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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where Does Serving God Begin?

“I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:14-16 NIV

This week I am still in the garden reflecting on how I might best serve God and what he would have me do. I love my garden. I think that one of my favorite flowers is bright blue salvia that spikes in so many different places in the garden giving a delightful happy punch of color in so many ordinary places.

The spike of the blue salvia  reminds me of my service to God. Sometimes my service spikes in the most needed places that are void of joy and happiness. Other times it adds that needed punch of color to my daily work routine and never ending responsibilities. The garden of life has many opportunities for service and yet I continue to miss some of the most obvious points of service. I pass some opportunities off as routine, small, unimportant. I miss some opportunities for service because I am too busy to see the opportunity. When I consider using my gifts and talents I often think they must not count as service because I enjoy using them so much. I am reminded that David played the harp to the glory of God and he also played for his own personal enjoyment as well as for others.

I am saddened when I think of many believers who do not think that they have anything to offer God. They forget that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. They see others as talented and gifted but feel that they have no gifts or talents. Many people think that service belongs to the outgoing type “A” people of the world. Sometimes their negative attitude regarding themselves makes me wonder why God even bothered creating them in the first place.

Paul was an outgoing leader in the early church. Abraham was a more peaceful and laid back patriarch. It was not their temperament or accomplishments that were credited to them as righteousness. It was their faith. God made Abraham the Father of an entire nation. Moses could not speak well but still he pointed the Israelites to God. God wrote the commandments in stone and Moses simply carried them down the mountain. In the Bible, it appears there are many believers who were introverted type “B” people who simply majored in faith and obedience. Some might consider their service minor but God didn’t. Do you remember the widow who gave her “mite”, yet the Bible said she gave her all. What about Anna who worshiped and prayed night and day never leaving the temple? Never mind that during this same time, John the Baptist was screaming his lungs out in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord”. Now there is a type “A” person if ever there was one! Paul was traveling, encouraging believers and speaking out about divisions in the church and sinful behavior. God used Paul leadership abilities to establish the early church among the gentiles. But he used ordinary simple folk to show Paul hospitality and give him financial support.

So my question today that begs an answer is: Where does serving God begin? I must first serve God through my service to my family. I am to love, care for, spend time with, and enjoy my family. I must never underestimate the work of training, teaching, and influencing my family to find and follow Jesus. This is never a small calling. It may very well be the highest calling we will ever be given. What I teach my family about God is of eternal significance. I am to teach my family by word and example that God is to be first in all of our lives. This is Christian service 24/7! The small circle of family that God has given us is our responsibility. We will be held accountable for how well we do this job. Our success will not be based on their response to God, but rather on our obedience in leading and teaching our family God’s truth and modeling faithfulness.

Jesus set the perfect example of teaching, caring, loving, providing, encouraging, and praying for the twelve men that God had entrusted to his care. John 17:6-18 Jesus prayed for those that God had given him; we should never feel guilty that we spend too much time selfishly praying for the ones closest to us. It is a high calling from the Father and certainly kingdom service. In fact, I challenge you to raise the bar and pray for them more! Call God to the task and remind him that he loves them more than you do. Beg him to show up in their lives and never let them go. Pray that they will fall madly in love with Jesus Christ. Remind God that he has promised to bless your children and grandchildren for a thousand generations because you are faithful to him. Thank him everyday that God is actively at work in the life of your family. God’s power is released when we pray. The work of prayer is no small assignment! We are called to be mighty prayer warriors on their behalf of our family. Others may pray for our family but none will pray for them as we who love them pray.

We are to serve God with our gifts and talents. Believers and non-believers have many talents. But God has given every believer at least one spiritual gift. Our gifts and talents are to be used for God’s glory and to give us personal joy and refreshment as well. Even simple talents can be used for God’s glory. If you bake well, share some homemade goodies with a friend or neighbor. Include a note or a scripture. If God has gifted you with laughter then laugh with others. If you are a positive person then share that gift by sending notes and cards of encouragement. Some gifts and talents are more obvious and easier to recognize, especially when those gifts and talents belong to others. But even a word of thanks to a bathroom attendant who is keeping a public bathroom clean can make their day and make them curious as to why you even took time to notice. Flash them a Jesus smile and make them wonder why you are so happy. You are happy aren’t you?

Nature is the perfect place to serve God. Take time to enjoy nature. Nature is one of the most awesome blessings that God has given to humanity. Nature is a source of refreshment and joy as we experience God’s glory through his creation. Nature offers all kinds of opportunity to serve God. Through its beauty you can offer praise and worship to the creator for his amazing workmanship! A simple comment about God’s creation may open up an entire dialogue for sharing Jesus Christ with another person. This is the vehicle that can carry the work of being a witness to another person. Nature sometimes leaves paths of devastation. Showing up in a disaster area is another way to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Giving of your own resources to help others in need is also a work of obedience and faithfulness. You may not be the one who organizes the relief effort but you can pour a hot cup of coffee and pass out a sandwich or bottled water in the name of Jesus, the one who loves them.

There are so many places to serve. The question is not where I can serve but rather, “Lord where do you want me to serve?” Do not fall into the trap of comparing what you consider to be “big” service vs. your opinion of what you perceive as “little” service. It is God who knows his servant’s heart and sees the pure act of simple obedience. The smallest act of kindness can bring about life change in another’s heart. So if you are a closet servant, keep up the good work!

When Jesus walked this earth he touched the lives of the people in the market place and on the hillside. Yes, he taught in the temple and healed and forgave sin, but he also prayed for those he loved and he washed their feet. He even cooked breakfast for his disciples, (John 21:12) but ultimately, in the end Jesus Christ gave his all. The cross was a very big assignment straight from his Father. Jesus was an example of a selfless obedient servant. I am challenged to listen for his voice and simply be obedient to the smallest of assignments. We work for Jesus not because we have to but rather because we love him. Our service is not about us or our abilities. It is, about our love for God and our desire to please Jesus. God is amazing. Pure service is God energized. He takes the smallest act of obedience and blows it up into Gigantic God Glory!


1. Do you consider your service to your family a high calling from God?

2. How can you serve God with your gifts and talents?

3. How can you serve God through nature?

4. How is God asking you to be his hands and feet, his eyes, his ears, and his mouth?

5. Is God asking you to raise the bar in your life through the work of prayer?


Dear Jesus,

Thank you that you did not shirk your assignment from your Father. Thank you for your obedience that led to your death on the cross. Because I love you Lord, I must learn to listen for your voice and then obey. Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? Where would you ask me to stay? How would you have me serve you? From the smallest to the greatest assignments help me to be obedient. Lord, help me not to question the size of the task at hand by thinking it is too small or too large. Remind me Lord that out of so very many people, there are only a very few who are called to great visible assignments. I imagine that those busy people may not have the time or recourses to do what you asking of me. Remind me Lord that you made me just as you wanted me to be, you have known all my days even before one began, and that you have a purpose for my life. God, I am reminded that you accomplish all of your work through imperfect people. Forgive me when I question my abilities, my giftedness, my talents and my qualifications. Help me to keep my eyes on you and the work you have for me to do. Forgive me for the sin of comparing myself to others. Today Lord I want to practice listening for your assignments. Help me to experience the pure joy that comes from serving you – be it great or small.

In Your Name I Pray. Amen.