I have a friend who is the best person at giving gifts! She just has such a knack at knowing what people would enjoy! She’s creative, on-time, and right on target with the needs of the receiver. It just seems so easy for her.
If you’ve ever been to the home of another one of my friends at our church, you’ll see hospitality being displayed in such an effortless way. She welcomes with her heart before you even enter the doorway of her house. As a matter of fact, if you see her at church, you sense that warm hospitable heart in the aisle and pew. It’s not about the food she makes or the home in which she lives; it’s her spirit. Everyone feels so accepted and loved by her. I just don’t know how she does it!
Change isn’t always easy, but it is a part of life. As the saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new! As of this week, some old things are passing out of my world, and some new things are entering in!
ATTITUDE. Ever have one? You know what I mean. It’s that annoyed reflection of something in your heart. Someone pushed the wrong buttons, pushed you once too many times, or pushed you harder than you cared to be pushed and then – the attitude happens. It’s not pretty.
I know of which I speak because I can be the Queen of Attitude at times. I hate to admit it, but if I’m honest I have to tell you it’s true. I had one just this week, and guess what it was over? Ministry! I got tired of carrying other people’s loads, of doing “more than my share” (who decides how much is more than my share?), and being pushed to the limit. Oooo – that button got pushed and out the attitude came. The good thing was that the Lord convicted me and after a time of stewing, I made it right. However, the Lord wasn’t done teaching me the lesson He wanted me to learn.
Yesterday in my devotions, I was working on memorizing the last two verses in Philippians 2. The background of these verses is that Paul had sent a man by the name of Epaphroditis to the Philippians and Epaphroditis became sick to the point of death. Why was he so sick? Verses 29-30 tell us:
Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Epaphroditis was taking up the slack of the Philippians; doing what they hadn’t done and became so sick while ministering that he almost died!
Paul says in verse 29 to “hold such in reputation.” Hold a man like this in high regard. At that moment in my quiet time the Lord brought the truth to my heart that this was a man who worked and ministered so much that he was at death’s door! My work took me nowhere close to that kind of sacrifice! I see no sign of an attitude in Epaphroditis here either! It says that he was full of heaviness because they learned he had been sick. He was probably the kind of man who tried to cover his weakness, work through whatever pain he might have been experiencing because there was a cause here – the love of Christ- and that constrained him to keep on.
I was very convicted by this man’s life, and repented of my sin and my attitude. There is a balance to strike, and I asked the Lord in my quiet time to help me hit that balance – work, rest, respite. It’s necessary so that we don’t burn out.
As you serve in any capacity, whether it’s full-time or as a layman in the church, guard your heart against the “A” word. Let’s make sure we’re serving the Lord with a sweet spirit; the kind in which the Lord would “hold us in reputation” like Epaphroditis. His work was “the work of Christ.” Too often my work is “the work of Denise” done with an attitude and won’t be rewarded in eternity. “Oh, Lord, may my ministry be Your work, done in Your strength, and done for your glory!” Ahhh, there’s the right attitude!
It happens to everyone at least once in their lifetime – the betrayal of a dear friend. You thought they would stick with you through thick and thin, when the chips were down, or when you were the last person to be chosen when they were picking teams. When the betrayal comes, it’s a dagger in our heart and the loss is felt with a grief like death. I speak as one who knows…and you do, too. We read in II Timothy 1 that Paul did, too…
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
Phygellus and Hermogenes – let’s give them nicknames – Gellus (hmmm, was he jealous?) and Genie…two men named for being deserters of Paul. They turned against him and led a group of others to do the same. This is the only place their names are mentioned in the Bible. How sad that their names are recorded in God’s Word as an example of unfaithfulness! One commentator I read said, “These men couldn’t do anything about their ugly names, but they could’ve done something about their ugly character!” How true!
Why did they desert him? Speculation says they could’ve been afraid that they might also end up in a Roman prison if they were known to be associated with Paul.
I think of Paul, writing this letter from his prison cell, recounting the two men who turned on him. Had they at one time been there with Paul when he preached? When he did miraculous works? When the prison doors were opened? When he ministered the Word from his home? Perhaps. But at some time, they realized it would be better for their own sakes to disassociate with Paul, so they did, and they led a group to follow them.
Years ago when my husband was deserted by a dear friend, Dr. Bob Jones III called to say,
Dale, you’re in good company. Matthew 5:12 says, Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Jesus is the Supreme example of being betrayed by friends. Of course Judas was the one who led the soldiers right to him, but Scripture reminds us that they all forsook him and fled. We probably would have, too, had we been there.
BUT then Paul goes on to say,
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
Thank God for all the Onesiphorus’s!! Those are the dear ones who:
Stay near when the others slip away, quietly, one by one.
Stay near to meet a need that no one else even notices.
Stay near because they are not ashamed to be associated with you.
Stay near to remind you of God’s promises.
Stay near to remind you that you are not alone.
Stay near to comfort you.
May the Lord grant us memory loss of all the betrayers. Let’s just let it go. But may we praise God and also imitate the character of the stayer, Onesiphorus. The church needs more of them!
How might you come alongside someone who is ministering for the Lord to encourage and serve them this week? Here are some posts that might help you know how. How have others served you like Onesiphorus did Paul?
This post isn’t about me. I simply have such a burden for pastor’s wives because I obviously know the load they carry. I hope this will be read with the heart in which it is written – to encourage you about how you might encourage your sister in Christ.
Are you aware that most pastors and their wives experience loneliness, isolation and discouragement during their ministry lives? The role that members play can be a huge encouragement.
I shared with you on Wednesday that a dear friend and sister in Christ, Hope Carter, passed away this week. I’ve had many people who have encouraged me over the years, and Hope would definitely be one of them! If she could speak, she could give some great lessons on how to encourage your pastor’s wife, but since she’s gone to heaven, let me share what she did for me that meant so much and impacted my life and ministry.
Care – While we came nearly twenty years ago to our church to shepherd her, she cared for me when I was hurting,