This morning, I joined a discipleship class where we studied God’s Word—specifically the Great Commission. Though I have read it many times before, I learned so many new things (thanks to the Holy Spirit and the skilled teaching of our pastor, Scott Golike). The same was true as I listened to his Scripture-rich sermon today on Revelation 2:12-1. http://www.gracepugetsound.com/sermons (It is definitely worth a listen and re-listen) As I listened to these teachings today and pondered what Scripture revealed about God, His character, and what He has done for us, I tasted God’s glory! My heart was filled with overwhelming and indescribable joy. As we worshiped together by singing in church, I sang as an expression of my delight in God, and yet the more I sang, the more delight was produced in my heart. The more I tasted of God’s glory, the more empowered and energized I felt to do His work. It never gets old.
Is it just me, or isn’t this amazing? I have been a Christian for 20 years. That is not a long time to some people, but that is 2/3 of my life! No matter how much I read it, God’s Word never gets old. There is always something new and exciting to see. No matter how much God transforms me, there is always more to change in me. No matter how many songs I sing to Him, there are more reasons to sing and there is more joy in the singing. No matter how much I begin to comprehend, there is always so much I don’t know. I never come to a place where I have “arrived”. I never stop needing the Bible, prayer, faithful preaching, corporate worship, sincere and loving fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, the reminders that come to my heart as I partake in communion (of my depravity, Jesus’ goodness, my need for Jesus, my gratefulness for Jesus), etc. Most Christians would say we believe that we never grow beyond needing to be fed by Jesus, yet how does this get reflected in our lives?
No matter what ministry and service I may be called to do, I pray that I would never forget that I am needy. I need to go to the Lord to receive my manna for the day. I cannot rely on yesterday’s portion. I cannot neglect to take my portion from Him, not even in the interest of helping others to get fed. Don’t get me wrong--He certainly calls me to diligently and lovingly serve others. But He wants my heart first, and He wants my acts of service to flow from a sincere heart of worship (love for, adoration of, praise of, trust in, joy in, commitment to Him). A sincere heart of worship comes from being fed by God. It does not honor God when I neglect my need for Him in the interest of serving others. I am not indispensable to His mission. God does not need me to reach others—God does not need! Rather, God graciously gives me the privilege and joy of participating with Him in ministry. I miss the point if I neglect or minimize my need of Him. Moreover, I am ultimately ineffective and even harmful in serving others without first seeking to be filled with Him continually. (Maybe it is a little like how they always tell you in airplanes to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others--even your kids!)
I love this insight from page 9-10 of the book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joanne Weaver (Westbrook Press, 2000):
The Living Room Intimacy Mary enjoyed with Jesus will never come out of the busyness of Martha’s Kitchen. Busyness, by itself, breeds distraction. Luke 10:38 shows us a woman with the gift of hospitality. Martha opened her home to Jesus, but that does not automatically mean she opened her heart. In her eagerness to serve Jesus, she almost missed the opportunity to know Jesus.
Luke tells us that “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Key word: had. In Martha’s mind, nothing less than the very best would do. She had to go all out for Jesus.
We can get caught in the same performance trap, feeling as though we must prove our love for God by doing great things for him. So we rush past the intimacy of the Living Room to get busy for him in the Kitchen—implementing great ministries and wonderful projects, all in an effort to spread the good news. We do all our works in his name. We call him, “Lord, Lord.” But in the end, will he know us? Will we know him?
The kingdom of God, you see, is a paradox. While the world applauds achievement, God desires companionship. The world clamors, “Do more! Be all that you can be!” But our Father whispers, “Be still and know that I am God.” He isn’t looking as much for workers as he is looking for sons and daughters—a people to pour his life into.
Because we are his children, Kitchen Service will be the natural result of Living Room Intimacy with God. Like Jesus, we must be about our Father’s business. The closer we draw to the heart of the Father, the more we see his heart for the world. And so we serve, we minister, and we love, knowing that when we do it to “the least of these,” we have done it unto Christ.
Let us feast on the Bread of Life!
John 6:25-59 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
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