Day 30 – A Servant’s Heart

I was saved in 4th grade when a terrible train crash rocked our small community. It scared me. A lot. I remember not being able to sleep and just prayingScreen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.32.36 PM for hours. Praying that if
something happened to me that I would go to Heaven. Luckily, a teacher at my
school kept a bible on her desk, and she helped me pray that Jesus would enter my heart. That was that. I was saved. I always made it a priority to be in church when the doors were open. Yes, I sinned; however, I said my prayers every single night. I talked about Christ often, and I truly believed for years {decades} that doing those things were enough. It wasn’t until my husband attended a bible study at our church (kind of against his will) that my eyes started opening up to the truth. Before this bible study I was the reason Frank went to church. If he didn’t go I would be cranky, and he knew it. He went to make me happy. If I was sick and couldn’t attend, or if I was out of town, then he didn’t go. That bible study changed him, which inexplicably changed me.

Before that bible study I had a schedule. My kids had to get into bed; therefore, Wednesday night church was totally out of the question. It would mess everything up. Plus, I went to church on Sunday, and I am a really nice person. Surely that was enough. Also, serving or doing anything was kind of out of the question because I was a busy, working mom in a fast-paced society. I had a lot to do, and my kids were number one on my list. I needed to cater to them. I needed to make sure that they had the best of the best, plenty of rest, and all of my attention. The process of what began to happen to me next is what I call “Unbecoming a Professional Christian”. That’s what I was. A professional Christian. You see us all the time. We are in the church on Sunday mornings. We are out to eat with friends bowing our heads in prayer. We post bible verses all over Facebook proclaiming God’s goodness. But are we Christlike? Are we in church on Sunday mornings expecting to be served by our pastors- or are we there to gain more information in learning  how to serve others?  Are we there with a passion so strong, as Tammy Whitehurst stated, “ To Make Heaven Bigger,” that we can’t sit still any longer. Are we expecting our pastor to do all the work, or are we willing to roll our sleeves up, get tired, get dirty, and truly put others’ needs before our own? Because that is what Christ did. That is what being a Christian is.

Jesus washed people’s feet. Are we too good? Jesus spoke and ministered to the lady at the well. What would people think about us? Jesus was bold. Strong faith. He was happy. Jesus is the King of all Kings, yet He is the epitome of what a true servant should be. I hope that through studying what it means to truly serve others with an open and loving heart that I can somehow be a little more like Jesus. That is my mission. To be like Jesus, and Jesus served.

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Day 29 – A Servant’s Heart

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 7.16.45 AMWhen I think of Jesus serving us there are two acts that immediately come to my mind. The first act of Jesus’ servanthood would absolutely be his ultimate sacrifice of dying on the cross to save us. The second act that I am reminded of would be His constant forgiveness of our endless sins. Every. Single. Day. He forgives us even though He knows we are going to mess up again. He forgives us even though we promise we “won’t do that again”. He forgives us. So we should forgive, too. Revenge. Justice. An eye for an eye. These are very real emotions that take over our mind and heart when we feel we have been wronged. People hurt us. They cut us deep. Life throws curve balls that we never even see coming. Showing God’s love and compassion to someone that has done something so incomprehensible to you lifts a burden off your shoulders, as well as theirs. It is a testament to the person that hurt you that portrays God’s love in the most powerful way. It is a true reflection of God’s character shining through your heart. Forgiveness. It is an act of surrender that shows God that you trust Him and know that He can heal all of your wounds. Living in a state of unforgiveness stifles our walk with God because we are not moving away from the hurt of the past. We are dwelling in a pool of lost dreams and pointed fingers that will eventually rise up and strangle us. Unforgiveness cultivates bitterness. Jesus could have easily been bitter, but He knew that bitterness was not going to help expand God’s Kingdom. Why would any sane person want to serve a God whose people are bitter, unhappy, and just downright sad? As humans, forgiveness seems unattainable, unmanageable, and often times insurmountable. As Christians, forgiveness will still not be a natural emotion that swells within us; however, with God we know, and can stand on the truth, that all things are possible. By praying and seeking to truly forgive the person that has hurt us, then God will provide us with the tools we need to start healing.

God, thank you for forgiving me. Every single day. Please give me the strength that I need to forgive others and move beyond any past hurts. Amen.

Day 28 – A Servant’s Heart

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 5.39.24 AMHe loved to the very end. One meaning of “the end” (telos in Greek) means aim or fulfillment. In John Chapter 13, Jesus exhibits the importance of loving our brethren, regardless of what they have done, unceasingly. If Jesus were not Jesus I have to believe that He would be in a complete state of panic. Jesus knew He was about to sit down and eat with his closest friends for the last time. He knew that time was short and that He would soon be betrayed by a man that was supposed to be his confidant; however, what did He do? He washed feet. He kept serving, and He kept loving. This act of selflessness paints a beautiful picture portraying that no matter how bad we think our life is currently going- we keep serving. Jesus didn’t let this act of sheer betrayal define Him. He didn’t let it take over His mind and heart and transform him into something that He wasn’t. Jesus didn’t let fear or a major time constraint stop him from completing His father’s will. He had a calling to execute and nothing was going to stop him. His whole life was based on ministering to others, and that is how He was going to complete it. He didn’t need a bucket list of fun activities that He had to achieve before passing from this world – He just needed to serve. This is yet another instance that authenticates that being Christlike means serving others in the most selfless possible way. It means to push all of our selfish tendencies to the side. It means that when we finish serving in one area that we are not finished. The race isn’t over. We have to keep pressing forward and looking for opportunities to show Jesus to people that are struggling and hurting. Hebrew 12:1 states, “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We can’t stop. We have to keep going until the very end. If it is God’s will for me to live eighty or ninety years, I hope that I am still serving and loving with my entire heart.

God, please help me to keep going. Help me see the opportunities that you place around me to serve others. I never want to think I am “finished” until you say I am. Amen.

Day 27 – A Servant’s Heart

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. -Proverbs 19:17

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 9.02.20 PMIt seems like a lifetime ago. Frank and I were fresh out of college, starting new careers, but still waiting tables to make ends meet. We had a toddler, childcare, and a month wait before we started getting paid from our new jobs. Money was clearly tight, and we were exhausted from working at our new careers during the day and waiting tables every evening. Then out of the blue, a sweet lady from our church showed up with a car full of groceries. I mean every item you could imagine: soap, detergent, milk, bread, meat, treats, even diapers. It was so unexpected, but exactly what we needed. It was a moment that someone listened to God, and in turn blessed a struggling, young family. She was on a fixed income, yet she wasn’t afraid to extend her hand to help someone else in need. She knew God had her back.

When I was a senior in high school my dad was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to work for an extended period of time. My mother worked in the high school cafeteria on the days she wasn’t taking care of my dad. I remember times throughout those months when different families throughout our small town would show up at our front door with groceries. These acts of servanthood kept us going, and I will never forget them.

God takes care of his people. God always gives us what we need. Through the acts of other people serving, we are able to speak a testimony that could change lives for many years to come. May these memories and struggles stay fresh on our mind so that when the right time comes we are able to share our story with others. May we always step out in faith when God nudges us to serve others. Even when we are broke. Even when we are tired.

God, I am so thankful for the people in my past that have reached out and blessed my family. I am thankful that they felt your nudge and acted upon it. Please help me always listen to your directions. I don’t want to be afraid to do what you need me to do. Let me be bold. Amen.

Day 26 – A Servant’s Heart

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) -Mark 6:31

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.46.01 AMGod wants us to serve. That is our sole purpose here on Earth – serve others and lead them to Christ. God also wants us to rest. If we don’t take the time to recharge, we will end up in a crash and burn situation. I know how it is. We are a go, go, go society. Sometimes we leave home at seven in the morning and do not return until after eight in the evening. We are in a constant state of hustle and bustle. That is just the way it is when you have children in various activities. We are full-time wives, mothers, homemakers, activity jugglers, entrepreneurs, and Christ worshippers. We are the heartbeat of our homes. We are strong in Christ, and He will absolutely give us the strength to keep going. Nonetheless, He wants us to set aside time to replenish our souls. We need to set aside days where we don’t venture out. We need days where we stay in our pajamas and nap. Sometimes we need to turn off all the devices and let them recharge so that we can, too. And we don’t need to feel guilty about resting. If you do not take care of yourself, then you will not be fully able to serve others. If you continue pouring all of your strength into different activities without taking a day off, you will end up tired and bitter. Resting gives us strength to keep going. Resting reenergizes our brain and lifts the fog we’ve been walking around in. Resting refreshes our hearts and invites peace to take over. We don’t have anywhere to go, no makeup to put on, and we can just focus on praising God for our many, many blessings. If you are like me, thoughts of growing laundry piles, meal prep, and being superwoman for your family tries to consume your mind. The to-do list taunts you. They tell you that you have to, that you can’t stop, that you are lazy if you rest. That is a lie from the devil. Don’t listen to it. He wants you run down and wore out. Take your day of rest knowing that God wants you to. Rest in peace and the hope that God is fueling your soul for amazing things to come. Rest now so you can serve tomorrow.

God, please help me to actually rest. To keep the blinds shut, to nap, to read, to pray, to just be. Take away the guilt that tells me that I need to go, go, go. Let me rest in your peace and hope, and let that rest refresh me. Thank you for your strength to keep going, and thank you for your rest that replenishes my soul. Amen.

Day 25 – A Servant’s Heart

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
I John 3:17-18

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 6.34.02 AMPractice what you preach. Actions are louder than words. If you are going to talk the talk then you better walk the walk. You have certainly heard all of these sayings time after time, but did you know that Jesus is the one that essentially coined these phrases? In a world driven by social media, so much verbiage is out there. It’s constantly being scrolled through, shared, re-tweeted, and hashtagged at a breakneck pace that will make your head spin. Don’t get me wrong – I love it! I love social media. I love all the bible verses. It means that God’s word is being spread. It means we are constantly reading His word. However, if we are posting God’s word one minute, and the next we are spewing filth – YIKES! If we are posting Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but we are not actively serving in our community, whatever that community may be – YIKES! It is just painting such a bad picture of God’s people. We have got to set things into action. We have got to practice what we preach. If we are posting to love one another but at the next school event, we are screaming obscenities at referees – you get it! Words do not carry enough strength alone. They need a foundation to keep them strong and stable, and that foundation is executing what you say. The thing is – yes, spread God’s word, but don’t forget to get busy and get going. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Pray for your friends. Visit the lonely. Go to church and fellowship. Don’t be stingy. Do what you can do where you are. And do it with a smile.

God, please help me to walk the walk. Guard my tongue and my actions. Help me to work for you and your Kingdom in a way that will show others your love. Amen

Day 24 – A Servant’s Heart

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Acts 20:28

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 8.29.19 PMIt is so important to be a witness and share Christ’s love wherever you go. We are called to minister to the lost. To plant churches. To show the world Jesus within us. However, we cannot forget how critically important it is to take care of the actual church and its members. A church building should be well taken care of. The upkeep of the church is a reflection of how much its members respect and revere God’s house. The building doesn’t have to be fancy, but we should take pride in the upkeep of the outside and inside. This is our safe place, our home. We want it to feel warm and welcoming to our current and future members. Our building is only as strong as its members, which is why it is so important to foster relationships within those four walls. We really need to form a vested interest in the families that we are fellowshipping with from week to week. We need to be faithful to pray for each other in the good times and the bad. We need to be ready and willing to lend a hand, and we need to really get to know each other. In the last year or so I have been lucky enough to grow extremely close to the ladies in my Sunday School class. They are always just a text message away when I have a prayer request. Their hearts are so good, and I am thankful for the friendships that God is nurturing through studying His word and opening up our hearts to one another. These ladies lift up my spirits. They are trustworthy, dedicated individuals that pour their hearts into the church, their families, and their community every week. We are all very different, yet we are all the same. Close groups like this throughout the church are so important. We are a support system like no other. We help each other grow, learn, love, and lean on Jesus. They are my flock. My tribe. I am so thankful that God has placed them in my life, and I pray that anyone reading this today will get connected with a group within their church that has their back. A group that loves them like a family. A group that will help them grow in Christ every single week.

Dear God, thank you for my beautiful church and the people within the four walls. Please bless everyone on the grounds committee that makes certain the outside is pristine from week to week. Thank you for all the volunteers that clean the inside as well. And thank you for my flock. My ladies that I call on when I need prayer. Please bless them abundantly. Amen.