Personal ambition and servant-hood aren’t always compatible. In fact, they are often at odds with each other. A servant’s goal is to please his or her master in whatever way is required, but personal ambition strives for self-advancement. Jesus’ words from today’s passage must have sounded foreign to the disciples’ ears since, according to the thinking of their culture, greatness was acquired by striving for it, not by serving.
Like them, we live in a world where many people are seeking to make a name for themselves. They set goals, make plans, and do whatever is necessary to achieve what they’ve set out to do. But as Christians, we’re to live by a different standard: exalt Christ, obey His commands, and serve Him faithfully by doing His will, not our own.
We’re not called to gain fame and fortune by leaving our footprints in concrete for all to admire. Our task is to humbly follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Whether our lives have a large or small impact is up to God, not us. The greatest acts of service are not usually flashy displays; more often they’re commonplace gestures like being kind to strangers, ministering to fellow believers, and praying for others.
Jesus humbled Himself, surrendered His rights, and obeyed God even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Being His servant begins with the same attitude. It requires helping others when it’s not convenient, doing tasks that are not glamorous, and obeying the Lord even if it’s costly. We aren’t on earth to build our own kingdom but to faithfully serve God as He builds His.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; Give thanks to Him and praise His name. — Psalm 100:4
Friends, we’re entering a season that requires our whole-hearted attention, our riveted focus. This is important. For our souls. For our hearts. For our faith. So we don’t miss out on the beauty God intends for us. Right here. Right now.
This is a clarion call to thankfulness, a charge to find joy, and strength, and hope in our daily lives, a beckoning to pour out our gratitude to God for His goodness and for His wild love for us.
As you gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, remember, it is God who should receive our entire devotion. His love for us extends beyond imagination. His love for us is everlasting and without any strings attached.
When you pray at Thanksgiving for what you’re thankful for, put God’s love for you and the world at the top of your list.
The Lord called David “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22). What was it about him that God valued so highly? He certainly had his share of mistakes, sins, and character flaws. Yet more than anything else, what characterized his life was that he sought to know the Lord.
Whether he was a shepherd, fugitive, warrior, or powerful king, the time he spent with his heavenly Father was his lifeline. In psalm after psalm, David laid everything before the Lord—and wholeheartedly longed to do His will. This was his greatest strength.
Do you want to grow spiritually and be transformed in your everyday faith walk? Take a step beyond asking, “What can I do for God so that I can be a better Christian?” Instead, come before the Lord and say, “Here I am. You have full access to my heart.”
“I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me”—Philippians 4:13
How do you respond when you sense the Lord is calling you to a task that seems beyond your abilities? Do you list all the reasons why you can’t possibly do it? God already knows everything about you and the situation. He’s not asking your permission to proceed; rather, He is calling you to move forward with faith in Him. You can refuse, but you risk missing out on the blessings of a life lived in obedience to Him.
The Lord will equip you for whatever He calls you to do. And because the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, we have everything we need to fulfill our divine mission. Instead of allowing inadequacy to deter you from obeying, let it drive you to your knees so you can depend on God’s insight and power.
Jericho was the first city the Israelites needed to conquer in their quest for the land of Canaan. When sending a pair of spies to check it out, Joshua probably didn’t realize that he would receive a glimpse of the Lord’s impressive behind-the-scenes activity.
We must remember to look at every obstacle through the lens of God’s unlimited strength and resources. Anything that appears to block His plans is an opportunity for Him to demonstrate His sovereign power. Just because we don’t see anything happening, that doesn’t mean He’s inactive. God is at work on the other side of our obstacles, arranging the details and bringing His plans to fruition.
When the spies returned to Joshua, they reported that the people of Jericho were scared to death. Having heard about the Jews’ deliverance from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, they were gripped by fear of the Lord. The stage was set for the conquest, though by that point, Joshua hadn’t done a thing. Sometimes we think we need to be involved in the solution to our problem, but God is not limited with regard to whom or what He can use to accomplish His will. In this case, He worked in the hearts of the opposition by instilling demoralizing fear.
For the Christian, great obstacles need not be reasons for discouragement. Although much of the Lord’s activity is silent and invisible, we can be sure He is dynamically working out His will for our life. When the pieces of His plan are in place, He will move us on to victory.
being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have full endurance and patience, and…—Colossians 1:11
God gave us the free will to choose His plan or step away from it. When life does not follow our desired path, we can try to make things happen in our own power. Though this option is tempting at uncomfortable times, it often leads to disappointment and difficulty, and we end up missing God’s best.
Scripture contains rich promises that we can claim throughout life—and God always keeps His Word. As His followers, we are to believe with faith, anticipate with hope, and wait quietly with patience (Rom. 12:12). In the meantime, we listen and obey.
Embrace whatever season God has you in right now. If it’s a time of waiting, choose patience, trusting that His plan for you is beautiful. Walking in His will requires us to remain sensitive to His voice. When we readily listen to our loving Father, He protects us from making mistakes.
Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy.—Psalm 86:1
When life is moving along smoothly, it’s easy to say, “God answers prayer.” But a crisis can bring doubt, especially if the Lord is not responding as quickly as we might like. That’s when we may be tempted to bargain with God as if He could be manipulated into acting on our behalf. However, the goal of prayer is not to get God to do what we want but to bring our concerns to Him, trusting that He will answer in His own way and time.
Waiting on the Lord is fairly easy when we’re not facing anything urgent. But difficulties and suffering tend to make us impatient. We may even begin to find fault with God, thinking that if He truly loved us, He would intervene and bring relief.
As we seek the Lord for help, David’s prayers in the Psalms provide wonderful patterns for us to follow. He faced many dire situations and continued to turn to God. He recounts God’s character—gracious, good, ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call on Him. These characteristics are the basis for trust.
Knowing who God is enables us to trust Him through the crises of life. Because He is faithful, we know that He will keep His promises. His holiness causes us to examine our life and repent of any sins that are hindering our prayers. And His mercy, grace, and love give us the comfort we need to endure hardship.