3 Keys to Serving God
By Jessica Van Roekel
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, ESV)
This passage from 1 Thessalonians holds three keys to serving God. When we learn to leverage these keys, we discover that we can continue when the way grows wearying or frustrating. Serving God by serving people brings with it a whole host of issues. We rub each other wrong, and our flesh expresses itself through our irritated responses to one another. We fight for dominance and wrestle with selfish ambition. We lobby for our great ideas and fuss when they get put aside. Instead of getting caught up in these traps, we can consider what gets us started, drives us, and sustains us.
Faith starts us because God chooses us. God has already taken the first step in renewing our personal relationship with him by sending Jesus to pay for our offenses against God. Jesus bridged the gap between God and us. We simply respond by saying yes to God and begin a life anchored by faith. Walking by faith means that sometimes we don’t see all the steps we need to take; instead, we only see the next one and then the next one. Serving God is an expression of our faith in him, and faith is an important key in believing that our service is not in vain.
Love for the Lord is the engine that rumbles beneath all we do and drives us forward. At times the labor involved in serving God surprises us. Hardships happen, and we wonder if something so noble can bring such difficulties. But this life is not without trials, even when we serve with pure motives. We need to have something that keeps up moving forward when the way grows long and scattered with boulders and steep inclines. Love for God is the key to pressing on when discouragement comes.
Hope fuels us and gives us endurance. We find our hope in Jesus, who is steadfast and true, strong and mighty, and ever-present. When we grow weary in service, we can fix our eyes on Jesus. He is our hope. He doesn’t disappoint. Because sanctification is a process, we wrestle with the ways of our “self” and must carry our cross. While this battle within rears its ugly head from time to time, we can stay the course by allowing steadfast hope to build endurance in us. Hope in Jesus is the key that fuels our service.
Throughout my life, I’ve served God by serving the Church through my involvement in various ministries, from children’s church to youth group to women’s ministries. My involvement in each area ministered to my heart and helped me mature. Maturity came through diligence to honor God through every issue each ministry brought as I focused on faith, love, and hope.
Streams in the Desert – January 16
- 202316 Jan
And there arose a great storm (Mark 4:37).
Some of the storms of life come suddenly: a great sorrow, a bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat. Some come slowly. They appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon no larger than a man’s hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.
Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak He plants it on the moor where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fibre and becomes the king of the forest.
When God wants to make a man He puts him into some storm. The history of manhood is always rough and rugged. No man is made until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the sublime fulfillment of the prayer: “O God, take me, break me, make me.”
A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius. There stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved pre-eminence in any phase of life; the remarkable fact about the picture is this: Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability was first pre-eminent for suffering. In the foreground stands that figure of the man who was denied the promised land, Moses. Beside him is another, feeling his way — blind Homer. Milton is there, blind and heart-broken. Now comes the form of one who towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His Face is marred more than any man’s. The artist might have written under that great picture, “The Storm.”
The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and the battle-scarred.
You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts. Have they left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood and womanhood? Have they left you with more sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred?
The 3 Things We Can Give to God This Year
The 3 Things We Can Give to God This Year
As we enter into a new year, here is something to remember: When it’s all said and done, we have three things we can offer God—our treasure, our talent, and our time. Each of these is given to us by God, and each of them should be given back in generous portions.
First, there is our treasure. I urge you to commit yourself to give faithfully and generously to the Lord in this coming year. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21 NKJV). Whenever we put our money into something, we develop a vested interest in it. It makes sense to us that we would place our treasures where our hearts are. If we love reading books, or being entertained, or the latest technology, we spend our treasure on those things. And if our heart’s desires change, that changes where we put our treasure.
But it works the other way too: Where we put our treasures, our heart will follow. Do you want your heart to be in the things of God? Then put your treasures in the things of God! Develop a vested interest in God’s kingdom.
The second thing we can give to God is our talent. God has gifted each believer in different ways. Everyone has something to offer for the work of the kingdom. Romans 12 says, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us different work to do” (NLT).
Finally, there is our time. Let’s say that one day your phone rang and it was the president of the bank that you use. He told you that an anonymous donor who loved you very much had decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your bank account each and every morning. At first, maybe that didn’t seem like a lot. But then you figured out that it was $864 a day. At seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, those pennies add up to almost $315,000 each year! But the bank president added one thing: “The anonymous giver said you must spend all of the money on the day you receive it! No balance will be carried over to the next day. Each evening the bank must cancel whatever sum you failed to use! Remember, what you don’t spend is lost.”
That may sound like fantasy, but here’s the reality: Every morning, Someone who loves you very much deposits into your “bank of time” 86,400 seconds, which represent 1,440 minutes, which of course equals 24 hours each and every day. God gives you that much to use each day. Nothing is ever carried over on credit to the next day. There is no such thing as a 27-hour day. It’s called time, and you can’t escape it. Time is ticking away right now. The Bible tells us to “redeem the time”—to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity.
Offer God your treasure, your talent, and your time. Live this next year as if it were your last, because it could be. Make those minutes count!
What Did You Get?
SCRIPTURE READING — ROMANS 15:13-20
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How long do you keep Christmas decorations up after the holiday? How long do gifts stay under the tree before you use them or tuck them into a drawer? One year I bought my mom a nice nightgown that I knew she would like. But I was really confused when I learned that she didn’t wear it. I asked her about it, and she said she was saving it for a special occasion. She said it was soft and comfortable and that she really liked it—so I assured her that it was good to use the gown and enjoy it right away.
As I think about what we have been given by God, I wonder if we do something similar. For example, Paul points out some wonderful gifts from God in the blessing we read here today, and I wonder if we hear those words about joy and peace and then just tuck that thought away for some special day.
God has gifted us with the ability to experience hope and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. What’s more, we are given the ability to share this with others. So this isn’t just a gift to be treasured and kept hidden, or even shared only in the church. God is calling us to bring this good news to the world.
May you experience hope and joy today—and share it with others!
Dear God, forgive us when we only use or share the gifts you have given us on special occasions. Help us to enjoy your hope, peace, and joy every day so that we might share the good news everywhere. Amen.