Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Community serving

Take your shoes off and go get yourself a big glass of ice water. Unless you've had 64 oz. of water today, you are behind and need to drink more. Besides if you stick with this entire post you will have plenty of time to drink at least half of the daily recommended water intake.

Wow. I don't know where to start with this one.

I guess I'll start with telling you how incredibly smart I think God is.

He knows exactly what is best for us and tells us --very plainly, in His Word.

He knows what will fulfill us, give us joy, peace, contentment. He knows what will harm us: bitterness, pride, anger, lust, selfishness.

He tells us things like:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! -Phil.4:16

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. -Gal. 5:13

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Col.3:15

God doesn't tell us these things because he wants to be bossy. He tells us these because he loves us! He wants the very best for us. He doesn't want us to suffer unnecessary pain.

God is good.

So, now that that is noted, we can move on.

I've been involved --for about 6 weeks now, in a Bible study with several of my sisters from church. (From now on I'm going to refer to my good friends as sisters, because that is what they are. They are my sisters in Christ.) We have been reading and discussing the book/blog, Her Hands. It has been so wonderful to have such deep fellowship with each other. Each week we share our personal struggles and pray for each other, we discuss Scriptures and how they apply to our lives, we learn about community and HOW CRUCIAL that is to the Gospel.

Today, those of us who could, got to go serve another girl in our group. I called people up and told them of the opportunity and was so blessed to hear the excitement in each of their voices as I explained what the plan was. Everyone who came was pumped and looking forward to the chance to serve. We had the best time getting to work together for about 3 1/2 hours.

Here are what a few people said afterward:
(emphasis NOT mine)

First off, I LOOOOOOVED what took place today. It really has brought me GREAT joy to think on how beautiful the Body of Christ is when we serve one another. I am so thankful that the Lord used you to bring this opportunity to serve about b/c it was such an encouraging time of worship for me.... A sweeeeet, sweeeeet time for sure!

"It really was a blessing for me also:)))"

"I really feel like I did something worthwhile today. A lot of time, I just feel like I waste days."

"I'm so encouraged by the group that came to meet her needs. Nothing gets me more excited than seeing the Body be servants"

I want to encourage YOU now. Those of us who claim to be in Christ have got to work together with believers to show the world who Christ is.

Read this excerpt from the book Total Church by Chester and Timmis:

Jesus asserted the centrality of the gospel community in the evangelistic task during his final night on earth. In John 13 he predicts his betrayal. For Jesus it means the hour of his glorification (vv.31-32). For the disciples it means new responsibilities, and their primary responsibility is to love one another (vv. 34-35). At this crucial moment in the purposes of God, Jesus is concerned for the mutual love of these people. This must mean that love is crucial! Jesus' exhortation is not vague. He turns their attention once more to his own example (vv.1, 14-17). They are to love in the same way and to the same extent that he has loved them. And the gauge of that love will prove to be the cross.

What is the purpose of this mutual, self-giving love? Don Carson says:

The new command is not only the obligation of the new community to respond to the God who has loved them and set them free by the offering of his Son. Neither is it merely their response to his gracious choice of them as his people. It is a privilege, which when rightly lived out, proclaims the true God before a watching world. That is why Jesus ends his injunction with the words: 'All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.'

Before they are preachers, leaders, or church planters, the disciples are to be lovers! This is the test of whether or not they have known Jesus.

That remains the case today: this cross-love is the primary, dynamic test of whether or not we have understood the gospel word and experienced its power.... It is our cross-love for each that proclaims the truth of the gospel to a watching and skeptical world. Our love for one another, to the extent that it imitates and conforms to the cross-love of Jesus for us, is evangelistic.

What does it look like, in our lives, to love like Christ loved?

We need to keep our eyes open and our ears perked so that we will be able to see the needs of people. Then we need to keep our schedules clear enough to find time to serve. If ever it is possible, I think we need to invite others in the Body (church) to serve with us. There is just something sweet about getting to work with people. Besides, it's lots more fun. The best bonding always takes place when there is some obsitcal to overcome, a challenge. That's why they have ropes courses --team building challenges.

Really. I'm not making this stuff up. People have done studies on it.

What a joyful day I have had.

It really is so sweet to trust in Jesus,
just to take Him at His word.
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know "Thus saith the Lord."

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

Yes, tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking,
Life and rest and joy and peace.

I'm so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior Friend
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end. -Stead, Louisa

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