Excuse Me! – Homeword – December 2

Excuse Me!

This devotional was written by Doug Fields.

…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Matthew 20:26-28

When an opportunity for service presents itself, so often our first tendency is to weasel out of it. Normal? Yes! I know this one well… I am King Weasel. To combat this tendency we must proactively eliminate our excuses.

There’s an old axiom that says, “You always find time to do the things you want to do.” Need proof?

A while back, I was talking to a high school student at my church. He had just received an iPod for Christmas and he was boasting of the 13,000 songs he had loaded on it. I asked him how long it took to download all those songs onto his iPod. After he gulped a few times and scratched an imaginary rash, he said about 200 hours.

Something stirred in me. My response wasn’t characteristic of my normal, gentle, pastorally self. “200 hours!” I exclaimed. “You’ve got to be kidding! Too bad you didn’t spend some of those same 200 hours serving others. God would have taken those serving experiences and not only blessed you on earth with a sense of significance but also rewarded you in eternity.”

This teenager looked at me with big tears in his eyes. “Thank you for being so wise, Pastor and Jedi Master Doug,” he said. “You’re completely right—as you always are.”

Actually, what he really said was, “Dude, you sound like my dad,” and walked away. But I hope he got the point.

I hope you do, too. Many times we make excuses that have become manufactured by misplaced priorities and poor decision-making. It’s amazing what happens to our time when we make something a priority.

Meaningful, effective service is seldom easy. Yet, serving is the primary method God uses to form the character of Jesus in us. When we serve, our lives are being morphed into the likeness of our Lord. We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.

Today, let’s say no to our inner weasels. No more excuses. Start small. See a need and meet it. That’s the simplest equation for serving and success. Service, with the right motive, is never small to God!

GOING DEEPER:

1. What’s your favorite excuse for avoiding acts of service? How can you move beyond using this excuse in the future?

2. What is one small act of service you can do today to help someone else? Will you do it?

FURTHER READING:

John 13:2-171 Peter 4:10Ephesians 6:7

For more information and resources please visit HomeWord.com.

Pray at all times – With Divine Design – The Week of December 2

With Divine Design

Pray at all times

From God’s Word:  “Devote yourselves to prayer: persevere in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4: 2, NIV).

We must live praying. And with this I do not mean that we have to be on our knees all the time in one place, in the physical sense, I mean an attitude of the heart. A constant recognition of our need for God and depending on him for the great and the small. Those things that we believe we can solve alone, and those that seem impossible to us. Both cases need God’s intervention because our decisions today will be the results of tomorrow. So it is wise to pray always.

Today I want to share with you passages to pray for decisions, for ordinary things. You may know some of them well, and in other cases you may need to visit the biblical story and soak up the context. Either way, I pray that they will be a blessing to your life.

At the beginning of the day, when we consider everything we have to do: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your thoughts will be affirmed… Guide me with your truth and teach me, because you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you ”(Proverbs 16: 3 Psalms 25: 5).

When work is scarce and we are concerned about supplies : “Jehovah is my shepherd, I will lack nothing… For it is God who provides the farmer with the seed and then the bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you ”(Psalm 23: 1, 2 Corinthians 9:10).    

When we are tired and do not have the strength to continue with the tasks of the day: “I love you, Lord; you are my strength … You are my strength; I hope that you rescue me, because you, O God, are my strength… The Lord will guide them continuously, give them water when they are thirsty and restore their strength. They will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring that never runs dry ”(Psalm 18: 1, Psalm 59: 9, Isaiah 58: 8).

When faced with decisions that we do not know how to handle: “Ask me and I will reveal surprising secrets that you do not know about what is to come… true wisdom and power are found in God; advice and understanding belong to you… I ask God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight ”(Jeremiah 33: 3, Job 12:13 , Ephesians 1:17).

When we are sad and it seems that nobody cares: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! Again I will praise him, my Savior and my God! … For the Lamb who is on the throne will be his Shepherd. He will guide you to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes ”(Psalm 42:11, Revelation 7:17).

In moments when worry seems to drown us, literally: “That’s why I tell you not to worry about daily life… Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray for everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all that he has done. Thus they will experience the peace of God, which surpasses everything we can understand…. You will be saved only if you return to me and rest in me. His strength is in tranquility and trust ”(Matthew 6:25, Philippians 4: 6-7, Isaiah 20:15).

When it comes to dealing with difficult people at work, school, or family:  “Be patient in difficulties and keep praying… you have to put on tender compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. If someone says: ‘I love God’, but hates another believer, that person is a liar, because if we do not love those we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us the following command: those who love God must also love their fellow believers ”(Romans 12:12).

When we have leadership positions or are business owners: “Masters, be fair and impartial with your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master in heaven… Show your fear of God by not treating them harshly ”(Colossians 4: 1, Leviticus 25:43).

When we are employees we should pray for a good attitude and work ethic: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord… you should always obey your masters and do your best to please them. They must not be naughty or steal, but show that they are good and absolutely trustworthy. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way ”(1 Timothy 6: 2, Colossians 3:22. Titus 2: 9-10).

We could go on with many other things, but now it’s your turn. I give you this list with these passages and I hope you add others and that the list grows.

(Originally posted on wendybello.com )

© 2019 Wendy Bello
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Who’s the Fairest of Them All? – I Do Every Day – December 2, 2020

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?
By Janel Breitenstein

In college, a boy told me he was in love with me. (Spoiler: not my husband-to-be.)

One of my favorite qualities? He was kind of adoring. Everyone wants to feel like someone would lay their jacket across a puddle. And there were days early in my marriage when I wondered if I should have opted for Jacket Man.

Because my husband is one of the most relentlessly truthful dudes I have ever met. And flattery and truth-telling are rarely found in the same person.

Many days, I’m grateful. My husband’s a trustworthy mirror.

He’s close, courageous, knowledgeable, and strong enough to be not just a “yes-man” but a “no-man.” He’s not taken in by my ruses, manipulations, skillful maneuvering, or ways I fool myself.

But sometimes I just wish I could spend a few days at the beach, far from mirrors. Parts of my body buried in the sand. Mostly my head.

And then God reminds me of our utter blindness toward our own junk. How we consistently under-appraise our sin’s effects. Of our need for a mirror.

Our spouse (kids, parents, friends) could likely tell us, in a heartbeat, what sin we wrestle with—or fail to—that character trait we think is under control, with its minimal impact. But we’ve all been left in a Bible-loving, Spirit-walking Christian’s wake. The Bible’s pretty clear we need an entire body of people wrestling us toward holiness.

Who are our “no people”? As we ascend in leadership or status, it becomes even more critical to have them around us—because just as with our strengths, the effects of our sin become more widespread and powerful.

Would my husband tick the box of “fan” or “adoring” in his husband-y job description? Yes. He’s my biggest/most. You can tell because he cares enough to say something. He’s not snowed by what I look like on paper.

And that’s a good thing. Because I need a true friend … even more than an adoring fan.

While truth is a vital part of marriage, so is “Speaking the Truth in Love.”

The good stuff: For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:8-9)

Action points:

  • What does your typical reaction to criticism reveal about your heart’s humility and teachability? (What would your spouse say?)
  • Are you willing to accept truth from any source about your character, no matter the person’s status or method?
  • Looking back, what constructive criticism changed your life?
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Daily Food – December 2

An early gift

Just as the LORD had said, he took care of Sarah and kept his promise to her. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age. This happened at the time announced by God. – Genesis 21: 1-2

Are you having a hard time waiting for Christmas? This is just the first week of Advent! If we want to experience a “Radical Advent”, remembering the hundreds of years that God’s people had to wait, we have to wait much longer.

Abraham (formerly Abram) and Sarah (formerly Sarai) had not been waiting a month or a year, or not even a lifetime. They were part of God’s people who had been waiting since Adam and Eve. And now God gives Sarah a gift, but not the gift. Not yet.

After assembling the tree and putting some presents under it, our children began to beg, “Can we open just one gift? Please?” You may not agree, but sometimes we allow them to open a gift early. And when we said, “Okay, but only one,” they laughed and clapped, and ran to the little tree. Like Sara, they were filled with joy and laughter at the prospect of discovering what the secret gift was. But, also like Sara, they knew that this was not the true gift. The “big gift” wasn’t going to be under the tree yet – just a small one that would be a sample of what was to come next.

“God has made me laugh,” Sara said after Isaac was born. We too have experienced wonderful gifts from God. But if these fleeting things can give us so much joy, imagine how magnificent will be God’s supreme gift, the Savior, who will come again for us.

PRAYER:  Lord, fill my heart with joy to see your gifts today, and with the desire to see your great Gift that is to come. Amen.

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