Author

Mary Loudermilk

Browsing

And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NKJV).

The twelve disciples of Jesus were a mix of backgrounds and personalities. Under other circumstances, it’s quite possible some of them would never have met or associated with each other. Their common point was their belief in Jesus and His ministry. They spent over three years with Him and each other. Yet at times when reading the Bible I want to stop them and say, “What did you just say? You did what? Really!” (Am I the only one who would like to join the narrative with questions and comments of my own?) The passage in Mark 9:33-35 is one of those times.

The Controversy

Sometimes the disciples just seemed to miss the point of Jesus’ ministry. This is especially obvious when we read of their arguments among themselves—usually when they thought Jesus wasn’t listening. It happened again and again, and Jesus sometimes called them out on it. “What were you arguing about on the way?” He asked (verse 33). No one spoke up to answer His question. After all, it would be embarrassing to admit they were arguing over who would be the greatest among them.

They missed it. Completely. His kingdom was not about pomp and power. His kingdom would be established on servanthood.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, NKJV).

Jesus lived it before them and explained it to them, but they just didn’t grasp what He meant. Even at their last meal together before His betrayal, there was still strife among the twelve over who should be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24).

What’s Your SQ?

It is easy to fool ourselves and think our motives are right. That’s why we need to search our heart each day. We can discover our SQ (Servant Quotient) by asking ourselves a few questions.

  • Is my service motivated by love (Galatians 5:13)?
  • Am I concerned about who gets the credit for what is done (Philippians 2:3-8)?
  • Am I seeking man’s approval or God’s approval (Galatians 1:10)?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for the good of the body (Colossians 1:24)?

We have been given a tremendous example by the Lord of blessing each other through servanthood. Now let’s follow His example.

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you’” (John 13:12-15, English Standard Version).

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy for me to become wrapped up in what I want and how I can push myself into a place of prominence. Yet that isn’t how You did it. You didn’t come to show Your great accomplishments. You came to be a servant of all. Please help me examine my heart every day to be sure my motives are pure. Help me to humble myself and follow your example of living my life with the attitude of a servant.

 

“And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

When reading the Bible, it is sometimes easy to skim right over a key phrase. It’s so familiar, we just hurry on past without stopping to consider the full meaning and how it might apply to our lives. When I read the above scripture, I paused and asked myself, “So how do I take up my cross daily? What does that really mean?”

I’ve talked about the cross, read about the cross, and sung about the cross. I understand what the cross did for me and the incredible cost Jesus paid to give me life through His death. But I’m not sure I’ve really taken time to contemplate the “daily cross” and how it impacts my life.

The cross was not pretty. There was nothing desirable about it. It was cruel, shameful, and completely abhorrent.  It meant one thing: death.

As it relates to my life and yours, I think the apostle Paul sums it up for us in I Corinthians 15:31 when he said, “I die daily.” Galatians 2:20 gives further insight.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

To die daily means each day we must consciously relinquish control of our lives to the Lord. We die to our desires, our ambitions, our choices, our “rights.” Our old self is dead; it is Christ now living in us. His desires become our desires. His will becomes our will. We lose our identity and take on His. When we die daily, we live a life of total surrender. Is it easy? No. The cross is never easy. Dying to self takes great determination. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

When we give ourselves completely to God and His will, our lives are transformed. We are never the same. And that’s a very good thing!

Prayer: Lord, dying to self is not easy. Giving up what I think of as “my rights” and allowing You to take control is difficult, yet it is what I need to do. Help me to live each day in total surrender to You. When I do, my life will be blessed and I will be in perfect fellowship with You.

“And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:17).

The Book of Esther is a small book tucked into the middle of the Old Testament. It contains just ten short chapters, with a beautiful young Jewish orphan and her older cousin as two of the central characters. The book contains a bit of love, a bit of intrigue, good versus evil, and a happy ending when good triumphs over evil. God is never mentioned in the book, but don’t be fooled. He is involved in the story the entire time.

Because the Book of Esther is small and easily read in a short time, we sometimes feel events are happening one, two, three, the end. The story is really spread over several years with silent gaps. Markers help us see the timeline: “in the third year of his reign” (Esther 1:3), “in the seventh year of his reign” (2:16), “in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus” (3:7).

Beyond the basic story of deliverance of God’s people, we learn other valuable lessons from Esther.

  • There are no coincidences when God is at work.

God used the actions of Queen Vashti to bring Esther to the palace (chapters 1-2). God placed Mordecai in the king’s gate at the exact time to overhear the plot of Bigthan and Teresh (2:21-23). God gave the king insomnia so he would call for the chronicles to be read to him. It wasn’t by chance they read him the part relating the conspiracy Mordecai overheard (6:2-3).

  • It may seem nothing is happening, but God is working behind the scenes.

At least nine years passed between the first chapter of Esther to when Haman’s evil plan was exposed to the king. During that time, God was moving all the pieces in place so he could save His people from destruction. Just because we don’t know what is happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

It’s the same with our lives. Our story may not be as dramatic as Esther’s, but God is working in us and through us to bring His purposes to pass. We may not recognize the importance of events until much later. What seems just a chance happening may really be God putting all the pieces in place.

  • You are part of God’s story.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5, NKJV).

Like a jigsaw puzzle, the picture isn’t complete until the last piece is put in place. Be patient. Your life fits in His plan.

Prayer: Lord, when I look at my life, I don’t always feel what I do counts for Your kingdom. I’m not seeing the whole picture or how all the pieces fit. I can’t see what You are doing behind the scenes. Help me to trust You with my life and realize that with Your help, my life does count. You saw me before I was even born, and You have a plan that includes me.