serve: to answer the needs of, to supply or provide with something needed; to be useful
Jesus told a parable of a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen. When we think of purple, we think of royalty. That’s us. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.
The Open Bible (KJV) translated that this man was brought to the gate and God brings people to us – people who are sick, poor, hurting, hungry, and needy like Lazarus. This man was brought to the gate sick (full of sores) and hungry. He desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, but no one fed him. This man was in need of help and someone brought him to the gate because the one inside of the gate was able to meet his need. But the dog did more for Lazarus than the rich man. He licked his sores, which not only cleansed his sores, but it also helped in the healing process.
One day, the rich man and Lazarus died. Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man died and was buried. While the rich man was being tormented in hell, he looked up and saw Abraham from a distance with Lazarus in his bosom. The first thing he cried for was mercy, but he never showed Lazarus mercy. Then, he asked Abraham to let Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool his tongue yet he never gave Lazarus anything to drink on earth. The rich man never went to where Lazarus was, but he wanted Lazarus to come to where he was. Then, he asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them and to witness them so that they wouldn’t end up where he was. The rich man saw Lazarus suffering, but refused to help him. But now that he was suffering, he wanted Lazarus’ help.
It seems that the rich man learned nothing while he was on earth. The person he was in hell was the same person he was on the earth. He still desired to be served, but refused to serve others.
Despite his ways, Abraham still called the rich man ‘son’. Son, remember that in your lifetime you received good things while Lazarus received evil things, but now he is comforted and you are tormented. Isn’t that what God calls those who receive Jesus Christ? Doesn’t he call us His son (or daughter)? But the rich man represented what the church shouldn’t look like.
When God blesses us, He blesses us to be a blessing to others. This is why we were born – to serve others, not just ourselves. God had given the rich man more than enough to share with others. He gave him what others needed, but instead he chose to take care of his own needs.
Maybe you’re not rich in finances, but you should be rich in love, rich in compassion and rich in the word of God.
The scriptures tells us that people will be lovers of their own selves, but choose to become lovers of God because when you love God, you love His people. If anyone says, “I love God’, but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20).
Let us learn how to serve.
Jesus told a parable of a rich man who wore expensive clothes and had a feast – food and drink every day. He was not named, but there was a beggar named Lazarus who was laid at the gate. The Open Bible (KJV) translated that this man was brought to the gate sick, full of sores and hungry. He desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, but no one fed him.
Soon, they both died. Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man died and was buried. While the rich man was being tormented in hell, he looked up and saw Abraham from a distance with Lazarus in his bosom.
One of the things I noticed from this parable was how their lives were reversed. Son, remember that in your lifetime you received good things while Lazarus received evil things, but now he is comforted and you are tormented (Luke 16:25).
Even in a pandemic, some things are being reversed. Things are about to change. God knows what He is doing. His plan is to prosper His people, and that plan has not changed. He is turning things around. God is going to undo what the enemy did to you. Wealth is changing hands – from the hands of the sinner to the hands of the just. Those who are beneath will be above and the tail will become the head.
Lazarus’ name means ‘God has helped’ and your help has come. Not only will you be comforted, but you will receive good things.
The Lord told Elijah to hide by the brook, but I don’t want you to look at this from the point of Elijah hiding from Ahab. The purpose of him being hidden had nothing to do with the past, but it had to do with the future. God was preparing him for what was about to happen.
Not only did Elijah have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening. He knew exactly when the ravens were coming. Inside of Elijah was a gift, but in order for God to get out of him what He placed in him, he had to create a situation to stir up the gift that was in him. He had to make him uncomfortable.
One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain. Now, he had a thirst that he didn’t have before – and I’m not talking about a physical thirst. Had not the brook dried up, Elijah would have remained where he was, but someone needed his gift. What God had given him, wasn’t for him. It was for others. It was to serve others.
Not only did God tell him to move, but He told him where to move to. Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you. This woman had a need and God wanted to use Elijah to meet that need, but he never told Elijah about her need. He just told him that he was going to take care of him through this woman.
If you take care of what concerns God, He will take care of what concerns you.
Some people are still looking at the dried brook, crying over what they lost. The only thing lost that we should be concerned about is lost souls, not the things that we have lost because God can restore those things.
This widow didn’t want to die and she didn’t want her son to die, but she was preparing to die because she didn’t know what else to do. She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. It didn’t look like things were going to get better and now she had a man – a perfect stranger – asking her, a widow and a single mother, to give him her last and the only thing that she had left.
Through instructions, Elijah showed her how to get out of her situation. All she had to do was obey the instructions. All she had to do was give the very thing that she was afraid of losing.
We were created to do more than what we are doing. There is plenty of work to do. The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37). But one person cannot do it alone. Every one of us has received a gift. Our job is to discover what that gift is and then put it to work. When you don’t do what you are supposed to do, someone else suffers. Jonah is a great example. God sent him to Nineveh, but he went where he wanted to go. When a storm came, Jonah was sleeping, but the people on the ship were suffering with fear and a near death experience.
Had Elijah not gone to where God sent him, the widow and her son would have died. It is important that we stop waiting for someone else to do what God told us to do. And stop comparing ourselves with others. Stop thinking that someone is better or can do it better than you. God gave gifts to the body of Christ to complete, not to compete with each another. Your gift is needed. Someone needs what you have.
You may not be the answer to everyone’s problem, but you are the answer to someone’s problem.
Use your gift.
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants [stewards, managers] of God’s various gifts of grace (2 Peter 4:10, EXB).
On this past Monday, the Lord shared with me what it really means to serve at my church. Serving is more than just teaching Sunday school or singing on the praise team. Sometimes serving is sweeping the church, vacuuming the carpet, picking the trash off the floor, just to name a few.
I work with some pretty cool people on my job, but there is one young lady who started recently that is teaching me a lot about attitude and character. First of all, she was hired for one position, but right now the company needs her to work in the area that is needed the most. What I love about her is that no one has to tell her what she needs to do and she does what is asked of her. She doesn’t complain, she is very helpful and always cheerful.
One day, a patient told her that one of the public restrooms needed to be cleaned. She never turned around and said, I’m not doing it. Who wants to do it? She immediately found gloves and cleaned the mess. Yes, the new girl!
Now, I’ve been there for almost four years and if it was me, my attitude would have been, They don’t pay me enough to clean no restroom. That is not in my job description.
But that’s the wrong attitude. You see, I want God to trust me with doing the ‘big’ things, but He is not going to give me the ‘big’ things until I faithfully do the ‘little’ things. Maybe your attitude was like mine. You don’t think you should do certain things. You think you’re better than that. That’s not your job. That’s someone else’s job. But the truth is – we’re not better than anyone else. If I clean at home (without pay), then what was the problem?
To serve means to obey. It also means to be of use – not when you feel like being used, but when you are needed. Sometimes you will have to go out of your way. Sometimes it will be inconvenient for you, but convenient for others. We don’t see it this way, but when you serve, you become the answer to a problem. Isn’t that what we want to be? An answer and not the problem. People have enough of their own problems. They are looking for an answer.
One of the things managers and pastors love is when they don’t have to always tell you to do something. They like it when you don’t wait for someone else to do it, but you see what needs to be done and you do it.
Even though the Lord was dealing with me about serving at my church, we should also serve well at home, on our jobs or wherever God sends us. Our attitude should be that we are doing it for the Lord, not for people (Colossians 3:23). Serve Him with gladness. Become a cheerful giver (and not just with your money). Don’t offer Him sacrifices that are blind, sick, or broken (Malachi 1:8; Leviticus 22:22), but give Him what You want Him to give you. Give Him your best!
I was raised a certain way and there were areas of my life where I needed to be disciplined, but I wasn’t disciplined. I’m not blaming the people who helped raised me, but for most of my life I’ve been like the ones who stood idle, waiting for someone to ‘hire’ them (Matthew 20:6-7). I didn’t look for something to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). I waited for someone to tell me what to do.
But even though I’ve been that way for a long time, you know what?
I can change.
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing (Luke 12:43).
Jesus told a parable about the expectant steward (Luke 12:35-40). When He was done, Peter asked Him if the parable was addressed to just the disciples or to everyone. He answered Peter’s question with a question. Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?
Jesus tells Peter about a lord who trusted one servant to feed his other servants – unsupervised. He puts him in charge of everything he has. The scriptures don’t tell us why he picked this servant out of all the other servants, but he trusted him with an assignment. I don’t know if he grew impatient or frustrated while waiting for his lord to return (Luke 12:45) or if he got the ‘big head’, but he started abusing those who he was supposed to feed, look after, manage, and protect. Instead of doing what his lord wanted him to do, he did what he was wanted to do.
In Luke 23:34, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”, but in this parable, the servant knew. He knew his lord’s will, but he didn’t prepare neither did he do according to what he knew (Luke 12:47). The consequences of disobedience is this: To him that knew, but didn’t do, he shall be beaten with many stripes, but to him that didn’t know, but committed things worthy of stripes, he shall be beaten with few stripes.
To answer Peter’s question, everyone is accountable for what he or she hears. This is not just for preachers. Every person who professes to be a Christian has a responsibility. We are responsible for what we know and ignorance is not an excuse. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts…so they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day (Romans 1:19-20, TLB). When a lot has been given to you, a lot is expected of you. The more knowledge you have, the more you are expected to apply it. When God has been generous with you, He expects you to serve him well and if He has been more than generous with you, he expects you to serve him even better (Luke 12:48, CEV).
When we think of possessions, we usually think of things, but not God’s people. The lord’s possessions included his other servants. The servant’s responsibility was to serve – faithfully, lovingly and patiently. To serve means to perform duties for someone else, to provide services that will benefit or help someone else. To serve also means to obey and to submit to someone else. This servant was all about getting, but not giving. He wanted to order people around, eat, drink and get drunk. He wanted to be a slave master and not a servant, but Jesus said whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant. We must become like the Son of man who didn’t come to be served, but He came to serve and to give life. We should be concerned about others and not just ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:24).
It wasn’t until the servant was given a position that his true character was revealed. We see what was in his heart. We see his issues. We see his habits. Pride was in him. But that was okay. Nothing is too hard for God. What is impossible with man is possible with God. All that servant needed was to be placed in a position or situation that would make him into the person that his lord wanted him to be, but the servant had to want change, too.
Another thing I realized about this servant is that he started doing well, but he didn’t continue to do what he was taught. Because he didn’t see or know when his lord was coming, he gave up before ‘the return’. And so it is with some of us. Sometimes we give up before the harvest, breakthrough, healing or deliverance. We plant, we water, but we don’t wait for the Lord to give the increase.
Now one last thing.
Prayer is good. Don’t stop praying, but when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, He never intended for them to use prayer as a substitute for work. You must do the work. Sometimes that means studying, seeking, asking questions, getting up early or staying up late. It also means you have to be willing to change. To eat the good of the land or to receive what God has promised, you have to be more than willing. You must also be obedient (Isaiah 1:19). Hearing God is not enough. You must do what you heard.
What will He find you doing?