Why Serve?

In our current post-modern era where many church attendees worship from chairs and pews, and many others from the comfort of their home televisions and mobile devices, yes, even standing and raising their hands to show their devotion to the God that they revere, what ever happened to acts of unselfish service? Is the spirit of unselfish service for others still to be found in the church at large today? Today, when there are too many examples of so called “Christian” leaders, their ministries generating lucrative salaries and much income… and then their secret sins are exposed through the news media, and as a result many more are defiled and estranged from the religion of their parents and grandparents. The spirit of apathy towards Christianity grows and the spirit of self-serving thrives.

But it’s not just selfish leaders that bring about this poor condition. Too many who have their membership recorded on church books and thus claim to be followers of Jesus Christ are full of self. It’s human nature after all, that all we human beings are naturally inclined to self-serving; this, as Christians understand it being the product of sin coming into the world after the fall in the Garden of Eden. Just read Genesis chapter 3, and you can follow the woe and misery caused by sin throughout the pages of the Bible. The story of the human experience is certainly not sugar coated therein.

However, when the New Testament church first took off and even thousands were converted in a day, the spirit of unity in Christ and service to others prevailed. It didn’t begin that way though. It took the original disciples a while to learn the lessons of humility and the true purpose of service for Christ.

Jesus Christ Himself came to serve. Imagine that. The Son of God condescended to come down to this earth, making Himself of no reputation to become a human being… to live on this earth as a bondservant (Philippians 2:5-8). He came down to earth to be the Savior of a world that was lost in sin. He came to save and to serve. And, He came to teach His disciples to humble themselves, to sacrifice as He sacrificed, to live as He lived and to serve as He served.

Does that include you? Do you consider yourself as one of His disciples? Are you one of those who believes John 3:16 that you may be saved? That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. If you include yourself as a believer in Him, then you are also His disciple. And as His disciple, you are called to serve Him.

And that is where I find myself as I read this statement, this command really, from Jesus found in John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

To really understand and embrace this teaching requires a humbleness that we humans do not naturally possess. You must ask God for help in prayer, and you must learn to die to self. And the best way to learn to die to self is to start serving, and pray for a heart of compassion to arise within you. For herein lies a great truth applicable to all humanity: We humans are easily mislead by our own selfish nature, because selfishness is strengthened by self-serving. Think about it. (Now, that idea did not originate from me. I gleaned that thought from a wonderful book, a favorite of mine called, The Desire of Ages, page 649 written over 120 years ago by Ellen White) However, if selfishness is strengthened by self-serving, then it should also be true, perhaps even more so, that unselfishness, or selflessness can also be strengthened. How? Through humble serving.

Only one or two days after teaching this remarkable truth, “If anyone serves Me let Him follow Me…” Jesus spent the last night of His life on earth at the Passover table with the Twelve. It was the last Passover He would ever celebrate on earth, and He wanted to help the Twelve understand true humility and the need to be a servant. We know that only one refused the lesson, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him. But, the other Eleven had some trouble too. Each wanted to know who would be considered the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Each desired to sit at His right hand. The fact is, they were still jealous and envious of one another. So much so that, no one had noticed that there was no servant to wash their feet before the meal, a common custom of courtesy to guests at that time and place in Israel. The towel and bowls and water were there. But where was the servant?

And this is where we find Jesus doing the unthinkable (John 13:1-20). At least unthinkable to His disciples. Because none of them got up to perform the needed task. Not one of them would lower himself to wash the feet of His brethren. So, imagine what their shock and surprise must have felt like when Jesus got up from the table and took off His outer garment to perform the lowest of all tasks. To wash their feet! Their dirty feet.

Now there is much we can learn from this teaching moment, yes even about the cleansing of the feet being symbolic for the need of the greater cleansing, that of the most recent defilements that our own hearts acquire from association with sin. However, what I want to focus on is this, that through this act of service, that of washing His own disciples feet, Jesus taught them that they must also be willing to serve in the lowest of positions. They must be humble and serve like He served. If they truly want to be honored by His Father in heaven, that is to be considered great by God, then they must go where He would go, they must be where He is if they are to serve Him.

If Christians are to serve Jesus, they must be where He is. So wherever you would find Jesus serving, that is where Christians should also be serving. Yes, we should attend church and worship with fellow believers, because Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and taught and participated in the worship services (see Luke 4:16; 13:10). And notice, this was not the modern worship day of “Sunday.” It was the seventh-day Sabbath of the Old Testament which was still being observed in the New Testament. Now that is another story to tell, for another day. My point today is not specifically about which day is the Lord’s day; rather, my point is that Christians should be found doing the ways and the works of Jesus, if we are truly His disciples, and thus we should be found serving as Jesus served.

So, how and where should Christians serve. The poor and needy? Yes! The rich? Yes again! All classes and cultures of people. But especially the poor and needy, those who have not had the opportunities with which you were blessed, those who need food and clothing, and all those who need to hear the good news of salvation in Christ, whether rich or poor. Or, as Jesus relays the message to His servants, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

As I consider the passing of the Easter season, will Christians wake up to the fact that worship is one small and necessary part of serving God. The greater part is to serve Him through serving others in need, that where He is, there we may be also. Amen!

“Our King On A Colt”

My sermon from yesterday, March 27, 2021 https://youtu.be/Umn48YoRSoo.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, multitudes were shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” In fact, by riding on that donkey Jesus was declaring Himself King. I share pictures that I took when I was in Israel and that are pertinent to this Palm Sunday event. While standing outside the ‘Tear Drop’ church looking over the city of Jerusalem, “Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus? While on top of the Mt of Olives He paused, and sitting there on the colt and overlooking the city He wept.” Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem? Tune in and watch, and pray as you listen and you will find a blessing of understanding as you have never experienced before.

Jesus Christ Is Priest Upon God’s Throne

In the New Testament book of Hebrews there is a glorious picture of God and the plan of salvation. I would dare say that what God is doing in heaven right now is just as important as when Jesus “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Yes, the Apostle Paul who wrote that also tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God made Jesus “sin for us.” When Jesus was crucified, though He “knew no sin,” He became sin for us.” Why? The answer comes in the same verse, that sinful human beings may be saved and “become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Now how is that going to happen? How can a leopard change his spots? How can sinners become righteous? The answer of course is through believing in Jesus. Believing in everything about Jesus that the Bible has revealed to us. He is Creator. He is Savior. He is Lord. And He is also our High Priest, “Who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2).

Since He is Lord, that means those who believe in Jesus will obey Him. For He said, “If you love Me keep My commandments” (John 14:15). But, I’m going to need some help with that. How can I keep His commandments?

This is where it is so important about what Jesus is doing right now in heaven, serving as our High Priest. As High Priest, Jesus can fulfill the promise which is given to those willing to obey Him. Jesus promised us that He would send us “another Helper,” who is called the Holy Spirit, who will abide with us forever. He will abide with you! And, it is in Jesus’ very important role as our High Priest where He is able to send us the Holy Spirit and also Himself to make intercession for us; and, why He can also say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 7:25; 13:5).

Do you believe that sending the Holy Spirit and Jesus Himself serving in heaven as High Priest is important? I do! It is as important to our salvation as when Jesus died on the cross. For without the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth,”where would you be today? Those of you who believe in Jesus, that is. And without the Holy Spirit to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment,” what chance would any lost sinner have to come to Jesus and find salvation? (John 16:13, 16:8). And without Jesus Himself interceding for you now, pleading His shed blood on your behalf, how can anyone hope to be saved and be made righteous?

Thank God for the resurrection. It is at the resurrection of Jesus when He went back to heaven to begin His role as our High Priest. And, He sent the Holy Spirit to serve believers here… right here on this sin polluted earth. Yes, right now in heaven Jesus serves as our Advocate, for the Apostle John tells us,“If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,” who also, “if we confess our sins, is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness “(1 John 2:1, 1:9). Jesus now serves in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father. He is our High Priest, who “always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). And think about this, the Father is sitting together with Jesus. “The Father Himself loves you” as Jesus said, and proves it by sitting with Jesus as He is making intercession for us. For you!

“As a priest, Christ is now set down with the Father in His throne. Upon the throne with the eternal, self-existent One, is He who ‘hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4), who ‘was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15).…” “His intercession is that of a pierced and broken body, of a spotless life. The wounded hands, the pierced side, the marred feet, plead for fallen man, whose redemption was purchased at such infinite cost” {White, E. G. (1973). God’s Amazing Grace (p. 69), Review and Herald Publishing Association}. 

It is this Jesus who is called the Son of Man and the Son of God, who “before the world was” had equal glory to the Father and alongside the Father “made the worlds” (John 17:5, Hebrews 1:2), the Father and the Son working together in the creation of all things, living and non-living. It is this Jesus who serves us now, advocating for us, interceding for us, making our prayers, yours and mine worthy before the Throne of God. So, let us believe the promise and, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession,” and, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14, 16).

Prayer: Dear Father, we acknowledge Your power and majesty is so far above our limited comprehension. Yet, we are privileged to bow before Your throne O God, where Jesus now sits as our Great High Priest, where He does in fact make intercession for us even now. We come to You now in prayer on behalf of our Churches, our families, and our neighbors and even the stranger who may be within our midst. Hear our prayer O LORD.

Gracious Father and Jesus our Savior and Lord, we give thanks to You for the wonderful things You have done to accomplish our salvation. You are worthy of all praise, honor and glory. Please accept our worship, though we are unworthy. Thank You Jesus for making atonement for us even now. Teach each one of us to search our own hearts, that we may confess and forsake our sins before Your throne of grace. Thank You Jesus for helping us even to do that.

Truly the Holy Spirit is given to us to guide us and cause our thinking to be corrected, so that we may know and believe Your promise to us, that when we confess and forsake our sins, we will be forgiven because our faithful Advocate, Jesus will plead His blood in our behalf. Hallelujah! We pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in order that we will not yield our minds to the sophistry of the Adversary; rather, we pray that we will yield our minds only to our great Advocate who pleads for us to overcome through His sufficient grace. Thank You also for the ministration of the angels to help us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

My Purpose

I am Pastor Dean, a follower of Jesus Christ who seeks to make Him known to those who do not yet know Him, and to make Him better known to those who do. God is love and His mercy is still freely available, though we humans are now living in the last days of earth’s sojourn under sin. How important then that you who desire eternal life should be living according to the love of God and the faith of Jesus. My purpose is to help you better understand what it means to live under grace while preparing to meet Jesus when He comes again.

The Sun Has Come Out

The Sun has come out this morning, and what a difference it makes on the human psyche. On me. Since returning home on Sunday from our recent camping adventure on Jekyll Island, we faced a Monday and a Tuesday of clouds, cold and rain. The gloominess of clouds can poorly affect my mood. Yet, I thought about the spiritual nature of man, and how some conditions of human relations can poorly affect your spiritual nature. So it happened that I found myself writing a short word called, “He Has A Way.” My previous and very brief post. For I know that in all things, and in all conditions that God certainly has a way to lift the human spirit through His abundant mercy and His perfect grace which He offers freely to all. To you! You just need to be willing to ask Jesus into your heart, and learn how to hear God’s voice speaking to you.

How can you hear God’s voice? Well, God speaks to me through His word, the Bible. And through the pages of the Bible He brings the promise of life. True life. Real life. A life that was meant to be, from the beginning of creation, before sin. If you read His word, and ask Him in humble prayer, He will also speak to you. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the Invisible Presence of God, of who Jesus said, “… but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7b-8).

Yes, the Holy Spirit is given to those who are willing to receive Jesus into their hearts and thus, willing to obey Him. Consider what Jesus offers you when He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:15-18).

Do you desire to be set free from the entanglements of sin? Jesus gives you this promise: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

What good effect do these words of Jesus have on your own spirit? Are you beginning to hear His voice speaking to you?

Yes, the Sun has come out today, note the picture I took from my backyard deck overlooking the lake. Certainly the sun’s rays gleaming through the wisps of water vapor and reflecting on the lake below paints a much cheerier portrait in my mind, than yesterday’s gloomy day. In a similar way, if you allow Jesus access into your heart, your mind, He who is the Son of Righteousness will paint a beautiful portrait in you. That is my prayer for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

He Has A Way

Today, it’s cloudy again. I have just returned home from a camping trip where we finally had sunshine. Pretty much a week of sunshine with only one day of rain. Where was that? you ask, because for the first two months of 2021, it has been clouds, cold and rainstorms. Yet there we were, camping on Jekyll Island, and God blessed our week with sunshine and warmer temperatures. Finally!

Alas, to be back from vacation and today it’s clouds and rain again. Seems to me that has been the case spiritually speaking for not a few of you. What can you do when the clouds of discouragement never seem to give you a break? I have only one sure answer—lean on the Lord. In everything you do, lean on Him. Lean on Jesus who knows your pain. He has a way to lift you above the morass of despair through the help of His perfect grace. More on that later. Until then, my prayer for you is that you will open your heart to lean on Jesus.

Introduction to Me

I am a follower of Jesus Christ who seeks to make Him known to those who do not yet know Him, and to make Him better known to those who do. Thus, God has led me throughout my life of now over 6 decades. I have been married to and in love with the same woman for over 38 years and we have children and grandchildren whom I also love. That does not mean my family has not been through trials. We human beings certainly know how to test and even hurt those we love. But, God Himself also knows the challenges, the trials and even the fickleness of human love. Yet, Jesus has demonstrated that God’s love is sure and secure, faithful to the very end. So, yes, I love because God is love. And, I seek to make the love of God known as it should be. I am a pastor, a preacher and a teacher of God’s word, the Bible. Before I became a preacher, I was a public school teacher, and before that I worked at various jobs including, painting, construction, ambulance EMT, parts assembler, and even a paperboy back in the day. In school I played trumpet in the band, was a track and cross country runner, enjoyed most subjects including History, English and Science, and yet, after graduating from high school, I struggled to find my path. Perhaps you can identify? I did not graduate with my Bachelor’s degree until I was 26 years old. And yet, from an early age I knew that God was a God of love, and that He had a plan for me, if I would just be open to His leading. God has brought me through many trials, and has always been there to pick me up when I had fallen or been discouraged. And now, I hope to write in such a way to attract others to this God of love. By the way, I also enjoy camping, reading and outdoor activities, especially strolls on the beach, or hiking a mountain trail. My favorite places on earth are Sequoia National Park because of the Giant Sequoia trees, Yosemite National Park, and the jewel of Georgia known as Jekyll Island. I could tell you more; but hopefully, as you read my posts you will learn more about the God whom I love.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.