Inconvenient Service

A few weeks ago, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“Is God calling you to serve Him? What is your answer?”

It’s a relatively straightforward question. Yes or no. And yet it’s often not so simple.God calls us to serve in our churches, neighborhoods, and Bible studies, and we come up with all kinds of reasons why we can’t….

I don’t have time.

We all have the same 24-hour day and 7-day week. Is it possible we’re filling our days with good things, but not the best things? With activities that someone else can – and should – do instead?

             My family comes first.

Absolutely! Then again, are we just telling our children about sacrifice and service and selflessness, or are we modeling it for them?

             I’m not qualified.

“God often qualifies the called, rather than calling the qualified.” Although this has almost become a cliché, it’s as true today as it was when Moses objected to God’s call because he felt unqualified.

             This is way out of my comfort zone.

Good. That means we’ll rely on the Lord rather than our own strength.

            It’s not a good time.

Is there ever a good time? If we wait for the ideal, convenient time to serve, it will never happen! (I’ve been waiting for things to get back to “normal” for decades!)

             There are too many obstacles.

“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Do we believe this? Why not ask God to show Himself powerfully on our behalf and see what happens?

             I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Have we prayed about it? Really prayed about it? And then listened for the answer? Really listened?

Henry Varley, a friend of D.L. Moody, once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Moody responded with a committed life fully sold out to God.

Will you and I do the same?

How has God provided when you’ve stepped out in faith to serve Him?

More Than Called…

“To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1-2).

Each of us have been called to serve our mighty God in a unique way. But we may become so busy fulfilling our call that we focus on the doing. We want to do better—to write well, to teach effectively, to do whatever we’ve been called to do to the best of our ability.

Yet our ability is limited. We struggle with our inadequacy as we represent the King of Kings, and we seek His enabling to accomplish His purposes.

To be conscious of our calling is to serve with an awareness of the privilege of being used by God to advance His kingdom. But that’s only a partial picture of what it means to be called. In the New Testament, Jude made a point of addressing his epistle to those who are called, loved, and kept.

We can be so busy ministering the love of God to everyone else that it’s easy to forget we’re also recipients of that same love. We are loved by the God of love, not because we serve, but because He lavishly pours out His love on us as a result of Jesus Christ’s atoning work.

Not only are we loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), we are also kept. Our Heavenly Father sustains us and protects us. He holds us in the palm of His hand and there’s no safer place to be.

He saves us by the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, and He seals us by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have everything we need to do all He has called us to do. More importantly, we have everything we need to be all that He has called us to be—chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, and sealed.

When we understand who we are—and who we belong to—God releases His power in us and through us to serve Him. The order is important. Identity comes before service. Being comes before doing. Reveling in His mercy, peace, and love comes before ministry in His name.

Before you write your next chapter, teach your next class, or answer the twenty emails sitting in your Inbox, take a moment to remind yourself, “I am loved with a lavish, everlasting love. It has nothing to do with what I do, but it has everything to do with who I am: a beloved child of the King kept by His almighty hand.”

Once we understand God’s love and His keeping, we are free to serve Him without fear, equipped in every way to fulfill the purpose to which we are called.

When No One Seems to Notice

“We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (I Thess. 2:4)

Serving the Lord can sometimes be discouraging work. It may become even more discouraging when we’ve poured ourselves into our calling – teaching, writing, or any other calling – and no one seems to notice our efforts. Or maybe we’ve worked and worked . . . and someone else gets the credit for what we’ve accomplished.

As Christians, we know that we serve to glorify the Lord. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). The goal of our work is praise for the Father, not for ourselves.

Still, it’s natural to want someone to notice and acknowledge our efforts. We all need encouragement. Certainly, the Bible exhorts us to encourage one another.

But the Lord knows our hearts. He knows our motivations. I’ve found that God will frequently allow periods of anonymity or discouragement in my life to reveal my motives. If I am ready to give up because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, that tells me my motives have been all wrong.

It’s no accident that among the hundreds of named women in Scripture, there are also more than one hundred references to unnamed individual women or groups of women. Immortalized in Scripture for all time, yet virtually unknown apart from being identified by their circumstances. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

Yet nothing escapes God’s notice. He knows who they are—each and every one of them. And he knows who we are, what we are doing, and why we do it. Jesus reminded his followers that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). In Genesis 16:13, Hagar was amazed that God knew all about her, and she called Him El Roi, the God Who Sees.

So the next time you’re discouraged because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, there’s only one thing to do. Run straight into the arms of El Roi. Take comfort in knowing that the Lord sees all that you do and will reward you.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Paul also reminded us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

When we’re serving the Lord the recognition and pay may not be much, but the retirement plan is out of this world!

What do you do when others fail to acknowledge your efforts?