Remaining a Faithful Servant

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Remaining a Faithful Servant

“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him 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.” Matthew 20:27-28

The topic of Post-modern Christianity has gained a lot of focus among pastors, theologians, and older Christians. Many new issues have arisen in today’s churches, emotional insecurities, depression, anxiety, the failure to study the Bible, embracing prosperity messages, and not giving tithe and offerings. Yet, the problems among today’s believers are much deeper than the obvious.

Imagine speaking with a couple of new believers who tell you that they feel alone and confused since becoming Christians. You listen attentively, repeat a couple of encouraging scriptures [God’s promises] and they give you a blank stare. “Do you study the Bible?” They hesitate and answer, “Not really.”

I watched a testimonial of a woman, in her mid-forties who heard about Christ on social media. She decided to give her heart to Jesus, purchased a Bible, and began looking for a church home. As she began researching the various denominations, she narrowed her focus to three. The church she chose was not Bible-based, but it fit her lifestyle.

Trending among Christians is a sense of entitlement. We desire convenience and fast service which has led to the post-modern term–the microwave society. Family dinners are eaten at restaurants or ordered online for delivery. The preference to stay home and watch virtual services has caused a downward spiral in family bonding and in-person church attendance. After all, it fits into our schedule.

Pastors have shortened their regular church services to one hour to resolve the complaint of “The church service is just too long.” Sacrificial giving of our time and effort is an inconvenience, even for God.

Another individual shared proof of satisfying one’s desires over serving God. “In the past ten years, all of my friends have gone astray. They no longer serve God. They chased success, and relationships, or chose other worldly options that provided happiness.”

Current studies by Reach Right Focus reveal that in-person attendance is only 36-60% of what it was pre-COVID. Church attendance has decreased because individuals have lost their interest in serving God.

Spiritual Warfare: The strategist’s solution is to use engagement techniques to bring new members into the churches. Too much emphasis is placed on making one feel good. One strategy is not to overwhelm the members with too many Scriptures. Believe it or not, church leaders have responded by changing their regular service to one or two hours of singing, which is designed to produce happiness.

Sadly, these are the members who become despondent when faced with trials. Without spiritual food from the Word of God and fervent prayer, we cannot have a steadfast relationship with Jesus Christ. Knowledge of God’s promises along with receiving the power of the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to overcome our hardships.

When we love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, no one has to convince us to serve Him. True worship is an outward reflection of a steadfast relationship with Jesus Christ. Serving God is probably the most challenging thing a Christian will ever do. Discipleship is a life of humility, surrender, and obedience. Through prayer and studying the Bible, we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts from satisfying our desires to becoming humble servants.

Jesus’ disciples also had many issues, including hearts overcome by pride. Their antagonism toward one another was fueled by the desire to be the greatest. At the Last Supper, it was Jesus [the Son of God] who washed His disciple’s feet. Humility is not a character trait we are born with. Our carnal nature opposes the meek and lowly traits of servitude. Yet, becoming a servant is discipleship.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:14-17).

Prayer: God, we pray for the many individuals who have given up and lost their way that they will return to their first love, Jesus Christ. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ worthy name, Amen.

What is the Most Important Thing in Your Life?

Sabbath Devotional–The Struggle of Sanctification–What is the Most Important Thing in Your Life?

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

A relationship with Christ is the most crucial aspect of a believer’s life. Our covenant vow to become a follower [disciple] of Jesus is demonstrated through the daily surrendering of our desires. Jesus gave us a complete explanation of the requirement to follow Him: “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” (Matthew 22:37).

Loving God requires humility and obedience. “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23).

We give up independent thought processes and desires by praying daily, “God, not my will, but Your will be done in my life. Holy Spirit, today, I ask for guidance, wisdom, and discernment to recognize distractions from warfare. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Give us this day, our daily bread. Wisdom and discernment are spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit which require us to ask for them daily. We build a relationship with Christ through diligent prayer and by studying the Scriptures. Worship provides us with the spiritual nourishment and strength we need to stay connected to God. And our hearts are prepared to hear the Voice of God through the Holy Spirit.

“Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (Romans 12:3, last part)

All have received the gift of faith. We can compare it to a seed. Faith is a gift that needs to be cultivated and nurtured to produce growth. Our faith grows from completely trusting in God’s promises despite the giants that we face. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him, the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

We fight the battle of trusting our judgment versus having faith in the invisible God. Feeling that we have to act instead of praying and trusting in God places us in the predicament of our will versus God’s will. Many have given up because it’s too hard to wait, trust, and obey. Yet, without faith, we can never have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Faith gives us hope and proclaims that we believe that God knows best, that He never fails, and will provide the perfect solution. Even if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we open our hearts to receive Divine Intervention. Yet, faith has no gray area or middle ground. Either we are all in or completely out.

All relationships require trust including Jesus plus us. Whether it is a miracle, the solution to a hardship, or pursuing a dream, our faith enables us to wait on God. The struggle happens when we allow our fears to override God’s plans. Even if we do not know God’s will for our lives, we pray, ask, and wait. “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

Waiting produces thriving faith, yet, it also requires courage. The waiting period proves if we are really connected to Jesus. Many become discouraged during the silent phase of waiting. Satan uses this time to place doubt in our minds. Has God forgotten my prayer? Where is the miracle? If God doesn’t do something quickly, then…, or we begin to compare ourselves to our peers–everyone else has achieved their dreams, why am I the only one who has nothing?

We usually think of someone performing a life-saving action as courageous. Faith requires all the mental, emotional, and spiritual strength we possess to have 100% trust in God. Our relationship with Jesus is based on our faith that is fueled by courage. Come to Jesus just as you are–He is aware of the little we offer. But little becomes much in the Master’s hands.

Jesus patiently teaches us how to exercise the courage that produces unrealistic faith in Him. Our love relationship with Jesus is based on the human effort of faith. When our faith begins to waver, we need to immediately pray and reinforce our faith with the promises of God. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

Being determined in our efforts, and keeping our relationship with Jesus is always our priority. With Divine authority, every day, Jesus takes our frail weaknesses uniting them with His strength and we receive the spiritual empowerment to persevere and run the race in this earthly journey of life.

Prayer: God, we pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need Your direction and the strength to keep striving despite our obstacles. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Desires of Jesus’ Heart

Sharing this wonderful Devotional, from His Healing Love by D. Winn

THE LONGINGS OF JESUS’ HEART

“I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3, N.I.V.

Our understanding of heaven takes its first shapes from the stories and pictures of childhood. I can recall the time when heaven seemed attractive to me for three reasons. I would be able to fly without effort, I would be able to play with a lion without fear, and I wouldn’t have to pull weeds.

As I grew older and faced a few more of the realities of this sin-damaged world, I began to be drawn toward heaven because of its promised relief from pain and death. I have found that heaven can be craved as an end of poverty, war, prejudice, and even taxes! Unfortunately, our desires for heaven often fixate at these rather materialistic levels, and we fail to let God stir in us greater longings. We seldom even know what those desires should be.

So let us listen with our hearts to Jesus’ own longings about heaven. What about heaven stirred Him to look forward to it with such eagerness? In His well-known farewell conversation with His disciples Jesus told them that He was returning to heaven to make preparation for His friends. But then He made a very personal promise. He said that He Himself would return for us, to “take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

In Jesus’ mind the most satisfying joys of heaven are not centered in its lovely architecture, its economy, or even its ecology. For Jesus, heaven is a great place to be with His friends–with us! Jesus knows that the greatest need of our hearts is not for a tame lion, quick transportation, or even a weed-free garden. Our greatest need is for a loving, trusting relationship with a close friend. We are, after all, made in His image. Those needs are a reflection of His own heart.

Of course, heaven will be a marvelous exquisite place, with nothing to mar its perfect joys and beauties. But that’s just the way He does things for His friends. He did not intend that the tearless bliss of heaven should be a sop for our selfishness. Rather He intended that nothing should be in heaven that would detract from the enjoyment of its truest essence: loving, growing friendships.

Wouldn’t you love to spend eternity with such a Savior?

Prayer: God, help us to take the focus off of ourselves and think of Jesus who gave Himself for sinful humanity. Thank you, Jesus for your great sacrifice. We love you and ask this prayer in your Worthy Name. Amen.