Service

Serving The Lord Can Be Depressing If You Forget This

 

If you think you have ever faced a difficult task, listen to what Jesus told His disciples to do: “. . .you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, ESV)

Wait—to where?

How were 11 men and the other few faithful followers of Jesus at that time ever going to be able to accomplish that mission? They didn’t even know yet how large the earth was, let alone how to get to all of it!

If you think your work for the Lord is overwhelming or impossible, then you’ve forgotten that God’s mission is fueled by God’s Spirit. It is easy to begin working out of human strength to do divine work because we are naturally proud. We have the intellect or skills to get the job done. Or so we think.

If you keep reading in Acts, you will see how Acts 1:8 unfolded.

Jerusalem. The believers were in Jerusalem when Acts 1:8 was spoken, and once the Holy Spirit was poured out on them at Pentecost (recorded in Acts 2), they began proclaiming the good news about Jesus. Their ministry focused in Jerusalem until Acts 8, after Stephen’s martyrdom: “And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1)

Judea and Samaria. So, ministry began in these regions when believers were dispersed from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ” (Acts 8:4–5, ESV).

It wasn’t like the disciples sat down one day and drew out a map of how they could get to the end of the earth—they didn’t even know where those places were! The Holy Spirit will orchestrate God’s plan better than you ever could.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I was really disappointed after my first Easter weekend at my current church. So much planning went into the events of that weekend several months before. The events were organized well, the promotion was catching, and the services were very thoughtful and designed for impact. Lots of time and work went into it and when it finally came around, less people attended that Easter service than what the attendance had been for the couple weeks before.

I spent days wondering why more people didn’t show up and why there weren’t salvation decisions and people coming forward for prayer. I realized with some help from godly men that I am not in control of the Lord’s work. I’m just the vessel he occasionally chooses to use, and the Holy Spirit empowers the work just like He did with the disciples.

It was the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit that moved God’s people out beyond Jerusalem, and it is the Holy Spirit who continues to empower the work of His servants in taking the gospel to the end of the earth.

It’s true—serving the Lord can be depressing if you forget that God’s mission is fueled by God’s Spirit.

Be That Somebody Else

Note: This article was written by Kelly Marsh, communications director at Central Baptist Church, Marion, OH, and used with her permission.

 

Somebody should, Someone needs to……

It’s a phrase I hear often today and it’s a phrase that tends to bug me when I hear it. It’s an attitude that so many take and it’s a frame of mind that is growing, and I don’t think it’s a good thing. As a mother of teenagers I would often get frustrated when I would find empty plates or cups lying around, clothes dropped in the middle of the living room carpet. I would gripe at the kids, “Who do you think is going to pick this up? “Do you think if you just leave it there and walk away, somebody will take care of it?”

It frustrated me to no end that they were so self absorbed, and disrespectful to not pick up after themselves and just assume they could leave things for someone else to take care of.

Last weekend my husband and I took the afternoon to ride the full Tallgrass bike trail. On our way down the trail we passed a much older gentleman on a trike bike, riding along and balancing a leaf blower at the same time. He was peddling down the trail blowing off the leaves. I was blown away (no pun intended) at his thoughtfulness of doing this.

It was amazing how much nicer the ride was with the path blown off for us and so many others. It was not for just a small section, but his path went on for miles. I thought of him my whole ride just how neat it was for him to do this.

Yesterday we again went to the trail to get a ride in, and not to my surprise we passed him on his quest to clear the trail. I tried to say hello and thank him as we rode by, but I felt a bit guilty because he did not hear us coming over the blower and jumped a bit when I said “thank you” as we rode by :).

Since yesterday I have not stopped thinking of him and his willingness and kindness to serve others in this way.

Two things strike me I feel compelled to write about.

First….at a stage in his life when some things are more challenging and frustrating, he is still finding a way to contribute and help others. How much easier and natural would it be for him to sit at home, feel sorry for himself, throw his towel in and say “someone else can take care of that.”  

He has seen a need and he finds a way to step up and serve his community. He may not be able to do all things he wants and would like to do, but this is something he can do, and he does it. He could resolve to thinking a task like this should be done by someone else, someone younger, someone more agile, yet he finds a way to still contribute and fill a role that is important and needed.

Maybe there are parts of things that each of us can’t do, that’s ok…find what you can do and be selfless enough to do it. Thank you sir for stepping up and doing a job that means so much to many. You are a fine example to so many and a reminder to me of the blessing you can be when you put yourself aside and serve others. You ARE a blessing to me and I appreciate you and your selfless heart.

Second…no matter what age and stage you are in life, try to BE that somebody else. Too many people sit back in the peanut gallery and constantly offer up their contribution statements of “someone should” or “someone needs to”. Who is that someone? Who is the somebody that needs to? Why can’t YOU be that someone?

It’s easier to sit back and pop shots on what all should be done than to step up and lead these needs. It’s like we think in every school function, church ministry, work project, and community need- there is a mystery staff of people behind the curtain that is responsible for making things happen. We offer our opinions of how it should be done, criticize how it is being done, and even suggest ideas of how it needs to be done.

Who do we think is responsible for DOING it and why aren’t we asking ourselves what part of this can I step up and help do? We are all busy and we are all stretched thin, I get it, I live in this same busy life too.

I’m not suggesting that we need to jump in and lead in everything, this can be very unhealthy as well. But I will be as forthcoming to say I’m tired of the attitude that someone else will do it. Someone else will lead that group, someone else will plan the meals, someone needs to pick up this conference room, and I wish someone would organize  _________ (you fill in the blank).

BE that someone else. Try switching your mind from thinking someone needs to step up and lead and fix or do something better, and accept that you can be that somebody else.

Two Reminders for Overcoming Timidity

A page in A.A. Milne’s book The House At Pooh Corner said,

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

Have you ever felt that way with God? You just want to be sure of His presence with you. In moments of weakness, we can be timid in obeying the Lord. Yet, Psalm 100:2 tells us to serve the Lord with gladness. How do you reconcile those feelings?

Let me encourage you: by God’s grace, timidity can turn to confidence.

2 Reminders For Finding Victory Over Timidity:  

You are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

In Judges 6:34, The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon. He was completely covered and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God for his task. In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit would empower people for specific purposes at specific times.

The difference now is that the Holy Spirit dwells permanently in all who have repented of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ.

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…” (Ephesians 1:13, ESV)

Christians are in the spirit, not the flesh. The flesh can become timid, but living by the Spirit can change that.

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11, ESV)

You have the same Holy Spirit dwelling in you that dwelt in Gideon and even raised Jesus from the dead!  So when you look out at your task for the Lord and you feel timid, remember that you are not working out of your own power—take time in prayer to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s strength in you.

You have the truth of God to guide you (36).

V.36 is so interesting. Gideon starts by saying “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have said…”  When did God become a liar?  If He already said it, why would you question if He’ll do it?

Timidity comes when you don’t trust the words of God. If you don’t trust the words of God, then what are you going to trust-your words? The words of others? Everything becomes shaky at that point. God has spoken, it is true, and we can follow it faithfully.

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5, ESV)

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19, ESV)

To be guided by Scripture, you need to listen to what the Lord has said and obey those commands. As you’re faithful in those, you’ll grow in faith and gain more wisdom and discretion to be faithful in more specific situations in your life (Proverbs 3:21).

  • You might say I just don’t like this job and I hate going everyday.  The Lord has commanded that we work with all of our heart (Col. 3:23), so you need to be faithful to that command until another door might open.
  • You might say I just feel like I have no control of my children. God has given much instruction on parenting, so study those passages and put them into practice.

You have the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God to guide you! Be faithful and bold to be committed to the work God has for you.

Are there specific verses or ways that help you overcome timidity in your life?

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