Service That Demands A Reason

It’s not long after children learn to speak that they begin asking questions. I think the favorite of all time is ‘why’. It’s natural for them to wonder why birds fly, why trees are called trees and why they can’t stand in shopping carts. They desire to understand their world; and reasons help them make sense of things. We’re the same way.

I ask myself the ‘why question’ at times when it comes to my faith and service. Much of what we are called to do by faith doesn’t make sense when we walk by sight. A re-visiting of Jesus’ story puts things back into perspective and service makes sense for me once again. I hope this re-telling of His story will do that for you as well.

A Sacrificial Death

crucified-cross-578217_960_720-pixabayThe day was long and dismal; the haters many. Evil enjoyed its finest hour as the Savior of the World hung dying on a cross. Darkness seized the day. Mockers shouted blasphemous cruelty at the One who came to seek and save that which was lost. While gamblers parted His garments, the Son-of-Man made provision for His mother and gave eternal hope to a dying thief.

The moment had come. Death took his best shot. With three short words, “It Is Finished”, Jesus commended His Spirit into the hands of His Father and Life breathed His last. The earth shook. The rocks were split. The thick veil of the temple was rent; torn from top to bottom by hands far greater than the ones that nailed His Son to the tree. His mother was grieved, his disciples fearful and confused as the Hope of Nations was laid in a borrowed tomb. Was there ever so palpable a darkness?

Hope Resurrected

empty-cave-1642215_960_720-pixabay-crerative-commonsIt was the third day. Morning came and the last vestige of night rolled away with the stone. The Son of God rose with power, conquering the very death that once slew Him. Women came to anoint His body for a proper burial but He wasn’t there. The tomb lay empty, housing nothing more than a linen napkin and the empty shell of grave cloths. Life and Light conquered death and darkness; and every hope once buried with Christ rose with Him. And so we live.

The Reason that Demands Our Service

Every bit of brutality Jesus endured on the cross was payment for a debt He didn’t owe. The debt was ours. Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. This wasn’t something that just happened. It was for this very reason He came into the world. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” He chose this!

We serve Him because He is worthy. We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19.  His death is our payment.His resurrection is our hope. His word is our message. His love is our proof and His promise is our future.sunrise-1460243_960_720-pixabay-creative-commons 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” We serve Him so that others may know; until the last battle, on the last day. And then, in peace we will serve Him still.

How About You

Still asking yourself the ‘why question’? Wondering if this Jesus is really all that He’s professed to be? You’re in good company. One of His disciples had the same question. John 1:46 And Nathanael said to him “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” And so I extend the invitation to you.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pictures: Compliments of Pixabay Creative Commons CC0.

 

 

 

Comfortable Crosses

Sunshine Cross 923890_960_720PixabayMost all of us have been there before. You know, that place where your ‘should-have-been’ and your ‘wish-it-was’ doesn’t line up with your ‘how-it-is’. It’s not a fun place to be but there I was. I didn’t say anything, at least not out loud but the statement was made all the same. “Lord, I don’t know how to be anymore.” I wasn’t looking for an answer. I didn’t ask a question. Silent but sure the answer came, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32. What was I to do with that?

I had the rebuttals (both witty and whiny), the wherefores and the reasons. They were good ones too. I know. I worked hard on them, mulling them over and refining them like polished silver. ‘It’s-not fair’ and ‘I shouldn’t have to’ seemed pretty good. After all, I wasn’t at fault in the matter. The problem was my excuses didn’t line up with my calling.

Comfortable Crosses

Cross Necklace1330677_960_720PixabayI sat alone, thinking after prayer meeting one morning. My mind wandered a bit until my eye caught the cross over the baptistery. It’s a simple cross; sanded, stained and varnished to match the rest of the wood in the church. It lends a respectful nod to the cross of long ago but lacks the rugged, brutal character of the one on which our Savior died.

While I stray near the borders  of the comfort zone of my faith, I’m not so keen to sacrifice for others or to bestow upon them the grace that was so freely given to me. To be honest, I’m better acquainted with a shiny cross around my neck than a rugged one behind my back.

Call of the Cross

Jesus addressed a group of His followers, explaining the demands of service.  Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. The call of the cross is ‘life by a thousand deaths’. It’s the daily laying aside of our rights and privileges for the sake of others. It’s getting us out of the way so they can see Him. That’s not easy.

If anyone had the right to demand His rights, it was Jesus. He could have cried unfair. He could have saved Himself. He did neither. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and power to release you?” John 19:10. Pilate couldn’t take His life and he didn’t have to. Jesus said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:18. Our pardon was the plan of the Father. Our payment was the price of His Son. Our privilege is to take up the cross and follow.

How About You

Do you struggle with this as I do? Do you wonder how to get past the natural tendency to want to strike back? We must look beyond the pleasure of retaliation to the place of restoration. Jesus gave us the example. He made the pathway clear. We just need to walk in it; and we do that by faith. You’ll be amazed to witness this uncomfortable cross bring comfort and peace.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pictures taken from Pixabay Creative Commons CCO

Marigold Madness

20160422_160215 I bring good news! The marigolds are in. After a season of barren trees, flowerless planters and brown grass, I long to look out my kitchen window and see the cheery colorful blooms of marigolds.  You can imagine my opening the sale paper of our local nursery to find these little lovelies on the front page. My flower-loving heart was overjoyed! Well, it was. My husband once asked if we needed to plant so many marigolds.  In a word…yes!

Marigolds are a wonderful flower.  The bright orange and yellow blooms atop full, green leafy stems add a lovely burst of color to the garden and a bit of cheer to me.  They are a hardy low maintenance flower, easy to grow and can withstand the summer’s heat.  Granted, they are not the sweetest smelling flower in the garden.  Ok, they stink; but they are a beneficial flower that helps protect a variety of vegetables from hungry insects.

Taking Over

One morning while finishing the dishes, I looked out my kitchen window admiring my little garden. The marigolds planted around the cherry tomatoes were big and full and peppered with little red tomatoes just above them.  It was too inviting to just look at so I grabbed my basket and headed to the garden.

20160422_160023 (3)As much as I enjoy the flowers, I really enjoy tomatoes.  I was disappointed to find that there were not very many tomatoes though.  Just behind the flowers, I found a bunch of tiny green tomatoes shaded from the much needed sun.  I realized that something was going to be sacrificed that day and I wasn’t pleased. The solution came with the answer to one simple question, “What are you growing here?”  Since I was growing tomatoes and the marigolds became detrimental to them, the marigolds had to go.  It was that simple.

Marigold-like Madness

This same madness happens in our families, our workplaces and our ministries.  Activities, hobbies and programs once designed to enrich us gradually become so important and all-consuming that they drain the very life out of that which they were meant to enhance. In ministry, the work of man can become so important that it supersedes the will of God; making it necessary to uproot us and cast us aside as detrimental.  God forbid!

How About You

Do you find yourself struggling to keep the main thing the main thing? Have your personal goals or plans become more important than that of your company or ministry? The solution to this dilemma is to have the mind of Christ, who made himself of no reputation taking upon himself the form of a servant and to understand as John the Baptist did that ‘He (*meaning Jesus) must increase but  I must decrease’. John 3:30.  It’s that simple.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*emphasis added