Kings KJV) Let us
make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a
bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he
cometh to us that he shall turn in thither.
Serving others is probably one of
the most unnatural things for a person to do. This is particularly true since mankind
was born thinking only of himself and what makes him feel good. By that...I do
not mean to imply that all mankind is selfish, but that it is the nature of
mankind to be selfish.
Even though I have read this
scripture many times over the years it is still inspiring to me. The lady in
our text not only had the desire to serve, but she was even willing to do so at
a great financial cost. As a matter of fact she backed up her desire by remodeling
her home and buying new furnishings. She called the new addition to her home a “Prophet’s
Perhaps this is what James meant
when he said in James 2:20, “...faith without works is dead.”
Serving others is a good practice,
but should be done automatically out of the abundance of the heart with no
strings attached. When one feels the need to count their hours in order to be
paid for their service...then obviously that does not fit into the same
category with the lady in our text. That fits the category of an employee.
There is nothing wrong with being paid as an employee, but one should never
confuse serving for money with the two levels of servant-hood listed in the explanations
The first and most basic level of
serving is when one serves another without charge or cost to either party.
The second level of servant-hood
is when one serves another and there is a cost to the one doing the
service...such as the lady in our text.
I was eating breakfast at a
Hampton Inn one morning when an elderly couple caught my attention as they came
through the breakfast line. I was so captivated by this couple that I put my
fork down and watched them. The elderly man scooted along beside his wife while
she put food on his plate before serving herself. When she finished serving
both their plates they then scooted side by side to a nearby table and sat
down. After being seated at the table this little lady carefully arranged her
husband’s plate on the table, as well as putting his orange juice in just the
right place for him to pick it up.
That morning as I watched this
couple I suddenly realized that I was seeing true servant-hood function in the
purest form. This servant-hood was the result of love, rather than out of duty
with the expectation of a pay-back.
I wonder if that was not the main
point in our text...it could have been.
I learned something that day that
had a profound impact on my life. My desire is to serve others in such a way
that even strangers will be as inspired by my servant-hood: just as I was while
watching the elderly couple in the Hampton Inn that morning.
Thank You for the life lesson
that You put before me that day. Lord, my desire is to learn from such life lessons
and to also be a life lesson to others as this elderly couple was to me. They
will never know how You spoke to me through them. Help me to live in such a way
that even when I can only scoot around (like that couple) I can still inspire
KJV) He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and
he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
is an amazing scripture because it does not tell one not to be angry, but to be
slow in getting angry. This scripture does not even imply that God is
suggesting that one can live an angry free life, but that one should learn to control
and discipline their emotions.
considering all the different kinds of anger one soon realizes that no one is immune
to it. For example, the following is a list of the anger traps that are always
set for us:
Anger – describes someone who is
aggressive towards whatever triggered their anger, such as another person. The
results can even be physical abuse.
·Passive Anger – usually expressed with sarcasm or
·Verbal Anger – used to criticize and insult people and
put them down.
– a key factor in
driving people to want to join movements and groups. It is the feeling of being
fed up with how things are going and the need to make a positive change.
Anger – causing
harm to one’s own body by punishing themselves for something they have done
wrong. Some examples include starvation, cutting themselves and overeating.
·Volatile Anger – comes and goes. It can appear out of
nowhere and can be expressed verbally or physically.
·Chronic Anger – someone who is angry all the time for no
·Judgmental Anger – a person expressing their feelings by making
those around them feel worthless.
·Overwhelmed Anger –
when a person relieves
stress by shouting when things are too overwhelming for them.
·Retaliatory Anger – probably one of the most common angers
of all. It usually occurs as a direct response to someone else lashing out at
·Paranoid Anger – when someone feels jealousy towards
another because they feel what the other person has is rightfully theirs.
·Deliberate Anger – using anger to gain power over a
situation or another person. This is particularly true when the other person
does not see eye to eye with them.
given all of these explanations of anger I must shamefully confess I got very angry
the other day while getting the oil changed in my car. The young man (with his
smart mouth) who was serving me exasperated me beyond measure. As a matter of
fact I was so upset with him that I ended up feeling completely dirty inside
and not even worthy of God’s forgiveness.
a result of my shameful experience and feeling unworthy to even ask the Lord
for forgiveness...He used my experience to explain a lingering question I have
had for over fifty years.
a young minister I went to the hospital one day to pray for some folks and met
an old man who was dying. I asked if I could pray for him and he said “No” because
he had lived a bad life and was not worthy of forgiveness. He said he deserved
to die and go to hell for all of his sins.
left the hospital broken hearted that day with a question that would linger for
all of these years and would not be answered until I was able to feel what the
old man in the hospital felt. As a result, I am sure I will have much more
compassion for those who feel such unworthiness.
was not Your will that I got angry the other day because I truly did not “rule
my spirit” as a righteous man should. However, You were gracious and kind to
not only forgive me of my sin of anger, but to use that experience to answer my
lingering question regarding the old man in the hospital.
Samuel KJV) And the
child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
The thing that makes this scripture so exciting is
that it clearly shows the correlation between spiritual growth and favor. That
would also indicate that favor is a byproduct of spiritual growth because all
Godly favor comes from Him.
I suppose there are times in everyone’s life when
they feel they have less favor than at other times. When that happens one
should check the progress of their spiritual growth and see if their
relationship with the Lord has changed in any way.
I once heard a concert pianist say, “If I do not
practice for one day I can tell the difference in my performance...if I do not practice
for a week my piano coach can tell the difference...if I do not practice for a
month the world can tell the difference.”
Our relationship with the Lord is pretty much the
same way. When one walks close to the Lord they seem to be more favor-conscious
than when they do not walk close to the Lord.
spent much of His teaching time using natural things (such as trees, fish and rocks
etc.) as examples to make spiritual points. These types of teaching methods
have always been very effective; therefore I would like to use the same method
in making my point on spiritual growth.
I have a pastor friend
who spent many years on tour as a professional golfer. Some time ago he shared
something with me concerning golf fairways. It still remains active in my mind.
What he shared with me is a natural example of one’s spiritual maturity.
I have always been aware
that there was a difference in each person’s spiritual maturity; therefore our expectation
of that person should reflect that difference. However, the more I think about
it the more I realize I do not fully understand where each person’s spiritual maturity
actually starts and ends.
My friend explained that
the fairways on a municipal golf course could be about one hundred yards wide.
The fairways on a golf course hosting the PGA Tour are about forty yards wide. The
fairways on the golf course hosting the U.S. Open are about twenty-five yards
wide. That means the penalty for hitting a ball in the rough in a U.S. Open tournament
is much more severe than hitting a ball in the rough on a municipal golf course.
A new Christian (or an
immature Christian) is like a municipal golf course. There is a lot of room for
growing and making mistakes.
The more mature
Christian is like the PGA tour golf fairways. This person is more accountable for
their actions because there is less room for mistakes.
The fully mature
Christian is like the US Open golf fairways. Their accountability to God is the
highest because of their level of intimacy with Him which is born out of a
lifetime of learning through trials and tests.
The fact is…God gives favor
to all of His children, but not all of His children are as favor-conscious as
the more mature group.
The point that I want to
make is that favor and spiritual maturity are twins and should develop
I am so happy that You
desire for all of Your children to walk in Your wonderful favor. Help us Lord
to mature each day so that we come to realize that all good things come from
You. Help us to be patient with others that are less mature so those who are
more mature will be patient with us.
31:13 ASV) Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and
the old together; for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort
them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
rarely go to movies, but the other day my wife talked me into going with her to
see the movie “Saving Mr. Banks.” This was a story of Walt Disney getting the movie
rights to produce “Mary Poppins.”
Disney (who preferred to be called Walt) took a real life tragic story and turned
it around and produced the very charming movie “Mary Poppins.” That movie has
blessed and entertained young and old alike around the world for the last fifty
watching the movie, “Saving Mr. Banks,” I learned something interesting about
Mr. Disney. His idea of healing the painful truth in this real life story was by
turning on one’s make-believe world…which could lead to a happy ending rather
than a sad one.
principles may have been an acceptable method for movie goers and theme park characters,
but it only camouflaged the real issue and left the wounded unhealed. Was Mr.
Disney suggesting that camouflage be the answer to dealing with one’s painful
past? I do not think that was his intention at all. He was simply dealing with
this life tragedy the best way he could by putting a make-believe happy ending
to it. This was probably his way of making life a little easier for the one who
actually lives the story.
I am a word person I enjoy studying the deeper meaning of words. I particularly
enjoy studying small groups of words called “one-liners.” There was a one-liner
in the movie that caught my attention,… “We restore order with imagination.”
is exactly what Mr. Disney did in making the move Mary Poppins...he turned on
one’s imagination. This particular one-liner is true if one is living in a
make-believe world, but certainly not in the real world. In the real world, joy
and healing come by way of a relationship with Jesus Christ and not through
one’s own imagination.
There is a promise in the last
part of our text that brings great comfort to me. The promise is, “For I will turn their mourning into joy,
and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”
An active imagination, no amount
of camouflaging nor pretending it did not happen is required. What is required
is the faith to believe that our Heavenly Father’s desire is to “Turn our mourning
I do thank You for the efforts of
men like Mr. Disney who tried to bring a happy ending to a tragic story...even
though he did not know there was a better way.
Father, help those of us who have a personal relationship with You to be
more sensitive in bringing the good news of healing to the hurting and weary.
KJV) My days are
past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
may have been a little premature when making that statement, but there comes a
time in every one’s life when it becomes truth. There is a time when one’s glory
days do pass and their purposes change.
the years I have tried to discover a pattern as to when one may reach their
peak performance and influence. As a result I came to the conclusion that one’s
performance and influence only flow together for a time and then they divide. One’s
performance comes to an end much quicker than their influence. As a matter of
fact, one’s influence should continue to increase long after their performance
has peaked and waned.
have also noticed that performance is a direct result to one’s thinking. Henry
Ford once said, “If you think you can, or if you think you cannot ‒ you are
right.” The mind is so powerful that one’s reality is often the result of one’s
says, “As a man thinketh in his heart,
so is he.” In other words…he is not the man that his mouth says
he is, but the one that his mind thinks he is.
are a number of things that can influence a person’s thought life that will
affect their performance. Age and fatigue are certainly a couple of those
one begins to think negatively about themselves, then for all practical purposes
a decline in their performance will follow.
I was watching the NBA finals
last year between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat when I heard the
great announcer Charles Barkley make an interesting statement. Barkley had always been a tremendous fan of Manu Ginóbili who is one of the stars
of the San Antonio Spurs. Over the
years each time Barkley saw the Spurs play he would always shout out “Ginóbili,
Ginóbili.” However, during
the NBA finals Ginóbili played so poorly that Barkley could not shout out his
name anymore. He was only able to say it just above a whisper, “Ginóbili, Ginóbili.”
happened...what was the difference? Perhaps Barkley thought that Ginóbili’s great
basketball career was coming to an end. Perhaps he thought that age had taken
its toll on Ginóbili and his glory days had passed.
glad that Mr. Barkley missed this one and that he can once again start shouting
Ginóbili’s name because Ginóbili has been playing wonderfully this year.
we learn in this story is that Ginóbili did not allow negative thinking to
control his mind…which would have affected his game. As a result of not
yielding to negative thinking, I believe Ginóbili will fulfill his destiny as
an NBA player and will finish his career strong.
it possible that we, like Job, are guilty of prematurely speaking our untrue
epitaph as a result of negative thinking? If that is the case, then how would
that affect us reaching our peak performance or influence?
Help us not to be influenced by negative
surroundings or the negative word of others or even what looks to be our own inabilities.
Lord, You said in Your Word, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible
to him that believeth.” Lord we believe, but “help our unbelief.”