We read in Mark 10;45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Then tie that in with what He said to his disciples in John 13:14-17:
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.
Our Saviour came into this world on a serving mission and He sends us out into our lives on a serving mission. We live amongst a “let them serve me” culture in the West. It is our call though, to turn this culture upside down. We are to display and create a “serving” culture. Anything else is a misrepresentation of our Master and Lord. In John 13:1-17 our Lord displays His serving character in the most menial and abasing way, by washing His disciples feet. We show we follow such a Master by exhibiting similar behaviour.
So I challenge you and myself about our attitude in going to church tomorrow. Will we go to be served or to serve? Will we be thinking about what blessings I can get or what blessings I can give? The pattern established by our Master shows which way we should go.
So as we prepare for the Lord’s Day which is Resurrection Sunday, tomorrow, let us seek to be displayers of the living Lord Jesus in serving one another. Think and pray about who you could go and speak to. Consider what service you could render to someone which could bless them. I feel we lose out individually and collectively in our churches because we have the wrong attitude towards the church and its activities.
Let us remember we serve a Lord who came not to be served, but to serve. And that service was to the giving up of His own life-blood on the cross. What will i give up so as to bless someone tomorrow?
The Church of God needs every member, as part of the army of the Lord, active in service. The needs are great; the church is weak and the world is perishing. And yet it is a sadness and burden to me to be aware of many whose effectiveness in the serving of the Lord is far less than what it should be.
These are the categories of people as I see them:
- There are those who have just not woken up to the issues at hand. They are “asleep in Zion”. They have not grasped that their lives are to be a living sacrifice for the Lord.
- There are those existing in quietude in churches, which are insular and passing away their days aimlessly, on the way to glory. There is no stirring up in the preaching (and fellowship) and no calling on the people to rise up and make progress for the Lord.
- There are those who have fallen into sin and been disciplined and thereby are no longer constituted as part of the church.
- There are those who through the fatigues of church life have lost their edge. Rather than stepping forward and encouraging others forward they look at the scars and bruises from their past days of service and are left settling for a quiet life.
- There are those who are full of vigour and raring to go for the Lord, but circumstances have providentially worked so that they have ended in a backwater. As a result their zeal and gifting are not matched with opportunity.
- Those who have back-slidden, having lost their first love have no desire to engage with the Lord and His people.
- There are those who have sought to step forwards for the Lord. They have wanted to be active in the Lord’s service, but have been told a la Eli to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 to go back and rest.
- There are those in churches where just a few of the “in crowd” do the work and the rest exist as passive spectators.
- Others have seen the hypocrisy in the church and have deemed they no longer want to be a part of it. They do church at home.
And in all this I’m left longing for the troops of the Lord to be fully marshalled for the battles and tasks ahead. How can this happen?
- With a renewed vision of the gospel and it’s mighty power to save.
- With an awareness of how lost the lost are.
- With amazement at the wonderful love of God to us in Christ Jesus.
- With prayer to the Lord that they would be put in the place where they can serve the Lord passionately and fruitfully.
Oh Lord stir me more to be active for you and to stir many others raised up into valuable spiritual activity.
It seems to be an increasing phenomenon that churches have deacons who are ladies and “women workers”. I just want to consider this issue.
The initial thing to consider is whether or not there should be women deacons in a church. The key passage here is 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and in particular v11. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. The word women here can also be rendered “wives”; the context determines which it is to be. If it is taken as wives then it is very curious that no mention is made of the elders wives in vv 1-7 where the qualifications of elders are stated. Accordingly, it is best to take it as meaning “women”
So if there are women then are they to be recognised as deacons? It is clear from v12 that the deacon is a male, after all he has to be married to a woman. So the women described in v11 cannot be deacons.
However, their description is stated within the passage giving the qualifications for deacons and so it seems that their ministry is closely connected to that of deacons, but they are not deacons. The use of the term “in like manner” indicates that they are a different, but similar, category to the deacons.
So to refer to “the women” simply as that would not be untoward. But the terms “women deacons”, “women servants” or “women workers” all seem to be appropriate designations. The mentioning of Phoebe in Romans 16:1 as the “diakonos” of the church in Cenchreae would refer to a woman of this ilk.
So what would their ministry be? It would be the like that of the deacons, but probably with an emphasis on those ministries to other women which would be more appropriate for them to undertake.
I came across this scripture in my readings recently: Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Tim. 2:10). It brought back memories of how this verse sustained me in the continuance of ministry at Feltham some ten years ago.
The word “everything” is striking. Paul says that whatever he suffers, it will not hinder him from ministering so that others will be blessed with, and in, the salvation of Christ Jesus. He has of course, an eternal perspective in view. It is eternal glory which is the attenuating blessing of what is already the greatest of blessings; namely, salvation.
And so we must continue in the ministry wherein we are called by God. Of course if you believe you are not where God has called you to be then that is another issue. But keep going my dear brother in the Lord even if it is tough. And know that it is for the eternal blessing of others you are labouring.
Today I want to counterbalance the post from last Thursday (see here) which dealt with the issue of elders keeping their focus. I am addressing here the issue of the need for the elders at times to make sure that they do not avoid getting involved in a pressing task.
In Nehemiah 3 we see a wall being built. This wall was essential for the effective operating of the city of Jerusalem. Moreover, if the people of God were going to start effectively to function as the people of God again they needed this wall. So as we look at Nehemiah 3 we see that all were involved in contributing their part to make sure that the wall was built.
It is interesting that the first involvement was with Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate (Neh. 3:1). The leaders led the way to indicate that this was something all needed to be involved in. And interestingly there is a gentle hint of condemnation concerning the nobles of the Tekoites who would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors (Neh. 3:5b). They thought themselves of too high a station in the community to lower themselves to working for building foremen.
So what do we learn:
- There are times when there is necessary works to be done among the people of God for the benefit of God’s church. In such a situation all, including the leaders need to be involved.
- The leaders need to take the lead in being involved in these tasks.
- The leaders need humility to submit to others who are perhaps more familiar with building work. Pompous refusal to submit to others with appropriate gifts and expertise is not golly.
- We need to consider the comparison to last Thursday’s post. There are times to delegate and times to get involved. It takes wisdom to know which one to do and when.
- Even when there are necessary jobs to be done elders need to retain tehir focus on prayer and the Word. These are, after all, at the heart of our calling.
I went to an occasion a little while ago and it was spoiled by the Master of Ceremonies (MC). The main issue was that he had too much to say for himself. Rather than sweetly and efficiently linking to the next item, he always wanted to have too much of a say about this and that. After a while it became tedious.
Contrariwise I was in a worship setting at around the same time and that was, I suggest, lacking in linkage into the songs. There would have been more engagement with the worship through a sensitive introduction to the songs we were to sing.
This all reminds me of how important it is to lead services and to MC in a suitable way. Sensitivity to the occasion is so very important. You need to remember that you are a servant. You are there to help the people into blessing. The people have not come to hear you and your jokes and your self-indulgence. The people have come for something more important. And if that is a church service it is for the worship of God. You are there consecrating all your being for the service of God and the people.
So we must be prayerful and careful about how we engage with these matters. Carelessness in a coordinating role from the front is reprehensible.
I met a young man in Feltham town centre recently. I reported this to my wife and commented that “he’s still not broken.” There was the jauntiness of his step, that haughtiness in his look, that brazenness in his speech. All indicating that he was still not broken. He was still standing on his own and not on or with Christ. And his life is, thereby, still going the wrong way.
We are useless unless we are broken. When we are broken before God then we start to be useful Self-confidence and self-sufficiency are the death-knell of the soul. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Prov 11:2) says the wise man. The same man also observes that Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18). In his prayer to the Lord Nehemiah observes how they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands (Neh. 9:16). In such a state they were Israel was useless for God.
When we are humbled before God then we can anticipate that we can start to live. Usefulness starts when we are broken before God, finished with ourselves and presented to Him to be at His disposal. Useful men and women are broken men and women. If you look at three key figures in the New Testament you can see taht they all displayed brokenness.
- Peter: He saw the massive haul of fish through the Master’s work whereupon we read: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ (Luke 5:8). He was BROKEN
- Paul As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied (Acts 9:3-5). BROKEN
- John: When on Patmos upon seeing the glorious Lord Jesus we read: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead (Rev. 1:17a). BROKEN.
There is a common theme here. All saw the glory of Christ in His full magnificence and were humbled.
Perhaps my uselessness is because I am not continually being overwhelmed by the glory of Christ. More of such a revelation to my soul would mean more humbling, more brokenness. And when broken I am useful.