Greater Good

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 NASB

As I skim through social media, it occurs to me that the “greatest” among us today are about as far from being servants as we could imagine. Spoiled, cosseted, and overpaid celebrities from Hollywood, sport venues, and certain financial and political arenas are being toasted and held up for worship as the experts on life. It’s as if they are the gods we should look up to, and that we should follow without question. Many of them certainly act like they are above all human laws and morals. It’s all about lust. Lust for control, for sex, for the almighty dollar; it’s all about power. As Christians, our guide, our Law Book, is the Bible. It is very clear on idolatry, lust, and temptation.

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:3‭-‬4, Deuteronomy 5:6-7 NASB

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15‭-‬17 NASB

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” James 1:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 NASB

So, Greater Good. Servanthood. It’s different for every person. How does it look for you; on you? It’s not for everyone to wash the feet of others (figuratively at least, if not actually), although I believe that unless you’ve done it, you’ll never understand true servanthood.

“But JESUS Kept Silent …”

“… And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the Living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the Right Hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” ” – Matthew 26:63‭-‬64 NASB

What a powerful statement!

Jesus never bragged about Who He was. He stood silent when He was accused of being seditious against the government, and in fact, He never called on His followers to overthrow the government. He was tried and convicted on hearsay, so that He could stand before us, and die for us, on the cross. Could you – can you – stand by and be accused of crimes and keep silent? Do you? At work or school, at home, how many times have we defended ourselves, rightfully or wrongly? Especially when working around kids, a very common phrase we hear is “but I didn’t do anything!” I have defended myself many times (right or wrong), and I’m sure I will many more times in the future.

But Jesus kept silent….. The only truly innocent person to ever live, when accused, kept silent. The God of the Universe, Creator, Son, Living LORD Who calls Heaven home, showed us how to live and how to turn the other cheek. He was born for that moment. No argument, no grandstanding, no yelling. What a wonderful example for us to follow as we move into a new year.

And JESUS Was Born!

The God the Father speaks to His Son, God the Son, Jesus, and to the Heavenly Hosts, before Jesus was born as a man – all man and all GOD:

“And when He again brings the Firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.” And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment, And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed . But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” – Hebrews 1:6‭-‬14 NASB

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is CHRIST the LORD.” – Luke 2:10‭-‬11 NASB

Heroes

I had a lot of heroes while growing up. Gene Autry, Roy and Dale Evans, Zorro, Superman ….. the Black Stallion, RinTinTin, Flicka, Lassie (yes, animals were among my heroes!) ….. just to name a few. Later in life, I began to understand how difficult life can be. As I witnessed them coping with all that life threw at them, I realized that my Mom and Dad, and my Grandma Thomas were my real life heroes. Ultimately, I have come to see that there are truly many heroes in the world. Every day, countless people – police, firefighters, service members, emergency responders, and more – put their own lives on the line over and over for us, people they don’t know. There is no way to adequately express our gratitude for these heroes! However, the biggest, greatest, most important hero of all time gets skipped over.

Here are the Words of Jesus, God the Son, to the Father God, before Jesus was even conceived and born, from Psalms 40:6-8 (quoted in the book of Hebrews).


“Therefore, when He [JESUS] comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You [the Father] have prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and  sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the Book [Old Testament] it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’ ”  After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and  sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them ” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold , I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first [animal sacrifice] in order to establish the second [sacrifice – Jesus]. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5‭-‬10 NASB


To paraphrase the Rev. John Flavel from a sermon in 1754, “All the OT saints were saved on credit, Jesus’ sacrifice paid the bill”. His blood to cover our sins. My sins. Your sins. Have you accepted the payment Jesus made for our sins? Mary’s little Lamb, the final sacrifice, once and for all. He is the Lamb to be sacrificed, and the Shepherd to protect us. He is the only One Who can save you.

“Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow…..”

Who is your Hero?

Jesus and The “Littles” …

How did Jesus treat children? Not, as some people do, expecting them to “be seen and not heard!” Blessing children is scriptural from Genesis and on throughout the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament.

“And they” (the Greek word used indicates the fathers as spiritual leaders bringing their families, their children) “were bringing children” (infants up to 12 year olds) “to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.” (The disciples are blocking people instead of being a bridge to Jesus. They were acting as bodyguards, trying to hinder or stop anyone from coming to Christ, when they should have instead been encouraging.)“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant” (angered) “and said to them” (His disciples), ” ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child” (with empty hands, coming as they – weak, helpless, dependent) “will not” (the Greek word translates as never ever) “enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” – Mark 10:13‭-‬16 NASB (also see Luke and Matthew)

** Side note: This passage is not about infant baptism; it is about blessing the children. Baptism is an outward, public declaration of putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ; i.e. entering the kingdom, by being immersed in water, representing the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.

We must come to Jesus as a child; we can offer nothing to Him because He is the Creator of all things. Without Him, we have nothing. From the hymn Rock of Age, written in 1763 by the Reverend Augustus Toplady:

Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Naked, come to Thee for dress
Helpless, look to Thee for grace
Vile, I to the fountain fly
Wash me, savior, or I die

Motivated Work

Why do we work? What is our motivation?

There are wrong, or distorted, views of why we work: When the only reason we work is to make money, we need more and more to be content. This is disillusioning and leads to dissatisfaction. Working for our own greed, or FIRE = financial independence [to] retire early; purely selfish and self indulgent, only working so that we can quit working and live a life of leasure. Then there is working for self significance, importance, to accumulate power, and identity. None of these is a fulfilling way of life and will leave us empty; never satisfied. Recall in Genesis 11 when the people built the Tower of Babble to make a name for themselves, independent from God? It was a singularly unfulfilled and unfulfilling task that only served to create chaos.

The right reasons: remembering that our primary calling is to God, and our secondary calling is to someone or something beneath Him. We can be unemployed, and we can change our secondary calling, but we can never be uncalled. ALL legitimate work is to Glorify God and is pleasing to Him. These include support (1 Tim 5:8; Proverbs 12:11): making money to provide for self and family, to meet needs, and to bless others. Working for satisfaction and enjoyment: Do you feel God’s pleasure in what you are doing? A poll showed that 70% of Americans are completely dissatisfied at work. What does that say about our culture! (Ecc 2:24; 3:22 NLT; 5:18-19) To serve other people, and to share what we acquire: “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does” – Martin Luther (Mark 12:31; Eph 4:28)

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:8 NASB

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11 NASB

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 NASB

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

“So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.” Ecclesiastes 3:22 NLT

“Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.” Ecclesiastes 5:18‭-‬19 NLT

“The second is this, ‘ you shall love your neighbor as yourself .’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 NASB

“If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” Ephesians 4:28 NLT

Faithful Suffering

Faithful suffering. First Jesus, then Paul; actually, all of the Apostles served as our examples of this.

“Blessed be the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by GOD.” 2 Corinthians 1:3‭-‬4 NASB

“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” [Psalms 116: 1-10] we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He Who raised the LORD JESUS will raise us also with JESUS and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the Grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the Glory of GOD.” 2 Corinthians 4:13‭-‬15 NASB

I don’t suffer faithfully, or gracefully. Do you? Does it make you mad when bad things happen to you or your loved ones? I spent a large part of my life mad at God because of all the bad in my life…. I didn’t want anything to do with Him since He let all of it happen. At the same time, I ignored or denied that any of the good came from Him. My Faith was nonexistent. It took some major disasters to get my attention off me and my faithless suffering, and back into the LORD and my childhood Faith.

I still don’t want any suffering or bad stuff; however, now I can recognize where it really comes from. I know that no matter what the enemy throws at me, my LORD is with me, beside me, supporting me, carrying me when I need it. I still worry, and I still get angry, but I’m learning through Faith that I am not alone. You aren’t alone either, if you’ll allow Jesus to walk with you.