“What do you want from me?” A phrase often uttered in anger between two people in a relationship. Adam Lambert used this phrase as lyrics for a song by same title in 2010. When I taught leadership classes or coached a new supervisor, I often talked about setting expectations between the supervisor and the employees. Doing this often prevented disappointment and allowed people to function without constant direction. Telling people what you expect of them is often the best way to meet your shared goals. My wife often says “I can’t your mind!” This is another form of missed expectations. I’ve written before about what we call the “order model” in emergency communications. Instead of just saying “copy” when given an order over the radio, the model requires that the message be repeated back to the sender to ensure complete understanding. It works well in high stress situations.
The problem with low stress communications, the ones we have 99% of the time in our lives, is that it often misses the mark. We spent more than a half an hour with a designer this weekend before Lisa and I realized what she was actually talking about. We both assumed we knew and when we started asking questions, the designer got confused because we weren’t all on the same page. The order model would have helped but it sure would make for a long conversation. The bottom line is that we all need to work on explaining what we want or what we need, no matter what role we are playing in our lives – spouse, child, co-worker, supervisor, employee, neighbor, etc. If you find yourself wanting to ask someone, “what do you want from me?” remember that you are half to blame for not knowing the answer. Be humble, be courteous and be direct in your exchange of needs. The results will be peaceful.
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
When I read the Old Testament I am amazed by how simply things were being explained to God’s children. It’s easy to give advice to the characters of a story when you know how the story ends. We know that God sent His Son to die for our sins and that we have been forgiven of our sins because of God’s grace. The readers of Micah did not. They ask, “What does the Lord require of me?” We all know the answer to that question – now. The readers at the time had no idea. I could close here by saying, “We know what the Lord requires, faith in Jesus as our Savior.” Too easy, right?
The wisdom that follows the question in Micah is what we should be concentrating on. “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”. Now there is some good advice! In the U.S. we hear little about mercy these days, we hear little about humility and we rarely see people acting justly. The national polls continue to show that as a nation, we remain divided in ideologies and things like humility and mercy are left for the liberals. I’m not taking shots at the left or the right in the U.S. political debate; I’m simply saying that the words of Micah should be very meaningful right now as way forward in our quest of unity and healing. My personal expectation as a citizen is that we do all three – always. Since I can’t change the national conversation, I guess that I’ll start with my circle of influence. How about you?
The dictionary tells us that the word “service” means lots of different things: a ceremony like a church service, a set of things like a tea service, performing a job that doesn’t make anything in the end like the plumber who fixes a leaky faucet, work that is performed by someone that serves other people like a waiter and doing something that contributes to the welfare or life of others like those in the military service. Sometimes we hear the word “service” used by people: “that was great service we got at dinner last night”, “I need to get my car serviced at the dealer”, and “my phone service is so spotty, I can’t get text messages here”. None of these are what God wants us to focus on in our lives.
Sometimes its just picking up a paper that someone dropped and sometimes its being there to listen to someone in need. Either way, you are showing God’s grace within you. You will be fulfilling part of what Jesus gave to us through his teachings, love your neighbor as yourself. Embracing a lifetime of service starts now and never ends. People are lost all around us and God is depending on us to show them the way back to Him. Being a faithful servant, caring for and loving each other are only the beginning. Learn about the number of ways that you can help others and let them to know about the awesome things that God has done for you.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” 1 Corinthians 12:5
Jesus told us Himself what service means in Matthew 28:18-20 when he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Can you remember what some of things that Jesus commanded us to do? Teaching the message of salvation, loving and caring for one another, and taking care of those in need are just a few. These are all an act of service. So look around in your daily life and I’ll bet that you can find service opportunities everyone.
Why do we perform service for others? Some will argue that we do it so that we can go to heaven with eternal life. We perform service for others because we want to show them the love that we have been given by Jesus. Remember, we don’t have to do anything for eternal life; Jesus already did it for it for us by taking our sins with him onto the cross. There are different kinds of service but we are lucky to have the same Lord, a loving and caring God who gave His only son so that we can have eternal life through Him.
“If you hold to my teachings you are already my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31b-32.
I know what you’re thinking; this is not how he usually writes these! Scripture first? I needed to mix things up a little this week.
What did Jesus mean when he said “you are already my disciples”? What is a disciple anyway? A disciple is someone who is a follower; someone who believes and helps spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus told us that if we “hold to my teachings” we are already His disciples. Holding to His teachings is Jesus’ way of telling us to grow in our faith so that we can overcome the pressures and troubles that we face every day in our lives. The Holy Spirit is in us and we should be in the Word every day; studying it, praying over it and obeying it.
According to Scripture, being a Christian disciple means that we should do these things:
- Putting Jesus first in all things (Mark 8:34-38). Our attention should be on our Lord and pleasing Him in every thing that we do. You can ask yourself, would Jesus like me to say this, do that or think those thoughts about someone?
- Following Jesus’ teachings (John 8:31-32). Jesus was the perfect example for us to follow because He lived His life perfectly.
- Fruitfulness (John 15:5-8). Our job is to believe in Jesus Christ, and if we do, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruit in us. This fruit will bring change to our lives as we grow closer to God our Father. We’ll have better thoughts, words and actions that will make Jesus smile.
- Love for other disciples (John 13:34-35). We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love is all about actions. We should be thinking more about other people than we do about ourselves.
- Make disciples of others (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to share our faith and tell nonbelievers about the wonderful changes Jesus Christ has made in our lives. Sometimes we think that we can’t do it or that we might say the wrong thing. Remember, you have the fruit of the Holy Spirit growing in you and it makes a big difference.
This is the time of year that people are open to hearing about Jesus. Have you considered bringing your family or a friend to church with you? Think of it like when they come, they get a little bit of God on them each time. The more times they come, the more of God and the Holy Spirit they get on them and the closer they grow to God. Shouldn’t everyone be covered in the love of God? The last line of our verse is “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” We know the good news of our savior Jesus Christ. We are free from sin because Jesus took them all to the cross with Him. We will have eternal life because of our faith in Him. We are free in the truth of Jesus Christ and our job, no matter how old we are, is to be good disciples and make disciples of others. Try to get everyone you know covered in God!
I saw two unrelated things this weekend that made today’s verse come alive for me. First was the cover of a magazine that revealed Olympic Gold Metal Figure Skater Scott Hamilton’s third brain tumor. His outlook is inspiring and he is quoted as saying something to the effect of, “No day is guaranteed by God. So I live them one at a time and nothing will change that”. At some point after the second tumor, I would start asking myself questions about continuing treatment. I tend to be naturally pessimistic about these kinds of things. Not Scott Hamilton! He really demonstrates how important staying positive is. I pray that he recovers from this medical event and keeps telling his story.
The other was from the movie “Bad Moms” that was released this past summer. I’m not a perfect person and I must admit that I like movies that truly add nothing to my life but a few laughs; movies like Blazing Saddles and Caddy Shack are classic to me. I’m not a movie critic but from my point of view, “Bad Moms” was a waste of time. I could go on but to get to my point, there was a scene in the film when three moms were telling each other how they would do anything for their children. No matter what, these moms would always be there for their kids. I believe most parents feel that way and their compassions will never fail. I use these two examples to show that hope and compassion can be found in almost everything we do. Scott Hamilton shows us hope because of the Lord’s great love and that parents (God, our Father) have compassions that never fail. Look in your life and you too will see them all around you; and that should give you hope this week.
“21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
The United States will be electing its next President tomorrow. The world has been watching our unique democratic system in action for more than a year. If you are reading this and live outside of the US, be thankful! For the rest of us, we’ve been suffering through the most painful election cycle in modern times. Many people have given up, some aren’t voting and others will not stop the rhetoric even after the votes are counted. Please pray for us!
Seriously though, there are also people in our lives who have struggles each day. A sick loved one, a family member who has passed, or problems that can overwhelm us as individuals. It is easy to get lost in despair. Take comfort in the verse today “therefore I have hope: 22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” God’s compassions never fail! As humans, we want our answers or our solutions right now. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time to wait and can’t understand why God doesn’t get that. We start to feel consumed by doubt. We are being reminded here that God’s compassions are “new every morning”. So, no matter what the outcome of the election is or what the test results say or what happens in our lives; we will not be consumed! God loves each and every one of us. Go forth this week in peace, knowing that you have God’s love with you.