Monthly Archives: November 2015

Daily Devotions

Looking for readings to start or end your day? Try these.

Check out our Easter Devotional 2016: daily devotions written by members of this congregation for the season of Easter.

Committed to Service – Sunday

“So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)

When Jesus gathered with his disciples for the Passover meal, an argument arose concerning which one was the greatest. Jesus had entered the city of Jerusalem, and the twelve could sense that in him a new day had dawned. They would lead a revolution, overtaking the old powers of Rome and the corrupt priesthood. They would set things right by show of force. But, as is often the case in the gospels, the disciples’ vision was askew. Jesus had in mind a different kind of power, and a different mode of leadership. Jesus came as one who serves.

Service should be oriented to the other. It is not done so that we can be seen or celebrated. It is done in humility, conducted as an act of obedience to God. Service, when done rightly, follows the model of Jesus, who came to serve and not to be served.

Follow his model; follow his way. Love your neighbor, for by doing so you evidence your love for God.

Jesus, you said the greatest commandment is to love God and love one’s neighbor. Help me to follow that commandment today. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Service – Saturday

“‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’” (Matthew 25:40b)

For followers of Jesus, feeding the hungry, providing drink to the thirsty, comforting the sick, visiting the prisoner, and welcoming the stranger are not optional. They are the natural outflow of a life of discipleship to Christ.

Get your hands dirty. Make service in a soup kitchen, a clothing closet, or a justice ministry your way of life. Find a small group of people or a church that you can serve alongside. As a preacher once said, “Get out of your seats and into the streets!” Make the love of God manifest for others through service.

Do these things as an act of discipleship to Jesus. Invite him along to teach you, and expect him to be there before you ever arrive, preparing the way. God will use your acts of obedience to change your heart, to transform you through abounding grace.

Jesus, call me forth to feed the hungry, heal the sick,
and raise the dead in the church and in the world. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Service – Friday

“Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.”
(Mark 10:43)

This saying of Jesus might be the most counterintuitive statement ever uttered, and it continues to turn the world upside down. Jesus says that true greatness is found among those who are willing to humble themselves and serve.

This statement goes against every natural impulse. To most people, those who are great are those who wield power and demonstrate with force that they should be in charge! But among followers of Jesus, it is not so.

Jesus sends us forth as his ambassadors, calling us to live as he lived among us. Through his loving gift—his ultimate sacrifice on the cross—we are given a radical picture of other-oriented love. Jesus laid down his life for us in order to serve us, in order to open the gateway of heaven and to usher us in by his love, making possible our transformation in holiness and our living each day in hope.

Go forth and serve, not to obtain your own glory but to make the glory of God manifest, inviting others to the eternal dance of his boundless love.

Holy Spirit, equip me today to share Christ with one person
in both word and deed. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Service – Thursday

Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and gets human approval.
So let’s strive for the things that bring peace
and the things that build each other up.
(Romans 14:18-19)

Romans 14 addresses a conflict. At Rome, some in the fellowship consumed meat sacrificed to idols. While some found no problem with this (“Idols do not exist! Why let the meat go to spoil?”), others took issue, thinking this was not proper for those in Christ. Disagreement ensued, and division followed. But Paul tells Christ’s people at Rome to walk in love, to refrain from judging one another, and to live in “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” According to Paul, all those in the Roman fellowship should act in accordance with their convictions concerning this matter.

As too many Christians can testify, fractures occur in our churches. Disagreements arise, and division comes shortly after. Some disagreements are healthy and are of critical importance. But others only concern trivial matters, questions of conscience without clear mandate from Scripture. In such matters, we should refrain from judgment, work for peace, and build one another up. In this way, we serve Christ by serving one another. Working through conflict in a loving and Christ-like way is a powerful testimony to the truth of the gospel.

Peacemaking “pleases God” and gains “human approval.” Let us therefore serve God and neighbor by conducting our disagreements in love.

Lord Jesus, give me the grace to serve others as a peacemaker. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Service – Wednesday

Speak out on behalf of the voiceless,
and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
Speak out in order to judge with righteousness
and to defend the needy and the poor
. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Service to God includes advocacy on behalf of those on the margins: the voiceless, the poor, the widow, and the orphan. I do not doubt that you can bring others to mind who find themselves oppressed or marginalized. The Bible is clear: justice is found at the heart of God. Those who love God will do justice. And as we do justice among the voiceless and needy and vulnerable, we are changed.

Yet where to begin? Thomas A’Kempis, a medieval monk and devotional writer, advises us, “Do whatever lies in your power and God will assist your good intentions.” Do what you are able, with an attentive eye watching closely for the works and movement of God.

Jesus commanded us to provide food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, clothing for those who have none, and comfort for those in prison. Doing justice encompasses all these tasks, and also takes many other forms. Talk to a pastor or other church leader. Find ministries in your city that are conducting work you are passionate about. Take to the streets, and love.

May others see Christ in me as I work for what is right, speak up for those that are ignored, and advocate for the oppressed. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Service – Tuesday

Let’s not get tired of doing good,
because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Jesus called us to the difficult yet immensely rewarding work of following him and acting on his behalf in our world today. He warned us that the tasks we would be given would not always lead to a comfortable life, nor that disciples would be free from suffering. The work can be exhausting, as evidenced by Paul’s encouragement to the churches of Galatia to “not get tired of doing good.”

There are many saints who are tired of doing the work of ministry. They are worn down. There are others who have yet to participate as fully as they could or to help share the burden. You may fall into either category. If you are worn down, be encouraged, and invite others to participate. If you sense you have not yet engaged as fully as you should, go to your pastor and ask, “How can I serve?” Press on. Do the work. Celebrate the good. Be encouraged.

Finally, don’t quit. A harvest is on the horizon.

God of Grace, give me energy and strength to continue doing good,
even if I am tired from laboring and working and serving. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Growing in Service

What good does service do?

Trying to do some good for a family devastated by a massive tornado in 1999, I helped build them a new a house. This tornado had robbed the ground along its path of very blade of grass. It had bent massive I-beams that once supported a home as if they were a twist-tie for a giant’s garbage bag; that home had completely disappeared. The beneficiaries of our service merely had their home picked up and moved a few yards, with them inside. When finished, our beneficiaries would have a home on a thick concrete slab with a steel reinforced room into which they could roll a wheelchair.

As the moderator of the committee that had sponsored that trip I was aware of what we had spent on food for the week, for airfare, van rental, and other expenses. (Our lodging had come courtesy of a near-by, but largely unaffected, Presbyterian congregation.) I left wondering if we could have done more for our beneficiaries by merely sending a check and hiring local a contractor.

On the other hand, the team of volunteers with whom I had served had been transformed by our service. The hot climate demanded that we arise early to arrive at our work-site by dawn, we would take a long lunch, then —when the temperature had cooled back below 100 degrees Fahrenheit— returning to work and staying until dusk. Yet every evening we would stay awake talking about our families and about our faith.

When have you been transformed by acts of service?

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
— 1 Corinthians 12:7

I will have more to say about 1 Corinthians 12:4-12 and participating in hands-on service on Sunday, November 22nd, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Committed to Service – Monday

Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—
be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!
Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble,
and devote yourselves to prayer.
(Romans 12:11‑12)

The New Testament gospel accounts portray Jesus as someone full of enthusiasm, filled with the Spirit of God and driven by his Father’s will. Those committed to Christ will conduct themselves in this same way. Jesus had the Kingdom to announce, people to teach, sick to be healed, dead to raise, outcasts to restore, captives to free, and poor to dignify. There was no shortage of work.

It is the same today. Jesus calls us to follow his example and his teachings. Think of your community. If that is too broad, think of your church. What are the needs? Still too vague? Think of your home. As Mother Teresa wrote, “Bring love into your own home for this is where our love for others must start.”

Start small, in the immediacy of your life as it is today. Be filled with the Spirit. Be enthusiastic. And evidence great love.

Holy God, help me to be happy in hope, steadfast in trouble,
and devoted to prayer. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Committed to Service – Sunday

Instead, we are God’s accomplishment,
created in Christ Jesus to do good things.
God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.

(Ephesians 2:10)

Our passage today declares that we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good things.” We have been called for a purpose! We are called to love our neighbor, serve the poor, uplift the widow and orphan, comfort the afflicted, seek after the lost, retrieve those on the margins and bring them into the center, disciple others, care for children, announce the gospel, and more! We are “God’s accomplishment”!

Think of service this way: In Christ, you have been freed to live a new way of life. You have been freed for obedience, graciously undertaking the tasks God has given you. You no longer do good works to justify yourself, as though caring for the poor, speaking truth to power, advocating for justice, or converting others to Christ would improve or solidify your standing with God. You do them because God has planned these goods things as your way of life, in which you now are privileged to participate.

Service, then, is no longer a burden, but a joy. It is a grace. God has chosen you! And God desires to act in and through you! This is to be our way of life. We are made for good works.

God, may I discover deep joy in service of your purposes,
and may I deeply sense your Holy Spirit at work making me holy. Amen.

From Committed to Christ: Tweets, Posts, and Prayers by Ben Simpson, Copyright © 2012 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.