I recently had the nerve racking, and stretching, experience of being a part of preaching some of the message one Sunday morning. My pastor approached me about sharing some thoughts during the sermon he was going to preach on Philippians 2: 19-30. We sat down and talked about the passage, what I could share from my role as deacon and then worked on how to fit it into the message. I was grateful that I was given the small opportunity to share in that way and here is the simple, short part of Sunday morning worship I was blessed to be a part of...
The CRCNA denomination has an international ministry called the Timothy Leadership Training program. It is a ministry that has recognized the huge wave of church growth in other parts of the world and the need for training up local leaders to serve in the churches there. In many places, the needs and resources are very different than what we experience here in Canada, but that does not hold the people back from risking, forming and being church. I have seen it first hand, in my time in Mexico and Honduras, people with seemingly almost nothing, finding ways or means to give to their church community and reach out in evangelism to others.
The image of open hands has always been an impactful one for me as a visual learner. Open hands are outstretched in order for God to take us by the hand and lead us in use of our gifts and to also place something in them; gifts from the Holy Spirit. When we close our hands to hold onto something, we can no longer receive more. If our hands remain open, we can then easily give things to others and in service with others. When this is done in community, it builds each other up and we can often give more as a group than we can on our own. We are also more likely to give to those we have formed relationships with, so I would encourage all of us to look around for a moment. There is a wonderful diversity of people in our midst, who we can get to know and love more deeply. When we do that, we will grow, desire to live and serve each other more sacrificially and enter into the work of Christ together.
As mentioned in the text in Philippians chapter 2 verse 21, our culture tells us to look out for number one and serve our own interests, but through God’s covenant with us, we know living in communion with each other and God, is a much better path. I strongly believe that giving is also a camouflaged way of receiving. If we are open to listen for the spirits leading in our lives and step out and give at the leading edge of our own comfort, God has ways of blessing us beyond what we have given. When we do this together we also have the security of Christian fellowship to encourage and lift each other up along the way. That encouragement of being served opens the door to then allow others to give and serve. By modeling the servant heart of Christ, we are living out the mindset of Christ as described in verses 5-8. Many times, serving in community means we are also planting seeds in God’s Kindom that may be watered and harvested by others, for God’s glory.
I encourage you brothers and sisters in Christ, in words from the Contemporary Testimony, Our World Belongs to God, lets embrace God’s mission in our neighbourhoods and the world, through the giving of our daily lives in acts of service, mercy, compassion, justice and love … for God’s sovereign purposes.
Let the following questions rest on your heart and mind and see where the Holy Spirit is nudging you this week. It may be about money… time… talents… service to others… changing priorities or even words of encouragement and the good news of Jesus Christ.
What have I received?
What can I share?
What can I give?