Did you know that service is a way of saying thanks to God? You can never truly pay back the overwhelming love and support your parents may have shown you. But you can pass the love on to your children. In the same way, you can never repay God for granting you life in Christ and for blessing you, but you can pass his love onto others in practical ways.
One of the great barriers to service, however, is pride. Pride causes men to scoff at the thought of putting others first. Pride teaches you to calculate how every action will further your own reputation or advance you toward your goals. Pride makes you keep careful record of who is next in line for something good.
The apostle Paul had much to say to us about sacrifice. Chapter twelve of the book of Romans portrays several specific areas in which you can be a living sacrifice and serve God in the world. As a living sacrifice, you surrender using your gifts solely for your own advancement. You seek to bless others instead and sacrifice your time and resources for their benefit. In the process, your life will be shaped into the image of greatest man who ever lived: Jesus Christ. Where do you sense God calling you to serve? Let your motivation for service flow from a heart that’s thankful to God for the grace he’s shown you.
Discouragement will drain your energy, especially when you face trials. That’s why, it’s very helpful to spend time with people who know how to encourage. Some people know just what to do or say to remind you that life is worthwhile, even in the midst of pain and failure. They know how to inspire when there seems to be nothing to hope for. Barnabas, an early follower of Jesus whose name means ‘son of encouragement,’ was just that kind of guy.
Barnabas’s gift of encouragement was demonstrated through his financial generosity, his leadership, and his teaching of new believers. He accepted the apostle Paul when others were afraid of him. And it’s probably accurate to say that Barnabas changed the course of church history by persevering in his encouragement to John Mark.
On his first missionary journey John Mark abandoned his friends. Barnabas was willing to give him a second chance. Paul wouldn’t hear of it. But with Barnabas’s encouragement, Mark became faithful in his missionary ministry and was able to renew Paul’s respect and friendship. Later he would write the Gospel of Mark.
Are you feeling discouraged? God’s forgiveness offers you the chance for a new start. Persevere. God is a God of second chances. And in time, you’like Barnabas’will have the privilege of encouraging others along the way.
Forgiving those who’ve committed wrongs against you doesn’t necessarily guarantee and easier life. You may still have to deal with a difficult boss, wife, in-laws, or kids. You still have to deal with the every day stresses of life. There are pressures beyond your control that will wear you down if you aren’t careful to release them to God. So what can you do?
Our brother in Christ, the apostle Paul, gave us a strategy to help us deal with the troubles of daily life. He wrote: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7).
This verse gives you the image of a guard patrolling your heart and mind. When the guard of prayer is in place it will keep out the pressing anxieties of life. If this guard isn’t in place, pain and worry will result.
What pressures are weighing on you? Are you talking to God about them or are you numbing yourself through things like video games, porn, alcohol, overeating, or overspending? Just as you must continually forgive, you also have to continually release your worries and specific needs to God. He will, in turn, protect you and give you the peace that passes all understanding.