Charles D. Brooks, Speaker Emeritus, Breath of Life TV Ministry

Summary: For those who want to engage in serving God and others in everyday situations, begin each day with the Lord and lay your plans before him. As surely as there is a place for us in heaven, there is a place here on earth where we are to serve.

Several years ago, I read of a missionary society with an official seal. On the seal was an ox and to the left was a plow; to the right, an altar. Then these words I have always remembered — “Ready for Service or Sacrifice.”

Look at this gripping statement from Rm 6:16. It says, “to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, His servants you are to whom you obey.” The Greek word translated “servant” means “slave.” One “slavery” is beneficent, the other cruel and extremely oppressive and with eternal damnation at the end. So service is a matter of choosing whom you will serve. It is not that service can be avoided altogether. God gives us that choice through His own mercy and grace. He even makes us willing. It is a matter of the will, by choice, whose servant we will be.

Being born again

Our age is marked by secularization and reveling. The most shameful indulgences are cherished and many of the subjects who commit these forbidden pleasures have only to giggle and say, “It’s fun!” Anything goes as long as it is fun. Our carnal natures just naturally turn to that which feels good, or which pleases us regardless of the restraints, constraints and appeals of scripture. It is understandable. It is also clear that Jesus’ counsel to Nicodemus pertains to every one born of a woman, “you must be born again.” There must be a transformation of our very natures or the things of God are “foolishness unto” us. They are unappealing and boring. When we are converted, we are given “new hearts” — a new way of thinking. We become new creatures and God writes His will upon the fleshy tables of our hearts, then and then only can doing God’s will become a “delight” to us (Ps 40:8; Is 58:13-14).

My nephew who was converted asked me many times “Uncle, why did it take me so long? Why couldn’t I see this before—that the happiest life is in being a Christian and serving the Lord.”

The truth is that in our carnal condition, it cannot be natural to obey, to serve Jesus, to do His will, to enjoy His standards and relish His principles. Nor can it make sense to turn the other cheek or to love one’s enemies and do good to them “that despitefully use you.” You must be born again in order to see the wisdom of this counsel and to be happy in obedience.

Contending thoughts

For many, the lure of religion cannot be escaped. The wicked are like the troubled sea whose waters cast up mire and dirt. “There is no peace saith my God to the wicked” (Is 57:20-21). Yet, there is this insatiable appetite for peace and happiness. Contending thoughts, fears and desires fight for the mastery in us — often after we join the church and proclaim our faith.

Today, error is made appealing and alluring. Many think they can find this peace within the cloister of the crowd. They seek the huge congregations where the demands are easy. They hope to escape responsibility and still quiet the howling fears that cry incessantly from within while being lulled into a dangerous counterfeit for Christian joy.There are two major categories of sin to be considered: (1) The sin of commission (the sin of doing wrong), and (2) the sin of omission (the sin of not doing right). This can mean that you conform to God’s law while refusing His service. Satan can then “stroke and comfort” and cause you to waste the privileges God affords to His children by serving Him.

We are instructed that the darkness of the Gentile world was attributed to the neglect of the Jewish nation. Years later, Jesus was passing over the same ground and found the same malady and condition. He wept and sorrowed. He pointed to a flourishing fig tree. It had beautiful form and lovely verdure. It looked healthy and productive, the birds frolicked in its branches, but when examination (Judgment) was made, it had appearance, beauty, symmetry, leaves — everything except fruit! The fig tree was cursed. No longer would it “cumber” the ground.

Christ came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. He is our example. What is service? Well, there are thousands of ways to manifest and participate in service. We have multiple gifts and numerous opportunities. It doesn’t always have to be in some huge, showy, earth-shaking way. Some serve most effectively by representing Jesus in the home, the neighborhood, on the job or in quiet study and prayer. All are duty-bound to share the gospel with others. Mothers who rear their children in harmony with God’s directions are listed as important in service as the evangelist and pastor.

Service is an attitude

Begin each day with the Lord and lay your plans before him. Be happy. He knows your gifts. He seeks your will to conform to His. He will use you in unexpected ways. Remember, attitude is most important. Jesus said, “Let him that is greatest be the servant.” He demonstrates this. Teach children to serve the Lord early in their lives. During the Middle Ages, when adults could only witness at risk of life and limb, children preached under the power of the Holy Spirit. I have had adults tell me they came to the truth through their children’s witness. A little girl in the South Pacific told her unconcerned parents, “Somebody in this family has got to serve God. Since you won’t, it might as well be me.” Soon afterwards, we baptized the little girl and her parents!

We may never know the effectiveness of our witness. God knew Herod would try to destroy the baby Jesus. He, therefore, told Joseph to arise and flee with his family to Egypt. How could one so poor undertake this? God had already provided — travel and per diem through the generosity of the three wise men from the Orient. When he told poor, untrained men and women to go into all the world and preach — He had already provided for their support through the conversion of Nicodemus and others. One economist said Nicodemus could have supported all of Jerusalem for ten years at roughly one billion dollars per year. Inspired counsel says that he became poor while supporting the work of the infant church. Jesus just wants our attitudes and faith and trust. He will direct us into his service and supply our needs. “All his biddings are enablings.” He will make a way if we stop making excuses. If you want joy, real joy and happiness in the TRUTH, let Jesus have your hearts and your energies. There are many today who expect to be paid for everything done for the church. Some services should be remunerated. Yet, inspired counsel says, “If you must be paid for every errand you run for the Lord, then your religion is vain.”

A story is told

An aging couple had served at great sacrifice and deprivation for so long in a mission field that the missionary board had to order them home. As they packed their meager possessions, they realized that they had little to show for their years of work. When they went to the ship, they thought someone would be there to recognize and

thank them and testify concerning their faithful service. Alas, there was no one. Then they thought, “Maybe someone will meet us aboard ship.” It didn’t happen, though many important passengers were hailed and honored. The old couple then thought, “Oh, yes, when the ship docks, someone will meet us and honor us.” There was no one to do this. They had to call old friends in order to be picked up and cared for that night. They were so disappointed and unappreciated that they felt troubled in spirit. Satan sought to enshroud them in gloom.

The old husband, sensing a danger, said to his wife, darling, let me go privately and talk to Jesus about this. I want to tell Him that we expected some recognition and appreciation at least when we got home and we’re disappointed and filled with sadness. Let me pray alone and talk to Jesus. His wife agreed. He spent quite a time in prayer. When he finally returned, His countenance was bright, joy filled his heart. He wanted to share his joy with his wife. She was so surprised with his (changed) spirit that she blurted out: “Did you talk to Jesus?” “Yes.” “Did you tell Him of our disappointment?” “Yes.” “What did He say?” He said, “Just hold on. You’re not home, yet.” “Home” means rejoicing, recompensed, starry crowns, being with Jesus and the many who are there through our service. As surely as there is a place for us in heaven, there is a place here on earth where we are to serve.

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January–March, 2007

Stewardship