Monday, October 29, 2007

In the Service of the King

Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. Romans 15:17

As Christians, we are called to serve. We are God’s servants here on Earth, and we are to be in service to one another.

…through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." Gal. 5:13-14

God has enabled us to serve by giving each one of us special gifts. When you are serving God in the way He has gifted you, you will be able to say along with this hymn writer, “I am happy in the service of the King, I have peace and joy that nothing else can bring.”

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. I Peter 4:10

We have these gifts, and they must be employed in our service to one another. I don’t think you’ll have to look far to see where your gifts could be used in service to others. I’m sure many of us have opportunities to serve each and every day – and we are called to take advantage of these opportunities and show God’s love through our service.

Jesus Christ is our example of service. Two examples of His service to His disciples include washing their feet (John 13:5) and cooking them breakfast (John 21:2). He also exhorted them to follow His example and serve others.

You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. John 13:13-15

Of course, His greatest example of service is that He gave His life for us. He came to this Earth to serve.

Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matt. 20:26-28

Take some time today to consider how you can serve, how Christ would use you as a instrument of His love and grace in someone else’s life. I thank my father-in-law for his great example of service – he is quick to help a neighbor, colleague or someone who goes to his church. He doesn’t tire in service to others – through which he is serving God.

Happy Birthday, Dad S. You are loved.

Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm 100:2-3

In the Service of the King
Words by Alfred H. Ackley

I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
I have peace and joy that nothing else can bring,
In the service of the King.

In the service of the King
Every talent I will bring.
I have peace and joy and blessing
In the service of the King.

I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
Through the sunshine and the shadow I can sing,
In the service of the King.

I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
To His guiding hand forever I will cling,
In the service of the King.

I am happy in the service of the King.
I am happy, O so happy!
All that I possess to Him I gladly bring,
In the service of the King.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wait, My Soul, Upon the Lord

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5

There’s a great story in I Samuel 13 about waiting. And the story shows us there are dire consequences in NOT waiting on God and His timing for us - we are called to be patient.

In this story, Saul is King and has assembled a great army. His army has defeated one group of the Philistines and now they (Israel) are “odious” (offensive and detestable) to the Philistines (v4). So the Philistines gathered up their forces (30,000 of them, 100 times more than Saul’s complete army of 3,000!) and started to move to where Saul was. Saul had also summoned the 1,000 men in his army who weren’t with him, and they were on the way. In the meantime, the men who were with Saul saw that they were in a strait because of the approaching Philistines and started hiding in caves, thickets, cliffs and in pits (v6). How would you feel if you were Saul? Your men are all in hiding and an army 100 times the size of yours is approaching, and your reinforcements aren’t on the scene yet! Yikes!

Now Saul had a directive from Samuel, that he was to wait seven days and until Samuel got there so that Samuel could offer sacrifices to God and show Saul what to do. Here Samuel says to Saul,

"And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do." I Samuel 10:8

But, Saul got impatient. It was the 7th day and Samuel hadn’t yet arrived – where was he anyway? Saul’s people were scattered and he didn’t want to lose his opportunity so he said,

"Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering. (I Samuel 13:9)

Well, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as he had offered the sacrifice, Samuel shows up! And as you can imagine, Samuel was not happy.

Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, "What have you done?" (v10,11)

And here comes Saul with the excuses.

"Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.' So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering."

If I were Samuel, I would have said, “You FORCED yourself? Hmm, really?” But Samuel wasn’t sarcastic. Instead, he chastised Saul, saying

"You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." (v13-14)

Read that again and make sure you catch exactly what Samuel was saying. Saul did not keep God’s commandment and as a result, he forfeited the chance to have his kingdom established over Israel forever. He didn’t wait. He was impatient. Now his kingdom will not endure, Samuel says. (And as we know from another story when Saul was disobedient, His kingship was removed from him.)

Can you imagine how Saul must have felt? He lost his chance because he couldn’t wait a few more minutes for Samuel to get there. The Lord was going to establish Saul’s kingdom over Israel FOREVER. FOREVER. And he blew it – he didn’t see the big picture and he thought only of his current circumstances.

It’s really easy for us to look at this story and say “Oh Saul, how shortsighted of you.” But if we’re (and I’m included at the top of this list) totally honest, there are many times we do this same thing. We don’t wait on God, and instead we take matters into our own hands. Are there times you’ve been mere minutes away from being delivered by God when you decided to fix it yourself? We’ll never know what God had planned for us and our future if we act ourselves instead of waiting on Him.

I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3

Wait, My Soul, Upon the Lord
Words by William F. Lloyd

Wait, my soul, upon the Lord,
To His gracious promise flee,
Laying hold upon His Word,
“As Thy days thy strength shall be.”

If the sorrows of thy case
Seem peculiar still to thee,
God has promised needful grace:
“As Thy days thy strength shall be.”

Days of trial, days of grief,
In succession thou mayst see;
This is still thy sweet relief:
“As Thy days thy strength shall be.”

Rock of Ages, I'm secure,
With Thy promise, full and free,
Faithful, positive, and sure,
“As Thy days thy strength shall be.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Beauty of Peace

Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee... Isaiah 26:3

In her Scribblings, Blair reminds us that true peace comes only when we realize that I AM rules.

Cheryl encourages us to take time to rest in God's presence and focus on Him to regain your peace.

Peace is not always easy to come by. Barbara ponders why she is not always able to feel the blessing of peace in aboundance that Jesus promises us.

Peaceful slumber. It's something we all need.Dirtyhands4Him discusses, with Scripture, how we can enjoy peace at night.

Vicki provides some food for thought: In an age where we're surrounded by spiritual counterfeits, many are preaching a false gospel, leading to a false peace. Are we listening to a knock-off version or truly trusting in Christ?

Peace, perfect peace in this dark world of sin? Join Susanna as she reflects on the true peace we have through our Savior.

Donetta offers a poem on peace.

Great minds think alike! Susanna and I both were singing Peace, perfect peace this week. I expound on this beautiful hymn, expressing how we can have peace in all circumstances.

May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. I Peter 1:2

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Peace, Perfect Peace

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

Peace is not an easy thing to come by in our world. We are surrounded by strife – in our neighborhoods, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our world at large. Conflict, sin and turmoil are around every corner. We long for the day when there will be complete peace on Earth. Until then, Jesus has called us to live a life of peace.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18

The beauty of peace is that it can be ours in every circumstance, and this hymn speaks eloquently about that peace that passes all understanding. In this dark world of sin, the blood of Jesus whispers peace within. Because of Jesus’ work on our behalf, we have peace with God!

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Peace amidst all our duties, and the stress of daily living? We find peace when we do the will of God, living in peace with one another.

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. II Cor. 13:11

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
II Tim. 2:22

Peace with sorrows surging around? Jesus guarantees our sorrows and suffering, our tribulations. But we can be courageous in them - He offers us peace through Himself - He has overcome the world.

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Peace amid suffering’s sharpest throes? Jesus offers us sympathy. He can sympathize with our weakness because He has felt everything we have.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Heb. 4:15

I am especially thankful for this next verse – peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away. Jesus offers us peace in ALL our circumstances – geographical and otherwise.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance The Lord be with you all! II Thess. 3:16

We can be assured that in Jesus’ keeping our loved ones safe in His everlasting arms, even if we aren’t geographically close at hand.

Peace when we don’t know the future? How can that be possible? This is the peace that for me, personally, is hard to achieve. I need to lay my burdens about the future at the foot of the cross. Intellectually I know that He is on the throne, and I have no need to fret about the future. But my heart is deceitful, and my mind is prone to wander. Jesus tells us how to have peace about the future:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt. 6:33

And in the next verse, he reminds us that it isn’t prudent or necessary to fret about the future:

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt. 6:34

Finally, Paul encourages us with what awaits us in our eternal future if we stay the course – a crown of righteousness!

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
II Tim. 4:8

Peace amidst death – either our own or that of someone we love. How do we find peace in that situation? Because we know that Jesus has vanquished death! Death no longer rules, but Jesus does!

…our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel… II Tim. 1:10

At the end of this hymn we receive great encouragement – it is enough! Earth’s struggles soon shall cease, and Jesus will call us to perfect peace in heaven, our blessed homeland.

Until that day, I leave with you this benediction from the writer to the Hebrews, praying that the God of peace will equip you to live a life of peace amidst every circumstance you face today, tomorrow, and until He calls us home.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

Peace, Perfect Peace
Words by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Carnival of Beauty

I'm hosting the Carnival of Beauty this week - the theme is the Beauty of Peace. Please submit your entry to by Thursday midnight your time, and the carnival will be posted on Friday morning. For more of the fine print, see Amanda.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blessed Homeland

As I heard of some devastating events in my city today, I couldn’t help but think, “This world has nothing for me.” There is enough in daily life that makes me yearn for my heavenly home, but in times like these, the heavy surges rolling, I find myself longing for heaven even more than usual. I groan in this body, longing for my true home.

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. II Cor. 5:1-3

Heaven: we will finally be free of evil, free of sin, and be complete in our new bodies, sharing eternity with our Savior. I have to remind myself that I am only passing through this barren land: I am truly an alien. I must stay focused on the life and citizenship that awaits me in my true home.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Phil 3:20-21

Can you imagine singing loud songs of triumph to our Savior, whom we’ll meet in heaven? He has reserved our “spot” in heaven for us – through His mercy we are born again and obtain the inheritance as His children. I love that it is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I Peter 1:3-5

We all have many throbbing cares in this fallen world. Things just aren’t how God originally intended: there is sin and evil all around us. But as this hymn says, when we’re in our blessed homeland, our longings and our yearnings will be hushed by peace. That’s something to look forward to. And while we’re still here groaning on earth, we can be encouraged that Jesus has made the way for us – He has passed through the heavens as our great high priest, and He can sympathize with us because He’s experienced the same feelings as us.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:14-15

When the heavy surges roll around you, call on your Great High Priest who has prepared a place for you, and has guaranteed your inheritance through his grace and mercy. And, keep your eyes heavenward, looking forward to that glorious day when the Lord will return and we’ll all be home. Really home.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. I Thess. 4:16-17

Blessed Homeland
Words by Fannie Crosby

Gliding o’er life’s fitful waters,
Heavy surges sometimes roll;
And we sigh for yonder haven,
For the homeland of the soul.

Blessed homeland, ever fair!
Sin can never enter there;
But the soul, to life awaking,
Everlasting bloom shall wear.

Oft we catch a faint reflection,
Of its bright and vernal hills;
And, though distant, how we hail it!
How each heart with rapture thrills!

To our Father, and our Savior,
To the Spirit, Three in One,
We shall sing glad songs of triumph
When our harvest work is done.

’Tis the weary pilgrim’s homeland,
Where each throbbing care shall cease,
And our longings and our yearnings,
Like a wave, be hushed to peace.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Love of God

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

There are many, many hymns that I could say are my favorites. In fact, I’ve had to quit saying that because I say it so much: but if I was stranded on a deserted island, and could only have 3 or 7 or 18 hymns, I would definitely have to include this one.

The word pictures in this hymn really bring the truth of God’s love alive for me. God’s love is greater, bigger, longer, higher, deeper than any tongue or pen could never tell. EVER. If everyone on earth was trained as a writer and used every branch, blade of grass and stem as a quill, dipping it in the ocean filled with ink, and writing on the paper sky, it would drain that ocean dry to write about God’s love. Think about this: every one on earth is writing, dipping their quills in an ocean full of ink. The ocean goes dry because there is so much of God’s love to write about. And the paper sky fills up, it can’t contain all the writing about God’s love. There’s just too much. Isn’t that an amazing picture?

As Christians, we believe that God’s love was demonstrated to us in the sending of His son to die for our sins. He reconciled us to Himself, and pardoned us from our sin. God’s love redeemed Adam’s race.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:4-5

But God’s love is so much more than sending Jesus. Certainly, His plan to redeem His creation was in place from the time Adam and Eve sinned (Gen. 3:15), but God shows His love to His people in all things. In the Old Testament, God led His people out of Egypt and protected them until they reached the land He had provided. His incredible love for them meant that they had rules to follow and commandments to keep. He put those in place for their protection. He disciplined them out of love. He had a purpose in mind for them: that they would get to the land He had ordained for them. And, eventually, they did.

I think it’s examples like those that inspired the 3rd verse of this hymn. That verse is from a Jewish poem, Haddamut, written in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai. This is the part I find extremely amazing: the man who wrote the 3rd verse doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He doesn’t believe that God sent Jesus to die in our place and redeem us, reconciling us to God and promising us an eternal future. And yet, look what he says about God’s love: it would drain the ocean dry if all the scribes were to write about it. The scroll couldn’t contain the whole of God’s love, if it was stretched from sky to sky. God’s love is THAT big, even to someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus.

God’s love will endure, when time has passed away, when earthly kingdoms fall, when men call on mountains instead of Him. It is sure, it is strong, it is more beautiful and greater than tongue or pen can ever tell.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. II Cor. 13:14

The Love of God

Words by Frederick Lehman

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.