A Season for Humble Gratitude

Reading Bible
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Sometimes it can be a challenge to give God daily praise, even when we possess the knowledge of His love and faithfulness. If you find yourself in this situation, the Psalms are often a great source to get you back on track.

Psalm 116 is an extraordinary expression of love—addressed to God. “How do I love Thee, God?”

It reminds me of Browning’s poem: “Let me count the ways.” In counting the ways, the psalmist sets forth several magnificent truths about God’s goodness and deliverance.

Paul Was Normal, Like Us

Just like us
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Funny, we seldom think that a great apostle like Paul ever suffered from insomnia, but he did. He couldn’t sleep sometimes because of acute deprivations, like hunger, cold, and exposure . . . and sometimes because of his concern for the many ministries to which he had given himself.

“Daily pressure,” he calls it. Read his own words:

I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:27–28)

Now that’s being under pressure. Sounds like the pastorate, huh?

Our Common Struggles: Affliction, Confusion, Persecution

Common Struggles
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In last week’s post, we were introduced to four common struggles all servants of God face. Really, they’re consequences. In 2 Corinthians 4:8–9 we read them . . .

Afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.

The first word, translated “afflicted,” comes from a Greek term that suggests the idea of pressure. This is stress brought on by difficult circumstances or by antagonistic people.

Responding to Treatment That Is Wrong

Bible
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Greathearted, loving, caring, sacrificial servants of the living God have known ill treatment down through the centuries. The consequence of serving is no new phenomenon. It goes a long way back in time.

I’m not aware of a more moving section of Scripture than these verses out of Hebrews 11, which declare the reality of the consequences of serving:

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.