Note: This is a long one, but worth your time.
Today's northeast Ohio forecast? An arctic front bringing -20 wind chill...so we skipped church. In lieu of a corporate sermon I decided to read sermons at home and continue a series I started in late December:
What God Wants From Us in 2015, Part 1
What God Wants From Us in 2015, Part 2
God wants us to:
To Love Him
To Seek Him
To Serve Him
To Trust Him
Part 1 discussed Loving God
Part 2 discussed Seeking God
Now it's time for Part 3, which is Serving God.
I must admit that when I peered into and studied John Piper's sermons and devotionals on Serving God, I was surprised, for there was nothing about working in your church, your neighborhood, or your community, or even serving the less fortunate living abroad.
So, other than loving our families, how exactly do we serve God?
Both these texts put all the emphasis on God’s giving to us when we serve.
The message to us this: Our purpose in serving God is to glorify Him, not to help Him.
Whatever we do, we're to do it through God. The strength must come from God, who serves us. He didn't come to be served, but to serve. He doesn't have a laundry list of things for us to accomplish.
He doesn't need us to feed the poor, for he can do it.
He doesn't need us to feed his sheep spiritually, for he can do it.
He doesn't need us to disciple our children, for he can do it.
He doesn't need us to toil for our daily bread, for he can supply it.
The above "tasks" are all part of the Christian life, but they are not our purpose. Without that distinction we run astray easily; we grow weary in doing good; we get lost in ego and experience frequent conflict with our fellow man. We lose hope. We choose the wrong things, or the right things at the wrong time.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24–25)
We do not glorify God by providing his needs, but by praying that he would provide ours — and trusting him to answer.
Here we are at the heart of the good news of Christian Hedonism. God’s insistence that we ask him to give us help so that he gets glory (Psalm 50:15) forces on us the startling fact that we must beware of serving God and take special care to let him serve us, lest we rob him of his glory.
This sounds very strange. Most of us think serving God is a totally positive thing; we have not considered that serving God may be an insult to him. But meditation on the meaning of prayer demands this consideration. Acts 17:24–25 makes this plain.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. . . . Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:12, 15).
Evidently, there is a way to serve God that would belittle him as needy of our service. “The Son of Man came not to be served” (Mark 10:45). He aims to be the servant. He aims to get the glory as Giver.
Excerpt from John Piper's book: Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, pg. 168
In a November, 1997 sermon, John Piper teaches why the Gospel was so detestable to Saul of Tarsus, who later became the Apostle Paul. Can you guess why? What was Paul (Saul) like before his conversion? An excellent Pharisee. The best of the best.He will give me everything I need, everything you need, everything our children need. Amen.
End of story...but oh, how we complicate it!
Prayer Time: Dear Heavenly Father, we love you. Thank you for coming to serve us. Thank you for loving us, forgiving us, for continually working in us your glory, reflected. May we stop complicating it all, Lord. Forgive us for making it about us. Forgive us for living by fear and in doubt. Help us to live through you, glorifying you with our humility, our simple faith, our sincere worship and gratitude. Help us to switch our view of serving you from "Help wanted" to "Help available". In Jesus's name I pray, Amen.