A Realistic Appraisal of Serving Others

Ministry
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We Americans like things to be logical and fair. We not only like that, we operate our lives on that basis. Logic and fairness are major priorities in our society.

Meaning this: if I do what is right, good will come to me, and if I do what is wrong, bad things will happen to me. Right brings rewards . . . wrong brings consequences.

That’s a very logical and fair axiom of life, but there’s only one problem with it. It isn’t always true. Life doesn’t work out quite that neatly.

Ministry is part of life.

Get Involved

Faithful
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Eli participated in his sons’ godless behavior. We know this because Eli got fat on the food his boys had stolen from the altar (1 Samuel 3:19–21).

As for Samuel, the boy who heard God’s voice, the closing words of this episode tell us that the sleepy, spiritual indifference that had lulled Israel into complacency was about to come to a screeching halt.

A man of action was on the scene, and Israel’s spiritual drift was about to end. Even as a little boy, he not only heard the Lord, but he obeyed His voice.

The Rewards of Serving

Serving Others
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Serving God by serving others definitely has rewards, and they are numerous. They far outweigh the consequences. When we think about them, they motivate us to keep going.

One of the great doctrines of Christianity is our firm belief in a heavenly home. Ultimately, we shall spend eternity with God in the place He has prepared for us.

And part of that exciting anticipation is His promise to reward His servants for a job well done.

I don’t know many believers in Jesus Christ who never think of being with their Lord in heaven, receiving His smile of acceptance, and hearing His “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).

We even refer to one who died in this way: “He has gone home to his reward.”

God Takes Special Note of His Servants

God's Servants
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God is faithful to take special note of those who serve Him. Of all the promises He has made to His servants, one stands out among my favorites . . .

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. (Hebrews 6:10)

I like the way The Living Bible renders the promise:

God’s Promises Regarding His Faithfulness

Promises from the Bible
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Someone once counted all the promises in the Bible and came up with an amazing figure of almost 7500. Among that large number are some specific promises servants can claim today.

I have discovered that there are times the only hope to keep you going will be in something God has declared in His Word, promising that your work is not in vain.

Isaiah 41:10 has often encouraged me:

Three Truths from Jesus about Our Obedience

Obedience
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Reading the words of our Savior, we need to realize the tremendous emphasis He put on obedience. As I think about appropriating Christ’s model and commands for us in the ministry, three specifics are important enough to mention.

First, obedience means personal involvement. Jesus told His disciples, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

We cannot serve our congregations in absentia or at arm’s length. It means if someone is drowning in a troubled sea, we get wet . . . we get involved. It means if someone drifts away, we don’t ignore that person or simply pray, we reach out to help and restore.

Think about this. Honestly now, are you willing to get personally involved and help at least one person in need? Willingness must precede involvement.

Bringing It Home

Ministry
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What is it going to take to convince us that the last will be first and the first will be last? For some it will take a lifetime, for others only a few semesters in seminary.

Each May, at the end of the spring term at Dallas Seminary, we have the joy of listening to the school’s top preachers. They’re nominated and selected by pastoral-ministry professors.

One year a talented young man preached on that pivotal passage in John 13 where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet.

After a compelling exposition of that simple text, the young senior class preacher leaned low into the microphone, looked across the faces in Chafer Chapel, and asked his fellow students, “Do you want to have a great ministry . . . or do you just want to be great?”

Hidden Greed

Greed post
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The prophet Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was the bearer of news the Syrian officer, Naaman, did not want to hear. As a result, the soldier threw a fit. But do you know what later happened to Naaman?

He finally did precisely what he was told to do, and he received the miraculous result he had been promised (2 Kings 5:14).

Unlike many people whom you and I may help in the ministry, Naaman returned to thank Elisha and Gehazi. He was so overwhelmed, he offered a sizable gift of gratitude.

Elisha refused any tangible thank you (5:15–19). But that’s not the end of the account. Naaman offered Gehazi a gift as well. Deep within the heart of Elisha’s servant crouched a silent beast of the soul.

Make or Mar Your Ministry

Marriage
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I don’t think the Lord gives mates to us pastors to frustrate us. God gives a pastor a wife for life, knowing full well that it will take time to cultivate that relationship.

In fact, when we give our time to our spouse, we are demonstrating devotion to Christ. I don’t think we’re missing out on anything God has for us to do at the church.

Dealing with Rejection

Rejection
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If you enjoy watching and playing the game of football (I certainly do), you have observed a curious activity called a “spike.” It’s rather unusual. A team fights its way toward the goal line yard by yard.

Minutes seem like hours as the offensive team plods along and presses on. Suddenly, it happens.

A play works beautifully, and streaking to the long-awaited touchdown is a muscular running back or some fleet-footed wide receiver.

Six points! But as soon as he crosses the line, this athlete takes the ball and slams the little thing to the ground. With all his might! The guy doesn’t so much as say, “Thanks, ball.”