How do I grow? Serve Side-by-Side
Day 1: Gift Not Curse
Read: Genesis 2:4-9, 15 and Rev. 21:1-5, 22:1-5
On a week where we will be wrestling with how serving God and
one-another is a catalyst for faith in our lives we have to begin by calling out a lie.
The lie that says that work is a curse.
All work – the kind we’re paid for, the kind we have to do, the kind we (reluctantly) volunteer for, the kind no one sees, the kind that gets us promoted.
Whether we are serving, sweating, sautéing or studying I think its fair to say that we’re all prone to believe the lie that the ultimate gift in life would be to not have to do any of those things.
Like, none of them.
We dream of windfalls that would allow us to quit our jobs, and hire chefs and housekeepers and spend our days enjoying the pleasures of life. Lounging by pools, hiking up mountains, listening to music, indulging in delicious treats…you fill in the blank. And while those are all beautiful and good things – sign me up! – they aren’t what God says His people were designed to do or what they’ll be doing in His presence for all of eternity.
Have you ever noticed what Adam was doing before he sinned?
While he was living in the Garden of Eden and strolling with God in the cool of the day? Verse 15 says that
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”.
This was not a punishment, or a result of sin.
This work was an integral part of God’s design.
We so often focus on the Adam’s punishment for sinning that we forget that it wasn’t Adam, or work even that was cursed. It was the ground. Certainly the work was going to get harder as a result of Adam’s choices…but he had always been at work.
Work was a gift.
And then there is this retirement culture we’ve all bought into.
The holy grail of pensions and time off and no commitments. But what does the Bible say we will be doing in the new heaven and the new earth? Rev. 22:3 says that
“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.”
That’s right friends. We won’t be retired. We’ll be in the new Jerusalem – a new city – God will be there and the curse will be gone.
And we’ll be serving.
Work is a gift. Not a curse.
- How have you treated work and serving as a curse in your life?
- What would it look like for you to approach work as a gift instead?
- Confess all the ways that you’ve believed a lie, and ask God for what you need to believe and live in the truth you’ve encountered today.
For the rest of this week you’ll be encouraged to spend some time in prayer for some of our ministry teams that serve around the church.
When you pray, be listening and attentive to how the Holy Spirit may be prompting to bless those who are serving, or perhaps lean in and join a ministry team!
Day 2: You and God
Read: James 2:14-26 and Micah 6: 6-8
One of the most inane things about humanity is our propensity to go to extremes. Don’t believe me? Look at our collective behaviour in December and January each year.
In December we eat, and indulge, and spend, and revel.
In January we diet, and hunker, and hit the gym, and resolve.
As if either are right or sustainable or fulfilling.
We see this within our church history as well.
While at times the church and people of faith have been known for aid and mercy and generosity (sometimes at the expense of authentic worship and sound theology), the swing to personal practices and devotions and privacy have inadvertently undermined the call on Jesus-followers to serve. And over time it has become easier to write a cheque to those who do serve, then to actually roll up our sleeves and put our faith in action.
But the truth is, it isn’t an either/or situation.
Our relationship with God, our faith in Him, grows deeper and stronger and becomes evident to others when we serve.
And that service is most selfless and God-honouring when it is rooted in a deep and growing and vibrant faith.
1. The passage from James mentions 2 heroes of our faith. You’ll notice it wasn’t their piety that was noted but their obedience. These 2 are also noted in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:8-19, 31) in a chapter that is all about faith in action.
Who are some people in your life who’s faith is evident by their deeds. Take some time to pray for them and then – if you feel led – send them a quick note to let them know how their life/deeds have impacted your faith.
2. Have you been feeling distant from God? Or frustrated with a lack – maybe you struggle with hearing from Him, or maybe you have an unanswered prayer.
Spend some time reflecting on the passage from Micah. Ask God to show you how to walk more closely with Him – and who He has given you to love and walk with, and be merciful to.
Spend some time in prayer today for our Worship Teams, Sound and Tech Teams, Elders and Staff.
- For a keen awareness of the Holy Spirit’s leading and prompting
- For blessing
- For vision and discernment about what our God is calling our church into
Day 3: You and Others.
Serve side-by-side is not the sexy title a bunch of former marketers would’ve preferred landing on when naming this particular faith catalyst. It is – at the very least – a little clunky…
who really would choose to put hyphens in a title!?!?
But, the side-by-side part isn’t an afterthought.
It’s an integral element of the gift that service is to us.
We are not designed to do this alone – from a helper designed for Adam, to a chosen people (not person) traipsing across the desert, to a band of disciples following a beloved and divine Rabbi – our journey to a deep faith and wide embrace is alongside a beautiful mosaic of men, women and children from all walks of life.
- Read 1 Peter 3:8-15, 4:7-11
- As you read:
a. Underline all of the verbs (action words). Then list them out.
b. Circle each time Peter mentions those you are walking through life with. Relationship words. (words like “one another”, “brothers”, “each other”, etc.)
Count how many times were those words used?
- What does this passage tell you about the value God places on serving? On being in and for a community?
- List out all of the character traits Peter is calling out in this letter. (compassion, sympathy, harmony, etc.)
- How have you experienced these things in your church community? If you haven’t, talk to God about that.
- How have you seen these traits growing in your own life.
- As you read:
Spend some time in prayer today for our Hospitality, WE Team (Greeters and Crew), Home Group Leaders and Care Teams.
- For compassion and empathy for those who are searching for Jesus
- For joy as they serve
- For eyes to see those who may be feeling alone
Day 4: Who you are
Read: Ephesians 2:8-9 and 1 Cor. 12:12-20, 27
We tackled the first lie at the beginning of the week.
The lie that work is a curse.
And I’m hopeful that you are at least a little more open to the idea that God designed work and service as a blessing to you and to others. That it is when we serve that our faith grows deeper, and our embrace widens to include those we serve and those we serve alongside.
But now we are here and face the 2nd lie.
The lie that we have nothing to offer.
That there are other people who can speak more eloquently, teach better, pray more effectively, be more naturally hospitable, you name it.
Our readings today affirm your place in the family of God. In the body of Christ. That the truth is you are a masterpiece – God’s painstaking workmanship – specifically created and designed for good works. And that means there are things just for you to do, ways for you to help and lead and support and dream that can only be done by you. No one else. Notice that it says “good works”. Not “perfect works”.
And most of the time, the only way to figure out what those works are is to do them.
Don’t believe me?
Talk to God about it.
- Read through Psalm 139.
- Re-write the Psalm in your own words. You know, a psalm is just a prayer. So put this prayer into your own words.
- What do you hear God telling you about himself through this exercise? About yourself?
Ask Him to help you believe that what He says is true, and to give you the courage to step out in faith and attempt some of the good works He’s put before you.
Spend some time in prayer today for our Outreach (Alpha/DivorceCare/Ladies Night) and Prayer Ministry Teams.
- For soft hearts that are attuned to the Holy
- For connection with those they are ministering to
- For protection from anything that could harm or hinder their work
Day 5: Gratitude
Read: Matthew 20: 25-28; Phil 2:5-11
The Son of God came not to be served, but to serve.
To serve you. To serve me.
Let that sink in.
THE. Son. Of. GOD.
Came to serve you.
Don’t let that astounding gift get lost in the familiarity of these passages.
Jesus came to serve. And He exhorts us to do the same.
Not out of duty, or burden, or the hopes of earning favour.
We already have His favour.
No, He wants us to see the world, to experience the Father, to be one with the Spirit like He is. And He wants us to do that by having His attitude. His posture. His purpose.
There’s a song I’ve been listening to that I think can help us to respond to this today in two ways.
The first is to praise.
I don’t know how else really to respond to Jesus but to thank Him. That He would leave the presence of His Father to serve and honour and draw me to Him is beyond me.
But also this song reminds me that He is enough.
I mean, it says it many, many times. But actually the word “Jireh” means “The Lord will provide”. And yes – that means physical things. But it also means emotional things. Spiritual things. Abilities. Desires.
He provides gifts and talents and energy and joy as we follow Him. As we serve.
You are enough because He is enough.
Thank you Jesus.
Here is the lyric video of this song.
Spend this time listening and responding to whatever the Holy Spirit prompts.
Thank Jesus for all He has done for you. Thank God for all those who serve you – at our church, in your family, your friends. Let this time be full of gratitude.
Spend some time in prayer today for our Kids@thewell classes (Nursery/Preschool/School-Age), Jr. and Sr. High Youth, and Young Adults Ministries
- For creativity, patience, and a deep desire to connect with our kids, youth and young adults
- For blessing as they often miss worship services to serve
- For eyes to see the groundwork they are laying in the faith lives of these kids
- For more workers