Two Seas
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Recently my husband was completing an annual health survey for his medical sharing plan when he encountered this surprising question: “I apply some of my talents and time in the voluntary service of others.”  The survey required him to mark 1 of the 3 multiple choice answers that indicated the extent to which the above statement described him.

You might be asking yourself why a medical sharing plan (which is practically the same thing as health insurance) would be concerned with whether its participants volunteer their time to serve others.  How could serving (or not serving) possibly impact one’s health and wellness?

For that answer let’s turn our attention to two geographical bodies of water in the Middle East:  The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.   Found in the nation of Israel, both the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are really lakes, and surprisingly, they are both fed by the same freshwater source, the Jordan River.  They both are very similar in elevation and have existed for many thousands of years.  They are also both referred to multiple times in the Bible, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. 

The Dead Sea is known as a “hyper” saline body of water with percentages of sodium chloride and other salty minerals that far exceed those found in the ocean.  This salinity makes it completely uninhabitable for fish and other animals.  Even the banks of the Dead Sea are completely barren and resemble that of a desert.  There are no trees, grasses, or flowers that grow on the banks or naturally in the immediate areas surrounding it.  It is quite literally dead.

On the other hand, the Sea of Galilee is a freshwater body that absolutely teems with life.  Its various flora and fauna have supported a significant commercial fishery for over two thousand years now.  When you view pictures of the banks of the Galilee, you see an abundance of healthy trees, green grasses, brightly-colored flowers and other various types of plant life.  It’s absolutely gorgeous with splashes of green on its perimeter in stark contrast to the deep blue color of the water. 

So, how is it possible that two lakes which are both fed by the same fresh water from the Jordan River could have such a vastly opposite ecology?  This is the difference.  The Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee from the north and then flows out the Sea of Galilee southward, continuing on as a river.  This Sea has an outlet of equal measure.  It receives and gives, and it lives. 

The Dead Sea, however, has no outlet streams.  Every single drop that flows in from the Jordan River stays put.  Water flows in but not out.  It receives and keeps, and it is dead.

So back to the question on my husband’s health survey.  How can serving (or not serving) impact one’s health and wellbeing?  The answer is that we, as believers, are very similar to the two seas.  God himself is our source, and he has given us a generous measure of unique gifts, talents, abilities and passions.  When we use what He has given us in the service of others, we find joy, purpose, energy, and excitement, an abundant life.

But when we greedily hoard our God-given gifts, talents, and abilities, telling ourselves that we will wait to use them until we have the perfect set of conditions in our lives and schedules, our days will lack luster, and we will find ourselves consumed with trivial interests that don’t bring true fulfillment.

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Proverbs 11:25

Think About:  Do you use your talents and time in the voluntary service of others?  Will you allow God to stretch you to serve big?  What can you do today to become more like the Sea of Galilee, with Christ’s gifts and blessings flowing in and out, in equal measure?

Pray:  Father God, I want to let you flow through me to serve others.  Please open my eyes to the opportunities around me.  Allow me to be stretched, so that I can be empowered by you to do things beyond my own capacity.   

 

/JenniferGreene

River Community Church
Incomparable
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Fidgeting a bit in my seat, I listened to another sermon on serving, highlighting someone launching a new ministry. I had been prayerful about volunteering and what the Lord would have me do but wasn’t feeling led to be in a leadership position of any kind. So, in the meantime, I went where He quietly opened doors.

The Lord led me to minister to individuals who were lonely, sick, or in need of encouragement. He led me to people who needed their eyes turned back to Jesus. He led me to families going through crisis. As I kept ministering through meals, hospitality, hugs, and prayer I still felt I wasn’t part of a “ministry”. The next ministry-highlight sermon found me fidgeting in my seat again, feeling totally inadequate and wondering what God had made me especially suited to do in “ministry”.

Stumbling upon a personality test, I decided to complete it. In ten minutes I had my results and it finally dawned on me! God had made me to do ministry, but he made me to do it with individuals and small groups, not huge formal ministry! He gave me the gifts of encouragement, teaching, insight and discernment. I now understood that I fit the ministry God made me to do! It reminded me of when God created the world and said that it was good; it fit His purpose and plan. He also impressed on me not to compare myself or my calling to that of other people.

We were made to fit God’s purpose and plan, not to devise our own. The highest calling we have is to serve Him in the capacity He calls us to and created us to be. He makes us incomparable! We all have similar gifts and talents generally speaking, but it is God who knows exactly where they fit with the personality He gave us and the needs others have. The beauty of it is that we are each part of the Body of Christ and, like unique cells designed for different functions, it takes every part for the body to be healthy and whole. It requires the Spirit to breathe life into it.

“Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. Also, there are different ways of serving, but it is the same Lord being served. And there are different modes of working, but it is the same God working them all in everyone. Moreover, to each person is given the particular manifestation of the Spirit that will be for the common good.”    

I Corinthians 12:4-7

Think About:  Do you believe He made you to fit into the Body of Christ? What spiritual and natural gifts do you have? Where do you feel God calling you to use them? What needs are around you which fit your abilities?

Pray:  “Heavenly Father, thank you for your wisdom in creating me and for fitting me into the Body of Christ through Jesus’ sacrifice of his own life for mine. You made me for a purpose and to fit with your plan. Please guide me to the place you would have me serve so that I will be a blessing to You and to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

/KayPowell

River Community Church
Measure or Mission
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I have found myself thinking about the difference between a measuring stick and an arrow lately.  They are often made of the same material, but created differently for a distinctive purpose.  When I think of an arrow, I think of action, targeted movement, and mission.    A measuring stick makes me think stagnant, focused evaluation, and quantifying.  If I’m honest, I have spent a lot of my time as a Christian paralyzed with evaluating and measuring myself and others and trying to quantify my worth.  It is such a contrast from what God wants for each of us.  He wants us to be focused on his mission and where he is sending each of us.  I have found you can’t be a measuring stick and an arrow at the same time.  It’s difficult to measure when you are moving.  Along the way, if I hadn’t laid down my measuring stick I would have missed out on so many sweet missions that the Lord has sent me. 

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves.  But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”  

2 Corinthian’s 10:12

We are each unique and have special gifts that God wants to use.  He created you with a specific purpose and he celebrates his beautiful creation.  When we are busy comparing ourselves, we are telling God that he made a mistake in how he created us.  Some of us are called to be center stage with a microphone, and some of us are called to change newborn diapers.  We see missionaries that are blazing a trail, while some of us are called to take a meal to a hurting widow.  True freedom comes when we can stop believing that the callings in the spot light are more valuable than the quiet promptings that are happening behind the scene.  God isn’t measuring us against each other.  Our part of this journey is to hold our arrow up to the Lord each day, and ask “Did I go where you sent me today and did I honor you along the way?”

Think About: Have you been busy focused on measuring or moving? Have you prayed and ask God what mission he has in store for you?

Pray: Dear Lord, thank you so much for creating me for a specific purpose.  I ask that you help me walk confidently in what you are calling me to do.  Help me to not become distracted my measuring myself and others.  Please give me the insight and focus to be dedicated each day and listen to where you want me to serve.  Lord help me be an arrow today, targeted and on the move for my unique mission to glorify you. 

 

/TerriMcWilliams

River Community Church