Acts of Grace January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017

The Balance Between the Being & Loving

By Ps. Stancil Roberts

Love the Lord by Serving Him with Joy!

In Matthew 10, we read about Jesus calling and instructing his twelve disciples before sending them out to minister. In His power, they were to cast out unclean spirits, to heal all kinds of sicknesses and to preach the Kingdom of heaven.  He also charged them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and not to the Gentiles.  Besides this, He also reminded them they would be facing persecution.

After that in Matthew 10:37-38, Jesus told them, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.   And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”  Now Jesus is not suggesting we should not love our parents or children.Remember that one of the Ten Commandments is to honour our parents and God nevercontradicts His word.  What Jesus is saying to us is that in the light of the persecution thatis coming, we need to love Him more than our family.  God is reminding you that as a child of God you have a higher call – a call to love the Lord our God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind  (Deuteronomy 6:1). This is our primary call as God’s people. However, we will face challenges. In your journey with the Lord, there will often be times you may not understand the things that are happening to you, but always remember the promise of God – that He will not leave you or forsake you.

How do we increase our love for God? Firstly, we are to serve the Lord with joy.  Luke 2:36 – 38 tells us about a woman called Anna. Her husband died after she had been married for seven years so when she was widowed, she was still a young woman.  She could have easily remarried, yet she chose to live in the temple and gave her life totally to God. She spent all her days in the temple and when she met the baby Jesus there she was already eighty- four years old.  That was a long time spent fasting, praying and serving the Lord.  Together with another man by the name of Simeon, she had the privilege of welcoming the Messiah which was every Jew’s desire. She had the joy of seeing prophecy fulfilled in her lifetime. Only the joy of the Lord can sustain her to serve God for so many years. Psalm 100 reads, Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good;His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

How many times have we served God without joy? This psalm reminds us to serve the Lord with gladness! Serving the Lord is not about standing behind the podium and doing your thing.  It is more than leading worship, singing or preaching to a crowd of peoplewith everyone focusing on you on a Sunday morning. It is what you do from Monday to Saturday.  Serving the Lord is when you respond to a phone call in the middle of the night. Serving the Lord is when you are tired and yet you stay awake to intercede for someone. There are many people who serve without joy because of discouragement, hurts and resentment, feelings of being unappreciated, used and even abused. As a result, they leave their church only to discover that the new church is no better. Oftentimes, thesource of our problems is people, but this is what church is all about. God puts us in the midst of ‘unloving people’ to transform us into the image of His Son. He wants to shape us to be the man and woman of God He has called us to be.

According to statistics, ten percent of people leave church because they go to be with the Lord and about twelve percent leave because of job relocation.  Then another twelve percent leave for another church because the new church is ‘better’ – better music, a livelier choir, better preaching and so on. Next, sixty -six percent of people leave the church because of offences.  This is really sad because offences are part and parcel of life, but as God’s people, we need to rise above them. A major part of serving the Lord is about people.  If you do not want to engage with people, then there is no way you can serve.

Have you ever prayed to be more like Jesus?  When you come to the altar haven’t you prayed for the Lord to change you, to change your heart? God answers prayer and he hassent you that rude and noisy neighbor and that annoying colleague so that you can be more like Jesus. Hallelujah! The Lord is in the business of shaping and molding you to be the person He has called you to be.

In the book of Acts, we read about the life of the early church. Christianity was considered a cult then. The Christians were ostracized by their Jewish community and they were persecuted. Many had to flee from their homes to another city. Being a follower of Christ was not easy in those days.  Likewise, many Christians in these days are also persecuted for their faith. It is time that we stop playing church. We will be facedwith challenges and we have to constantly remind ourselves that God is at work in ourlives to transform us. If we feel that our problems are too difficult, ask the Lord for His grace and we will hear the Holy Spirit saying to us, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

What causes the lack of joy in our lives? According to James 4:1–3, it is our ego and the lack of composure in our inner life that deprives us of joy. We need to bring our desires under subjection.  We can also increase our love for God by resting in Him.  It is not about having physical rest, but possessing a quietness of soul.  It is a rest from the freedom of anxiety.  Psalm 45 starts by declaring, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Note that it says a present help. Yes, God is present in our problems therefore we can rest in Him, even when everything around us is falling apart.So, when you face challenges which make you feel so helpless and hopeless, come to the river of God. Let us really know who our God is, not with mere head knowledge, but deep within our hearts.  Let us not allow the enemy to amplify our problems and take our eyes from the Lord!

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