Articles from the Blog
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. — Romans 12:15It’s such a big letdown when you experience something that gets you all excited, but you can’t find anyone who will rejoice with you. Not so long ago, this happened to me. After waiting a long time for a particular victory, it finally happened! I could hardly wait to tell it, so I summoned together the group I was with at the time to share this mighty victory. However, when I told these people the good news, they just stared back at me with expressionless faces, as if they hadn’t heard a word I had said. When the meeting was dismissed, they left, barely acknowledging the great report I had told them. I was very disappointed because I wanted someone to rejoice with me! Later that day as I thought about the group’s lack of response to my exciting news, it made me wonder how many times I had done the same thing to people who shared their exciting news with me. As I pondered the expressionless faces I had seen earlier, I realized that the other members of that group may have been loaded down with their own cares or anxieties. Perhaps their own thoughts weighed so heavily on their minds that they weren’t able to really grasp what I had told them. We should never respond to someone’s good report with a lack of enthusiasm. Regardless of what we’re going through in our own lives, we need to get our focus off ourselves and learn to “rejoice with them that do rejoice….” (Romans 12:15). In this verse, the apostle Paul tells us about the importance of appropriate emotional responses. For instance, when a person rejoices about something wonderful that has happened in his life, then regardless of what we are personally feeling, it is appropriate for us to rejoice with him. The word “rejoice” is from the Greek word chairo, and it means to be glad, to be full of joy, or to be elated. Furthermore, the word “rejoice” is a command, not a suggestion, which means Paul is ordering us to “rejoice with them that do rejoice….” The word “with” is the word meta. In this particular case, it means to rejoice along with those who are rejoicing and carries the idea of joining on the same level of rejoicing as “them that do rejoice.” The phrase “them that do rejoice” would be better translated as “the rejoicing ones.” The Holy Spirit is instructing us that when people are thrilled and bubbling over with joy about something that has happened in their lives, we need to join right in with them and rejoice! If they are shouting, we need to shout with them. If they are laughing for joy, we need to laugh with them.
Therefore, this portion of Romans 12:15 presents this idea:
“When people are rejoicing, that’s a time for you to join in the celebration and rejoice along with those who are rejoicing.…”You might say, “But it’s hard for me to rejoice when I don’t feel like rejoicing.” Well, you just need to get over it and put your flesh out of the way for a few minutes! Let the other person enjoy his exciting news. Think how selfish it would be for you to throw cold water on his joy simply because you don’t “feel like” rejoicing at the moment. What if you were in that person’s shoes and someone responded to you with such a noticeable lack of enthusiasm? It would disappoint you, wouldn’t it? So rather than disappoint the person who is so excited, push your own emotional struggles out of the way for a few minutes and join in with those who are rejoicing! Besides, when you start to rejoice with a fellow believer, your deliberate rejoicing may be the very thing that sets you free from the emotional quandary that is trying to hold you down! Paul goes on to tell us that we need to learn to “…weep with them that weep.” The word “weep” is translated from the Greek word klaio, and it means to weep, to wail, to sob, or to shed tears. A very good example of this word is found in Mark 5:38 when Jesus went to Jairus’ house and found “them that wept” because Jairus’ daughter had died. This perfectly presents the idea of weeping and sobbing that is portrayed by the word klaio. Just as it is appropriate for us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, it is equally appropriate for us to weep with those who weep. We will all face times when people in our lives weep because of something that has happened or because of an event that has broken their hearts. When that happens, then no matter what we are personally feeling, it is fitting that we show softhearted tenderness toward those individuals, doing all that we can to comfort them. Brokenhearted people usually need someone’s arms wrapped about them. They also need to feel like they’re not all alone. And sometimes they need a shoulder to cry on — not because that will make everything better, but simply because they need a tender touch in that moment of crisis. This is why Paul says we need to “…weep with them that weep.” Learning to respond with appropriate emotions is very important. A sullen frown during a time of rejoicing is not appropriate. A laughing and light-hearted spirit is often not appropriate in a room that is filled with brokenness and grief. As believers, we need to be sensitive to the needs of those around us, allowing the Holy Spirit to show us how to respond to the emotional climate in which we find ourselves. If we respond properly, we can be a blessing. But if we respond inappropriately, we can hurt people’s feelings and either dampen their joy or deepen their sorrow. Let the Holy Spirit be your Teacher and show you how to emotionally respond to the various situations of life. He knows exactly what response is needed and will make you a master of appropriate responses in every situation of life.
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to help me know how to respond appropriately to those who are around me. When they rejoice, help me put aside my own struggles and problems and enter into rejoicing with them. When people weep and I’m not feeling the pain they feel, help me set aside my own light-hearted mood so I can be the kind of friend they need in that vulnerable moment. Holy Spirit, I know You can teach me how to appropriately respond to the different situations I face in life. So I ask You to start teaching me how to be what I need to be in every type of circumstance.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am sensitive to the emotional climate around me. When people are rejoicing, I join in and rejoice with them. When people are weeping and feeling brokenhearted, I am careful to show love and compassion to them. Because the Holy Spirit is teaching me how to appropriately respond to the various situations that arise in life, I am becoming more fit to minister to people in any given circumstance.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you ever shared a great victory with a person or group of people who did not rejoice along with you? Was their lack of response a great letdown to you? 2. Have you ever seen someone respond inappropriately to a moment of crisis? When people were brokenhearted and weeping, did that person laugh and make jokes at a very serious moment? How did his or her insensitivity to the moment affect the other people in the room? Are there people in your life right now who need you to rejoice with them or weep with them?
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. — Romans 12:14It is very easy to bless those who bless you and make you happy, but how are you going to respond to people who persecute you and try to deliberately injure you? Romans 12:14 says that you are to “bless them which persecute you.…” One day many years ago, my associate brought me the national newspaper of the country where we lived, and to my horror, there was a terrible article about me right on the front page! No one could miss the article because it was so huge — and it was filled with outrageous lies. The article contained nothing more than pure nonsense. However, I soon became very upset thinking about what people would think of me after reading that article. I knew that people tend to believe whatever is printed in the newspaper. The longer I thought about it, the more upset I became. I especially became infuriated with the female reporter who had written this barrage of nonsense and lies. I wondered how I should respond. Should I put an advertisement in the newspaper to answer the allegations made about me and my ministry? Should I demand that the newspaper fire the woman who wrote this about us? What action should I take in response to this ugly development? Adding to my shock regarding the article was the fact that the woman who wrote it had sat in my office and told me how blessed she was by our ministry. Only after reading what she wrote did I learn that she had completely lied to me. Nevertheless, rather than give in to my flesh and start ranting and raving about what she had done, I decided to obey the apostle Paul’s instructions in Romans 12:13, where he says, “Bless them which persecute you.…” The word “bless” is the Greek word eulogeo, a compound of the words eu and logos. The word eu means good or well and depicts any positive emotion. It is where we get the word euphoric. The second part of the word eulogeo is the word logos, which simply means words. But when these two words are compounded into the word eulogeo, it means to say good or positive things. The word eulogeo is where we get the word eulogy, which is the sermon preached at a funeral. It is supposed to be a time when good words are spoken in remembrance of the person who died. So when Paul tells us to “bless them which persecute you…,” he is literally telling us that we are always to return a blessing for a curse, speaking only good words about those who wish to harm us. Taking this route must be hard on the flesh, for the Greek tense describes a continual action, implying that we must speak well of these people again and again and again. Our flesh may rise up to point the finger of accusation at someone and charge him with dishonest and wrong conduct. But that’s when we have to tell our flesh to be quiet! Instead of falling into the mode of accuser in an attempt to defend ourselves, we are to take the more godly route of blessing those who persecute us. Paul says that when we are in these situations, we are to “curse not.” The word “curse” is the Greek word kataraomai, which simply means to verbally curse. In the ancient world, it was believed that when a person spoke good words about someone else, those words conveyed a blessing on that other person’s life. Conversely, people believed that when someone spoke curses over another person, his very words caused curses to come upon that person’s life. This ancient belief in the power of words is actually borne out in the Scriptures. We should never forget the power that is contained in the words we speak. Proverbs 18:21 makes it very clear that the power of life and death is in the tongue. So rather than get upset with the unbeliever who wrote that ugly article, I felt instructed of the Lord to start speaking blessings into her life. I realized that this journalist wrote that kind of article because she was lost and needed the Lord. So what good would it do if I allowed myself to speak curses over her life? It was time for me to rise to the occasion by deciding to “…bless, and curse not”! So I started blessing this woman, thanking God for her and believing God to do something truly remarkable to make her life better and more blessed. As it turned out, that horrible article would be the last article of its kind about us to ever appear in that national newspaper. I am convinced that our decision to “…bless, and curse not” caused God’s power to be released in the spirit realm, preventing any future negative press from being printed about us in that particular nation. If someone has done something bad or injurious to you, I realize how tempting it is to retaliate by saying a lot of bad things about the offender. But in the end, this fleshly reaction won’t help anyone. You never have to fall into this trap that causes you to be bitter and that releases a lot of negative words and curses on those who wronged you. You can take a redemptive approach — choose to speak only good about those who have sought to do you harm. If you’ll take the right approach to this hurtful situation, your actions can release enough supernatural power to keep this type of event from ever being replicated in the future. But if you respond wrongly, it probably won’t be too long until you’re facing the same situation again. Never underestimate the importance of how you react to those who persecute you. Your words of blessing and forgiveness can put to bed forever all the past wrongs ever committed against you. On the other hand, your words of retaliation can reignite the fire of opposition so that the same kind of opposition keeps reoccurring again and again. That’s why it’s so important that you never forget — you must continually be careful with your words!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want to forgive those who have done so much wrong by speaking lies and nonsense about me. I don’t understand why they have spoken those lies, but now people are listening to the garbage they have told about me. Rather than respond in anger and speak a bunch of negative words that won’t help anyone, I choose today to speak words of kindness and blessing over those who have tried to hurt me. Lord, I ask You to bless them, change them, help them, and lead them into a higher way of life. In the meantime, I am asking You to use this hurtful situation to bring about needed changes in me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I don’t speak evil words about anyone — not even against those who seek to hurt me and to do harm to my life. My words are powerful, so I select the words I speak very carefully. I choose to bless and to curse not, and I declare that because I have taken this course of action, the strategies that the enemy is trying to use against me will be frustrated and stopped.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Can you recall a time when you were being verbally persecuted by someone who wanted to do you harm, but the Holy Spirit led you to refrain from speaking evil of that person and to speak only good about him or her? 2. If you do recall such an event in your life, what was the result when you obeyed the Spirit of God and stayed upbeat and positive about your accuser? 3. Can you think of a time when you said a lot of evil words about someone and those words eventually came to pass? Did you later regret that you had said those words?
…Given to hospitality. — Romans 12:13During the time when the New Testament was being written, it is simply a fact that many Christians and church leaders were very mobile. First, many became mobile because they had been evicted from their homes and had lost their property due to persecution. Second, the early believers were mobile because they were moving like a spreading flame throughout the entire Roman world, carrying the Gospel to those who sat in darkness. Because the Early Church was constantly on the move, it became necessary for believers to adopt an “open-home” mentality. In other words, they had to be willing to take in displaced Christians or missionaries who were passing through on their way to take the Gospel to a new region. This open-home mentality was so important that Paul included it in his list of requirements for church leaders. Paul wrote to Timothy that if a person wanted to be a leader, he had to be “…given to hospitality…” (1 Timothy 3:2). In both Romans 12:13 and in First Timothy 3:2, Paul uses this phrase “given to hospitality.” The word “hospitality” in both references is the Greek word philoxenia. This word is a compound of the words philos, which means to love like a friend, and the word xenos, the Greek word for a stranger or foreigner. There is no doubt that the word xenos doesn’t refer to an acquaintance or associate; rather, it refers to one who is a complete stranger or a foreigner. Therefore, when Paul tells the Early Church (and us) to be hospitable, he isn’t telling us to be kind, friendly, or open-hearted with a known associate or a friend who is in need. He is telling us that we must show compassion and kindness to those we don’t know at all. It is easy to open our homes and show kindness to someone we know, but it is a different thing altogether to be hospitable to those we don’t know! This would have been an especially important message to believers who lived in large metropolitan cities like Rome or Ephesus. Due to the size of their cities, people (including believers) were constantly arriving with a common need — finding a place to reside during their brief stay. Modern-day Moscow fits this description quite well, and Denise and I do our best to be “given to hospitality.” This city is like a magnet for all of Russia. Just as was true in the ancient cities of Rome and Ephesus, believers are constantly coming to Moscow for business and ministry. Often they need our help to find a place to stay. They need us to be hospitable and to help meet their needs, even if we don’t know them. For an early believer to be hospitable, he literally had to open his home to receive those Christians who had been displaced or who were traveling through the area. In that day, there were no hotels like there are in today’s world, so opening one’s home was the only way to show oneself hospitable. In today’s world, you could still take a traveler into your home. But it is also possible to show yourself hospitable by renting a hotel room to help out a traveler for several nights. You and the Lord must determine how you show hospitality; the important thing is that you are hospitable. The real idea of the word philoxenia (“hospitable”) is to be friendly or helpful to those who are strangers to you and to those who are in need. This word depicts that moment when you go outside your normal circle of friends and relationships to do something extra special for someone whom you do not know. Romans 12:13 categorically states that we should be “given” to hospitality. The word “given” is from the Greek word dioko, which means to aggressively pursue something; to ardently follow after something; or to hotly pursue something until you finally catch it. In fact, the word dioko is so aggressive that it is usually translated in the New Testament as the word persecution. It is significant that Paul used the word dioko in connection with becoming hospitable, because it tells us that we must aggressively set our hearts on attaining this goal. We must make the decision that we are going to develop this trait in our lives. Then we must put our whole hearts into learning how to be welcoming and helpful to believers in need — until finally we catch on to God’s idea of hospitality and become genuinely hospitable people.
Romans 12:13 could be taken to mean:
“Hotly pursue and never stop pursuing the goal of becoming hospitable until you have caught on to the idea of hospitality and have genuinely become a hospitable person.”How long has it been since you opened the doors of your home to someone you didn’t know? Do you mainly minister to people you know and enjoy, or do you have a heart to help those you don’t know but who have legitimate needs in their lives? If you can’t open the doors of your home to them, what else can you do to show them a hospitable heart? Is this kind of hospitality a token service that you perform out of duty? Or have you been doing everything in your power to become a genuinely hospitable person in the way that you live and treat others? Even more importantly — what are you going to do today to start showing kindness to fellow believers in need?
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to please forgive me for only seeing the needs of my own social circle. The fact is, there are so many people who are in serious need, and I could be doing something to help at least one of them. I am asking You to help me take my eyes off myself and my little circle of friends and to start seeing the needs that are all around me. I don’t want to be guilty of helping only those who bring a blessing to my life. I want to be a blessing even to those I don’t know and who will never be able to return the favor to me themselves.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am a blessing to fellow believers who are in need. My heart is open; my home is open; my pocketbook is open; and I am willing and ready for the Lord to use me to help others. I thank God that He can use me to make an impact in other people’s lives. I believe that He will bless me for stepping out of my limited little social circle to do a good deed for a fellow believer who really needs a helping hand. And I declare that I won’t casually carry out an occasional act of mercy. Instead, I will aggressively pursue the attitude of hospitality until I catch it and become a genuinely hospitable person.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Was there a time in your past when someone took you in and showed you real hospitality? If so, what was that event, and what impact did that person make on your life? 2. Have you had an opportunity to be hospitable that you turned down because you didn’t know the person or were afraid to open your home to a stranger? 3. How would you feel if you needed a place to stay and you couldn’t find a single Christian who would open his or her home to you? On the other hand, how would it make you feel if you were a displaced Christian in need, and someone showed love and compassion to you?
Distributing to the necessity of saints.… — Romans 12:13One of the most exciting things our ministry does is meet the needs of pastors who are leading congregations in the former Soviet Union. We feel a deep commitment to help these pastors because they haven’t had the same opportunity for education that exists in Western countries. As a result of the revival that has swept across the former USSR since the collapse of communism, scores of pastors have found themselves leading congregations before they could receive any training to equip them for the job. These pastors are doing all they know to do in their leadership positions, but they are often ill-prepared for the task due to lack of teaching, training, and education. Because of the work of our Church Association, pastors and leaders who formerly felt isolated and alone have now become spiritually “linked” to other pastors. Close friendships have formed as these pastors look to each other for support, fellowship, and spiritual encouragement. But in addition to providing this spiritual fellowship, our ministry has also become a channel through which designated offerings are routed to support many of these pastors whose income is not sufficient to support them full-time in the ministry. You see, so many of these pastors live in villages that were economically devastated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because of this dire financial crisis, churches do not yet have the finances to support their pastor full-time, even though they desperately need a full-time pastor. Today many of these pastors are able to serve full-time because of the financial gifts that we channel to them each month. Because of the gifts of our ministry partners, we have been able to distribute funds to meet the needs of these saints. It is very easy for us as believers to get so caught up in our own projects and plans that we forget about the needy people in the world who need our help. This is precisely why Paul encouraged us to be constantly “distributing to the necessity of saints…” (Romans 12:13). Especially at this time of the year when people are in a spirit of giving, I think it is important to look for ways to bless people who are less fortunate than ourselves. Every day we should pray and ask the Lord how He wants to use us to make a difference in someone else’s life. The word “distributing” is the Greek word koinoneo, which means to share or to give some kind of contribution. In the context of Romans 12:13, it means to give a financial contribution. However, the Greek tense suggests that this is not an occasional act but rather a regular, consistent, habitual contributing of finances for the “necessity of saints.” That word “necessity” is the Greek word chreia, and it simply means a need. In other words, Paul is talking here about giving to meet the basic needs of the saints. It is true that there are many humanitarian organizations to which we can give our money, but the apostle Paul loudly tells us that we are to first give to meet the needs of the “saints.” Certainly it is right to meet the needs of fellow believers first; after all, they are our brothers and sisters. First John 3:17 asks us, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother hath need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” When we know there is a need, it is time for us to act. This is why the apostle John goes on to say, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Even if you have been struggling financially to make ends meet, I guarantee you that there are believers in other parts of the world — or perhaps even close to where you live — who are having a more difficult time than you are right now. Rather than be self-focused and feel sorry for yourself, why don’t you take advantage of this special time of the year to go out of your way to do something special for someone else? Send an extra offering to a ministry that you support. Give a gift to help the poor and needy. Assess the needs of the saints as you become aware of them; then let the Holy Spirit lead you in distributing your financial gifts. Discover the joy of helping to meet the needs of fellow brothers and sisters who truly need any help you can give them!
My Prayer for TodayLord, thank You for giving such clear instruction about how the critically ill are to call for the elders of the church to come pray for them. Please help me be an instrument of help to those who are gravely ill. Please alert me to the seriousness of their physical condition. Remind me to urge them to call for the local elders to come pray for them so that they might be restored to health. Help me to urgently press upon them the importance of exercising this God-given right. And, Lord, I ask You to raise them up by Your power so they can live a healthy life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am quick to help the gravely ill remember that they have a right to call on the elders of their local church to come anoint them with oil and pray the prayer of faith for their recovery. The moment that the prayer of faith is prayed, God’s power will be released — and that power will literally raise up the sick from the bed of affliction and out of the sickness that has disabled them. Jesus purchased healing for all believers. All they have to do is exercise their right to receive their healing by faith, and they will walk free of physical sickness and disease.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you ever been present when the elders of a local church came to anoint the sick with oil and pray the prayer of faith? When was that event, and what happened as a result of that time of prayer? 2. Can you think of anyone you know right now who is so sick that he or she cannot come to the church to receive prayer for healing? Have you suggested that this person call for the elders of the church to come pray for him or her? 3. Can you remember at least one time in your life when you witnessed the Lord literally raise up a person from the bed of sickness? When was that experience?
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. — Romans 12:11I’ll never forget the time when, as I met with a head of government in a foreign nation, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I just don’t understand many of the Christians I’ve met. To me, they seem to be some of the laziest people I’ve ever known in my life. I’m amazed that anyone would be satisfied to live with such low standards. Is this the way all Christians are?” I was so embarrassed when I heard those words. I found myself wanting to apologize for the entire Christian community! But the truth is, I personally knew some of the Christians he was referring to — and I had thought the very same thing on many occasions! These people didn’t seem to have enough gumption to get up and do something with their lives. It wasn’t that they weren’t talented, gifted, and knowledgeable. They were just satisfied with the level they had attained and had no desire to show any professionalism with their lives. Honestly, it’s a mystery to me how anyone can claim to be a Christian indwelt by the Spirit of God and yet be satisfied with such a low-level existence. Of course, I am very aware that many people weren’t raised with the same high standard of excellence that my parents taught me. Perhaps some Christians grew up in an environment where low-level thinking was viewed as normal, and that’s why they have accepted such a low standard for their own lives. However, other low-achievers can’t claim a mediocre upbringing as an excuse. They just don’t take advantage of opportunities to learn, adapt, and better themselves and therefore never experience needed change. This is usually a sign that these people have no inner desire to improve their lives. You may send such individuals to school to educate them; you may even pay for them to fly halfway around the world to learn new and better techniques in their field of expertise. But if they don’t possess the inner drive to improve themselves and to become more professional, it doesn’t matter how much time or money you throw at them. It’s all a waste unless they possess the desire to be diligent. Such low-level standards should never be tolerated by a believer, a pastor, an employer, or an employee. Yet too often believers make excuses for their slothful attitudes and allow them to continue. As a result, the world frequently looks at the Church as a pathetic entity made up of a bunch of nincompoops who aren’t serious about what they do or say. I am certain that Paul’s experience with low-achievers in the Church is one of the reasons he wrote the believers in Rome and told them to be “not slothful in business.…” The word “slothful” is the Greek word okneros, a word that means lazy or idle. It carries the idea of a person who has a do-nothing, lethargic, lackadaisical, apathetic, indifferent, lukewarm attitude toward life. I find it very interesting that this word translated “slothful” is the identical Greek word used in Matthew 25:26 when Jesus tells of the “wicked” servant who was thrown into outer darkness because he produced nothing significant with the resources that had been entrusted to him. In these contexts, both “slothful” and “wicked” denote an attitude of apathy that should have no place at all in the life of a Christian. But Paul goes on to say that we are not to be slothful “in business.” The word “business” is the Greek word spoudadzo, and it means to do something with eagerness or to do something with diligence. It is the idea of acting responsibly, quickly, and with attentiveness. You could say that the word spoudadzo (“diligence”) is exactly the opposite of a person who lazily strolls along with no passion or desire. Instead of being lazy and apathetic, a diligent person is excited and energetic, putting his whole heart into the project that has been given to him. He treats his responsibility as if it is important, and as a result of his excellent attitude, he does his job well. Paul also says that we should be “…fervent in spirit….” The word “fervent” is the Greek word zeo, which originally meant to boil. This is the picture of a person so enthusiastic about his task that he can hardly contain his excitement. The desire to do his job with excellence and enthusiasm is constantly boiling inside the person who is diligent about his assignment. In fact, the Greek tense used here would be better translated, “…Be constantly fervent in spirit….” The word “spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit, but to the attitude of this believer. It means, “…Be constantly fervent in your attitude.…” Then Paul takes it another step by saying that we are to be “…fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” It is very plain what Paul is declaring here: A right attitude is one of the most effective ways for a person to serve the Lord. You see, when a believer does his job right and with an awesome attitude, it is a testimony to the name of Jesus. But when a believer does his work shabbily, he projects a sorry image of who Jesus is. This is exactly what happened in the case of that foreign head of government who asked me if all Christians were as mediocre as the ones he had encountered. Paul uses the Greek word douleuo when he writes about “serving” the Lord. This word comes from the Greek word doulos, which means a servant who does the bidding of his master. The word doulos described a servant who was sold out, lock, stock, and barrel — totally committed to serving and pleasing his master. As a good servant, he would do his best to discover his master’s desires and then explicitly do whatever was needed to fulfill those desires. By using this word in this context, it is almost as if Paul is saying, “If you really want to please the Lord and be a servant that brings Him satisfaction, then do these things.…” What things bring pleasure to the heart of Jesus? Let me repeat the qualities we’ve already discussed: having an attitude of excellence; doing your job with seriousness and responsibility; and being consistently fervent, committed, and enthusiastic in your attitude. When a believer steadfastly demonstrates these attributes in his life, he becomes a servant who truly brings satisfaction to the heart of Jesus Christ. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Your salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, and nothing you do can buy you a special standing with Him. Nevertheless, how you serve God and the testimony that your life demonstrates to the world is very important to Jesus Christ. So I urge you to take an honest look at yourself today. Ask yourself, When people look at my life, do they come away with a positive idea of what a Christian is like, or does my example leave people unimpressed with Jesus Christ? Then ask the Lord to show you any changes you need to make so you can move on up to a higher level of excellence in God!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am very convicted by what I have read today. I don’t want to allow any area of my life to be a bad testimony of who Jesus is. Therefore, I am asking You to open my eyes and show me those areas of my life that need to come up to a higher level. Please forgive me for being tolerant of low standards that are not compatible with the excellence of Jesus’ wonderful name. Starting today, I want to move up higher. Holy Spirit, please help me as I start taking steps toward making serious changes in my life, my attitudes, and my actions.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I will no longer be satisfied with living a low-level existence. God has something great planned for me, and I have made the decision to abandon the negligent attitudes that have dominated my life. Jesus has called me to be a servant that brings Him pleasure, so that is what I am going to do. I will not allow laziness or apathy to be a part of me any longer. I intend to start projecting continual enthusiasm and excitement about what Jesus has asked me to do!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!