5 Posts from April 2013

The Value of One Person

Esther 4:14

Many centuries ago, a woman thought things were too far gone.

She didn’t think there was anything she could do. It was only a matter of time before all the Jews would be exterminated.

You remember Esther. She was the Jewish wife of a Persian king, the man who was about to be tricked into making an irrevocable, disastrous decision. All of Esther’s people would soon be exterminated.

But just one person could turn the tide. One!

Esther’s adoptive father got her attention with these words,

“And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

That did it.

She broke longstanding protocol and put her own life at risk. She marched into the king’s throne room, spoke her mind . . . and ultimately rescued the Jews from holocaust. One woman—only one voice—saved an entire nation.

As is true of every person who stands in the gap, Esther was willing to get personally involved to the point of great sacrifice. Or, as she said, “If I perish, I perish” (4:16). She didn’t think, “Someone else should be doing this, not me,” nor did she ignore the need because of the risk.

Sacrifice! It’s the stuff that people with true character are made of. They’re the ones who make a difference. Sacrifice is the quality that defines the servant’s heart.

Before you toss all this aside, saying to yourself, “Aw, that’s for somebody else. How much difference could I make?” just stop to consider the value of one.

Once you learn to approach each day with the heart of a servant, you soon find that one person really can make a difference. There is lasting joy and real peace in that way of living. And the good news is that the Lord is actively seeking those who are ready and willing to follow Him, no matter the sacrifice or cost.

A wonderful verse reminds us: “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

It’s a lesson every pastor should take to heart.

—Chuck

The Opportunities Are Endless

Matthew 25:45

Several years ago, a group of boys and girls in Florida decided to lead their parents and other volunteers in a season of intercessory prayer for their town and for our troubled world.

The movement they started turned out to be so dynamic that more than fifteen thousand people showed up to march in support of the plan and to offer aid to the Russian refugees in their area. The young people also raised support for a Russian choir and started a prayer chain to intercede for the people of their “sister city” of Murmansk, Russia.

How many opportunities for selfless service can we find? Maybe I should ask that question another way: How many Christians are willing to improve their service toward God? Or how many acts of Christian love and kindness would it take to change the world?

The opportunities are endless.

  • In every town, every neighborhood, and on every block, lonely and sometimes unlovely men and women need to experience the love of Jesus.
  • In every city, children have never known a gentle touch or a loving smile.
  • In every state and region, God’s people can make a lasting difference.

There are random acts of love and mercy that God has already prepared for you, so that you might share in His joy—so that you might grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Go ahead . . . reach out.

You will never regret it.

 —Chuck

The Art of Unselfish Living

Philippians 2:4

The art of unselfish living is practiced by few and mastered by even less.

In today’s me-first world, we shouldn’t be surprised. It is difficult to cultivate a servant’s heart when trying to survive in a chaotic society dominated by selfish pursuits and narcissistic leaders. The greatest tragedy of such an existence is what it spawns: an independent, self-sufficient, survival-of-the-fittest mentality.

On top of everything else, the culture around us is determined to shut itself off from the benefits of faith.

  • Christian values are ignored.
  • Christian principles are shunned.
  • Christian absolutes are mocked.
  • Christian charity is viewed with suspicion.

Nevertheless, the church’s message of hope and transcendence, which is its greatest source of compassion, must continue, even if it is often rejected with scorn and disparagement. Our acts of kindness are received reluctantly, with the result that too many Christians find it easier simply to give in or give up.

As I look toward the future, I see nothing on the horizon that offers any hope for a change. Nothing external, that is. Grim as it may sound, we are on a collision course, and more and more travelers are lonely and confused.

Some are downright angry.

They offer cynical advice: “Look, you can’t change the world. Just look out for number one, press on, and keep your mouth shut.” Those who embrace this philosophy surround us. I admit there are times in my more hurried and hassled moments when I tend to listen to that erroneous counsel.

But this philosophy doesn’t satisfy. Human beings were not designed to live and treat others like that. There has to be a better way to enter eternity than being cold-hearted, empty-handed, and out of breath!

There is.

The art of unselfish living must be implemented from within before it can be expressed without. It is unlike anything you’ll hear from self-made superstars and celebrities whose lifestyles are not compatible with being a servant of others. That’s to be expected.

We see it modeled best in Christ. The world sees it modeled in Christians.

That’s you.

—Chuck

Our Words and Our Walk

Matthew 10:16

No selfless act is so small, no good deed so insignificant, that God cannot see and does not approve.

After all, what we do as God’s servants is not for human eyes. It is not for our own glory that faithful service is so clearly prescribed throughout Scripture. It is for the glory of God and God alone. Our God has given us the incredible honor of being His stewards to carry out the work of Jesus Christ through faithful service—in our neighborhoods, across the nation we live in, and around the world.

It is, in fact, the very substance of the Great Commission which tells us that we are to transmit the gospel to others, not only in our confession of Christ but by displaying in our lives a daily example of Christ’s love.

Think about it. When Jesus sent out that first group of wide-eyed and uncertain rustics on their first missionary adventure, don’t you know they were terrified? Can’t you just imagine what they must have been thinking?

“What?” Peter must have fairly shouted. “Who, me, Lord? You want me to go into the villages and towns and do what you have been doing? Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding!”

But that is precisely what Jesus wanted. Furthermore, He admonished those uncertain, quivering disciples to be “shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). In other words, they were to anticipate that they would not be treated well everywhere they went. In some places, they were told, people would toss them out on their ears; but they were supposed to go anyway, trusting that God would supply all their needs.

They were to teach with love and mercy—to be harmless as doves, to be examples of peace.

Are you that way when you preach?

—Chuck

Of Such Is the Kingdom of Heaven

Luke 22:26–27

From the beginning, the idea of true servanthood has been a bit of a paradox.

Jesus phrased it well:

“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves?” (Luke 22:27).

Naturally, His disciples would say, the lesser should serve the greater. All of life proves that. Those with no clout should do the dirty work for those who have the power. Right?

But Jesus, their Lord and Master, turned the tables on them, by saying: “But I am among you as the one who serves” (22:27). How can this be? Does the master serve the servants? Does the leader serve the one being led?

Absolutely.

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