Serving and Being Served
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Matthew 20:28
Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Biblical authority is from the bottom up, not from the top down. The one who leads is on the bottom serving those over him, not on top demanding that others serve him.
Jesus made this quite clear when He heard the disciples arguing about who was to be the greatest in His kingdom.
It seems that James and John were standing aside while their mother was asking the Lord that one of them should be “Prime Minister” and the other “Secretary of State” (“these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom” – Matthew 20:21) in His kingdom.
Jesus caught on quickly and explained that they had missed the whole point of who is to be the greatest in His kingdom: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (vv. 25-28).
Yes, we have authority and we are to walk in that authority. But we are not to “exercise authority over” others. For example, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands, but that word comes immediately following his admonition that husband and wife should submit to one another. Any time a husband says to his wife, “You are supposed to submit to me!” he has just moved away from the spirit of Jesus.
Jesus does not force us to submit, though He could do that, but He loves us into submission, voluntary submission, joyous submission.
Enjoy life! Walk as a servant to those around you.
Even if you are the “chief leader.” Emulate the Master.
And you will be continually filled with His joy.
The Voice of the Lord
“Those who belong to God hear what God says.”
God has always desired an intimate relationship with us.
When Adam and Eve were in Eden after the fall, they “heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden…” (Genesis
3:8). God was wanting to be with His
children, but their sin and shame were keeping them apart.
In eternity, God’s desire will be culminated when “the dwelling of God is with men, and He will
live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and
be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
Jesus came to be among us and to restore us to the Father.
In the closing days of His time among us, He told His friends, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come
to you.” (John 14:18). “I will ask
the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you
forever – the Spirit of truth” (v. 16).
Prayer is intended to be a two-way conversation with the
Father – talking to Him and listening for Him. The next time you are in prayer,
pause and listen. And when you hear something that is so Godly, in no way
ungodly, maybe even very creatively beyond you, something that would not have
been your own thinking, you will know that you are hearing from Him. When that
happens, just ask Him for the energy to follow whatever He desires.
His will for you is always good.
Have a good week.
“The Word was God”
By the time the apostle John wrote his account of Jesus’
life, he not only had experienced the years of walking beside Jesus, but the horror
of watching him tortured and killed. Though Jesus had often told His disciples
that He would be killed and resurrected, no one seemed to understand that He
was speaking of a literal return. John would always remember the resurrection
morning when the women returned from the tomb and told the troubled disciples
that the body was no longer in the grave. John and Peter immediately ran to the
grave. John himself reports that when he saw the empty grave clothes, he believed
He believed. Believed. Not only did he believe in the
resurrection, but also in the fullness of Him who had walked among us.
John would have later thought back through the times when
Jesus was seen after his resurrection, his ascension and the angels’ assurance
that he would return “in the same way you
have seen him go into heaven.” As John thought back on all that had
happened, he must have often thought back to the words of Isaiah, who had seen
it all prophetically, but how impossible it was to believe until everything happened:
“To us a child is born,
to us a son is given…. He will be called… Mighty God, Everlasting Father.” The
son born would be God, would be the Everlasting Father! (9:6-7)
“The virgin will be
with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” (7:14).
Immanuel: God with us (Matthew 1:23). God had walked among us.
”He was despised and
rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from
whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not…. he was led
like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so
he did not open his mouth… he was cut off from the land of the living…He was
assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death…After the
suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied….he bore
the sin of many.” (Isaiah 53)
That He would be rejected, that He would be silent before
His accusers, that He would die, that His death would be with the wicked, but
somehow also with the rich, that He would come back to life, and that He would
carry our sins – it was all predicted through Isaiah, but never comprehended
until it happened.
So John, pen in hand, began to write his own account of this
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.”
As we celebrate Christmas this year, may Jesus, God with
us/God in human form/God born to a virgin from Nazareth, God who now lives
within His followers through the Holy Spirit – may this Jesus surround us and
be the ever-present Guest among us.
The best is still ahead. Have a blessed year in Jesus.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” -Revelation 14:13
Most of you will have heard of the death of Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist who spoke before millions during his life-time call to the continent of Africa. I am choosing to call his death a “good report,” since all of us who are followers of Jesus believe that life is grander after death – that death, for the believer, is a promotion, not a defeat. “To die is gain,” Paul told the community in Philippi, “I desire to depart to be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:21-23).
Some of us will remember with joy when Reinhard and Anni came to Belmont in the 90s. I especially remember two things about his visit.
- His recall of the time when God was calling him to Africa. He responded by asking God why he would choose him for this weighty assignment. The Lord’s response to Reinhard was that he was actually not God’s first choice. He was choice number three, but the other two had declined, then asked Reinhard, “Will you do it?” Thankfully he responded positively and became a surrendered instrument in the Lord’s hand.
- The other memory was when a few of us were having breakfast the next morning with Reinhard and Anni. Anni assured us that we were seeing the real Reinhard Bonnke. “This is who he is day and night. This is his vocation, his avocation, his hobby, his joy – talking about Jesus and preaching the gospel to the unsaved.”
And that he did. On one occasion he spoke to over 1 ½ million people all gathered together in one place in Nigeria.
Two other brothers and I traveled in 1991 to Kano, Nigeria, to join in one of Reinhard’s campaigns, but unfortunately we were not able to complete our assignment because of the radical Muslim uprising at the parade ground where the campaign was to have been held. We were, in fact, under heavy police protection during the few hours in Kano, before we were taken to the airport, and the airport closed, until all of us who were a part of his entourage were out of the country. We never felt unsafe, even though, from the reports, about 200 people who were setting up the arrangements at the parade grounds were killed in the uprising. The people back home were in serious prayer for us because they heard of the opposition that came against us.
So – I am rejoicing with Anni and the family that this esteemed husband, father, grandfather and friend-man of God is at home with Jesus.
May we all look forward to the time when we, too, will be gathered together with the Lord and with the believers who have gone before us.
Hassan (not his real name) lives in Cairo, Egypt. He is an
ardent disciple of Jesus, and has studied Islam completely so that he will be
more capable in talking about Jesus to his Muslim friends. He knows that this
can be dangerous, and that he has to be careful how he approaches people, but
his passion is great to see more people come into an understanding of who Jesus
Though Hassan knew that he had a dangerous lifestyle, he still was not prepared for the encounter he had early one morning long before daylight when a masked man stood over him, the point of a revolver at his head, and demanding that he get up and come with him. As the masked man escorted Hassan through the streets of Cairo, Hassan assumed he was soon to be executed for his faith. “Lord Jesus, unto your hands I commit my spirit,” he prayed out loud as his captor continued to their destination. Together they entered into an abandoned building where a group of ten men were waiting. As the men saw Hassan enter their room, they all looked at him and began smiling. “We are all imams,” they said, “and we began having dreams about Jesus. We are now followers of Christ, and knew that this was the only way to get you here without endangering your life. We want you to teach us the Bible.”
After several minutes of laughing uproariously, Hassan
gladly began to oblige his captor and his fellow imams who had already come to
faith in Jesus.
This story and many others like it are contained in a book
by Tom Doyle called Dreams and Visions.
Get it, read it, and be encouraged.
The Lord is bringing millions of Muslims and other people
groups to faith in Jesus.
Join me in prayer – not only for a continuation of these
dreams and visions, but also for all of us that we are ready at any time to tell
people about this Jewish Redeemer/Messiah who is also the Savior of the world.
Have a blessed in the presence of Jesus week!
1 Peter 5:8
According to 1 John 2:15, there are three basic temptations
in life: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
These were the temptations to which Adam and Eve fell in the
Garden. The fruit was “pleasant to the eye” (lust of eyes), would taste good
(lust of the flesh), and was supposed to make them “like God” (pride of life).
Jesus Himself conquered all these when He was tempted by the devil after those
40 days of fasting and prayer in the Judean wilderness. “Turn these stones into
bread in order to still your hunger” (lust of the flesh), “Jump from the Temple
to you’re your power since Scripture says that the angels will catch you”
(pride of life). “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you will
fall down and worship me. You won’t have to go to the cross (lust of the
I have found both through personal experience and through
observing others, that we are most susceptible to these temptations when 1) we
are very tired, 2) when we are “very high,” 3) very stressed and self-medicate,
and 4) when we are in a strange environment.
When we are very tired, we may let down our guard and defenses,
and begin to think, even subconsciously, that we deserve a break. That “break” can
lead us to indulge ourselves in things we would not do if we were alert.
When we are “very high,” not necessarily on some substance,
but just high on life, things are going well for us, maybe we’ve received a
promotion, or received some honor, or maybe we’re even “high” in the Lord,
feeling so close to Him that we feel almost invincible and are not expecting
temptation to be lurking.
When we are very stressed, we do not go to the source of our
comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) but self-medicate to avoid the Lord’s presence. Even
as we are stressed, are we standing on God’s Word?
When we are in a strange environment, we do not have around
us the people who often help to keep us focused.
In those moments, we can be the most susceptible to areas of
failure, expressing itself in some form of lust, self-focus, self-elevation,
maybe an outburst of anger, perhaps an offense because we are not appreciative,
or some other unexpected enticement.
In such cases, Peter’s word is the word for the moment: “Be
Yes, Lord, may we accept this God-given-Peter-phrased advice,
always relying on Your help so that, even in those times, we walk forward in