Sermon Series


“Losing to Win”August 13, 2017 Pastor Ben Willis

The Prophet Jeremiah 21:1-10 [NLTse]
The Lord spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him. They begged Jeremiah, 2 “Please speak to the Lord for us and ask him to help us. King Nebuchadnezzar[a] of Babylon is attacking Judah. Perhaps the Lord will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past. Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”

3 Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, 4 ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians[b] who are outside your walls attacking you. In fact, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious! 6 I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die. 7 And after all that, says the Lord, I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their other enemies. He will slaughter them and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.’
8 “Tell all the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Take your choice of life or death! 9 Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! 10 For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’

SERMON – “Losing To Win”
Has anyone here ever heard the name Hiroo Onoda? Hiroo Onoda was a lieutenant in the Japanese army and served during World War II. He was the last Japanese soldier to surrender at the end of the War. World War II ended in 1945. Lt. Onoda surrendered in 1974!
Onoda was stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines when it was taken over by U.S. forces in February of 1945. Almost all of his comrades were killed or captured, but Onoda and several others hid deep in the jungle there. He and his men had been ordered by their superiors to maintain their assignment until they received specific orders otherwise. Having never received such orders, their strict adherence to the Japanese military code of discipline and honor kept them at their post. And while all of his fellow evaders were eventually killed, Onoda held out for 29 years, dismissing every attempt to coax him out of the jungle as a trick!

Finally, in 1974, the Japanese government sent Onoda’s former commanding officer to Lubang to order Onoda to surrender. When Lieutenant Onoda stepped out of the jungle to accept the order, he was wearing his dress uniform, had his officer’s sword strapped to his side, with his rifle still in good working condition!

This past week we read Jeremiah chapters 21-40 (those of us reading through the Bible together in 2017). In our reading, the Lord has given the prophet Jeremiah a clear message for the king, the leaders, and the people of Israel: Surrender to the Babylonian army, let them take you away into exile in foreign lands, and live; or, keep fighting, and be destroyed. As you might imagine, there is huge opposition to the Word of the Lord Jeremiah has been called to proclaim. Many among the nobility and priesthood, even other so-called prophets, are arguing that God would never let them suffer defeat: They are His people! The LORD would never let Jerusalem be destroyed: God’s Temple is there! As a matter of fact, several other prophets begin preaching that the Babylonians would be driven away and that all the damage Babylon had done to Israel, and everything they had plundered, would be restored within two years! Jeremiah responds, “I wish that was true, but it’s not going to happen. We either surrender or we die.”
God calls us – all humanity, and His Own precious people – to surrender, too.

Of course, “surrender” is a military term. It is when one gives all their rights over to the opposition. When an army surrenders, they lay down their weapons, and the other side takes control of them from then on. Their life and their welfare is in the others’ hands…
Surrendering to God works the same way. The Lord tells us we are sinners, that is, rebels: Rebelling against Him, rebelling against the way He made us to live, and rebelling against the plans He has for our lives. So, surrendering to Him means believing that we are sinners and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as His way for getting right with Him again. Surrendering to Him means believing He has a way for us to live that is different from how we’re living, and so trading-in what we want to say and do for what He wants us to say and do. (That’s repentance.) And, surrendering to Him means believing He has a plan for our lives, and so setting aside our own plans in order to eagerly seek His.

One pastor defined “surrendering to God” this way:
• Following God’s leading even though you don’t know where He’s sending you;
• Waiting and trusting in God’s timing even when you’re not sure how long it might be or what it will bring;
• Expecting a miracle even knowing it’s impossible to come;
• Trusting God’s purposes even when your circumstances make no sense.
You know you’re surrendered to God when you rely on Him to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don’t have to always be in charge. Instead of trying harder, you trust more.
Genuine surrender says, “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill Your purpose and glory in my life or in another’s life, please don’t take it away!”

Oswald Chambers in his famous devotional My Utmost For His Highest says that true surrender is only for Jesus’ sake and the sake of the Good News. Surrendering to Christ must not be done for what we might get out of it. For example, we might say, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin; because I want to be made holy.” And, of course, being delivered from sin and being made holy will be the result of being right with God, but our motive for surrender shouldn’t be for any personal gain. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself! It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want You, but I do want the good things you have.” Gaining Heaven, being delivered from sin, being made useful to God… these are all good things, but should never be a consideration in genuine surrender. At the heart of genuine, total surrender is our wanting nothing but Jesus Christ Himself…

(Of course, the great news about surrender is that God does have good plans and good things for us. He conquers us in order to bless us.)

The first step to surrendering our lives to Christ is perhaps the hardest. In the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and Jesus’ ascension to Heaven to send the Holy Spirit and intercede for us – in all of that – is an invitation to each of us to surrender to, and walk through life with, the Creator of the universe and the Savior of sinners. Will we accept such an invitation by accepting the sacrifice and lordship of Jesus Christ?

If we will, then, can we stop striving and start abiding? I see and hear so many Christian folk saying, “I’m striving to be God’s man;” “I’m striving to be a godly woman.” And, I don’t judge these folks but, Psalm 46:8 says so clearly, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (NASB). At the heart of surrendering is letting go of trying to make God’s things happen in our lives. We don’t have to strive to make ourselves be a certain way or our lives turn out a certain way. We just have to abide in Him (John 15).

And a part of “abiding” is facing what comes to us God’s way. Ask yourself, “Are you living life on your terms, or are you living it on the Lord’s terms?” If He says, “Get rid of anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth,” do you say, “Yeah, Lord, but…”? If He says, “Be anxious for nothing,” do you say, “Yeah, Lord, but…”?

In today’s world, our relationship with God might cost us our family, our friends, our job, and, in some extreme cases, our lives! Will we surrender our wants and our will – that hinders us from having a better relationship with Jesus Christ – and seek to abide by living according to His will?

Andrew and Simon Peter, James and John, Matthew the tax-collector… they all surrendered everything to follow Jesus Christ. (They didn’t give everything away, they just gave it over to God!) The rich young ruler, on the other hand, even though Jesus loved Him, couldn’t surrender… wouldn’t surrender…

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, besieged by the armies of Babylon, surrendering because God said so meant life: Not necessarily a pleasant life; not necessarily an easy life; not knowing where they’d be taken; not knowing what their life there would bring; but, trusting in the Lord, surrender meant life! To us, besieged by trials and troubles, the powers of sin and darkness, and the propaganda and ways of society and the world, surrendering to God because He’s said so also means life: Not always a pleasant life; not an easy life; not always knowing where we’re being taken; not knowing what this life will bring; but, trusting in our Father, surrender means a closer and more intimate relationship with the Lord Who is the giver of life: The One Who’s given His life for you and me on the cross; Who’s given His life so that we might surrender, take His side in the battle raging for our families, neighbors, and the world, and know His companionship, covering, and glory…

“Higher Ground”June 18, 2017 A.D. By Pastor Ben Willis

PSALM 128 [NLTse]
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow His ways! 2 You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. 4 That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear Him.
5 May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. 6 May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!

I want to talk to the men here in the Sanctuary this morning. All the rest of you, please stay and listen in, be encouraged, and keep your ears and hearts open to what the Lord may be saying to you. But, primarily, I want to speak to you, men; to us, men…

I’m not saying what I’m about to say because it’s all on you, men. Nor am I saying what I’m about to say because without you – without us – all would be lost. No. The Lord is the Lord, and the Lord is the Savior. And women and wives are key, and are so gifted and equipped by the Lord, and bear so much of the burdens of life and kids and healthy living and spirituality across our nation and the nations.

No, I want to talk to you, men, because we need to be talked to about God’s things more regularly and more directly than we often do. We need to hear about and feel the weight of the responsibility that Almighty God has placed on our shoulders, even as we need to hear more about the sacrifice the Lord has offered on the cross to make a Way for us, and about the Helper and the Comforter Whom the Lord has given us so that we can succeed in everything He’s called us to.
That being said, have you noticed that there’s a shortage of real men out there? (And I’m going to define “real men” today as men who say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”) I read a story once about someone who, while visiting a little village, asked one of the folks living there, “Have you ever had anyone famous born here?” And the villager replied, “No, we’ve only had babies born here.”

Men: The good news is that real men – men who love God, and who love their wife and kids, and who enjoy life and living it – aren’t born; it’s a process. We can all grow and become – more and more – the men, husbands, and fathers we want to be and were made by God to be! And Psalm 128, shortly and concisely, tells us how we men can – by God’s grace – grow to – more and more – become such men!

First, can you see with me that everything flows from the first verse? Verse 1 says, “How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow His ways!” And then everything else is the result of that: Enjoying the fruit of our labors; being joyful and successful; our wives flourishing and fruitful; our kids vigorous and growing ready for life in the world… And the psalm then ends pointing us back to verse 1, saying, “That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear Him.”

So, let me start at the end and then move back to the beginning. That is, what are we being promised here (and across all the pages of Scripture, since this short psalm is in reality just a wonderful summary of so many different passages and promises)?

First, let me paint you a picture. Did you know that the planet Jupiter is Earth’s “first line of defense” against galactic destruction? Yeah. Jupiter is something like 99.9 percent efficient at throwing all the dangerous space junk, asteroids, and meteorites that head towards Earth back out to interstellar space!

Because Jupiter is 318 times heavier than Earth, Jupiter’s mass creates a huge gravitational field that acts as a giant vacuum. Almost all of the space “junk” that gets soaring towards Earth gets drawn into Jupiter’s gravitational field and drawn away from us to be drawn towards Jupiter.

This was lived-out in a spectacular way about fifteen years ago when a monster-comet that was headed towards Earth broke into fragments with more destructive power than all the atomic bombs humans have ever made combined. But the fragments were drawn away from us as they passed through Jupiter’s gravitational field and hit Jupiter instead (without leaving a trace).

I know the ancient Romans didn’t know these things about Jupiter, but with its protective role in mind, it seems to me that they named the biggest planet well: Because in Old Latin, Jupiter means “Sky-Father.”

I share this, men – husbands, dads – because we are called by God to protect and provide for our families. But somehow we’ve lost the true sense of such protection and provision over the years. Somehow, someway, we’ve come to think that we can just give our kids “stuff”, “things” and lay-down rules for them to live by in “our homes” and think we’ve met our obligation as protectors and providers! Somehow, someway we’ve come to think that protecting and providing for our families means putting our wives and kids in a beautiful home and then yelling at them – or hiding away from them in front of ESPN or C-SPAN – after we get home. But if we think that in doing that we’ve done all that God has for us to do, we’re wrong!

Our wives (often) have the need to be assured that they are loved and attractive to us. They (often) have the need to feel secure in the midst of this topsy-turvy, ever-threatening, ever-changing world. Our ladies want to know that they matter to us and that their lives matter and make a difference to us, and to the kids, and to our neighbors and the world around them and to the Lord! God’s calling us to help protect them from these kinds of anxieties, fears, and insecurities – the “junk” that would batter and pummel and destroy them. The Lord is calling us to help provide the emotional and spiritual stability needed in our marriages and in our homes.

Our kids, of course, face their own “junk”. They want to feel accepted, and loved. They want to feel safe and secure. They want to enjoy the adventures of life while learning boundaries and how to love and serve others. They want to grow in understanding their place in the world and know that they’ll be ready to take that place when they reach adulthood. And the Lord’s calling us to protect them from pressures and threats and to provide what they need to succeed in it all!
But how can we be such a protector? We have our own fears and anxieties, don’t we, men? How can we be such a provider? We have our own insecurities, don’t we, men? God’s answer for us is to fear Him: “How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow His ways!”

But what does that mean? What does it mean to “fear the Lord“? Okay, so, the Lord can squash us all like bugs, if He liked. Are we supposed to simply grovel and beg and live in the fear of that? No. The truth is that He’s made clear that He doesn’t want to crush us. No, He’s gone to the cross and paid the penalty for our sins and given us Jesus’ Own righteousness and drawn us to Himself in love, instead! So, “fearing the Lord” for us His children by faith in Jesus means giving Him the respect He is due: Honoring Him; taking Him seriously; recognizing that He is holy; placing Him at the center of everything we are, everything we think, everything we say and do and plan to do!

Paul tells us in Colossians 1:18, “In all things Christ should have the preeminence”. He should be “first in everything”! Which connects us with the second part of this first verse, men: We fear God, we respect Him and honor Him and put Him at the center of everything in our lives by “following His ways.”

We live Jesus’ Way by thinking about and behaving in-line with Jesus’ teachings, His easy yoke: We love, and do good to, our enemies… We give to, and comfort, those in need… We forgive those who’ve hurt us and ask forgiveness when we’ve hurt others… Men, the Lord tells us that joy, blessing, and true happiness in life are the by-product – the fruit that grows from – living our lives God’s way. Not just believing He’s our Savior, but living with Him as our Lord. Everything good and perfect thing in this life flows from this!

And yet, don’t we all have friends or know people who are literally killing themselves trying to get ahead in life, to find joy and blessing and happiness for themselves, to make their marriages work, to keep their kids out of trouble? But the Lord shows us that the contentment, peace, wonder-and-awe we’re all looking for doesn’t come from our circumstances or our possessions or our relationships. We won’t find them by changing our jobs, or by getting an “A” on our test, or with a new hairdo, or with a new wife (or a new husband) or a new car or a new outfit… No. Joy, blessing, and happiness – every good thing in life – comes when we live life according to God’s ways; by fearing Him; putting the Lord first and making Him our center and trusting all He’s said and promised.

(Don’t get me wrong: We can strive for the world’s version of success and achieve such goals, but we will live to regret it! The truth is, in whatever we do, without God, we will either fail miserably or succeed miserably!)
Joy, blessing, and happiness come from fearing the Lord – from being afraid of what our lives would be without Him, from fearing missing any of His good things for us; every good things comes from orienting our lives around God as He’s shown Himself to us in Jesus Christ.

Men: Our greatest work is not building a great business. Our greatest work is not building a great church. Our greatest work for the Lord is to love Him, to love our wives, to love our children, and to pass on to them the values and the heritage and the way of life of the Word of God. (Which will, in-turn, cause them to pass the message of Christ down through all their generations, as well!)

If this is all new to you, men, then start simply but radically: Begin reading a chapter of the Bible every day. Start in one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Read a chapter, highlighting or taking notes of whatever jumps out at you. Then think about what changes you would need to make in your life to live out what you just read. And commit to make those changes. Talk to God, ask for His help and blessing, and pray for your wife, your kids, your grandkids, not just His blessing on their lives but that they, too, like you, would grow in “fearing” Him and building their lives on Him.

If you’re ready for next steps: Start gathering your family together and read the Bible and talk about what you’re reading together; pray together as a family for each other’s struggles and for each other to grow in “the fear of the Lord”; offer yourself to be a part of a ministry here at the church; serve together with your wife or as a family, if you can; look for ways to push yourself in living out and sharing your faith; seek ways to face your fears and cast your anxieties on the Lord; if you’re too busy, then look at things you can cut out of your life to give you room and space to grow and to enjoy letting the Lord grow you…

Why is the father’s role so important? Because the father is intended to be the spiritual representative of God in the home. The husband is supposed to represent the leadership of Christ with his wife and family. The Bible says husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it! Men, we are to love our wives and give ourselves up for them! The reason that we men must live godly lives is so that we can model before our families and the world the love, character, and care of God Himself! We are to be the spiritual leader of our homes. We are to be the spiritual examples in our homes.

May the Lord continually bless you, men. May you see your family and the family of God prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. And may our nation have peace!

Of course, none of us can do all that the Lord has called us to do on our own. Men can’t. Women can’t. Those who are young and those who are old can’t. No, we need Jesus. The Lord Jesus has destroyed the power of sin over us by dying on the cross; He’s destroyed the fear of death for us in His sacrifice! And He’s given us the Holy Spirit so we can grow to be more and more like Him, and to empower us to succeed in everything He might call us to. We are more than conquerors – men, women, guys, gals – through Him Who loved us.

After Sermon Note:
After the sermon Pastor Ben then asked to have everyone in the church move to be near one of the men of the church…]
Have them lay their hands on those men…
Have the church pray for the men of the church…

March 26, 2017 A.D., by Pastor Ben Willis

1 SAMUEL 24:1-12 [NLTse]
After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats.
3 At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!

4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.
5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord Himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.

After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 8 David came out and shouted after him, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.

9 Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’ 11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.
12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you.

In our reading, David (before he’s become king) is being hunted by Saul – who was king of Israel at that time. King Saul is hunting David because he has become jealous of David’s popularity with the people. (That, and because Saul has become harassed by demons on account of his only following the LORD when it benefits him.) As David has been on-the-run, living as a fugitive, a band of others who’ve suffered under Saul’s rule have also joined-together with him.
At the time of our reading, King Saul has an elite force hunting David and his men. What Saul doesn’t know is that David and his band are hiding far back in a cave, the same cave that Saul ducks into to use the bathroom! David’s men, seeing Saul alone and so vulnerable, take it as a sign that the LORD wants them to kill the king. But David interprets the situation differently. Saul has set aside his robe as he relieves himself, so David sneaks forward, cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe, and then retreats back into the cave.

Once King Saul has finished and is back with his troops and ready to resume the hunt, David comes out of the cave and shows the king and his troops the piece of Saul’s robe. “You are hunting me because you think I am trying to take over Israel,” David calls out to them. “But, King Saul, if I’d wanted to harm you I could have cut you as easily as I cut your robe.” Years later, because of such honorable and gracious acts on David’s part, when King Saul is killed in battle and Israel is looking for someone to replace him, David is looked upon favorably and they make him king over them.

What I’d like us to see in all this is that when David’s men saw the king come into the cave alone and so helpless, they whispered to David that this was his opportunity to kill the king. But David, looking at the exact same circumstances, knew the LORD well-enough to know that that’s not what the LORD wanted. That is, even though Saul had become David’s enemy, David knew the LORD wanted him to humble himself to Saul; to honor his enemy; to serve him…

As we live here in the world, I think that we, too, can find lots of voices whispering for us to come back with a clever put down, to make them pay for what they’ve done, to take advantage of their weakness to get the upper hand, tit for tat, do it to them before they do it to you… But, for those of us who are getting to know the Lord’s voice and His will as we study and trust in His Word, we know that more often than not, the Lord is calling us to be more humble; to be more honoring; to be the servant of all…

But this isn’t just the way the Lord calls us to treat our enemies…
When the Lord Jesus and His twelve disciples gathered around the table at that last supper, they all knew somebody needed to be assigned the job of washing off all their feet. Now, there weren’t many worse jobs out there than washing and wiping the dirt and dung off of people’s feet. It was the job for a slave, for the least of those among you, for the “lowest man on the totem pole”. But which of them was that going to be? Which of them would Jesus choose to embarrass and shame with such a job? But then Jesus took a towel and a bucket and redefined greatness by washing their feet Himself!

The Lord Jesus summarized His Own life this way: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45) And in the letter To the Philippians, through the apostle Paul the Holy Spirit calls every Christian to have that same attitude. Chapter 2:6-8 says, Though He was God, He did not think of His divinity as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine status; taking the humble position of being born as a human being! Then, after appearing in human form, He humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Taking seriously the Lord Jesus’ call to serve those around us tends to lead fairly quickly to the fear that: “If I do that, people will take advantage of me; they will walk all over me!” Which brings us to the difference between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant.

When we choose to serve, we are still in charge. We decide whom we will serve and when we will serve. And if we are in charge, we’ll worry a lot about others taking advantage of us and walking all over us. But when we choose to be a servant, we give up being in charge. And the Lord Jesus shows us the great freedom in this.

Like the Lord, when we voluntarily choose to give up our rights, when we choose to be in a position where we can be taken advantage of, then no one can manipulate or control us. When we voluntarily choose to serve the great and the least of these, to do the great sacrificial acts as well as the unnoticed menial duties, we make ourselves vulnerable, but in choosing to do that ourselves, we make ourselves invulnerable.

It is the same power that lies behind turning the other cheek and taking a bully’s load farther than they’d asked and doing good to those treating us poorly: When we do such things willingly then others no longer have any power over us. We are no longer the victim. We have chosen to serve, to honor, to be humble, and so nothing and no one can hurt us.
William Law, in his famous 18th Century book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, spoke of the life of a servant this way: “…condescend to all the weaknesses and infirmities of your fellow-creatures, cover their frailties, love their excellencies, encourage their virtues, relieve their wants, rejoice in their prosperities, compassionate their distress, receive their friendship, overlook their unkindness, forgive their malice, be a servant of servants, and condescend to do the lowest offices to the lowest of mankind.”

So, the fear that we may be taken advantage of and stepped on is justified. That is exactly what may happen. But who can hurt someone who has freely chosen to be stepped on?

Here are some types of servant-heartedness the Lord Jesus challenges us to. There is “hidden service”: That is, serving in such a way that no one knows you were the one who did it. Since serving can make us look good, hidden service keeps us humble and squashes our pride.

There is “serving in the little things”. When we only seek to serve as a part of big things we only need to sacrifice for a time. And many people are willing to do that. But committing to serve even in the little things requires us to sacrifice constantly, since there are always little things that need doing! The “service of little things” keeps us fighting against our natural tendency towards laziness.

The Lord Jesus calls us to guard the reputation of others as a part of our servant-hood. Paul charges young Pastor Titus to “speak evil of no one”. (3:2) But it’s not just for pastors. There is a discipline in holding our tongue that works wonders within us.

We serve when we let others serve us. Not getting caught up in the need to repay their kindness, but simply and graciously receiving their service to us.

We serve by treating others courteously. Some today have come to see social kindnesses as meaningless and even hypocritical. But saying “please” and “thank you”, holding the door open for another, and offering our seats to women and those older than us are simply ways of acknowledging the image of God in others and affirming their worth.
We serve by showing hospitality, even when there’s no food and it doesn’t happen in our own homes. At the heart of it, hospitality is simply welcoming another and being present with them; sharing their lives and sharing your with them.
We serve by listening to others. Just as our love for God often begins by listening to His Word, the beginning of our love for others often begins by listening to them.

We serve by bearing each other’s burdens: That is, letting others share their troubles and sorrows with us and then handing, or helping them hand those troubles into the strong, gentle arms of Jesus.

And, as we’ve been talking about and practicing in the Adult Class, we serve others by sharing what God has told us about them with them. It may be a word of comfort or of encouragement. It may be a word of challenge or of revelation. And, of course, God speaking to us for another doesn’t guarantee we’ll understand the message He has for them correctly. So we must speak and share such things humbly. But we must not hold back from serving one another in such ways.
The risen Christ calls us to the ministry of “the towel and the helping hand”. Such service, flowing out of the deep places of the heart, is life and joy and peace.