Blessings in Service

           Did you wake up this morning amazed that your eyes opened yet again? It is amazing how quickly we take for granted the little day to day pleasures of life that become expected routine to us. Yet, if we pause our daily routines for just a moment to breathe and observe the world around us, we would be astounded by how blessed we are. We are a part of a beautifully created world that is full of ingenuity and diversity. Even still, as magnificent and inspiring God’s Earth can be, it pales in comparison to the spiritual blessings that one has with Christ. As children of God, we must reflect on and thank God for our daily bread (Matthew 6:7-13) because the physical bread we have today is never guaranteed tomorrow.

However, the Israelites in the wilderness are a prime example of what becomes our spiritual practice when our focus remains on the physical over the spiritual (Jeremiah 2:26-28). The Israelites repeatedly chose to focus on the obstacles and inconveniences they faced in the wilderness (Numbers 16:13-14), instead of the fact that they were physically alive and spiritually blessed in such a desolate place because of God. The consequences of focusing on the temporary and negative circumstances drove them to forget God entirely (Exodus 32:1-6). They became dissatisfied with their blessings (Num. 11) and regularly trusted in themselves over God (Num. 16, 1 Sam. 8). All of us spend more time than we like to admit in our lives focusing on things that are physical, momentary, and fleeting. These physical things, however, will not lead us to eternal life. The Israelites would every so often lose sight of this fact, and it is why their example is so prolific to our spiritual growth in Christ.

Jesus is the example of a man whose focus is not on the temporary obstacles of the wilderness, but on the everlasting blessings of God. In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil after fasting for forty days and forty nights. He was tempted by the devil to satisfy his hunger with bread, to test God, and to become ruler over all the Earth (Matt. 4:3,6,9). Jesus replied, that although man must eat bread to live, only the words of God can fulfill and sustain his hunger (Matt. 4:5). Jesus’ answer to tempting God was that putting God to the test does not help one grow spiritually (Matt. 4:7). Lastly, to the temptation of power, Jesus answered that the authority to rule is God’s alone and man was not meant to rule but to serve one another by serving God (Matt. 4:10).  After overcoming temptation in the wilderness, Jesus was attended to by the angels. As long as we serve Christ we will be attended to by the angels as well in Heaven.

After surviving the horrors of multiple Nazi concentration camps, Viktor Frankl wrote, “the salvation of a man is through love and in love.” Man’s salvation is through the love of God and Godly love to one another. Jesus’ example in the desert proved, that power does not reside in authority, but in choosing to use that authority to lovingly serve God and others (Matthew 20:28). Going forward in our lives, let us all think of what it means to have J.O.Y. in our lives!                                    

- (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last!)