Devotional Part 1
THE FATHER'S WORK PART 1
The following is a summary of a devotion I shared at the Classic Choir and Orchestra rehearsal on Jan. 17, 2019:
At first glance, you might think this is simply a repeat of the Christmas devotional guide I sent out back in December. What I plan to do this year is expand upon a statement I introduced to you during our Christmas production season. I would like to ask that we all join and invest time this year exploring and discovering what a true, biblical, Christ-minded, God-honoring servant really is, from the inside out. I am asking every leader of each facet of our ministry: Children’s Music, all worship venue leaders and directors, worship team members, student worship, sign choirs, handbells and technical arts, to adopt the following theme for this coming year –
EFCC Worship Arts, 2019: A Servant’s Heart
I will be sending a monthly devotion out to all leaders to share with their ministry participants. They will also be encouraged to take time during their rehearsals or a separate time to teach and train team members on this theme as they are able as well.
Our study will culminate August 23-24 at our first ever Worship Arts Retreat. Please set these dates aside and plan on attending. All staff and leaders of our ministry will be teaching and leading various aspects of the retreat. This will be a time of inspiration, information, prayer and worship and most of all, unifying our ministry around common purpose and vision for the future. Each member of our ministry is strongly encouraged to attend. I don’t think we always have to go to a conference, retreat or camp to experience the Lord in a fresh way and know His will for us, but I believe this retreat is right on time for our ministry – we need this time together to stop and consider what God is doing in us and how we can adjust our lives so that we serve and lead our church in biblically-faithful, Spirit-filled, Christ-glorifying worship. This is a time to evaluate the heart of worship at Emmanuel Faith – individually and corporately.
With that said, let me begin with part 1 of
A Servant’s Heart: doing the Father’s work
I did some scriptural exploration and discovery, looking for insight and examples that summarize the how, what, and why of servanthood. As I searched, I kept this this question in mind: How do I/we serve in a way that truly honors and glorifies Him? And how does the Lord measure success in service?
Here’s a statement I came up with that summarizes what I discovered:
Doing the Father’s work
The Father’s way,
With the Father’s heart,
To the Father’s glory,
Produces the Father’s fruit.
If you were to write out a job description for the servant of God, what would it include? What specific things is a servant of God supposed to be doing regularly? Here are some things to consider when making your list (emphasis mine) . . .
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7).
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18).
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’ (Matt. 25:37-40).
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27).
These might be a few of the passages that come to mind when you consider what we are to be about when we serve the Lord. Let me try and help see things from little different perspective as we consider the question “what is the servant of God supposed to actually do?” In other words, how do I know that what I am doing is exactly what the Father expects from me? I know this might seem obvious, but let’s think on this a little more. We could stop here, but I want to do more than teach you what to do; I hope we could learn how to think about our service to Christ. Is serving God just a matter of making a list of things to do and then just going and doing them? Here’s another set of passages that focus upon Christ’s example in service and doing the Father’s work:
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
From of old no one has heard or perceived by ear, no eye has seen a God besides Thee, who works for those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4).
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel (John 5:19-20).
…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 17:25).
Consider this . . .
Our call is not to work for God, but to join Him in His work. Three words pop up in my mind as I meditate on these passages:
Participation – When we serve, we join God in what He is already doing.
Reflection – We reflect the character of God as an act of service as we grow in Christlikeness. Our works reflect the Lord’s glory. When we do the Father’s work, His light shines through us (See Matt. 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
Identification – We are more than slaves or servants; we are Christ’s friends and the world knows we are His by the love we show to one another (See John 15:12-17). Our actions show Who we belong to and identify with.
Most of all, we are beneficiaries-children, not hired hands or slaves. Children participate in what the Fathers doing, with joy and gladness. Yes, there are numerous passages exhorting us to work and serve for the Kingdom, storing up treasure and reward in Heaven (Matthew 6:1-4 and 19-24; 2 Cor. 5). But we must begin by seeing that our work really isn’t ours in the first place.
Here’s some wisdom from John Piper:
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. "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). Christianity is fundamentally convalescence. Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The Sermon on the Mount is our Doctor's medical advice, not our Employer's job description. (Hook - I think herein lies one of the reasons many will not boldly serve the Lord – they are trying to get fit for service. The calling of God to join Him in service is simply put – “You’ll do-follow me.”)
Our very lives hang on not working for God. "To one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness" (Rom. 4:4-5). Workmen get no gifts. They get their due. If we would have the gift of justification, we dare not work. God is the workman in this affair. And what He gets is the glory of being the benefactor of grace, not the beneficiary of service.
The minute we think we are to WORK for God, we become ensnared to what John Piper calls, “the Debtors Ethic.” Maybe this is where joyful service begins-in the heart of one who realizes they have nothing to give God yet acknowledge that they are given everything in Christ (Romans 8). The very ability and resources to serve Him are gifts from Him and for Him (Romans 11).
Maybe we need to stop trying to serve God?! More on this next month.
So . . .
Let’s begin our journey with this: Stop seeing service as an act of working for God, as if you need to pay Him back, earn His reward or gain His approval. Rather, as you are motived by His grace and draw near to Him as His child, ask where you might join Him in what He is doing today.
I truly hope you will take time to study on your own and talk about this with others in our ministry.
Please mark your calendar: August 23-24, 2019. EFCC Worship Arts: A Servant’s Heart