they do not contribute to or lead me to fulfill God’s will for me at this moment.

I have been reading through the book of Nehemiah and in chapter six he models for us the way to remain focused on what God has called us to do.  Often “distractions” come from other people who have a different agenda for us than what God’s will is.  It’s not that people aren’t important, they are.  Some can be “enemies in disguise”. But we must be discerning (1 Thess. 5:21).  In the case of Sanballat and Tobiah, they heard about the progress of God’s work through Nehemiah and want him to leave (stop) this critical work to have a “meeting”.  Notice Nehemiah’s answer: “And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”” (Nehemiah 6:3).

There are other “distractions” besides people.  I find myself allowing small things to turn my attention off what the Lord wants me to do.  Time has many robbers!  Because of the days we live in, Paul says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17).  The will of God for us is more important than anything else in life!

So what is the “test” that will tell me whether something is a “distraction” or not?  I am learning to ask myself the question; ‘is this the will of God and will it please Him?’  Over and over, Paul was concerned about what would “please” the Lord, his Master.  (See 2 Cor. 5:9; Gal. 1:10; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; 4:1; 1 Tim. 2:3; 2 Tim. 2:4).

Because Nehemiah would not let anything “distract” him from the work God had called him to, he became a model and motivation for others, what was broken was restored to God’s plan, the word of God was given its proper place, and the worship of God was restored.

Where do we begin in restoring an undistracted heart?  “Mary…sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.” (Luke 10:39).  “Martha was distracted with much serving.” (v.40).  I am convinced that in the presence of Jesus we discover what is important to Him.   It will be very different from what man’s agenda is.  Let us seek to live “undistracted” for the will and pleasure of God!!

Where Do We Get our Words?

March 25, 2011 1 comment

I have been reading through 1 Kings and have come to chapters 21 and 22. The Holy Spirit has impressed on my heart as I have read through this OT book the critical need for integrity in every area of life and ministry. In chapter 13, the “man of God” was disciplined by death because he did “not keep the commandment of the Lord his God” (13:21).

In chapter 21 and 22 we have a different challenge; whether the “prophet” or “man of God” will speak what God has commanded him to speak, even if it results in death. I feel deeply the challenge, as did the prophet Micaiah, to say only “what the Lord says to me” (22:14). The danger is for us to give into the pressure of speaking what people want to hear because they have “turned away from listening to the truth and wandered of into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). As it was in the days of Israel, sadly there very few who really want to hear what God is saying as did king Jehoshaphat (22:5).

Our greatest model of faithful speaking is Jesus. He said in John 12:49; “…the Father who send Me has Himself given Me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.” In this verse lies another important principle; that the man of God is not sent by men to say what men want us to say, but sent by God to minister ONLY in the power and control of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 13:1-3).

Both Micaiah and Jesus were willing to die for speaking the word of the God. They both lived in intimacy with the Lord so they knew what He wanted them to say. Success is not measured by how many people agree what what we say or how long we live. God measures success by whether we hear His words and obey them. As I write this, I feel very challenged by my own words – may they be the words I have heard from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” (Philippians 1:27).

I will not refrain from speaking His truth or His name,
Neither for fortune or for fame.
I treasure my Lord’s call and His command,
More than man’s applause, glory and shame.

Sherman

What is like a RIVER?

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I am thinking about a question that David Zac Niringiye of Uganda, Africa asked as he reflected on the early Church in Acts; “…how did this small band of disciples make such a tremendous impact on their world?  What was their Secret? What can we learn from their strategy?

First and foremost, was it because the Holy Spirit was like a “river” flowing out of the heart of these men? (See John 7:37-39).  Was it because Peter, John Stephen, Philip, Paul and many others were driven, controlled and empowered by the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that was promised by Jesus? (Acts 1:8).

Keep Asking Questions – God Gives Answers

Sherman