An Approved Servant of The Lord

Introduction

larrydec26What  does it  mean  to be called “An Approved Servant of the Lord?”Christians are  called “bond-servants” in the  New Testament.  A  bond  servant  is one  who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own. The Greek  word  “doulos”  is used with the highest dignity in the New Testament – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers. Some  examples are  found in  Titus 1:1,  2 Peter 1:1, and in Jude 1:1.

The  Christian who desire to be an “approved  servant” of his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, will strive to be one who  puts the Master’s will and teachings into practice in his own life. He or she will want to be  as  close to Jesus as they can, ever learning  more about Him. One  hymn writer wrote, “More About Jesus Would I  Know…”

There are  many things and ways a  “approved servant” of the  Lord can be  involved in. These  will  always  be  done with the view of maturing in the Lord himself and helping others mature also.  Paul told  Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:17 that the  Scriptures  were given“that the  man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every  good work.” There  is  room in the Church of the Lord for all of us to use the  talents the  Lord has  so abundantly bestowed upon us. Paul, writing  in Ephesians 1:3 tells us our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus have “blessed  us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

So, let’s  strive to use our talents to the glory of God. Let’s let our  light  shine so that our  heavenly  Father  may be  glorified (Matthew 5:14-16).  In the  next few  articles  I will be  giving  some examples of  how you and I can be “approved servant” of the  Lord Jesus Christ.

Putting Love Into Action

There are countless instances in God’s Word where the words on our title have application. Many of God’s servant in the past and many today fit the bill. Christianity is a religion of action. Since we have “been raised with Christ,” we are to live our lives daily for Him!
We read about such an individual in Paul’s Epistle to Philemon. In Philemon 1:5 we have these words: “hearing of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints.” Paul is commending Philemon for living out his faith.

As is the case, Philemon’s genuine love and faith in and towards the Lord Jesus resulted in his love for others. (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:6 and 1 John 3:14). Some other instances of hearing about the love and service of believers in the New Testament is found in 2 John 1:4 and 3 John 1:3-4

In Philemon 6, as a result of his love and faith in and for Jesus, Philemon shares his faith. He becomes a “doer as well as a hearer” of God’s Word (James 1:22). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep on (keep on keeping) My commandments.” (John 14:15).

This results in a life where one’s faith rubs off on those around him. Folks see you serving God and knowing that it is real for you can motivate others to seek to serve Jesus more and more.

It can result I striving to reach the lost and strengthen the saved. It will motivate us to help the lost find their way out of the “kingdom of darkness and be conveyed to the kingdom of the Son of His love.”
You can, like Philemon, have a joy in your life because of the love you show, first of all to Christ, and then to others.
-Larry Miles

Steadfast Christian Living

larrydec26The Apostle Paul told the Colossian Christians and us today that the goal of the true believer is steadfastness in Christ.  (Col. 1:23; Col. 2:5-7) He wants us to be grounded in the faith, knowing what we believe and why. He admonishes us to be in the fight of faith for the duration. Jesus has promised that He is returning, but we don’t know when so we must be ready at all times.

We are instructed to be active for Him, watching, waiting, and working for Jesus! Paul told the Ephesians that we were saved for good works. We were to be a “people zealous for good works.”

To be this kind of Christian does not happen overnight but comes into fruition as we grow in the Lord. It is the Lord’s desire that we grow in Him. It is His desire that we be grounded in the faith. He has equipped us for service by giving us the Word of God.

We are to have the right anchors in life. We need the anchor that will hold in the storms of life, the Lord Jesus! We read in 1 Cor. 15:58: “therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Notice that while steadfastness is commanded and knowledge of the Word is needed, this must translate into an abundant life in the Lord. This takes us back to the words of Jesus in the Gospels that He offers the Christian an abundant life, one that will help us, not only in our own spiritual growth, but will help us reach the lost with the Gospel and enable us to strengthen those in Christ.

All of us should desire that kind life, but it does not come without a desire to equip one’s self for service. If we would lead the steadfast life that God requires, we must appropriate all of the spiritual resources available.

Having The Right Foundation

larrydec26Having the right foundation spiritually can make the difference on where one spends eternity.  The only foundation that will make it. past this life is one that is based and founded upon the Word of God. It is one that puts it’s trust in the One whom the Apostle John called the “Word.” It is a life built on a trust in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We build our lives on all kinds of foundations. Jesus spoke  of those who build  their lives on the sand, which has no permanent foundation. He contrasted that with the ones who built their lives on a solid foundation.  The one who built on the sand had all kinds of problems; the one on the solid foundation had the blessings of God.

We need to base our faith on the foundation of the Lord Jesus and His blessed Word. Romans 10:7 reads, “and so faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

We must be found standing on a faithful Word.  We must have the assurance that the Bible we read, study and live by is really God’s Word.

The Apostle Paul answered that question for us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

It is the responsibility of every Christian to be steadfast. We have a reliable Bible and in  it we find out how to live the Christian life.  If we will but allow the Lord, He will equip us for service today!

We must be willing to put Him first in our lives at all times, not just when it is convenient for us.  The song “I’ll Put Jesus First in My Life,” tells us in verse 1 that to the Christian the “the world all about me has now no allure.”

This  means that  once we put the Lord Jesus on in baptism  we change “kingdoms.” Paul told the Colossian church that we have been conveyed out of a kingdom of  darknessthat leads to Hell and now we are in the kingdom of the Son of His love, a kingdom of light ruled by the Jesus. We are now in the “marvelous light of the gospel” and have the privilege to help other find that light.

By having the “firm foundation” of the Faithful Word of God, we  are on the path of spiritual growth, a lifelong privilege to look into the very thoughts of The Godhead and know that They love us and want us to, as the Apostle Peter said, “to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

An Example Of A Sincere Faith

standfirmThe Word of God tells  us   of many   men and  women of faith. We read about how they  put their faith into action.  Serving  God requires  action on our  part. If we are willing to  accept the Lord Jesus as  our  Savior and obey the Gospel by being  “buried with Him in baptism,”  God had promised that  our  sins will be  remitted and we will receive the “Gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

We  must  want to  grow “in the grace and  knowledge of the Lord Jesus.” The Lord has promised to  equip His  followers  for  service.  We  must  put  our faith into action and  be “doers of the Word and not  hearers only.” We must desire to grow spiritually.

We  must endeavor  to have a  faith that is real, a faith that is  active and ongoing. The  Apostle Paul had that  kind of  faith and he shared the importance of that faith with Timothy, as well as others.  Paul never ceased to encourage Timothy. I’m sure  he learned that, in part, from Barnabus, who is  called “the son of encouragement.”

Faith, like other characteristics of  believers  is meant to  grow. All of us are at  different  places  in our  spiritual pilgrimage.  Paul in 1 &  2nd Timothy  is attempting to  encourage Timothy and get  him to build upon his  faith in Jesus. In the  2nd  Epistle, Paul who is in prison  in Rome  awaiting  execution knows that this is   last  chance  to write to Timothy. He   wants Timothy to come to  Rome; we  do not know  if he  made it.

In  2 Timothy  1:3-5 we have Paul reminding Timothy of the  heritage  he has in Christ. He  first  tells him that he  is  praying for him.  Secondly, he reminds Timothy of his spiritual heritage.  Timothy was  blessed to have  a  faithful grandmother and mother.

Paul tells  Timothy  that  he  is confident of the  faith of Lois and Eunice and that  he  believe that  kind of  faith is  present in  Timothy also.  Paul calls it a “sincere” faith (ESV). The  NKJV uses the  word “genuine,” while  the  ASV uses  “unfeigned.”

Denny Petrillo, President of Bear Valley Bible  Institute of Denver, in a  series of  expository  lessons  on  2 Timothy given at the 2012 “Re Charge Me Conference” in Monterey, CA explained “sincere faith” in the  following  manner.   “It is a  faith that is  present, even in the dark. It is a  24/7 faith. His faith is the   ‘real deal.’”

It seems, according  to 2 Timothy 1:6-7 that Timothy’s  faith  may have  been weakening. Paul admonishes  him to “fan into flame” (ESV) or “kindle afresh” (NASB1977).  We  must always  be growing  in Jesus, using what  He  has   given to  equip us  for  service. We must take  advantage of all the Lord has  for us.

If we have the “sincere faith” Paul  mentions  here, we will be  able  to live an  abundant life in the Lord  Jesus and  help others  to the  same, thus living out our faith as the Lord Jesus  told us in  Matthew 5:16“In the  same way, let your light shine before  others, so that they may see your good works and give glory  to your Father who is in Heaven.”

Having a  “sincere or genuine faith” means  putting Jesus first and living out our faith.

 

How’s Your Conduct?

practical-christian-living-mastheadThe Apostle Paul  tells the Ephesian  Christians that their conduct or behavior should always be worthy of the gospel (Eph. 1:27).  It is very important that we understand what he meant.

When we were children our parents told us to always be on our best behavior because we were representing our family name and they did want us to bring reproach; how much more we should be concerned with the name “Christian.”

We are representing the Lord Jesus Christ!  We are ambassadors for Him.  When people see us they should be seeing the Lord. We are admonished to “be conformed to the image of the Son of God” and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How are we doing in that capacity?  The Lord Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, told us to “let our light so shine that others will see our good works and (glorify our Heaven Father.”.Are we doing that?   The hymn writer wrote, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

Paul wrote  in Philippians 3:20 that “our citizenship is in Heaven…” We now serve Jesus and seek to obey His Word.  We seek to  learn more about Him every day so we can help others come to a saving knowledge of  Jesus and help strengthen the saved.  Are you involved in that ministry?

We must always be seeking the things of God. As  Paul told the Colossian church in Col. 3:1-3 , we must set our hearts and minds on the “the things that are above…” We must not be conformed to this world.

If we have the right kind  of conduct or behavior and seek to be more Christ like, the world will notice.  A song we sing says “they will know we are Christians by our love.” That love will be translated into good works for the Master!  Let’s be a people zealous for good works. Now that we are “in Christ,” we  are privileged to  work for the Lord Jesus!

Let’s be HOLY!

be_holyIf someone were to say to you, “are you a holy person; are you a saint? How would you answer them?  Would you say, “no, I am neither.” Or would you say, “I sure  am!” Would one of the answers right? Or would both be wrong or would the right answer be a combination of the two?

The answer we give depends on how much we understand how the Bible uses these terms.  If we take the definitions of the world we are holy or a saint. But if we. Use scriptural definitions then we qualify on both counts. But we must note that neither description is true if we try to fulfill their requirements on our own merit.

The Word of God says, “be holy for I am Holy.” The only away that Christians can be holy is that Christ imputed His righteousness to us. We can be “holy” if we seek to be “conformed to the image of the Son of God.” We can be “holy” if we live for him and obey and keep His Word and show forth the love of the Lord in our lives and help others find their way out of  the “kingdom of darkness” and help them find the marvelous light of the Gospel (1 Peter 2:9).

The question was “are you a saint?”. We are not in the way many in the world and many in some realms of Christendom view that  word.  According to the Bible “saints” are living Christians, in fact, all Christians are “saints” in the scriptural application of the word.

The word simply means ones who are sanctified, ones that are called out. Christians have been called out of serving Satan and now are “in Christ.”.

Paul refers to Christians as saints both in Eph 1:1 and in Phil 1:1.  So, all Christians are saints. Now if we live up to the word that is another question.  We must put our faith into action. Jesus said, “if you love Me you will keep my commandments.” Are you doing that, my fellow believer?  Are you living daily for  Him who died for you?  If so, praise the Lord!  Continue to build yourselves up in the most holy faith, living your life for Jesus, knowing that you can impact a lost world with the Gospel and help strengthen the saved by your ministry and work for our Lord.

If you are not seeking daily to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus,” then you need to repent of your sin of not following Jesus completely.  Our Lord has prom is His people if they will look to Him for guidance He will give it. He will equip you for service.

He will give you the resources you need to live holy lives.  We are saints, let’s live up to what that word means biblically and “let our light shine for Him” so that we may bring“glory to our Heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

-Larry Miles,

 

Mind Renewal In A Mindless Society

We live  in a society that is  not  tuned into  the  things of God.  The world we live in is in the control of Satan.  It is really a  “mindless society.”  Romans 12:1-2 tells Christians that we are  to be a  people of “mind renewal.”

larrydec26Paul speaks to Christians when he tells us that because of our faith we  need to march to a  different  drum than the  world. As I said earlier, the world  marches to the  beat of the  deceiver.  He  is  called the  “god of this  world, (2 Cor. 4:4) and “the  prince of the  power of the  air (Eph. 2:2). It is  reasonable that we, because of our faith, present our  whole self to God. We  need to be a holy people (I Pet. 1:15-16).

We must not  let this  mindless society dictate how Christians  live.  We must always   be found  “renewing our minds.”  Most of the time when the  Bible  uses the  word “heart”  it means  “mind.”  It is in the  mind where we make decisions, both  for  good or  bad.  It is in the minds where we decide that we are  going to  serve Jesus. So. Let’s be  transformed, believing and  knowing that if we follow God and seek to be  conformed to  the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). If we are, we will let  our  light  shine for Jesus!

Do We Resent The Grace of God?

but-for-the-grace-of-godSteve Higginbotham, in an audio sermon, tells of preaching on the Grace of God at South Green in Glasgow, KY . An individual in congregation had not been living for the Lord at all; was not a Christian. This man, in his 50′s I think received word that He had inoperable cancer and only a short time to live. He then decided to obey the Gospel. He was very faithful but lived only 2 months and died.

Steve tells of being in a Bible class soon after and a lady was complaining about this man and saying that because of his past life he did not deserve to go to Heaven and wanted Steve’s thoughts on this. Steve said, yes, you are right he did not deserve to go to Heaven; but in fact neither do you or I do. It seems that this sister was resenting the grace of God.

Steve talked about the Parable of master hiring the workers at different times of the day and paying them the same wage. The ones hired earlier resented the master’s generosity. (grace) Do we “resent “the grace of God?”

Equipped For Service

2nd Timothy 2:15 reads as follows: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have promised to equip us for service for them. Just as God will not force you to believe in Him and obey the Gospel, the same rings true when spiritual growth is concerned. He will not force you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2nd Peter 3:18) But, if we are willing and desire to grow in the Christian life, He is there with the resources we need to equip ourselves to be “lights shining in a dark world.” (Mathew 5:13-16)

The main reason that He has called us out of darkness into the light of the Gospel is so that we may praise Him for it and help others find their way out of that spiritual darkness and into the Church of the Lord. ( I Peter 2:9Col. 1:12-14)

We are blessed to have in our possession a “love letter” from God. It is the inspired inerrant Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Just as Joshua, was instructed in Joshua 1:6-9, we must make an effort to read the Word of God on a regular basis and observe (obey) what we find therein. In addition, we must study it and mediate upon it so that we can help others learn more of the Word.

We have a “a most holy faith,” (Jude 20) and a “faith ( the entire sum of Scripture) that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

There are many other resources that the Lord has given to us. We think of the avenue of prayer. We can speak directly with the Creator of the Universe, not having to go through any human being, but through the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has richly blessed us with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)

He has given us fellow Christians to encourage us in the faith. This is to be a mutual experience. All of us are at different stages on our personal walk for the Master.

Just as the Roman Empire equipped their soldiers for earthly battles, God has provided the resources that we need for the Christian life. In Eph. 6:10-18 we have the account of “taking up the whole armor of God.”

So, if you are willing to and desire to take your spiritual life to another level, one beyond just a new believer, our gracious and loving God has provided the exact resources you need to equip yourself for a lifetime of service to the one who died for you. We hope and pray that you will avail yourselves of these resources and live “an abundant life” in the Lord. By doing so, you will impact not only you own life in the Lord, but will help and encourage others. We all need to be involved in reaching the lost and strengthening the saved. Let’s join together in this journey!