Posted by: bellissimanh | July 1, 2008

Kingdom Greatness

Kingdom Greatness

Day-by-Day

“For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” (Luke 22:27)

The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God.

When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1–15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served.

The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selflessness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.

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What an appropriate devotional to have so soon after the mission trip to Portland! My head is still swirling with everything the Lord is teaching me through yesterday’s adventure. As I read this devotional the other day, I couldn’t help but think of Alyce setting up her camp chair at the church in Portland yesterday, and then never seeing her sit in it. Instead, on several different occasions, there were homeless men, sitting in her chair, watching the happenings all around them. The chair she had taken, intending to sit in, was vacant as she ministered – standing at that grill all afternoon. It was left empty as Alyce looked for a place to serve, rather than a place to sit.

We handed out over 50 tote bags full of stuff (toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, granola bars, water bottles, deodorant, socks, miscellaneous other stuff, as well as tracts and a Bible). We had about 35 (?) bedrolls (camping mats) and handed all of those out, and tons of other stuff… clothes, blankets, tarps, etc. We set up some grills and gave away hotdogs and pasta salad. We also had sandwiches all bagged and gave some to each homeless person we met to take with them for later. So many needs were met. So many we couldn’t even touch.God led us to a church in Portland. They told us we could set up on their lawn and hand out our stuff. Apparently if you give anything out on public property (sidewalks, parks, etc), you have to have all kinds of permits. They wanted $80 for us to give away hotdogs!  BUT… if you’re on church property, they can’t do anything… something about separation of church and state? Makes no sense to me, but that’s what the city said. Sooooooooooo… Candy called churches and we found one that was right on the opposite side of the street as the park we had wanted to use! They let us set up in their parking lot/lawn, and even kept the church open so we could use their bathrooms.

We got to pray with several people. We also prayed FOR some. There was one girl in particular. Young – early twenties, if that. She was pregnant and strung out on cocaine. She wouldn’t let anyone near her. Candy tried to offer her food and a tote bag, but she started screaming at her to get away. Candy had already had contact with her once before, so she knew her… but in her drugged out state, she was paranoid and belligerant. We prayed for her, anyway, from across the street. It was a powerful thing to stand hand in hand in a circle… several of us girls, including teens… and pray for this poor girl across the street. Each of us prayed individually, and by the time we finished, I was a blubbering mess. I wasn’t the only one. It was a powerful moment. We never did get a chance to talk to her anymore than an offer once again rejected, but we know God can send someone else into her path as easily as He can use us. Pray for Elizabeth – coke addict, mom-to-be… and also for her unborn child.

Thundershowers moved in around 4pm. The rain was driving… we all got soaked to the bone. We had gotten rid of all the food… and everything but some clothes and were taking cover under the awning of a church when a man came up – Guadelupe – and asked if we had anything left. We explained that we’d already gotten rid of everything. Candy had some gift cards to McDonald’s, so she gave him one of those, and Alyce even drove TO McDonalds and bought him some hot food… while she was gone and we were waiting, we prayed with Lupe. He told us that he wanted to get to a “home” where he could kick drugs and alcohol for good. We gave him the name of Cathy’s brother, Rick Martin, who runs a Christian rehab center in Maine. We prayed with Lupe. He asked if he could pray too… we said, “Of course!”  After Mark had prayed for Lupe, Lupe began to pray… in Spanish. I have no idea what he said, but it was beautiful. He began to cry as he prayed… and then he returned to English and said, “Oh, God I’m so sorry for the wrong I’ve done. I’m so sorry. I need You, God. I need You to love me. I want to do right. I want to love You too.” My tears mixed with the rain on my face and I’m sure I was a frightful sight… but I’ll tell you what – I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Anything. We had to leave, but Lupe stayed at the church to meet with the Pastor after we left. God is so good! Pray for Lupe as well, please.

Joel asked how it went when I got home and I couldn’t even describe it adequately. It really is one of those experiences that you have a hard time explaining to someone who wasn’t there. I tried to tell him how humbling (if that’s the right word) it was to watch these people walking down the street in the driving rain… and to know that in ten minutes I would be inside my nice new car with the heat blasting while they were heading off to find the biggest tree they could to get shelter from the rain. I tried to explain how guilty I felt throwing even a little bit of my Arby’s dinner away (I didn’t like my sandwich), knowing that the people we met today would give anything to HAVE that sandwich, and they certainly wouldn’t have been complaining about it. I’d left the sunroof on my car open, not noticing it until Tara informed me that our seats were SOAKED. We stopped at Walmart on the way home and I bought some bath towels to sop up the water and keep us dry. I bought a set of sweats to wear home so I wouldn’t have to make the entire drive damp and chilled. And now all I can think is how the money I spent to avoid inconvenience could have been used to buy camping mats that would help these people have a barrier between the cold ground and their bodies. Maybe humbling isn’t the right word… I don’t know. It’s overwhelming. They need so much… and we HAVE so much… and yet it seems impossible that we could ever meet their needs. Maybe God designed it that way… because their greatest need is for Jesus. They need something that we can’t give them at all… only He can. I pray that they will see God’s love through our conversations, our meager gifts, our listening ears… and that they will be drawn to the Savior who can meet their deepest need. Yes. Overwhelmed is such a good word to describe this. I thank God for giving Mark and Candy the vision to minister to these people. I thank Him for putting it in the hearts of others to join and serve with them. I thank Him for being the answer to all of our deepest needs… each one of us. John put it so eloquently yesterday: “Father, each of us was homeless once.” The Lord has brought us into His family. He has given us salvation and a home that goes far beyond anything this world has to offer. He has made His home WITH us. How amazing is that? How should we live in light of eternity?

 

If you’ve never attended a trip like this to serve the homeless, I encourage you to see if the Lord would use you this way. I can’t tell you what will happen out there – it’s always an adventure. But what I CAN tell you is that you will be given a dose of perspective that will blow you away, and that you will never be the same. When we are obedient to the Lord’s call to care for widows, orphans and those less fortunate… He blesses in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend. Seeing the love of God in action is like nothing else. His beauty is beyond comprehension. He’s more than wonderful.

 

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Responses

  1. Awesome! I know what you mean about experiences that you cant even explain, having had a few of those myself. Ones that change you, leave you forever different, forever changing the way you look at life. Thank God for those moments, Heather. The shifts in our perspectives. Maybe we can see a little more of what He sees. Feel a little more what He feels. Love a little more like He does. Thank you for blogging this experience. I got so much out of it. love you, S

  2. Hey Heather! Your trip sounds incredible!!!! I am so thrilled in the ways that you can work for the Lord. May God richly bless you for your service (I know He already is). Love you!!

  3. Wow! Sounds like quite an experience! What a blessing to be about to minister in such a way!
    Cj

  4. Incredible experience, wasn’t it!? And one that everyone needs at least once in life. We are missionaries in Costa Rica. Everytime a team comes here, they leave different people with a totally changed perspective.
    Blessings

  5. Wow. Just, wow. What a moving, beautiful experience.

    Xandra


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