A 5-day devotional by Hannah Williamson
Day 1 // The Call
Over the past nearly eight months we have found ourselves in this strange new world consisting of masks, hand sanitizer, the four walls of our homes and zoom! What strange, strange times! Life has certainly changed and even for those who are back to some sense of normality things are certainly not how they used to be in the world we used to live in. One of the big changes to so many people across the world has been in the way church looks. We have been used to getting up on a Sunday and heading to church to gather alongside other believers to worship Jesus, but this certainly looks different. For many of us, we would be involved in some aspect of church life serving those either in our church or through church into our local community. Over the past eight months some have served in different ways through serving people in need of food or through media but for many of our congregation you have probably had a well-earned rest. As great as this is and has been for so many, through this series of devotions I want to encourage you to now ‘get up and get going.’ Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but I’m sure we know that feeling of going back to work after a long holiday. Although we may love our jobs it takes a little more motivation getting back into the swing of things. I think this can be a similar feeling that many may be experiencing when it comes to serving in the church. Romans 12:11 says, ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.’ This, for me, is a great motivation in our walk with God. We must never lack in zeal or passion for serving Jesus. We should keep our spiritual fervour, which in my own words means intense and passionate feeling for Jesus and serving Him.
I mention as an aside that for some over these past few months, life has been hectic and perhaps painful. One of the amazing things about serving and giving to others is that it can bring healing and I want to encourage you whether you have been in a hectic place or a peaceful place, let’s look out for ways we can serve Jesus in the coming months, whether that be through our church or just with those around us. I believe God is calling us to get up and get going!
Day 2 // The Invitation
In Mark 1:16-17 Jesus is walking by the sea of Galilee when He sees those He wants to invite to be part of His team. In verse 17 Jesus says, ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once, they left their nets and followed Him.’
I love this passage as Jesus doesn’t just wait for people to follow Him or to serve alongside Him, but He invites them in to be part of His team. What a great opportunity! Jesus makes this same invite today, inviting us to follow Him and be part of extending His kingdom in the world. The church is God’s route to do this. There are plenty of ways to volunteer in your local community but there is nothing quite like being part of the ‘Jesus team,’ serving alongside others with like minds who are passionate about seeing people know Jesus and grow closer to Him. As a child and into my teen years, I was always encouraged to take the opportunity to help out at church. I did this through various different ways – with children, with youth, in the band, on mission trips abroad or serving the needy at Christmas. There were always opportunities. There were always people inviting me to get involved! Although it is right that we don’t over-commit or stretch ourselves too far, I believe an important part of being a Jesus follower is serving within the context of the local church. There are so many ways you can do this and especially in the current season we find ourselves in, whether that be serving at our Sunday services that have now started back up, helping to look out for the sick, being part of the team giving food to those in need or serving in a whole multitude of other ways. I want to encourage you today to find a way to get involved and serve! It may be in a large way or a small way, but either is vital! Maybe you would like to get in contact with us and just ask the question ‘how can I serve?’ or maybe there is a particular area on your heart? Get in touch and we can help you find the best way to serve in this season. The invitation is there, why not take it up and join an amazing team in blessing people and extending the Kingdom of God.
Day 3 // The Need
Matthew 9:36-38 says, ‘When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest fields.’
In Jesus’ time there was obvious need all around Him. As you walked down the street there would have been beggars with no hope of ever finding a hostel. There would have been the sick with no hope of a cure. There was no end to the need. Although we live in a different time where there is better societal help, health care and generally better sanitation, there is still great need! Both physical and spiritual. There are many people right now who are sick, who are in financial need, who are in dangerous situations as well as so many people in need of knowing the love that Jesus can bring them. Our world may look different but need remains the same. One reason that we encourage those in our church to ‘join a team’ or ‘serve’ is to meet the need of those around us. There are so many ways we try to meet people’s needs – it might be by being part of a team that facilitates a Sunday, making it a comfortable experience for people coming so that their spiritual needs can be met. Or it may be in helping people in a more practical way like preparing food parcels to go to people in need or simply phoning someone who may be feeling lonely at this time. It can often be easy to turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering around us, but Jesus never did that. He always walked right up to those in need and helped them. One reason we should ‘get up and get going’ is so that we can help the many people in our community. There are so many opportunities to do this through our church so please do get in touch, but also be aware that there may be people ‘on your doorstep’ or next door to where you live that you can help and show kindness to.
Day 4 // The Impact
In Mark 5, Jesus travels to a place called ‘the region of the Gerasenes,’ where He meets a man who is not in a great way! In today’s language we would say he had severe mental health challenges but in the days of Jesus people were not so kind or understanding. They were scared of this man who the Bible tells us ‘lived in the tombs and cut himself with rocks.’ Jesus asks the man his name, which I’m sure people never really did, and He proceeds to heal him. The man has a huge turn around and becomes like a different person who is free from any previous affliction he faced. In verse 20 it says, ‘So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.’
We see a similar impact in John 4 where we read of the story commonly known as the ‘woman at the well.’ She goes on to tell her entire community what Jesus has done for her. The impact of their encounter with Jesus caused both this man and this woman to ‘get up and get going’ in sharing Jesus with those around them. The result of Jesus serving these people was HUGE! It impacted so many more people! The impact of us serving others on behalf of Jesus also has the potential to have huge impact. There is a film that came out quite a long time ago now called ‘pay it forward’ and it was about a kid who for a school project came up with the idea of paying forward an act of kindness. This idea was outworked and had an impact on thousands of people. It’s a powerful show of what showing kindness does, but there is something even more powerful when we show or share the love of Jesus. It multiplies and can have far reaching consequences to impact many people! As we ‘get up and get going’ when it comes to serving Jesus I want to encourage you today to know that what you do to serve others will have a long-lasting impact. Galatians 6:9 says ‘Do not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’
Day 5 // The Privilege
In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul is speaking to the church in Corinth about some other churches in Macedonia who have been particularly generous in their giving. He is trying to inspire those he is writing to, to do the same! Verse 2 – 5 says the following: ‘In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.’
What stood out to me here was the way that these people saw it as a privilege to be able to serve others. Sometimes serving others can feel tiresome or frustrating but here it was seen as a privilege. I guess it is a privilege knowing that we are serving others on behalf of Jesus – being His hands and feet to our world. Imagine it like a mother who every day has to clean her child’s clothes, change their nappies and feed them. They repeatedly do these things month after month out of love for their child. As much as at times it may be a struggle, it is also a privilege to be able to serve a young life. I think this is how we can look at serving Jesus. It may mean giving up some of our time where we could do things to please ourselves. It may mean giving money that we have worked hard to earn in order to help those in need. It may mean humbling ourselves to help people in a worse off situation than us. But what a privilege it is to serve Jesus by serving those around us. Why not today, thank Jesus for the privilege of being able to serve others?
And as I close off the devotions for this week can I take the time to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who serve those in our church. Thank you to those who spend hours making Sundays happen. Thank you to those who give time to help those who are struggling. Thank you to those feeding the poor, serving our children, loving our young people, leading us in worship, parking our cars, helping us find our seats or doing anything else you do to serve our church. You are appreciated. Thank you for getting up and getting going in the face of these uncertain times that we live in.