Gregory Kingsley, a boy passed off onto social services by his natural mother and abused by his natural father, finds the foster family he is put into to be the type of family he needs and …
Gregory Kingsley, a boy passed off onto social services by his natural mother and abused by his natural father, finds the foster family he is put into to be the type of family he needs and …
The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:11
“We’ve created more information in the last five years than in all of human history before it, and it’s coming at us all the time” (Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload). “In a sense,” Levitin says, “we become addicted to the hyperstimulation.” The constant barrage of news and knowledge can dominate our minds. In today’s environment of media bombardment, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to be quiet, to think, and to pray.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” reminding us of the necessity to take time to focus on the Lord. Many people find that a “quiet time” is an essential part of each day—a time to read the Bible, pray, and consider the goodness and greatness of God.
When we, like the writer of Psalm 46, experience the reality that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (v. 1), it drives our fear away (v. 2), shifts our focus from the world’s turmoil to God’s peace, and creates a quiet confidence that our Lord is in control (v. 10).
No matter how chaotic the world may become around us, we can find quietness and strength in our heavenly Father’s love and power.
Heavenly Father, we bring our noisy lives and our cluttered minds to You so that we can learn to be still and know that You are God.
Each day we need to be still and listen to the Lord.
Jacob struggled with God and God determined Jacob would know Him (see Gen. 32:22–32). It is through Jacob’s line centuries later that Jesus was born to offer us peace and forgiveness.
What could it mean to be still before God, who desired to lovingly father people like Jacob and who desires to be in intimate relationship with each of us? Mart DeHaan
When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. Psalm 32:3
There are two extremes. Those who rush to the doctor for every ache and pain and those who avoid the doctor at all costs, telling themselves, “It’s not that bad.” But when an issue does need attention, covering it up only makes it worse. If this is true of the physical body, how much more so of our souls.
When we are silent about our sin and shortcomings, our souls suffer. What begins as intentional minimizing of sin turns into blindness to both the sin and its effects. Our view of ourselves is skewed. We begin to say, “This is just who I am.” Sin not only damages our connection to God, but our connection to others.
David learned this firsthand when he tried to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, the cure for sin’s poison was revealed. As we confess and repent, God welcomes us back. Although the consequences of our choices remain, God’s forgiveness and the penetrating light of His truth bring life and restoration to our souls and relationships.
God’s arrows of affliction are sharp and painful so He can get our attention. He won’t let His beloved children get away with sin because He knows it robs us of blessings, opportunities, and even character refinement. Charles Stanley
In learning about the nature of jealousy, perhaps you realize that you do, in fact, struggle a bit with this problem. Maybe you envy a friend, neighbor, or coworker in a way you’ve never really considered. If so, it’s important to recognize this is a danger in your life that must be addressed.
As we realize how envy corrupts various aspects of our life, we can learn to identify when we have a problem. Prayerfully review this list of some consequences of jealousy:
Fear. You’re afraid of not getting what you want or of losing what you have.
Competitiveness. You aggressively strive to outperform others.
Critical spirit. Undermining the success of others becomes a goal.
Comparison. You measure your success against others’ accomplishments.
Divided mind. Someone else’s success becomes a constant distraction.
Anger. Hostility is a natural product of jealousy and bitterness.
Insecurity. You never feel as if you have enough, because you place a higher value on what someone else has.
Lack of peace. Jealousy and peace can stand in opposition to each other; you simply can’t have both.
Illness. Emotional turmoil can take a toll on physical health.
Remember that jealousy is a land mine that maims or destroys whoever triggers it. However, recognizing its destructive consequences may encourage you to remove this issue in your life. Then, with the Lord’s help, you can begin the journey toward healing and restoration.
“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:21)
Here is a sound biblical principle (not the only one, of course) given to Christians to help them evaluate whether or not to engage in certain practices that are neither explicitly endorsed nor prohibited in Scripture. The question is not whether the practice will hurt the strong Christian who engages in it but whether his example might offend, or mislead, or discourage a weaker brother.
This matter of giving offense is quite serious in God’s sight. “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32).
The problem of eating meat purchased from temple markets, after it had been offered in sacrifice to idols, is not an issue for many Christians today, but it was a very real problem to new believers in the first century. The principle given by Paul for deciding that issue is still valid for other issues of today (type of clothing, recreational games, smoking, etc.). As Paul expressed it, “Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. . . . when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13).
On the other side of the coin, the strong Christian should be careful not to take personal offense himself at something done by a fellow believer. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). The rule for a mature, sincere, concerned Christian is to seek diligently neither to give offense nor take offense on any personal issue, by God’s grace. HMM
1 Samuel 17:39
Carnal weapons suited not the man whose reliance was upon the Lord, neither did they suit our Lord, to whom they were offered, only to be declined. To this day our Lord’s battles are not fought with the weapons of human force, but with those of spiritual energy, his warriors are not clad in martial mail, but in the armour of righteousness.
1 Samuel 17:40
These were suitable weapons for a shepherd, and he was accustomed to their use. They were also humble, practical, commonsense weapons, which had no glitter about them, but very much of appropriateness and hopefulness. Brave and believing men act as cautiously in the choice of weapons as if all depended upon themselves, and then trust wholly in the Lord, knowing that their success depends alone upon him.
What a wonderful picture is the scene before us if we read the typical meaning, and see Jesus, the Shepherd, with the pastoral staff in his hand, going forth to sling the smooth stones of the word at the head of the dread enemy of his people. Glorious hero, we bless thee!
1 Samuel 17:41-44
Bragging words are little worth.
1 Samuel 17:46, 47
Here was no boasting, but faith spoke firmly and bravely.
1 Samuel 17:48
His foot and his hand went with his tongue, he was a doer as well as a speaker. Our Lord was a prophet, mighty in deed as well as word.
1 Samuel 17:49
How are the mighty fallen! and that too by the hand of a youth, despised and ridiculed! Thus by the foolishness of preaching, the Lord smites his adversary:
1 Samuel 17:50
He now needed one, and as faith had led him to come forward empty-handed, it was certain that his God would supply his need. If we will only trust God, everything will be supplied as we need it.
1 Samuel 17:51
Augustine beautifully says, “Our David has cast down our adversary, and cut off his head with his own sword,” for “by death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” The crucifixion of our Lord was the execution of sin. God’s enemies furnish weapons for their own destruction.
Mark 10:44, 45
In the city of Moscow is a restaurant that is indisputably one of the most elegant places of fine dining in the entire world. The setting of this magnificent restaurant is a fabulous old Moscow palace that was built in the year 1889 as the personal residence for the Count Altuphev, who was a general of the Russian army during the reign of the Russian Czar, Alexander III.
As one enters the Great Hall of the palace, he is instantly overwhelmed by the great vaulted ceiling, the massive hand-carved wooden staircase, the gorgeous stain-glassed windows, and the imposing and awe-inspiring chandelier that was bequeathed to this building many years later by the dictator Joseph Stalin. All of this adds to the opulence and magnificence of this historical place—which makes an evening spent in fine dining here nearly overwhelming.
When guests from the West come to visit, my wife and I enjoy taking them to this restaurant because it is such a unique experience to have dinner in an actual Russian palace. However, what makes the occasion even more impressive is the level of service provided to each customer. A client can hardly breathe before an attendant shows up to courteously ask how he can serve you better or provide anything that is needed.
When dinner finally arrives, it is carried to the table by servers dressed in tuxedos and white gloves. One by one, the servers set the plates on the table. Each plate is covered by a glistening, pure silver dome that conceals the entree until the appropriate moment. Once all the plates are set in place, the servers stand to the side of each person at the table. All at once, in perfect unison, they lift the pure silver domes from the plates to reveal food that has been meticulously prepared for each diner. By the time the dinner is finished, all those at the table feel like they have been treated as royalty.
Once when I was dining at this Russian palace, I carefully watched the attentiveness shown by the servers to each customer. As I watched how excellently they served, I thought of Jesus’ words, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44).
The word “servant” in this verse comes from the Greek word diakonos, the Greek word for a servant whose primarily responsibility was to serve food and to wait on tables. It presents a picture of a waiter or waitress who painstakingly attends to the needs, wishes, and wants of his or her client. Professionally pleasing clients was these servants’ supreme task, so they served honorably, pleasurably, and in a fashion that made every man feel as if he were nobility.
Restaurants in the first century were very rare, so most servers worked in the very exclusive homes and palaces of the elite, rich, and famous. Hence, these were well-trained, highly refined, cultured, high-class servants who served with sophistication and finesse. Jesus used this word diakonos in a parable to describe exactly these kinds of servants assisting a wealthy king (Matthew 22:13).
This high standard and attitude of excellence is what God expects from every believer who “serves” in the Kingdom of God. Think about it—why would this level of excellence be expected in a high-class restaurant but not in God’s Kingdom?
As God’s servants, we should be well-trained, highly refined, cultured, and equipped to minister to any need with which we are confronted. Serving with an excellent standard should be our goal. There is nothing more important than what we do for the Lord, so God expects us to serve with the best attitude, the finest appearance, and the highest form of service and professionalism we can render in His name.
It must be distressing to God when He sees believers tolerate a standard in the Church that is lower than the one found in the world. Why should our standard be lower? Aren’t we serving the King of kings? Aren’t we working at His table? Therefore, shouldn’t our standard be the highest, the one by which all other standards are measured? When people come to the Kingdom of God for the first time, shouldn’t they be shocked to see a higher level of excellence than they have ever beheld before?
As God’s “servants,” we should set the example of excellence in every sphere. Here are just a few examples where the word diakonos in the New Testament lets us know that an excellent attitude and a high level of professionalism was expected by the Early Church leadership. If it was expected then, why would we settle for anything less now?
The Ministry of Tithes and Offerings:
In Acts 11:29, the word diakonos described the financial “relief” that was received and sent to believers in Judea. Because the word diakonos was used to describe the receiving and sending of this offering, it shows the professional manner in which the Early Church received and administrated these funds. They did it with excellence.
In Second Corinthians 8:4, Paul used diakonos to describe another special offering. The phrase “ministering to the saints” referred to the giving of that offering, but the word “ministering” is the word diakonos. This categorically makes us aware that these offerings were no sloppy event. It was a serious matter that was handled in the most professional and excellent manner.
The Ministry of Preaching the Gospel:
In Acts 20:24, Paul used the word diakonos to describe his “ministry.” Those who preach the Gospel literally “serve” the bread of life to hungry souls, so the word diakonos is well suited for picturing the proclamation of the truth. Paul saw the handling of God’s Word as such a high responsibility that he ministered the Word with the greatest seriousness and professionalism. When he stood to preach, it was no last-minute, thrown-together sermon. Paul prepared and served his messages with painstaking care.
The occurrences of the word diakonos depicting the ministry and the preaching of the Gospel are numerous throughout the New Testament. This suggests that our ministry should always be done with excellence.
The Ministry in General:
In Second Corinthians 6:3, Paul used the word diakonos to embrace all the wider aspects of “ministry.” Whether “ministry” is done publicly, as when preaching, or in a less visible area of the church, it should be done with excellence. This is the reason Paul said, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.” Ministry demands excellence of testimony, conduct, and deed in the lives of those who are involved in it. We are never to forget that we are God’s servers!
In Colossians 4:17, Paul told Archippus to take heed to the “ministry” he had received from the Lord. This word “ministry” is the word diakonos. For Archippus, taking heed to his ministry meant being the best he could be, serving in the most professional manner possible, conscientiously fulfilling every wish God had made known to him, and doing his work with an excellence that would honor Jesus.
In Second Timothy 4:5, Paul tells Timothy to “… make full proof of thy ministry.” The word “ministry” is the word diakonos. Paul was urging Timothy to bring the level of his ministry to the highest level—to show commitment and excellence in everything he did in the name of ministry.
The Ministry of the Saints:
In First Corinthians 16:15, Paul uses the word diakonos when he refers to the household of Stephanas having “… addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” Although the word diakonos emphatically speaks of their servant attitude, it also shows us that they were addicted to serving others with the highest possible standard of excellence.
In Revelation 2:19, the word diakonos is used when Jesus speaks to the leadership of the church of Thyatira. Although this church had many problems, one of the things for which Jesus commended them was their “service.” This is the Greek word diakonos, letting us know that serving with a high standard is commendable in God’s sight.
The Ministry of Angels:
In Matthew 4:11, the word diakonos is used when the Bible says, “Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” These angels came to “minister” to Jesus and to meet His needs. They served Him like deacons, or like waiters whose supreme pleasure was knowing they had attended well to the needs of their Master. They “served” Jesus with the greatest attention, care, excellence, and professionalism.
In Hebrews 1:14, the word diakonos is used again to describe the ministry of angels. It says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” When this verse says the angels are sent forth “to minister” for them who shall be heirs of salvation, the words “to minister” comes from the word diakonos. This clearly means angels have a God-given assignment to “serve” believers with meticulous, detailed attention. Angels are God’s supernatural servers who have been dispatched to attend to the needs, wants, and wishes of the saints.
The Ministry of Jesus:
In Mark 10:45, the word diakonos is used to depict Jesus and His own ministry. The verse says, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” When this verse says Jesus came “to minister,” it is the word diakonos. Jesus was the supreme Example of serving the needs of people with excellence. He was so committed to fulfilling the assignment given to Him that He was even willing to “serve” to the point of sacrifice. His “service” would demand the highest level of commitment, dedication, attention, and excellence.
Think of it! Jesus is the Lord of all, the Creator of the universe, the only begotten Son of God. Yet when He came, His purpose was not “… to be ministered unto, but to minister….” Jesus’ entire purpose was to serve and to give His life away, not to be served or to demand the respect, approval, or adoration of men.
In all the above examples, the word diakonos describes those who are excellently serving someone and who are profoundly committed to fulfilling a specific task with the highest standard and level of professionalism. This is excellent, high-level servanthood, not sloppy service as is found in so many places today.
If you possess this right attitude about doing God’s work, it won’t be too long until Jesus promotes you to a higher position. However, don’t think that a higher position will alleviate your need to keep serving, for we’re all called to serve, regardless of our status, rank, or position.
So keep in mind that God is watching you today. Are you:
If these are the qualities that God sees in you, it probably won’t be long until He makes sure you are rewarded with a greater level of responsibility. Why? Because He’ll know you are trustworthy and ready to handle the promotion. In fact, the word diakonos later came to represent a person found so extremely trustworthy and reliable that he was placed in charge of managing a palace!
How about you, friend? Are you faithfully “serving” at God’s table? Does your service demonstrate the excellent standard that God expects in His Kingdom? Have you been satisfied with a low level of professionalism in your life? If you want God to entrust you with greater responsibility, you must start looking at your assignment and place of service as the most important job in the whole world. Fulfill your task with a high standard of excellence—and God will see to it that you are richly rewarded!
Lord, I want to serve You with the highest level of excellence! Forgive me for times when I have tolerated a low standard in my life, my business, my ethics, my church, or my ministry. Nothing in the world is more serious than the services I render in Your name, so help me do it in a way that glorifies You.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have a high standard of excellence in my life and that I am growing daily in my level of professionalism. As I serve God at work and at church, I demonstrate the excellence of Jesus’ name! When people see me, they see the Kingdom of God. In fact, God is happy that I am His representative because my life shows forth an excellent image of who Jesus is and what He stands for in this world. I am His representative, and therefore I do everything with the highest level of excellence!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
John Wesley (1703-1791), one of the great spiritual forces since the Reformation, addressed the delicate and vexing issue of money. I thought you would find his comments interesting and instructive:
“The love of money,“ Wesley taught, “is the root of all evil, but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it.”
Guideline 1: “Gain all you can.”
Guideline 2: “Save all you can.”
“Despise delicacy and variety, and be content with what plain nature requires… Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the admiration or praise of men… men are expensive in diet, or apparel… not barely to please their appetite… but their vanity too… Rather be content with the honor that cometh from God.”
Guideline 3: “Give all you can.”
He placed you here not as a proprietor, but as a steward; as such He entrusted you for a season, with goods of various kinds; but the sole property of these still rest in Him…
“First, provide things needful for yourself… Secondly, provide these for your wife, your children, your servants, or any others who pertain to your household… If there be an overplus still, ‘as you have opportunity do good to them that are of the household of faith.‘ If there be an overplus still, ‘as you have opportunity, do good unto all men.‘” (Galatians 6:10)