Today I am reading day 254 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Serving Should Define Your Life
Service is not something to be tacked onto our schedules when we can spare the time. It is the heart of the Christian life. Jesus came “to serve” and “to give” – and those two verbs should define your life on earth, too.
Jesus taught that spiritual maturity is never an end in itself. Maturity is for ministry! It is not enough to keep learning more and more. We must act on what we know and practice what we claim to believe. Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation.
Yet serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we’re more interested in “serve us” than service. We say, “I’m looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me,” not “I’m looking for a place to serve and be a blessing.”
But as we mature in Christ, the focus of our lives should increasingly shift to living a life of service. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet?”
Today I am reading day 253 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
You Were Saved to Serve God
God redeemed you so you could do his “holy work.” You’re not saved by service, but you are saved for service.
It cost Jesus his own life to purchase your salvation. The Bible reminds us, “God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God.” (1 Corinthians 6:20 CEV)
We don’t serve God out of guilt or fear or even duty, but out of joy, and deep gratitude for what he’s done for us. We owe him our lives. Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured.
In light of these incredible benefits Paul concluded, “Because of God’s great mercy . . . Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service.” (Romans 12:1 TEV)
The apostle John taught that our loving service to others shows that we are truly saved. He said, “Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life.” (1 John 3:14 CEV)
Today I am reading day 139 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Discover Your Gifts by Serving
Romans 12:5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Many people get the discovery process backwards. They think, “Once I discover my spiritual gifts, then I’ll know my ministry.” It actually works the exact opposite way. Until you’re actually involved in serving, you’re not going to know what you’re good at. The thing to do is just start serving and experimenting with different ministries; only then will you discover your gifts.
You have dozens of hidden abilities and gifts you don’t know about because you’ve never tried them out. So I encourage you to try doing some things you’ve never done before. No matter how old you are, I urge you to never stop experimenting.
Over the years, I have met many people who discovered hidden talents when they were in their seventies and eighties. In fact, I know a woman in her nineties who runs and wins 10K races; she didn’t discover that she enjoyed running until she was seventy-eight!
Don’t try to figure out your gifts before volunteering to serve somewhere. Just start serving. Try teaching or leading or organizing or playing an instrument or working with teenagers. You will never know what you’re good at until you try. When it doesn’t work out, call it an “experiment,” not a failure, because it will help you eventually learn what you’re good at.
Today I am reading day 138 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Give God Your Best
Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
God shaped you for a purpose and he expects you to make the most of what you’ve been given. He doesn’t want you to worry about or covet abilities that you don’t have. Instead he wants you to focus on talents he has given you to use.
When you attempt to serve God in ways that you’re not shaped to serve, it feels like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It’s frustrating and produces limited results. It also wastes your time, talent, and energy.
The best use of your life is to serve God out of your shape (the gifts and abilities God has given you). To do this you must discover your shape, learn to accept and enjoy it, and then develop it to its fullest potential.
The Bible says, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Ephesians 5:17 NLT) Don’t let another day go by. Start finding out and clarifying what God intends for you to be and do.
Begin by assessing your gifts and abilities. Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at.
Make a list. Ask other people for their candid opinion. Tell them you’re searching for the truth, not fishing for a compliment.
Ask questions like these: Where have I seen fruit in my life that other people confirmed? Where have I already been successful?
Today I am reading day 126 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Servants Maintain a Low Profile
1 Peter 5:5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Real servants maintain a low profile. Servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. Instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, they “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another.” (1 Peter 5:5 TEV)
If recognized for their service, they humbly accept it but don’t allow notoriety to distract them from their work. Paul spoke about a kind of service that appears to be spiritual but is really just a put-on, a show to get attention. He called it “eye service,” serving in order to impress people with how spiritual we are.
This was a sin of the Pharisees. They turned helping others, giving, and even prayer into a performance for others. Jesus hated this attitude and warned, “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 CEV)
Real servants don’t serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for an audience of One. You won’t find many real servants in the limelight; in fact, they avoid it whenever possible. They are content with quietly serving in the shadows.
You may be serving in obscurity in some small place, feeling unknown and unappreciated. Listen: God put you where you are for a purpose! He has every hair on your head numbered, and he knows your address.
Today I am reading day 125 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Can Others Count on You?
Matthew 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Real servants are faithful to their ministry. Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises, and complete their commitments.
They don’t leave a job half undone, and they don’t quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable.
Faithfulness has always been a rare quality.
Most people don’t know the meaning of commitment. They make commitments casually, then break them for the slightest reason without any hesitation, remorse, or regret. Every week, churches and other organizations must improvise because volunteers didn’t prepare, didn’t show up, or didn’t even call to say they weren’t coming.
Can you be counted on by others? Are there promises you need to keep, vows you need to fulfill, or commitments you need to honor?
God has promised to reward your faithfulness in eternity. Imagine what it will feel like one day to have God say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Today I am reading day 123 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Serve With What You Have
Ecclesiastes 11:4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
Real servants do their best with what they have. Servants don’t make excuses, procrastinate, or wait for better circumstances. Servants never say, “One of these days ” or “When the time is right .” They just do what needs to be done.
God expects you to do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are. Less-than-perfect service is always better than the best of intentions.
One reason many people never serve is that they fear they are not good enough to serve. They have believed the lie that serving God is only for superstars.
You may have heard it said, “If it can’t be done with excellence, don’t do it.” Well, Jesus never said that! The truth is, almost everything we do is done poorly when we first start doing it – that’s how we learn.
At Saddleback Church, we practice the “good enough” principle: It doesn’t have to be perfect for God to use and bless it. We would rather involve thousands of regular folks in ministry than have a perfect church run by a few elites.
Today I am reading day 122 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Do What Others Won’t
Proverbs 3:28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Real servants pay attention to needs. Servants are always on the lookout for ways to help others. When they see a need, they seize the moment to meet it, just as the Bible commands us: “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10 GWT)
When God puts someone in need right in front of you, he is giving you the opportunity to grow in servant hood. Notice that God says the needs of your church family are to be given preference, not put at the bottom of your “things to do” list.
We miss many occasions for serving because we lack sensitivity and spontaneity. Great opportunities to serve never last long. They pass quickly, sometimes never to return again. You may only get one chance to serve that person, so take advantage of the moment.
John Wesley was an incredible servant of God. His motto was: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
Today I am reading day 121 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Serve Even When Inconvenient
2 Timothy 2:4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
Real servants make themselves available to serve. Servants don’t fill up their time with other pursuits that could limit their availability. They want to be ready to jump into service when called on.
Much like a soldier, a servant must always be standing by for duty. If you only serve when it’s convenient for you, you’re not a real servant. Real servants do what’s needed, even when it’s inconvenient.
Are you available to God anytime? Can he mess up your plans without you becoming resentful? As a servant, you don’t get to pick and choose when or where you will serve.
Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever he needs to.
If you will remind yourself at the start of every day that you are God’s servant, interruptions won’t frustrate you as much — Your agenda will be whatever God wants to bring into your life.
Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the opportunity to practice serving.
Today I am reading day 120 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Jesus Measures Greatness by Service
Mark 10:43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
Matthew 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.
Yet God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.
The truth is, without a servant’s heart, you are tempted to misuse your God-given SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences) for personal gain. While knowing your SHAPE is important for serving God, having the heart of a servant is more important.
Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can serve. All it requires is character.
How can you know if you have the heart of a servant? Jesus said, “You can tell what they are by what they do.” (Matthew 7:16 CEV)
Today I am reading day 84 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Shift from Local to Global Thinking
Psalms 67:2 so that your way becomes known on earth, so that your salvation becomes known among all the nations.
John 3:16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.
Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world. “God so loved the world….” (John 3:16) From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be.” (Acts 17:26 CEV)
God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him.
Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast foods. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing, and much of what you eat today was produced in another country.
We’re more connected than we realize and God can use that connectedness as a means for us to fulfill his Great Commission. Jesus gave us a pattern for such involvement: ” You will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” (Acts 1:8 CEV)
His followers are to reach out to their community (Jerusalem), to their country (Judea), to other cultures (Samaria) and to other nations (everywhere in the world). Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential. We are called to be on mission to all four groups in some way.
How would you identify these groups in your community? What nations do you believe God has called you to serve in some form?