Saturday, October 22, 2011

Character: A Spirit of Adoption

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:14, 15

This is an exciting aspect of the journey to Christ-likeness. Even the doorway of adoption is glorious; what Christ inherently was and is becomes ours as we are adopted as children of God. The heavenly Father, though, is abundantly generous and the transformation from ‘child’ to ‘son’ is magnificent.

In the book of John, the author states that receiving Jesus allows Him to give us the authority to become a child of God. Adoption into the family of God is the Father’s will for every human being! Christ employed His position as Son solely to accomplish the will of the Father. Indeed, all of Jesus’ earthly life fed upon the will of God. From childhood, the sovereign Savior focused on the work of the Father. Scripture tells us that the eternal Son grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man during His earthly life. It is the Father’s intention that we pursue a similar path!

Examining Jesus’ life gives us clues to aid us on our journey. As a child, Jesus clearly understood the necessity of being about the Father’s business. He was not constrained by expectations nor deterred by rejection or persecution. Christ’s insistence on traveling through Samaria--inappropriate by Jewish standards—is one revelation of His tenacious focus on the plan of the Father. Jesus emphasized in that passage that He found nourishment in doing the will of the Father and completing His work. Our earthly comfort, acceptance and enjoyment must fall in place behind the purposes of God. The will of God is abundant, fulfilling nourishment.

Woven throughout scripture is a theme of growth from infancy to sonship. Godly love is the antithesis of childishness. Child-like faith is beautiful and child-like innocence of evil precious, but understanding the truths of God takes us beyond childhood. Our desire for the milk of God’s word will propel us to growth. The ultimate aim is that we, like Christ, will mature to being sustained by the meat of God’s will. Our growth in Christ produces the quality of character that ‘son’ implies. Might we all fix our eyes on Jesus, that we, too, will be able to set our faces as flint toward Jerusalem.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Servanthood Revealed

Servant hearts are God-focused, never self focused. Much of the time, true servants never see the incredible ways God uses their service. Their eyes are focused on Him and nothing else! God blesses every church--every life--with His servants. We know when we have been in their presence because they help us see Jesus. They show us how to live well and carry the name of Christ to the world.

Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church offer a pure example of servanthood. They serve God with their lives because they have seen Him. They certainly do not seek glory or fame, for attracting attention brings the risk of death. Yet, these saints serve by simply loving Jesus and bearing the consequences of doing so. In America, loving Jesus whole-heartedly has different costs but the heart is the same:

And whatever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

Marilyn Davis exemplified servanthood in this rural community. Looking on her life allows us to see an American servant in action. A Sunday school teacher for 69 years, Miss Marilyn was the picture of servant we hold in our minds. Her life demonstrated even more of the servant heart. All that she did testified to her love of Jesus Christ. She followed the Word with faithfulness and fervor. She kept her word--even to the point of living without electricity or running water because of a promise to her dad before his death. She was a diligent, faithful worker--at her job, in her home, in her community and in her church--for the glory of God. She was generous with her time, her skills and her possessions. She lived with confidence in God’s plans and provisions--and in doing so, encouraged others to do the same. Everywhere she went, she was a testimony of Jesus Christ. Her life was lived as a servant of the most High God.
As Miss Marilyn’s life revealed, God never intended to confine servanthood to church work. Servanthood opportunities are in every word and deed spoken by the ones who bear Christ‘s name. Servants produce a vision of God for those who are touched by their lives. The Christian word of encouragement given to the mom who is frazzled and discouraged can lift her eyes to the glorious purposes of God. The restrained word when a co-worker shifts the blame for shoddy work onto you offers a taste of mercy. The care given to a body or soul in need because Jesus has met your own need inspires more than just the recipient. Servanthood is a lifestyle that is to be lived in every circumstance…motherhood, workplace, nursing home or prison.

Servanthood is not about an activity or a project; it is about a heart totally sold out to Jesus Christ. Are you His servant or a slave to something much less?