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Serving God July 17, 2008

Posted by flashbuzzer in Christianity.
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This is the last post in a four-part series that I titled “Towards a Complete Christian Life.” The point of this post is to highlight the inherent challenges and benefits of serving God

Let’s look at four passages that illustrate different aspects of serving God.

The first passage (or verse, if you prefer) is Ephesians 4:1. On a personal note, this was the theme verse for Urbana 06, and it has had a deeper meaning for me since that time.

Some context for this verse is in order. When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, he was actually imprisoned in Rome, lending additional weight to the phrase “as a prisoner for the Lord.” This verse also kicks off the second half of Ephesians, which focuses on the day-to-day aspects of Christian living.

In this verse, Paul stresses a general interpretation of “calling,” where he urges the Ephesians (and, by extension, us) to be holy and set themselves apart from the world for serving God. This highlights the notion of a standard for the Christian life, where God has set the bar high and we strive to live up to His expectations for us.

We should also view the “calling” from this verse in a more personal manner, which was the intent of the conference organizers at Urbana 06. Each of us possesses a unique set of gifts and abilities that have been given to us by the Holy Spirit, and so each of us has been “called” to a specific role in the body of Christ. Moreover, it can be argued that finding your specific “calling” facilitates living a “worthy” life, since you know your exact purpose for existing.

It should be noted that we may not know our specific calling when we begin to serve Him. For example, when moving to an unfamiliar location to begin a new job, you may be unsure as to why God has led you to that particular place. What you should do is trust that God has led you there for a good reason, and He is “calling” you to make the most of your time in that place. You should also trust that God will reveal your specific “calling” to you in His good timing.

Question 1: why do you believe God led you to where you are now?

Next, let’s read through Acts 9:10-16. This passage describes the events immediately after Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

The first six verses of this passage nicely set the stage for the key verse of this passage, which is verse 16. In particular, verse 16 reminds us to be cognizant of impending difficulties when serving God. From my personal experience, I can say that it is typical for Christians to dive into serving God and then become frustrated when things don’t turn out the way they expect them to.

Matthew Henry’s commentary on Acts 9 drives home the point that serving God is not meant to be a “walk in the park”:

those that bear Christ’s name must expect to bear the cross for his name; and those that do most for Christ are often called to suffer most for him.

The word “suffer” should serve as a wake-up call for Christians who believe that serving God will be easy. In fact, it is difficult to think of a ministry that never experienced any setbacks.

Since difficulties are guaranteed to occur during our time of Christian service, how do we meet these challenges head-on? Recall the famous Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, where Jesus’ key message was that Christians needed to have a good foundation to live “worthy” lives.

How can we acquire this good foundation? This actually goes back to my previous three posts, which focus on the importance of reading God’s Word, prayer, and seeking the counsel and fellowship of other Christians. By practicing these three principles on a regular basis, we are equipping ourselves to overcome the difficulties of Christian service.

The overall message of Acts 9:10-16 bears repeating: be prepared for difficulties in your ministry and think about how you can turn them into blessings. Another encouraging note on this topic can be found in John 16:33.

Question 2: what are some difficulties that you’ve encountered while serving God?

The next passage that I want to focus on is Romans 1:8-12. In this passage, we see that 1) the strong faith of the Christians in Rome made Paul joyful and 2) he desired to have fellowship with them, which I want to discuss further.

This passage illustrates the importance of a support group when serving God, which recalls the theme of my previous post. Though Paul was an eminent Christian who had accomplished great things over the course of his ministry, he knew that he needed the support of other Christians if his ministry were to continue to thrive. This is evidenced in verses 10-12, where Paul’s desire for the support of other Christians is so strong that he “longs” to see his Roman brothers and sisters in Christ.

I once read part of a book by Intervarsity Press on “tentmaking,” which involves Christians spreading the gospel while supporting themselves through other means. This arises from Paul’s experiences as a tentmaker in Corinth, which are described in Acts 18.

The authors stressed the importance of the role that local churches can play in preparing tentmakers for their missions work. Specifically, the authors recommended forming an accountability structure within the local church for tentmakers, along with a group covenant that each tentmaker would sign with their accountability partners in their local church. This is a neat example of how mutual support can render Christian service even more effective.

It bears repeating from my last post that “no man is an island,” especially in Christian service. When serving God, it is important to see who God has placed in our midst and whether or not they can be part of a mutual support group. We must keep our eyes open and look for people who can share in this mutual encouragement. A support group offers opportunities for us to give to others and to receive God’s blessings from them.

Question 3: have other Christians helped you “serve God better?”

I want to wrap up this post by looking at Philippians 3:7-11. IMHO, this passage is one of the greatest declarations of faith in Christ of all-time.

From these five excellent verses, we can infer that serving God results in a radical change in focus. Paul had become so committed to his task of spreading the gospel that he could not think of anything more worthwhile for him to do. His singular purpose was to glorify Christ, and his ministry was a necessary means for accomplishing that goal.

Matthew Henry’s commentary on Philippians 3 further describes Paul’s devotion to serving God:

The apostle was as ambitious of being sanctified as he was of being justified.

Many Christians feel that serving God is irrelevant since they have already been saved or “justified”, so why do they need to serve God? The answer to this question can be found by observing Paul’s life. Paul was so grateful that God had rescued him from a pointless life that he was determined to do everything he could to express his gratitude. Similarly, we must strive to express our gratitude to God for our salvation, which can be performed via our Christian service. Note that we are also “sanctified” through our Christian service.

We also see a bold and unabashed declaration of Paul’s new purpose in life in verse 10. He knew that by serving God and enduring the attendant difficulties, he was becoming more like Christ and drawing closer to Him. We must consider how we might apply this verse to our own lives; how can we serve God better and become more Christ-like in the process?

It bears repeating that our service to God should flow out of genuine love for Him and a desire to know Him better, which arises from our “rolling up our sleeves” and working in God’s vineyard.

Question 4: how has serving God changed your life?

Hopefully, these four posts have inspired you to strive towards a more “complete” Christian life. If you have any questions or comments you’d like to share, feel free to let me know.

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Comments»

1. Kay Martin - July 17, 2008

I landed on your blog with a search for thriving Christian life. I will be a regular visitor. My complete whole Christian life flows from Calvary’s love in my heart as I live IN CHRIST.

That is my aim…as blessed Apostle Paul’s words tell us over and over that the main thing is sancification and justification. My human self falls forward with Holy Spirit giving me life anew over and over.

The mercy of God is my hope in Jesus Christ.. I’m a great ‘reasoner,’ thinker, planner, but God is calling me to action as well as proclamation. I loved your statement: “It bears repeating that our service to God should flow out of genuine love for Him and a desire to know Him better, which arises from our “rolling up our sleeves” and working in God’s vineyard.”

Yes all truly is about HIM.

2. Bookmarks about Christians - September 11, 2008

[…] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by minaming on 2008-08-20 Serving God https://flashbuzzer.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/serving-god/ – bookmarked by 1 members originally […]


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