Hello Church Devotion Sept. 19, 2013

“S” is for “Serve”

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:4-6 ESV

We live in a litigious society. Every day we hear of a new law suit being filed for this or for that. Some are certainly legitimate. Yet, many are frivolous and seek only to serve a sinful purpose of greed or the need for revenge. We would have to admit, that we sometimes also allow the sinfulness of our old nature to take charge and do those things we know are not according to God.

The text from Romans 7 informs us that Christ has paid the penalty that God’s Law demanded for punishment for those who stray from it. And since we are connected to Christ through our baptism, we also died to the law in Christ. And now being raised, Christ chooses us to belong to Him gifting us with His life and repurposing us to serve Him by bearing fruit for God.

So for salvation’s prize, Christ dealt with the demands of the Law. He paid them fully, one time for all times. One might be tempted to think that the Law now has no place in a believer’s life. If you thought that, let me address that by saying, “NO”! The Law has no place as far as salvation goes, but it still have value for us in knowing the mind, will, and purpose that God has for His people. His Law is good and pure as it teaches us what righteous and chosen people of God are to look like as well as how they are to behave.

But how do we get from Christ paying in full the demands of the Law to having the Law as a teacher?

The written code of the Law outlined what God expected from His people in terms of behavior and response. God wrote the Law and by so doing, the Law is perfect and good. Could a sinful and prideful people keep the Law? No way! The history of God’s people throughout the Bible shows us the impossibility of keeping the Law. Even the Pharisee’s with their strict codes, were unable to keep the Law as God intended it to be kept.

Let me explain a little more about what happened when the Law was given. We as human beings sometimes are to bothered by something until our attention is brought to it.

A child who is playing nicely in a room by themselves is instructed by the parent to be sure to not leave the room. By just naming the law, the parent has brought attention to the child that it is possible to leave the room. And as we know, once we know something is outside the room, we will be sorely tempted to go out see what is there.

Even as adults, it is also possible for this scene to play out: A surprise party for a family member is planned. But, the surprise is about to be found out by the person for whom the party is being given. Perhaps, they are on the premises and are about to go into a room that is decorated for the party and another family member tells them to not go into the room. Is the surprise ruined? Maybe… certainly the person to be surprised knows that something is afoot.

This works with the Law as well. Once we know a Law, we are tempted to disregard it and do our own thing.

Yet, God has blessed us with new life in Christ. He works in us and through us to produce good fruit. We serve God in response to what He has done for us in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. We don’t serve God in order to earn salvation and eternal life. But rather, we serve God in response to His gracious work in Jesus. But what are we to do in order to serve God?

The Law certainly provides us with the things that are important to God. Love God and your neighbor. Pray for those in authority. Encourage one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Give to the poor. Visit those who are ill or in prison. Continue to gather together to worship. In fact, later on in Romans Chapter 12, St. Paul tells us how to serve God with these words:

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Remembering what God has done for us in Christ, does change our attitude about the Law and how we behave. We are loved… now we show loving. We were shown mercy… now we go about showing mercy. We were served… now we serve!

There are many ways to serve: In the Church, in the Community, in our own Homes. We are God’s child and therefore are to serve whether we go… One of our favorite hymns, “Beautiful Savior” reminds us of why we serve.

Beautiful Savior, King of creation, Son of God and Son of Man!

Truly I’d love Thee, Truly I’d serve Thee,

Light of my soul, my joy, my crown.

Because of Whom Jesus is and What He has done by serving us in His work of redemption, we love Him and serve Him. Jesus has become our light, our joy, and the prize of highest value.

1. How can I serve Jesus at home; at church; in the community?

2. In what ways can we together as the church serve Jesus?

3. When we get tired of serving, what can provide us strength to persevere?

Closing Prayer from Lutheran Service Book Hymn #862 Oh, Blest the House in public domain

1 Oh, blest the house, whate’er befall,

Where Jesus Christ is all in all!

A home that is not wholly His—

How sad and poor and dark it is!

2 Oh, blest that house where faith is found

And all in hope and love abound;

They trust their God and serve Him still

And do in all His holy will!

3 Oh, blest the parents who give heed

Unto their children’s foremost need

And weary not of care or cost.

May none to them and heav’n be lost!

4 Oh, blest that house; it prospers well.

In peace and joy the parents dwell,

And in their children’s lives is shown

How richly God can bless His own.

5 Then here will I and mine today

A solemn promise make and say:

Though all the world forsake His Word,

I and my house will serve the Lord!

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