Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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30 Sharing the Gift

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

As we come to the last devotional in our 30 days of serving we must remember that we are all going to be involved in serving someone or something. The question we need to ask is will we be free to serve or bound to serve? Jesus came to free us in every way including in the area of serving, we were saved to serve in freedom. The reality is that real service starts with a real relationship, it is out of a realization of what Jesus has done for me that I respond with loving service. The motivation for Christian service has to start with our salvation experience in Jesus Christ. The gift of salvation is to experience His grace and love through a personal ongoing relationship and it is out of this relationship with God that we are called to serve. Unfortunately many of us have a huge disconnect between a saving relationship and serving relationship. Verse 11 says we are to serve with all the strength and energy that God supplies, which we can only do if we are connected to Him. We serve not only because of a relationship with Jesus but through and out of a relationship with Jesus. When there is a disconnect in our relationship with Jesus, the source of our serving, then there is a disconnect in our serving. We may continue to serve on the outside but the heart motivation begins to die on the inside. Have you ever served out of “have to” instead of “get to”? Have you ever just gone through the motions of serving? Serving requires energy and serving apart from the Savior means doing it in your own strength which is always limited so it will run out and we will run on empty. Often we try to serve apart from our relationship with Jesus and sometimes we serve to try to impress Him or to seek His favor for our benefit instead of as a response to God’s love for the benefit of others. Sometimes it is easier to be saved by grace than to live by grace, but if you remove God’s grace service becomes just a duty that wears down instead of building up. Sometimes we buy into the lie that God will love us more if we serve more, so we become trapped in serving to get. We become slaves to performance based service, instead of serving in freedom which brings life we become trapped in the performance prison of service that kills. What motivates you to serve? What keeps you going in a life of service? Are you full or are you running on empty? Are you free to serve, is it bringing you life or is it killing you? So are you serving because serving means getting in the game? Getting in the game involves:

  1. Being on the team.

In all team sports our place on the team is determined by our ability and talent but when it comes to being on God’s team none of us make the cut. All of us have sinned and our sin has separated us from God.  We are not good enough and will never be good enough but Jesus was and through the death of Jesus and His blood He has made a way for us to be forgiven. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we can be on God’s team. Whose team are you on?

  1. Being on the field

What would happen if part of the team dressed out, putting on their gear and then went and sat in the stands to watch the game and cheer on their teammates? God reminds us here about a simple truth many of us have forgotten: Players belong on the field! We were not designed to be spectators, but participators! If you are on the team, then it’s time to get on the field and contribute, to share what God has given you. Verse 10 reminds us of the many and varying gifts, “his great variety of spiritual gifts” Your gift is both different than mine and needed, because a team needs more than a quarterback or a striker. We all have different gifts, a kicker can’t do what the linebacker can, and when we bring them together on the field we are a team. How will you use your gift from God to serve others? People need:

Friends, Encouragement, Hugs, Help, Love, Smiles, High Fives, Affirmation, Care, Food, Warmth, Relationships, Conversations, Money, Work, Family, Protection, God’s Word, Advice, Security, Leadership, Forgiveness, Jesus What will you do on the team? Is your gift in the stands or on the field?

  1. Being in the Zone

Being “in the zone” means being in a state of total concentration, it means not just being on the field but being focused on the game. There are many distractions on the field; there will always be the spectators and their loud opinions on how you are playing the game. There is always the other team that makes us feel like we are losing but let me just remind you we win, nothing trumps the cross. So how do you get in the zone? By focusing on who you are doing it for, it’s all for the Glory of God. He saved me so I could not only be on the winning team, but so that I could participate on the field using His gifts to serve others so that people would see God. The greatest question we can ask in serving is, “Am I serving people in a way that connects them to the Savior?”

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29 Freed to Serve

Romans 7:6

6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.

Do you feel free to serve or is there something holding you back? To be released means to be discharged, at liberty and unconstrained, truly free to serve God with everything we have. Paul says that we can try to live by rules or we can live by a relationship. But Serving God will never come from rules, only an intimate relationship. You will never be truly free to serve God if you are not in a relationship with Him. There comes a moment where we have to proclaim our death to the law, Galatians 2:19: “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.” Because we will never live for the Lord until we first declare our death to the demands of the law. The law itself is not bad. Galatians 3:24 tells us that the law is a tutor to lead us to the Lord. The law is good but it can’t make you good, it cannot save or sanctify us, it condemns but it doesn’t commend. So the law does not die but rather it is we who need to die to the law, we need to live as people who have been liberated from the law.

Our relationship with rules and expectations has to end so we can be released into a relationship with Christ. We are the church and in the New Testament, the church is described by three words that all start with the letter “B.” The church is called the body, with Christ as the head; a building with Christ being the chief cornerstone, and believers as living bricks; and we’re called the bride of Christ. All of these analogies point to a relationship but the last one makes it especially clear than it’s all about a relationship. In that sense, we’re “married to Jesus,” marriage is supposed to be about a personal relationship with another. The truth is, we are going to be in a marriage, it’s either going to be with rules or the ruler. It would do us well to ponder our betrothal as the bride of Christ; do you have a love relationship or a law relationship? We will always be tempted to go back to the law, and we will not only have to fight against a law relationship but we also have to fight against the performance mentality. We need to remember where that got us and determine to not live under legalistic rules and regulations. When we are in a relationship with Christ based on love we will not only find the freedom to serve God but also the power to serve through the Holy Spirit. We have been set free in order to serve, which leads to a couple of questions. Are you serving the Savior or are you just sitting back? Have you discovered the new way of the Spirit or are you still doing things the old way? Do you find serving exciting or is it excruciating because you’re trying to impress God and others? This October I have received several cards for “pastor appreciation month” thanking me for serving and the truth is that serving is really my privilege; it should be an exciting part of our Christian walk not an excruciating exercise in torture. Incidentally, why do pastors get a month of appreciation and Jesus gets only a day? Maybe it’s time for us to show Him our appreciation everyday as we serve Him with a smile.