Posts Tagged ‘service’

Love in Action

November 28th, 2017

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV

I’m in Upper Manhattan today at our daughter’s and her husband’s apartment. The ladies have trusted me with watching my three year old granddaughter long enough for them to have breakfast together. For a three year old, love must be practical, so we have eaten strawberries together, watched approved cartoons, cuddled, and helped her build her train track, and find her favorite cars. She is a girly-girl but does have an older brother, so trains are what she knows.

They live not far from Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center – good news in case you have a medical emergency, but it also means that ambulances come throughout the night.

It made me think of the church and the disturbance of helping others. It really should be no disturbance to us if we are helping someone in need, but sometimes, like sirens in the middle of the night, we are so focused on ourselves that we complain about our inconvenience. I remember a “mature” Christian in our church several years ago who complained about the disruption of all the new Christians. He said, “They ask questions we already know the answers to. What we need is a class just for mature Christians so we are not slowed down by these new Christians.”

Think about that statement for a second. It makes us wonder just how “mature” this man really was, if he was too “mature” to help a new Christian grow in the Lord. The mark of Christian maturity is not just more knowledge on certain topics, but more love for others, more patience with others, and more compassion toward others.

The New Testament Christians were not obsessed with knowledge alone, but with a life of obedience that pleased God. The attitude of the heart was more important than the knowledge of the head alone. Love was not a philosophical pursuit but a compassion to help others. Of course, the greatest help we can ever be to someone is to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ and encourage them to trust in Christ. But it does not end there – friendship, encouragement, mutual celebration, and helps – all of these are also important.

So love in patience and compassion and in a practical way as well.

Daily Devotions , ,

The Surprise of Desire

October 20th, 2017

…the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:6-7 NIV)

Paul used a beautiful metaphor to describe his coming physical death – departure. This word was used for a ship weighing anchor and sailing off to new places. It depicts not the end of someone’s existence, nor of his desires and goals, but of merely landing intact on another shore to carry on there.

If you think that you will get to the end of your physical life and have no more desires for this world and for the future, you are wrong. Our desires should be purified, ceasing to be selfish or lustful, and dedicated to the right things – the glory of God – but they will still be desires, things we would like to see come to pass.

Some of these, for Christians, are in order that we might hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Some of these are to handle our responsibilities toward our loved ones responsibly so they will be left comfortable and secure. But there are many others that exist in their relative rawness, like they did in our youth, that are simply longings for the glory of God to be seen and experienced.

Just as soon as Paul said in the past tense, “I have finished my course,” he then wrote about his plans in the immediate future on earth. So, he was still running his race for Christ even as he said he had finished it.

There are two ways these things seem to play out. The inadequate way is the path of nostalgic memories of quaint and meaningful times in our history. Many people become overly sentimental about the past in their old age and even try to recreate it. Some memories are very dear to our hearts, but as many other things are distorted by time. Our memories remember not the true reality of the situation, but rather the flood of youthful hormones that were coursing through our bodies. We remember how we felt, and these memories might trigger a bit of excitement even as we have gotten older.

Nothing is wrong with this, of course. Thank God for our memories, and for the many good times in our lives. But it is wrong to seek to recreate them today in their entirety. Those days are gone and they will not return. Many people get bitter in old age that things are not as they used to be, or as they remember them to have been. They unrealistically want a return to the past. There are many old fashioned values that are good things that society should not throw away – respect for elders, respect for people, respect for authorities, and, especially, reverence toward God. But the forms and the means of expression of these things are always changing from generation to generation.

A pastor friend of mine shared a story with me about his church. He noticed that the young couples of his town were not attending church any where. He studied the subject and talked to them and realized that they needed a new type of worship experience if they were to reach these younger families. He presented this to his leadership in his church and they supported him in developing a new worship center and a newer style of worship. When he took it to his church body to vote on, however, though it passed overwhelmingly, a group of about twenty senior adults opposed it and tried to stop it.

Why? What would possess these good Christian people, who would very soon be standing before the judgment seat of Christ, to try to prevent the church from reaching the younger families? The answer they gave was that they thought these young families “ought to” worship like they always had, with hymnals and sitting in church pews. This is inadequate thinking that confuses goals with styles, greater purposes with the outward expression of those purposes. They simply did not want to change, or to be bothered by someone else’s effort.

By the way, the program went forward and was a great success – younger families started attending church again and raising their children in the Christian faith.

The better way of thinking about this matter of desire is to think as though you will live forever – which is what the Bible says. Remove time and certain styles from the equation and seek to see simply the glory of God. Christ prayed to the Father, saying:

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24 NIV)

I believe that is the purest expression in the Bible of what we will experience in heaven – the full display of the glory of Christ that is bound up in unconditional love.

Here is a desire worthy of a Christian’s heart all the days of his life – to know Christ better. To know Him fully and to know Him in His love. This is a desire that will never go away for a Christian. It is a spiritual meal that we never get tired of eating, for it matches our souls needs of being loved securely.

And there will be things that we will desire for Christ’s continued glory. In heaven we will not be sitting around being bored, but we will be put to work doing the most fulfilling and exciting things we can imagine for the glory of God. And this is the desire that continues to pulsate through our hearts today.

The Last Surprises of Life , ,