In Deuteronomy 14:26, Moses makes a statement that is admittedly difficult to understand. He says, “And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, then, and thine household,….” What did Moses mean? Was he by inspiration authorizing the consumption of alcoholic drinks—socially or otherwise? Was he somehow suggesting that it’s okay to drink wine provided that it’s done in the presence of Jehovah? 

Social drinking seems to be a growing trend among many Christians--especially millennials. As the father of a teenager who considers many millennials as his role models, this is especially concerning to me. I'm not sure why this is a growing trend. Most millennials that I know, who drink alcohol or who have no problem with Christians drinking alcohol, are intelligent, service-oriented, are thoughtful, and care about Jesus.    

So, why is this issue one that is so hotly debated? Why do we argue and say that one cannot definitively say that social drinking is wrong, so long as we don’t get drunk? What is it about drinking, even a little alcohol, that causes intelligent, Jesus loving people, to abandon principles of biblical authority and moral uprightness? 

When we do drink socially, we're not blurring the lines between ourselves as Christians and the rest of the world, we've crossed the line and have become just like the world, and we've hurt Jesus, crucified Him afresh and put Him to an open shame. Then, to make matters worse many post their glasses full of wine, their "check-ins" at the bar, and beer company "likes", for all of social media to see. How does any of this magnify the name of Jesus? Further, if all we do is to be done by His authority (Col. 3:17), where does this behavior fit in? 

But maybe I'm off base. Perhaps there isn't anything wrong with social drinking. Could it be that those who are enjoying their wine have authority for it and should just be allowed to enjoy it without any negative comments from folks like me? 

Some observations:

The Bible says that if we want to please God, we should not even look upon wine with "want" in our eyes. The Proverbs writer said, “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Prov. 23:29-32). Drinking beverage alcohol is wrong because of what it does—it causes hurt, and it takes away one’s good judgment.

The Bible says that if we want to please God, we should step out of the darkness of drunkenness. Paul told his brethren in Thessalonica that, “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thes. 5:4-8). 

I once heard a biblical scholar point out that two forms of a Greek word were translated “drunken” in this passage. He was right. According to the Majority Text, the first word used is methuskomenoi. It is a Greek word meaning to make drunk, or the process by which one becomes drunk. We understand that a process implies a beginning point and an ending point. The beginning of the process is the first drink--methuskomenoi. The end of the process is the second Greek word in the text here. It is the word, methuousin. It means to be drunk with wine. 

Most agree that it’s wrong to “get drunk” (Eph. 5:18). However for those who argue, “you can drink so long as you don’t get drunk,” must appreciate the simplicity of Paul’s writing when he said that even the process (methuskomenoi) was wrong.

Sidebar: What about Jesus changing the water to wine? Surely this event implies that social drinking is okay. Doesn’t it? After all, the word that’s employed here for “wine” is oinos, which can mean either fermented or unfermented grape juice. It seems that we can find a Scripture for most anything we want to practice if we just search hard enough. However, if we’ll put our will to the side and just consider passages in their context, then we may find that what we want to do or what we’re already doing is not pleasing to the Lord at all. First of all, when Jesus changed the water to wine in John 2 at the wedding of Cana, we need to remember that Jesus lived under the Old Law. The Old Law, which Jesus kept perfectly, condemned the giving of alcoholic beverages to one’s neighbor (Hab. 2:15). Further, if Jesus changed that water into alcoholic wine, then he was violating no less that thirteen principles from the Old Testament Scripture—in other words, Jesus sinned at that wedding (Dan. 1:8; Gen. 9:20-21; Gen. 19:32; Lev. 10:8-10; Pro. 20:1; Pro. 31:4; Pro. 23:29-31; Pro. 23:31-32; Pro. 31:4; Pro. 23:20; Hos. 4:11; Isa. 28:7).

Back to the original question: May I drink my alcohol in front of the Lord? The Deuteronomy text says, “And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after,…for wine, or for strong drink,…and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household” (Dt. 14:26). 

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that Scripture must always be looked at contextually—both the immediate and overall Bible context. We’ve already observed that there are general principles and specific commands that tell us we should abstain from beverage alcohol. So, we know that the Holy Spirit is not going to have Moses write something that contradicts the general tenor of Bible teaching. 

With that thought in mind, here’s what Moses is saying: Moses is dealing with the social aspects of God’s law. In Deuteronomy 14:22-29, we learn that Israel was to give ten percent of their crops each year. They were to then bring that revenue to the Tabernacle. Add to that, the Israelites were to support the priestly tribe (Levi), the foreigners, widows, and orphans whom they shared their community with (cf. Dt. 26:12-15). 

According to verse twenty-six, the Jews were to take a tithe and use it to purchase whatever his soul desired, and then partake of it all before God. In the list of items, we find the words “wine,” and “strong drink.” Contextually, Moses was not being permissive, rather he was discussing fellowship. First, fellowship is to be with God. Second, there are benefits in enjoying fellowship with one’s physical and spiritual family. Furthermore, Moses says that there is some expense involved in enjoying this fellowship—the purchase of the food, wine, strong drink, etc. However, the togetherness and fellowship these brethren enjoyed was worth the cost. 

So, the immediate context is fellowship, not divine approval for social drinking. Since the general tenor of Bible teaching does not permit social drinking, what could Moses be meaning when he says to take the wine and strong drink and consume it before the Lord? First, the term “wine” is the Hebrew word yayin. It means fruit from the grape and may or may not be referencing an intoxicant. The term “strong drink” is the Hebrew word sekar. It is often used with yayin. Like the word “wine” it too can refer to both fermented and unfermented fruit from the vine. Moses is not condoning drinking. To do so would be to violate the overall will of God. 

When we study topics like these, we must keep in mind that the Bible is to be understood in its overall context.

May I plead with you if you are one who enjoys drinking alcohol, but loves Jesus too? Please let your love for God and His Word outweigh your own desires. You’ll be a much more radiant Christian without that drink, and God will bless you if you submit your will to His. 

John Quincy Adams, a former Congressman, Diplomat, and the sixth President of the United States, lived during a time of innovation and religious revival. Yet, advancement and religiosity could not fix his failing health following a stroke.

Someone told the story about a friend to Adams who went to him and asked about his health. Adams responded with these words, "I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in upon by the storms, and from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair."

It may be that for you, or for someone you know, that it won't be very long before the chilling hand of death takes you. It may be because of an unknown condition in your tabernacle that we call a body. Or, it may be because of an event in the future that is unseen but could come upon you suddenly and take you out of this world and usher you into the world to come. 

Why? Because like Adams said, we inhabit a body that is temporal and will be consumed one way or another. 

This all sounds pretty negative at first read, but it's not intended to be. You see, there's another side to it. 

It wasn't a politician, but an inspired apostle who said, 

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:51-54).

I suspect Paul could relate to what Adams was saying. Too, the prospect of death didn't seem to phase the apostle. He welcomed it. Why? He was ready to win the victory and his crown.

Are you ready?

Sidenote: We'd like to invite you to our revival, October 18-21. Brother John DeBerry will be with us to discuss areas of life in which we often find ourselves needing a revival. To learn more about this special series, please click this link.

A couple of years ago, my house was filled with the lyrics of the popular Disney Movie, Frozen. Over and over again it was, “Let it go, let it go can’t hold it back anymore . . .”. While it was cute, and I love to hear my little girl sing, I was ready for that particular song to “go”.

The song does teach an important truth, however. Sometimes, we have to let things go so that we can grow into the people that God wants us to be. 

In an issue of the Reader's Digest that dates back to the early 80's, I read the following story:

Compared with salamanders and starfish, mammals have a dismally limited ability to replace lost parts. But now reports of children growing back finger tips and spleens are changing that.

In 1974, Cynthia Illingworth, an English physician specializing in emergency medicine, discovered that when children accidentally sever the finger tip (down to the first joint), the best treatment is no treatment. Cleaned and covered with a bandage, the finger tip, including the nail, grows back. In 11 or 12 weeks the new finger tip usually looks as if nothing had happened to it.

There seem to be three requirements for regrowth: the patient must be under 12 years old, the cut must be above the crease of the first joint, and surgeons must keep hands off the injury. Any operation performed on the finger destroys its ability to grow back. The last condition is the hardest to accept, admits Dr. Michael Bleicher, a pediatric surgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Imagine that, don't touch it!. Could you do it? Could you let it go so that it could grow? That would be tough. Given modern ingenuity, and science, medical know how, and state of the art equipment, would you have the faith to just let the natural healing process take place? 

Sometimes, the most difficult thing in the world is to let go and let God work in your life. Why? Because we don't always see or know when God is working. We just have to have the confidence that He is.

Have you heard this expression? "Pray as if it all depends upon God and then work as if it all depends upon you." There's a lot of truth to that. 

Have the faith in God on your part, so that God can do His part. The Bible says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6). 

Before we can be recipients of blessings, our faith must be expressed. Was such not the case with those great faithful men and women of old (Heb. 11)? 

I hope you have a great day!

The Bible says, "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you" (2 Cor. 2:4).

Did you ever stop and wonder if Paul's tears, shed while writing this epistle, actually fell upon the paper which he wrote? Why were tears pouring from the apostle's eyes as he wrote this epistle? 

The recipients of this letter lived in the city of Corinth, a place known for worldliness. This ungodliness eventually made its way into the church of Christ. A son committed adultery with his father's wife. Some were going to law with their brethren. There were idolaters in the city and the church. Some practiced homosexuality, and we could go on.

Due to his abundant love for his brethren in Corinth, Paul shed many tears as he wrote to them. Barnes noted, "This was an instance of Paul's great tenderness of heart--a trait of character which he uniformly evinced. With all his strength of mind, and all his courage and readiness to face danger. Paul was not ashamed to weep...". What a great man of God the apostle was. 

There were other occasions in which we find Paul shedding tears. In expression of his deep abiding interest in and love for the souls of his brethren, Paul warned them "with tears." "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). These Christians were in danger of enemies from without and within. There are the anti-Christian types that seek to break-down the church from the outside in. Then, there are divisive and overly critical types as well as the "let's change the church to be like other church" types that break up the church from the inside out. Both hurt the church if left unchecked. 

I wonder, do we have the same heart for the church of Christ today as Paul had? Do we hurt when people speak evil of her? Does it bother us when folks try to change her for the sake of conforming to the world around us? Does it break our hearts when attitudes within the body of Christ are divisive and splinter the church for which Jesus died?

Another occasion when Paul shed tears is when he was in Ephesus and reminding the elders of the manner in which he served. Paul said that he served "...the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears" (Acts 20:19). Paul wasn't arrogant. He wasn't a self-promoter. He had a great desire to do right, and to see souls saved.  

May God help you and me to have hearts that long to serve our God, to warn our brethren about the danger of falling from God, and be ready always to encourage souls to do right. Perhaps we need to shed a tear or two and be like God's emotional writer. 

I hope you have a great day!

Landrum R. Bolling once wrote, "The chances are that you will never be elected president of the country, write the great American novel, make a million dollars, stop pollution and racial conflict, or save the world. However valid it may be to work at any of these goals, there is another one of hight priority--to be an effective parent."

Being a parent is a wonderful blessing, but it can be a bit overwhelming and even scary at times. Take new parents, for instance. They've read the books, the blogs, and been the recipients of massive amounts of advice. Then there are the single parents who, for whatever reason, must go it alone in the rearing of their children. They have to balance work, school, childcare, the house, and many other aspects of life. Too, there are the parents who have been there, done that, but are doing it again. With more than one child at home there are numerous challenges. It's no longer attention directed toward just one, but now two, or three, or more.  No child is the same--different interests, habits, fears, loves, personalities, and so on. 

Thankfully, no matter where we may be on this journey called parenting, we don't have to figure it all out on our own. Consider these four parenting pointers from Ephesians 6. 
  1. Children need direction. The Bible says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right" (Eph. 6:1). Children are instructed to obey, but they need to know how. It's unrealistic to expect children to follow your leadership as a parent if you are not giving them any direction.
  2. Children need instruction. Same text, Paul writes "...but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Our days are full of teachable moments with our kids. Remember what Moses wrote? "...these words...thou shalt teach...diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Dt. 6:6-7).  
  3. Children need affection. Likewise in verse 4, Paul says, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath..." (Eh. 6:4). That is, love your children. Question: Do we as parents instruct and even discipline our children in such a way that they know we love them? Do we treat them the way we want to be treated? Yes, our children are that--children. However, they are also human beings and as such we should love them as we do ourselves.
  4. Children need preparation. The psalmist referred to children as "arrows" implying that they would eventually have to leave home and survive on their own (Psa. 127:4). It's our job to prepare our children for life. "That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth", were Paul's words with respect to this point (Eph. 6:3). From early on, we teach our children how to dress, how to brush their teeth, how to pay for a meal, clean house, cook, cut the grass, change a flat tire, budget money, etc. Why do we do these things? To prepare them for when they leave home. In some ways, it will be sad when the Richey house becomes an empty nest, but Emily and I can feel better if we know that Peyton and Rebekah have been properly prepared.

Strange it may seem that we have parenting advice from a single, non-parent man. However, the writer, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, these words are actually coming to us from the greatest parent--God. May we as parents do our best to direct and instruct our children in God's ways, and to love them as we prepare them for what we trust will be a wonderful future of Christian service. 

It's true. I went to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting last week. I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea who I might meet there, what I would hear or what I would say. I had no thoughts of how it would be organized, how the session would go, or if it would even have any personal benefit for me.

Truth is, none of that mattered. I wasn't there for me. I went to support a friend and to encourage this friend who has struggled with addiction for years.  

I learned that at A.A. it's typical for there to be a discussion leader, who has been sober for quite some time, to share his thoughts and experiences and then motivate the other attendees with words of encouragement and hope. Then, the other folks in the room would take turns sharing themselves. Many of those I heard from had been sober for years, but despite length of one's sobriety, everyone introduced themselves in the same way. They said, "Hello, my name is ______________________, and I am an alcoholic." It was as if they were saying, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.

At the conclusion of the meeting one of the attendees, a leader within the local group I take it, handed out chips (looked like poker chips) to various individuals who were celebrating milestones in their path to coping with their addiction--1 month sobriety, 6 months, 1 year, etc. I'm happy to say that my friend received a six month chip last week.

Addiction is a terrible thing. It's deceitful, manipulative, and painful. "It takes you further than you want to go, and teaches you more than you want to know. It costs you more than you want to pay, and keeps you longer than you want to stay." 

The following remarks were made several years ago by a member of A.A. in a letter to Ann Landers.

  • We drank for happiness and became unhappy. 
  • We drank for joy and became miserable. 
  • We drank for sociability and became argumentative. 
  • We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious. 
  • We drank for friendship and made enemies. 
  • We drank for sleep and awakened without rest. 
  • We drank for strength and felt weak. 
  • We drank "medicinally" and acquired health problems. 
  • We drank for relaxation and got the shakes. 
  • We drank for bravery and became afraid. 
  • We drank for confidence and became doubtful. 
  • We drank to make conversation easier and slurred our speech. 
  • We drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like hell. 
  • We drank to forget and were forever haunted. 
  • We drank for freedom and became slaves. 
  • We drank to erase problems and saw them multiply. 
  • We drank to cope with life and invited death. 

The good book tells us that alcohol is something that hurts and does not help. 

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Pro. 23:29-32).

You know what's interesting about this text? The writer transitions from those who are drunk to those who are just looking at it. What's the point you ask? God, through His penman, is not regulating the behavior of the drunk (not approving it to be sure) but is rather challenging those who are sober and thinking about taking their first drink.

As I listened to the group participants at last week's A.A. meeting, I got the impression that some if not most of them would have agreed with the Proverbs writer. 

Some will argue that drinking is not the problem, but drunkenness is. Do you think any one of these folks at the meeting thought, "I'm going to take my first drink so I can become an alcoholic?" Do you suppose some of them said, "I'm thankful that my drinking cost me my marriage, my kids, my job, and sent me to jail?" Not one spoke favorably about what alcohol did for them. Not one of them started out saying "I want to be an alcoholic." You know something else they had in common? Their problem with alcohol started by looking, and then taking their first drink. 

I have no idea what it's like to be drunk. I've never had a beer or glass of wine. I don't know what it's like to struggle with alcohol or drug addiction. I can't imagine what it's like to lose relationships because of addiction. However, my friend knows it better than most. Thankfully, my friend is doing so much better, but has a long way to go. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction of any kind, the best words of encouragement I can give you are these: love, patience, hope, positive re-enforcement, and friendship. Come to think of it, I can summarize it in one word--Jesus.

I hope you have a blessed day!

On occasion I'll watch one of the morning news shows while I drink my first cup of coffee. The news personalities will go over various current events, as well as the weather, and will do several interviews. They will often have guests on their show who talk about what's going on in their world. Perhaps they'll visit with an author who has written a new book, or an actor who is starring in a new movie. 

This morning, the guest that was on this particular morning show was the comedian, Jeff Foxworthy. He was there to discuss his gameshow that was coming back called, "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" If you ever watched the show then you know the premise. If you haven't seen it, then you really should watch it just once. The host will ask a guest (adult) questions. He writes down his answer. In the meantime, there are fifth graders who are also writing down their answers. Hence, the name of the show. At the end of the show, if the kids win and the adult loses, the contestant must say, "My name is ________________ and I'm not smarter than a fifth grader".

Though the Bible teaches us to grow and mature (Lk. 2:52; 1 Cor. 13:11), it likewise tells us that we should have the heart of a child. However, far too often we lose those childlike qualities as we grow older.

As a child, we learn to share, play fair, not to hit, to put things back how we found them, to clean up after ourselves, to not cheat, to say "I'm sorry", to watch for traffic, to stick with your buddy, and to obey. Yet, as we grow older we often become selfish, walk over people to get what we want, return evil for evil, abuse the benefits we receive from others, not accept responsibility for our own mistakes, demand that people pay attention to us, take advantage of friendship, and we don't want to answer to anyone.

My how we change when we "grow up". Jesus said that being like a child is a salvation matter. ". . . Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3). Maturing in the faith means that we have the heart of a child. Let's never lose sight of that.

If you lose on Foxworthy's game show, you have to proclaim that you're not as smart as a child. Maybe that's not necessarily a bad thing. Something to think about.

I hope you have a great day!

Earlier this morning I read about a teacher who injured his back and as part of his rehab, he had to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body--it covered his entire upper torso, and around his back. The good news was that it was thin enough that he could easily conceal it under his shirt and no one knew that he had it on.

This teacher had a class that was made up of mostly disorderly and rowdy students--in point of fact, his students were the toughest in the school. He was slightly afraid of how the school year would go. One morning he entered the classroom and because of the heat, he opened a window to let in a cool breeze. He sat down at his desk and got busy with work. A rather strong breeze entered the room blew his papers around the desk, and flipped his tie over his shoulder. So, he took out a stapler, and stapled his tie to his chest. From that time forward, his students were some of the most disciplined in school. The teacher no longer feared his class because of their fear of the teacher. 

Like the teacher, we don't have to fear because of fear. That is, we don't have to be afraid of things, because we fear the Lord. Repeatedly in our Bible we read words like "fear Him", "fear God", "fear the Lord your God", and so on. When we have such a deep and abiding reverential fear of God, we do not have to live in a state of fear.

I don't have to fear death, because I fear the Lord. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil:for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Psa. 23:4). Death is not a curse, but a blessing.

I don't have to fear poor health, because I fear the Lord. Paul said, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). My earthly body will give way, but my eternal soul will last forever.

I don't have to fear job loss, because I fear the Lord. Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on..." (Mt. 6:25). My current situation in life may change, but I'm only here as a "straying pilgrim". My hope and home is in heaven. In the meantime, I trust that God will provide.

I don't have to fear the uncertainties of life, because I fear the Lord. Again, if we turn to Jesus' words we find, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Mt. 6:34). It's like someone once said, "worry is a lot like a rocking horse. It gives you something to do, but you don't go anywhere." Who knows what may happen tomorrow. God is in control of my tomorrows, so I'll just concern myself with today.

I don't fear, because I fear.

I hope you have a  great day!

Many years ago, I heard Leroy Brownlow (author of "Why I am a Member of the Church of Christ") use this illustration. "What are the two main problems in the church?" The question was answered with, "I don't know and I don't care." 

He hit the nail on the head. Indifference is a tool of the devil designed to rob Christians of diligence in duty. 

From a study of biblical history we learn that after some seventy years of Babylonian captivity, Judah returned in three stages. The first group was led back to Jerusalem by Zerubbabel and Jeshua. They then rebuilt and dedicated the temple. The second group was led by Ezra. It was marked by a great revival among the people—the revival was led by Haggai and Zechariah. The third group was led by Nehemiah. It was under Nehemiah’s leadership that the walls were rebuilt.

As you study the background material to the utter devastation of the city walls, you can’t help but be impressed with the fact that those walls were rebuilt in just fifty-two short days (Neh. 6:15). How did they do it? Nehemiah provides the answer: “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6).

Though the people as a whole were characterized by great zeal, there were still others who were indifferent. Some were pictured as lazy, and others were just plain negative (Neh. 4:5,10). They needed a healthy dose of James 1:25: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

There will always be those, even some Christians, who are indifferent--who don't care whether they (or you for that matter) succeed or fail. They will stand in the way of individual and congregational progress. But, don't be duped by this tool of the devil. Like those who returned from Babylonian captivity some 3,000 years ago to rebuild the wall around God's city in just fifty-two days, we too can do great things in short order if we'll have a mind to work.

I hope you have a great day!

Which sounds more exciting? Dragon slayer or foot washer? The answer is obvious. But, God calls us to serve in the smallest of tasks. “Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it” (D. Whitney).

Slaying spiritual dragons is exciting and is service, but equal in serving is the one who sits with an elderly neighbor so the daughter who is her caretaker can have a day off. So is taking meals to a friend who has just had a baby, or lost a love one. Or, taking a stranger's car to the shop and paying to have a water pump replaced when she can’t afford to do it herself. Likewise, babysitting children so their parents can go out on a much needed date, and reconnect with one another.

We may not all serve in the same way, but we must all be servants. The Hebrews writer asked, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Heb. 9:14)? Add to that, we must serve with joy (Psa. 100:2).

Serving is a truly selfless act. It's doing for another without the anticipation of any notoriety. Here are some questions for you. "Can you serve your boss and others at work, helping them to succeed and be happy, even when they are promoted and you are overlooked? Can you work to make others look good without envy filling your heart? Can you minister to the needs of those whom God exalts and men honor when you yourself are neglected? Can you pray for the ministry of others to prosper when it would cast yours in the shadows" (Donald Whitney)?

In preparation for this lesson I preached on Sunday, I ran across an interesting story that discussed the selflessness of service.

Every young student knows of Isaac Newton's famed encounter with a falling apple. Newton discovered and introduced the laws of gravity in the 1600s, which revolutionized astronomical studies. But few know that if it weren't for Edmund Halley, the world might never have learned from Newton. It was Halley who challenged Newton to think through his original notions. Halley corrected Newton's mathematical errors and prepared geometrical figures to support his discoveries. Halley coaxed the hesitant Newton to write his great work, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Halley edited and supervised the publication, and actually financed its printing even though Newton was wealthier and easily could have afforded the printing costs.

Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science. Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence; Halley received little credit. He did use the principles to predict the orbit and return of the comet that would later bear his name, but only AFTER his death did he receive any acclaim. And because the comet only returns every seventy-six years, the notice is rather infrequent. Halley remained a devoted scientist who didn't care who received the credit as long as the cause was being advanced.

Are you a Halley? Are you serving just because? Doing good to and for others without anticipating recognition for it? Paul said, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3). Does that describe your heart? Think about it. 

I hope you have a great day!

If you'd like to watch the sermon, you may do so by clicking here.