I was but a pen in God’s hands, and what praise is due to a pen?
We all know people, even unbelievers, who seem to be natural servants. They are always serving others one way or another. But God does not get the glory; they do. It is their reputation that is enhanced. But when we, natural servants or not, serve in dependence upon the grace of God with the strength He supplies, God is glorified.
Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins.
For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by His fatherly care, that He is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond Him — they will never yield Him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in Him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to Him.
God can achieve His purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on Him made possible the unique display of His power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.
This does not mean that I cannot desire to be blessed by my service to God. In fact, God promises to bless our obedience according to His loving purposes, and in some measure He uses these blessings to encourage us to honor His standards. The point is not that His blessings should never motivate us at all, but they cannot be the driving force of our service. His blessings are the oil that helps the machinery of obedience operate, but love for God and desire for His glory are the pistons and wheels.
If thankfulness does not move us to serve God, then we do not truly understand who our God is and what He has done in our behalf. Without gratitude for Christ’s sacrificial love, our duty will become nothing more than drudgery and our God nothing more than a dissatisfied boss.
Lasting service comes when we serve God from His acceptance, not for His acceptance.
Mercy stimulates the gratitude that is the only enduring motivation for effective Christian service. Gratitude recognizes the love that never fades and restores confidence in our eternal relationship that is the only true source of Christian power.
Don’t ever forget that you cannot do what God has called you to do. You cannot parent that child, love that husband, care for that elderly parent, submit to that boss, teach that Sunday school class, or lead that small-group Bible study. God specializes in the impossible, so that when the victory is won and the task is complete, we cannot take any credit. Others know we didn’t do it, and we know we didn’t do it. We must always remember that we can only live the Christian life and serve God through the power of His Holy Spirit. As soon as we think we can handle it on our own, we become useless to Him. We have to be willing to get out of the way, let God take over, and let Him overshadow us.
Don’t assume you have to be extraordinary to be used by God. You don’t have to have exceptional gifts, talents, abilities, or connections. God specializes in using ordinary people whose limitations and weaknesses make them ideal showcases for His greatness and glory (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
It is possible to be so active in the service of Christ as to forget to love Him.
Ordinary people – people with problems and faults and stubborn habits and personal weakness – can be used mightily in the mission of God, because it’s not about their abilities to do things for God, but about His ability to work through them.
To concentrate on service and activity for God may often actively thwart our attaining of the true goal, God Himself. At first sight it seems heroic to fling our lives away in the service of God and of our fellows. We feel it is bound to mean more to Him than our experience of Him. Service seems so unselfish, whereas concentrating on our walk with God seems selfish and self-centered. But it is the very reverse. The things that God is most concerned about are our coldness of heart towards Himself and our proud, unbroken natures. Christian service of itself can, and so often does, leave our self-centered nature untouched… With those things hidden in our hearts, we have only to work alongside others, and find resentment, hardness, criticism, jealousy, and frustration issuing from our hearts. We think we are working for God, but the test of how little of our service for Him is revealed by our resentment or self-pity… We need to leave our lusting for ever-larger spheres of Christian service and concentrate on seeing God for ourselves and finding the deep answer for life in Him.
Nothing is of greater importance than loving God! If we fail to take this seriously, we may find at the end of our lives that all of our works counted for nothing… [However] He wants us to be before we do. Love first!
God is not looking for gifted people or people who are self-sufficient. He is looking for inadequate people who will give their weakness to Him and open themselves to the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the transforming grace of the new covenant as it is ministered by Christ Jesus Himself.
If God has work for me to do I cannot die.
So many of us think about it the other way around. We think of church in terms of our serving God and receiving from others. But this is backwards. Sacrificial service in the church doesn’t start with serving. It starts with being served by God. Then as we are satisfied in Him and who He’s revealed Himself to be in His crucified Son, we gladly overflow in service of others.
The church that seeks to give to God and receive from others will suffocate faith and smother love. But if Jesus’ gospel takes root, we will gladly come to God to feast and drink. Then with our hands full and our thirst being quenched, we will most gladly do good to others, especially the church – those who are of the household of faith (2 Cor. 12:15; Gal. 6:10).
True saints do what they do because they are drawn by love. True Christians find that the love of God in Christ is so attractive, so beautiful, that they cannot help wanting to serve Him. There is a splendor, a beauty, about God and His ways that lures humans beings to Him (Gerald McDermott).
Taken from Seeing God: Twelve Reliable Signs of True Spirituality by Gerald R. McDermott, p. 114. Copyright 1995, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Used with permission of the Intervarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.co
If God is my portion, if God is the true source of my joy, and if it is God who will fulfill me, then I am free to be a companion instead of a consumer. That is, because of what I receive from God I can give to another person instead of always taking; I can minister rather than manipulate because of the fulfillment I get from God (Richard and Sharon Phillips).
God is not looking for people to work for Him; so much as He is looking for people who will let Him work for them. The gospel is not a Help Wanted ad. Neither is the call to Christian service. On the contrary, the gospel commands us to give up and hang out a Help Wanted sign (this is the basic meaning of prayer). Then the gospel promises that God will work for us if we do. He will not surrender the glory of being the Giver.
The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won’t enlist you in his service unless you are healthy, and Jesus won’t enlist you unless you are sick (Mk. 2:17)… Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments are the Doctor’s prescribed health regimen, not the Employer’s job description.
[God] commands us to let Him work for us before commanding us to work for Him.
When you know the truth about what happens to you after you die, and you believe it, and you are satisfied with all that God will be for you in the ages to come, that truth makes you free indeed. Free from the short, shallow, suicidal pleasures of sin, and free for the sacrifices of mission and ministry that cause people to give glory to our Father in heaven.
All the other so-called gods make man work for them. Our God will not be put in the position of an employer who must depend on others to make his business go. Instead He magnifies His all-sufficiency by doing the work Himself. Man is the dependent partner in this affair. His job is to wait for the Lord. What is God looking for in the world? Assistants? No. The gospel is not a “help wanted” ad. God is not looking for people to work for Him but people who let Him work mightily in and through them.
So, let us work hard but never forget that it is not us but the grace of God which is with us (1 Cor. 15:10). Let us obey now, as always, but never forget that it is God who works in us both the will and the deed (Phil. 2:13). Let us spread the gospel far and wide and spend ourselves for the sake of the elect but never venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought in us (Rom. 15:18). In all our serving may God be the giver, and may God get the glory.
Trying to work for God without worshipping God results in joyless legalism. Work minus worship magnifies your will power not God’s worth. If you try to do things for God without delighting in God you bring dishonor upon God. Serving God without savoring God is lifeless and unreal.
The idea of staying close to one’s “first love” (Revelation 2:5) is referring to one’s devotion, not emotion. It is saying, “Let Christ be preeminent once again; do not let service take His place”… If we allow working for the Lord to take the place of walking with Him, there will be consequences… When you think about it, ministry really isn’t what we do for the Lord. It is what He does through us as we walk with Him.
When…people learn to rely not on their own power and wisdom, but to depend on God, there is no limit to their usefulness in God’s service.
Who can do more? We with our own energy and wisdom, or the God who created heaven and earth and who can work in space-time history with a power which none of us has?
You know when I was a teacher I could flunk those who refused to work. When I was a coach I could bench them. When I managed a large aquatic facility I could fire them. I can’t do any of those things to you. You are all volunteers! So what motivation do I have to get you to serve? Very simple, I have the words of God that I presented to you this morning – His command and the great promises of His grace and your reward. If you are not excited about being directly commissioned, gifted and empowered by the King of the Universe to do His will, there is not much more I can do to get you engaged.
God enjoys using your hard work for ministry, but your hard work and your ministry must not be your god. What God wants is you!
Our Savior wants you to be a disciple of His before you ever become a minister of His. Our Savior wants your heart before you offer Him your hands and feet. Our Savior wants your ministry for Him to overflow out of a life where He is presently ministering to you.
“So that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” When we serve in this manner, God is glorified from the beginning to the end. He saved us. He gives us the spiritual gift. He motivates us to use it. He gives us the right spiritual heart to love others. He gives us the right words to say. He gives us the necessary strength. He brings the desired results. He receives all the glory. We can take no credit for ourselves.
If we give God service it must be because He gives us grace. We work for Him because He works in us.
I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do His work through me.
Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.
We’re here to be worshippers first and workers only second. We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshiper, and after that he can learn to be a worker…The work done by a worshiper will have eternity in it.
We have become so engrossed in the work of the Lord that we have forgotten the Lord of the work.
There is never a moment in ministry when you aren’t being ministered to. The Savior is not just working through you in the lives of others, but He is also working in you as He works through you. He is not just calling you to be an agent of His transforming grace; He is transforming you by the same grace. He is not just committed to the success of your ministry but also to the triumph of His grace in your own heart and life… You are never just a vehicle of His amazing grace. No, you are always also a recipient of that grace.
Public ministry is meant to be fueled and propelled by private devotion.
God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.
Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship. Godliness requires a disciplined balance between the two. Those who can maintain service without regular personal and corporate worship are serving in the flesh. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been serving that way or how well others think they serve, they are not striving according to God’s power, as Paul did, but their own… At the same time, one measure of the authenticity of worship (again, both personal and corporate) is whether it results in a desire to serve… Therefore, we must maintain that to be Godly, we should discipline ourselves for both worship and service. To engage in one without the other is, in reality, to experience neither.