Purpose

purpose

And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, that one who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been captured!”

 Now the hand of the Lord had been upon me the evening before the man came who had escaped. And He had opened my mouth; so when he came to me in the morning, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.
Ezekiel 33:21-22, NKJV

Men, in the 12th year of Ezekiel’s captivity from the 1st siege against Jerusalem, someone from the final collapse of Jerusalem to the Babylonian empire escaped and came to Ezekiel saying, “The city has been captured!” In chapter 3:26, we recall that the Lord had caused Ezekiel to become mute, unable to speak except that which the Lord directed through the time of pronouncement of God’s judgment on Israel and the nations. Ezekiel expected a visitor with news the night before as the hand of God was with Ezekiel and his mouth became loosened.

In chapter 24:25-27 the Lord had told Ezekiel that someone would escape and report of Jerusalems fall, and at that time he would no longer be mute. We learn from this that much of our service to the Lord comes in seasons. This time of muteness lasted over 7 years in total as he was expected to prophesy only what was given to Him by God. The integrity of the prophecy was preserved by Ezekiel’s inability to speak otherwise. It also became a daily reminder that what had been asked of him was not yet complete.

Ezekiel will now step into a new role of more pastoral care as a wave of new captives enter into Babylon. We often think that special service to God should afford us new and amazing gifts. Here we find that special service to the Lord meant giving up the gift of speech in submission to His specific message.

Remember, that there was little to be noted as remarkable of Ezekiel from the beginning. He was probably bitter about being denied the priestly role he would’ve taken if not swept away in the first captivity. Still, God has used him mightily even if not how he’d expected and the Lord will continue to use him. Anyone who intends to walk with the Lord will find their expectations challenged. We may find ourselves disappointed and exhausted from the cost of service.

Move forward men, knowing it’s for a season, for a purpose larger than our perspective, and it will not likely match up with our personal desire. Yet, He is God, and His ways are higher. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Vance Durrance

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Idle Pleasures?

Goats and Sheep

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer [a]Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ — Matthew 25:41-45.

Men, at the end of the tribulation, after the sheep are gathered to His right and goats to His left, Jesus will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”. Jesus was given no food while hungry, no drink when thirsty, nor was any other charitable deed done on His behalf. Jesus, with Holy Spirit, searches out the heart of mankind. Jesus grants opportunity for those desiring to be His to be His hands and feet.

If we reject Him here, deny Him here, or disregard Him here, an everlasting fire awaits. “Everlasting” here is as long as the eternity that those on His right will experience.

Those on His left ask when they missed an opportunity to serve Jesus. Jesus answered, when they failed “to do unto the least of these”. Interestingly, this judgment is not about the violation of a command or statute. This judgment is poured out upon the sin of idleness. They did nothing, when they should have done something.

Today, in our time, it is becoming more and more common to withdraw from the world around us and hide behind our castle doors where we have everything brought to us. We numb ourselves to the pain and brokenness around us by immersing ourselves into sports, entertainment and small cliques of like minded peers. Obviously, no one among us can be everything to everyone, everywhere at every time. But to those on His left, the indictment reads, they did nothing. What can you do? And will you?

Move forward men, feeding, clothing, visiting and praying for those in need. We may not have more than a whole hearted hug for a brother in need. So be it. Let that man be held with the love of Jesus through you. Do something, for something for someone in need is more than doing nothing, and doing nothing is damning. Where is Christ’s heart broken within your reach? Go and serve.

Vance Durrance

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Gifted to Serve

gifted to serve

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. — 1 Peter 4:10 NKJV

We each have been given giftings by the Holy Spirit. Certain tasks are made easy for us that are difficult for others. Furthermore, within that gifting we also have a passion for it. Paul made lists of giftings in his writings elsewhere, but here Peter tells us that we should use those gifts to minister to each other as faithful stewards of God’s grace showcased in various forms.

In church today, serving comes with a signup sheet and is often limited to setting up tables and chairs. In Peter’s time, everyone in a community was dependent upon the others for survival. Every gift was valued and necessary for growth and development individually and for the whole. Churches today often try to legislate and administrate the gifts into a singular focus. We use curriculum for teaching, organized greeters, even the color schemes are calculated.

In Peter’s age, many Christians lived as refugees. Education came from someone in the community sharing their gift of teaching. Needs were met by sharing in giving and hospitality. The Word was heard from those with the gift of preaching and so on.

What are your gifts and are you using them in the Kingdom’s service? We have become a generation of takers. We attend church and other functions with getting something out of it in mind. What if we dove head first into kingdom work with an emphasis on delivering and giving in to a ministry instead of getting something out? What if we put giftings on display instead of administrative processes?

Move forward men, ministering to the needs of others where the Holy Spirit has equipped you specially to do so. Dive in. Be a player instead of a spectator. Our good service will be a blessing to others, and our Father is likely to bless us in return for our obedience and stewardship.

Vance Durrance

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True Service

Serve

I’ve never worked as a waiter, but I imagine service jobs like that are some of the toughest. I remember working customer service as a teenager, and nothing angered me more than being mistreated by the very people I was there to assist. Fortunately, it was rare, but I remember those encounters vividly. One individual showed me no respect, even though I gave him the answer he sought. He obviously despised my youth and said abruptly, “Let me talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.” That kind of comment would ruin my day. So, one of my superiors took over the conversation, only to give the man the same answer (after retrieving it from a brochure). There’s nothing more aggravating for me than to serve arrogant and ungrateful people.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. 3 Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. 5 He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself. –John 13:2-5

Have you ever considered that Jesus washed the feet of Judas? Keep in mind, Christ knew for certain the state of Judas’ heart and his inevitable betrayal. I personally find this stunning.

Often, I serve for a particular outcome (from either God or man), like a form of manipulation. I expect fruitful results: favors in return, some type of life change on the part of the other person, or at the very least appreciation. And when I don’t get it, when people mistreat me or reject me or respond in pride and ungratefulness, my flesh is quick to dissipate any desire to continue.

Perhaps you have heard this profound quote before: “The true test of a servant is how you respond when treated like one.”

How deceptive is our sin that leaks out from our flesh in subversive ways. It often corrupts our righteous works with pride, turning good deeds into filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and altars of worship into exposures of our nakedness (Exo 20:26). For even man’s greatest works done to glorify himself are too minuscule to see from Heaven (Gen 11:5) and do nothing to shrink the monstrous gap between him and the glory of God (Rom 3:23).

Yet Jesus did not just say “love your enemies” (Mat 5:44) and repay evil with good (1Th 5:15; Rom 12:21), but lived it out sacrificially, remaining faithful on that bloody cross even as those He died for laughed and mocked Him (Mat 27:39-44). Yet He did not revile in return but trusted Himself to the one who judges justly (1Pe 2:23).

Thus, may we consider our own motives as we seek to serve like Christ. May we prove ourselves true servants, remaining undeterred when we receive ungrateful attitudes and abuse in return. May we walk before our Lord in complete submission to His will and exaltation, giving no thought to the views and reactions of men.

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