Tag Archives: Service to God

Do You Proskuneo?

When was the last time you got down on your knees and prayed? Notice: I did not ask when was the last time you prayed, but when was the last time you got down on your knees to do it?

We live in a society that carries the attitude: “I am free, I don’t bow to anyone.” Many people shudder at the thought of diminishing oneself by such an action as bowing the knee. However, when you examine the Scriptures something very interesting is found.

The word which is translated “worship” in the New Testament is the Greek word “proskuneo.” We have often cheapened the term “worship” to mean “a time to come together and perform actions toward God.” That is not even close to what the term means. The original term, as used in the New Testament, means literally, “to kiss the hand toward one.” It carried with it the meaning of prostrating (bowing on one’s knees) oneself to another in honor, reverence, and submission. When the Bible speaks of “worship” it is speaking about the attitude and actions by which I show honor, reverence, and submission to God. Those things are not limited to the couple of hours each week where we come together and sit in pews, nor should they be confined to the walls of a building in which we gather.

Please understand, not everything we do is worship. Everything we do in life is not intended to be, nor should it be, an act of obeisance toward God. We do all things to his glory and strive to do all things according to his will, but that does not make all things worship.

That being said, we need to learn how to worship God again. Not just to sing a few songs, say a few prayers and listen to a few words; but how to truly prostrate ourselves before God. The statement of prostrating oneself toward God is not arbitrary nor metaphorical in the Scriptures. Take some time and consider the passages that speak of men (Old and New Testament) bowing down before God, bowing the knee to God, falling on their face before God, and so on. They did not simply do so in their heart, but in their physical presence before him.

Have you ever considered the way we approach God? In our society today, it is considered a shame to bow before anyone: so we sit and slightly bow our heads, some will stand and look to the sky as though to look God in the eyes, but rarely (if ever) do we bow as the servant before the master.

It has been my experience that the times when I have felt I needed God the most, I hit my knees the fastest. In times of pain at the suffering of a loved one, the loss of a child, or the agony of a sin; the only place that seemed appropriate was on my knees. So why do we not stay there? Daniel got on his knees to pray three times a day (Dan. 6:10). Why don’t we? Is it because that is not the way we’ve been taught to pray anymore; is it because we feel silly or ashamed doing so; or is it because our bodies are actually saying what our heart is feeling?

In my service to God, I am not made equal with God. I do not stand before him as an equal, I bow before him as a servant. However, do my actions match my words? Do I really consider myself a servant of God’s or is that just a title I wear. Do the actions of my body and the intentions of my heart match the statements of my mouth?

Consider one last Scripture as you think about your attitude and approach to “worshiping” God. Take the word “worship” and substitute “bow the knee,” or “prostrate.” Now read John 4:23-24: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true prostraters will prostrate before the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to prostrate themselves before him. God is a spirit: and they that prostrate themselves before him must prostrate themselves in spirit and in truth.”

Are you truly, fully, and without reservation bowing yourself, body and spirit, and reverence and service to God? Understanding what God meant when he said this can have one of the greatest levels of impact on your relationship with God if you will seriously consider it and apply it. You will be amazed at the difference it provides.

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Whole-hearted Service

God desires whole-hearted service from his people. The Old Testament verse that Jesus referenced on numerous occasions states: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deu. 6:5). Unfortunately, I sometimes wonder if we have done a good job instructing Christians, old and young, about what it means to be whole-hearted servants of God, not simply half-hearted or convenience-minded Christians. Consider a few attributes of whole-hearted service.

– Whole-hearted service does not make time for serving God in the midst of everything else that is going on in life; it makes time for everything else in the midst of serving God.
– Whole-hearted service does not go around asking a bunch of preachers/elders for their answers to biblical questions until one is found that is agreeable to one’s desires; it asks God for his answer through his word and leaves any other answer behind.
– Whole-hearted service does not require begging in order for the individual to assist in the work of the church; it influences people to come and seek to assist in the service you are already undertaking.
– Whole-hearted service does not show up on Sunday and leave on Monday; it shows up every day in equal measures.
– Whole-hearted service does not berate preaching of the Gospel that is too long, too short, too Scripture-laden, too deliberate, too direct, or too controversial; it celebrates in the full and complete delivery of God’s word, drinks in the information being provided, and seeks to utilize and grow from it.
– Whole-hearted service does not get upset when nobody knows, sees, or gives recognition for the good deeds that have been accomplished; it knows that the only one who truly matters, and for whose glory those things have been accomplished, sees and acknowledges every good work.
– Whole-hearted service does not come up with all of the myriad reasons why one cannot reach out to others with the Gospel; it comes up with all of the myriad ways by which one can reach out to others with the Gospel, seeking to utilize them in the ways that will be most effective to each individual.
– Whole-hearted service does not care what everyone else thinks about the life you are living and the things that you do; it recognizes that the only one that matters is the one who created you, died for you, lives for you, and is coming again for you.

The whole-hearted servant lives like he’s dying, loves when being hated, blesses instead of curses, drops to his knees instead of climbing on a pedestal, hopes without wishing, yearns without wavering, and dies without worrying.

Are you a whole-hearted servant of God?

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I Want to be Like Peter, Paul, and Mary

No, not that Peter, Paul and Mary… so get the thoughts about the 60’s folk group out of your head. From the spiritual perspective Christians recognize the need to be Christ-like. Unfortunately, considering the fact that none of us is sinless, it is impossible to truly replicate the life of the greatest man that ever lived. We can, however, emulate those who were servants of Christ as they followed him and be those who are found faithful before him. Paul wrote: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Therefore, consider some biblical examples we should desire to be like.

I want to have the boldness of Peter. Peter is one of the most poignantly developed individuals in the New Testament. Was the young disciple outspoken? Yes; somewhat overzealous? Obviously; in over his head? Without a doubt. Nevertheless, there was boldness in Peter that we should desire to insert into our own lives. He was not perfect, as Galatians 2 and Matthew 26 clearly demonstrate, but he was confident in what he believed and was not slow to present it. Whether it is, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16), or, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), many of Peter’s statements have become common sentiments and acknowledgements used by every Christian in myriad situations. His boldness to proclaim the Gospel and state his beliefs clearly should be the desire of every Christian.

I want to have the conviction of Paul. As one reads the writings of the apostle, every page in covered in the conviction of salvation from, and service to, Christ. Oftentimes there is doubt in the hearts of Christians as to whether they are truly acceptable in the sight of God. It is not that they are hiding deep, dark secrets that they know will condemn them; it is instead that they feel so inadequate to the blessings bestowed upon them that they struggle to accept the reality of them. Yet Paul’s conviction was steadfast and sure. From, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16), to, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phi. 4:13), and culminating with, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7), Paul’s conviction of the truth of God’s Word and his salvation through obedience to it is evident. Yet that confidence does not stem from his own actions and self-centered trust; but in the full and complete trust in the Savior and his promises. Every Christian should have the conviction of Paul when it comes to truth and the righteous servant’s place with the Lord.

I want to have the devotion of Mary. While the name of Mary Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus has been dragged through the mud and besmirched by many Biblical “scholars” through the years, there is no doubt the devotion she had to the Lord. Mary was one who, after having seven demons cast out of her, helped take care of Jesus and his disciples throughout their work (Luke 8:2-3). Yet, unlike so many others, her devotion did not end with words. She was present at his crucifixion, remaining with Jesus’ mother and others while observing the Savior put to death (Mat. 27:55-56). She remained at the sepulcher where Jesus was laid (Mat. 27:61); and was one of those who had come to finish putting a proper burial of the Lord in place on the first day of the week (Mat. 28:1). It is also without a doubt that she would have been among the women listed as being present with the disciples after the Lord’s ascension (Acts 1:14). She was devoted to Jesus, his work, and the needs of his ministry. We need to have that level of devotion to Christ. Though he no longer walks this earth today, his body is present through the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Just as Mary cared for Jesus and his disciples in their ministry, we should be as devoted to caring for, and working with, the body of Christ today.

Christianity needs more people who want to be less like the world and more like Peter, Paul, and Mary; who care far less about what culture and society say and far more about what God says; who are far less worried about the money in their physical banks and far more worried about the securities in their spiritual banks. It is my prayer that every Christian desire with zeal to be like these three stalwart servants of Jesus. If we will, we can rest assured the Lord will be pleased (John 8:31-32).

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A Soldier, an Athlete, and a Farmer

It sounds like the first line of another bad joke, but have you ever considered what a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer have in common? At a basic level of observation there does not seem to be anything of value that would coalesce these three with a sense of commonality. However, a deeper observation of Scripture finds there is one thing they all have in common: they are each used by the apostle Paul to describe aspects of Christianity.

Consider 2 Timothy 2:3-6:

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

In this passage the apostle considers attributes from each of these types of people to make application to the Christian. Each one relates something different, but each attribute is equally vital to the survival of the servant of God.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (Vs. 4). Part of the soldier’s responsibility is to not worry about what is happening around him, but to ensure that he does his job performing the orders of his commander. His duties are vital to his survival and that of his fellow soldiers; therefore he must be wholly focused on the task at hand.

The same holds true with Christianity. Christians are to have one focus in life: the fulfillment of the orders of our Lord and Commander. Those orders will penetrate every aspect of our lives and relationships, but in order to be accomplished acceptably our focus must remain on the task at hand. It is easy for Christians to get caught up in the petty things of this world; to become distracted or disheartened by the wicked deeds of others around them. Nevertheless, the Christian must remained focused on what the Lord commands, for only by maintaining that focus on truth and godliness can a man ensure his eternal survival and aid his fellow man.

And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully(Vs. 5). The athlete who desires to win in an event can only do so by striving for his goal according to the rules. The athlete who refuses to compete according to the rules will be denied the goal of winning the endeavor before him.

In Christianity, there is only one way for us to win the race that is set before us (Heb. 12:1), that is by running it according to the rules. There are no shortcuts in Christianity, there is no changing of the rules in the middle of the game, the same rules apply to all and will be equally applied across the board. Therefore, the only way for the Christian to win the race and receive the prize is if the individual has played by the rules.

The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits (Vs. 6). The farmer who works in the fields or vineyards is the first partaker of the fruit of his labor. He has worked diligently to plant and cultivate seed and to protect his crops from harm, therefore he is the first to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

In the life of the Christian the principle of sowing and reaping is often taught (Gal. 6:7-9; Mat. 6:19-21). As Christians, when we sow our spiritual fields with the word of God, when we live our lives according to his commands and teach others to do the same, we reap the rewards of our labors. The Christian is not sowing to gain physical wealth and crops, but is working with the desire of reaping a spiritual harvest of eternal rest for the righteous (Heb. 4:11).

As Christians we need to live and work having learned from the examples of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. We must remain focused on the orders of God, live according to the rules he has put in place, and labor toward the reaping of the final harvest. If we are willing to apply these attributes to our lives we will realize in eternity the truth of Paul’s statement later in the context, when he writes, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (2 Tim. 2:11).

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“Train up a Child”

The wise man Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Pro. 22:6). Parents have heard this verse and bestowed it upon their children for generations. However, the more I have studied and contemplated this passage of Scripture, the more I believe that we do not really understand the wisdom Solomon was presenting. Let us examine each section of this verse and understand the implications of it.

Train up a child

Most parents consider the word “train” to mean teach or prepare, but that is not the meaning of the word used here. The Hebrew word is chanak and it means, “to initiate, dedicate, discipline, or train up” (Strong). Of the five times it is used in the Old Testament, every other occurrence is translated “dedicate” or “dedication.” The emphasis of “train” is far more than simple teaching, it is a dedicated regimen that directs, regulates, and impresses upon the child, in every manner of life, the path to be taken.

The word for “child” in this verse is the Hebrew word na’ar and it defines a child as a boy or girl from infancy through adolescence. This training is not intended to start at age 5, 10, or 13, but instead from the moment the child leaves the womb. It is the same form of reference to a child that Paul makes concerning Timothy in Second Timothy 3:15. Therefore, this dedication is to begin at birth and continue to adulthood.

In the way he should go:

The term, “the way” is defined as a road or the path of a journey. It is not a simple direction toward which to be pointed, but a specific path to be chosen. This goes against the grain of many parents’ philosophy whereby they point their children in the general direction and then allow them to “choose their own path.” The manner of direction Solomon dictates is a singular devotion to a particular path of life, thereby removing all others.

Additionally, the phrase “he should go” is an interesting one. Of the more than 500 times the Hebrew word peh is used in the Old Testament, this is the only time it is translated with this phrase. The word carries with it the basic meaning of “the mouth” or “the instruction of the mouth.” In other words, Solomon is not stating that parents are to point their children in the direction they want them to go and let them be on their way; rather, they are to take them down the path instruction dictates they must go.

And when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Parents have often argued from examples of children who were raised in “Christian” homes and did not follow the path of their parents that this is not a one-size-fits-all statement, and that it would be more proper to state “and when he is old, he SHOULD not depart from it.” The only problem with that is, the statement is emphatic in the Hebrew, without exception or exemption. Also remember the statement is given by the inspiration of God; therefore, man should not be trying to change the validity or intention of the statement as given. Solomon’s statement is absolute; thus, if a child does not turn out as he should, the problem lies not with the truthfulness of the statement of Solomon, but with the application of the parents in enacting the instructions. God is emphatic that if we enact this principle, our children will follow the path dictated.

Applying the Proverb

What is Solomon, by inspiration, telling us? Let us put all the facts together. Parents need to dedicate their children to the path instructed from the time they are infants. This dedication means to focus on this singular path above all else, and if any part of life leaves that path, that part of life is left behind. Dedication requires full devotion to the path selected.

Is this what we do with our children? Unfortunately, for most parents, it is not. They take their children, point them in a direction and hope they do not get distracted, meanwhile they bombard them with every distraction and side-track imaginable that could veer them off the pointed direction. Parents state they want their children to be Christians, but then constantly place before them athletics, school activities, entertainment, worldly fashion, peer-pressure, and all other forms of distraction that pull them away from the stated goal; then the parents wonder what went wrong when the child follows those things instead of following God.

As parents, our responsibility is not to “point them in the right direction,” but from their earliest moments on this earth to place them on the proper path, by means of example, instruction, and guidance, and to ensure that there is never any deviation from that path as they are growing up. This does not mean no accessory activities can be a part of life; but from the beginning it must be understood that when those activities leave the path of service to God, those activities are left behind.

The instruction must be absolute, unwavering, and unapologetic. The parent’s responsibility is not, as most in today’s society believe, to allow the child to try everything and see what they like; instead it is to give them constant doses of the right thing so that everything else is in perspective. It also means the parents must live a life of example before their children. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can be allowed to stand between the parent and God. God must come first in all things. For the parent cannot direct the child down a path the parent is not walking. When the parent veers off the path, he gives the child cause to do so as well. For this dedication to be complete, it must be absolute both in the parents and the children.

This method of child-rearing is not popular, nor is it fashionable, but it is godly, authorized, and acceptable. God has told us that if we fully and completely dedicate our children to the path of service to him, without deviation or dilution, the outcome will be faithful servants of God. Are we willing to take God at his word?

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What Kind of Gifts do you Give?

Everyone I know enjoys receiving gifts. They enjoy obtaining something that is a token of the care, love, and thoughtfulness of another individual. The term “gift” is defined by Webster as, “A present; the act of giving or conferring; the right or power of giving or conferring; an offering or oblation.” When one considers the offerings they give to others, there are many thoughts that can enter into the selected gift: For what occasion is it? What relationship do I have with the individual? What am I trying to accomplish with this gift? And on the list could go.

Unfortunately, many people do not spend nearly the amount of time considering the gifts placed before God as they do the gifts for their friends and loved ones. There are a number of gifts to God described in the Scriptures. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus speaks of the gifts of sacrifice being brought to the altar for offering before God. Luke describes the act of monetary giving as a gift to God in Luke 21:1-4. Therefore, the sacrifices and monetary offerings before God under the Old Law were considered gifts. Rolling that principle over into the New Covenant, Hebrews 13:15-16 records: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Our worship and service to God is a sacrifice, a gift, offered before him. As such, the question needs to be asked: What kind of gifts do we give to God?

Consider your own desires pertaining to gifts. When you receive a gift you want one that is based upon your likes and interests, not someone else’s; but is not that often the way mankind approaches their gifts of worship and service to God? Man has instituted so many forms of “worship” that there is seemingly nothing that he considers inappropriate before God. This is not because God has stated that he will accept whatever we dish him, but because we have decided that God likes whatever we do. Therefore, we offer gifts that bring us pleasure and make us feel good, even though those gifts are directly against the wishes of God and do nothing but show disrespect and irreverence toward his commands.

God commanded the songs of the heart (Eph. 5:19), the fruit of our lips (Heb. 13:15), and the reciprocal praise and teaching for all participating in the singing (Col. 3:16). Instead we have turned our gifts of singing into concerts for our own enjoyment. We have replaced songs of praise and honor to God for songs of personal excitement and self-congratulations; we have replaced the fruit of the lips with the noise of instruments; and changed reciprocal praise to conditional involvement through choirs, choruses, and solos. Such gifts are not selfless, but selfish; they are not intended for God’s glory, but our own. Such gifts were they given to our friends or family would leave them with a very low opinion of our regard for them, but God is supposed to give a smile, ignore it, and just be thankful that we are happy. Individuals who take this approach to their worship and service before God: whether it be in the actions of worship, the doctrines taught from the pulpit, or the inclusion of unauthorized leadership before the people, will find a very different response by God than what they have anticipated (See Lev. 10:1-2).

Then there are those whose gifts are always their own leftovers. They never buy anything new for someone, they simply recycle the things they don’t want and hope it will be sufficient. These gifts never show true love and interest in another, only the motivation to fulfill the desire of the giver to clean out some of the excess they currently hold; as well as the desire to not spend any more than absolutely necessary on another.

Such an approach is often used with man’s gifts to God. He does not present God with the fresh first-fruits of his labor, but instead presents the leftovers for which he no longer has use or interest. These gifts are often registered in two areas of man’s life: money and time. When our giving to God is of the leftovers, it will never be a gift worth giving. God has always expected the first-fruits of our labors, the recognition of him before us (Exo.23:19; Neh. 10:34-35; Pro. 3:9). Do our gifts bear out that mindset, or do they state that we are willing to give to God only whatever is left after all of the important tasks is accomplished? How many people will rearrange their schedules to help out a friend, or place themselves in debt to buy a gift for someone they love, but will never show anywhere near the same love and regard for God? Such an attitude toward one’s gifts for God is negligent and disingenuous. If one truly loves God he will not give him the leftovers, but the first-fruits.

The gifts we give to God are important; they say far more than our words how we feel about God and how important he is to us in our lives. If man is to offer gifts God will accept, love, and cherish, they must be gifts based upon God’s desires and commands, not selfish whims; and they must be gifts that show man’s regard for him as the greatest influence in life; not bestowing gifts to God like one would a pig: delivering the slop of leftovers that are not useful for anything else.

As you consider your life and actions: what kind of gifts do you give?

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