040 – Service – Spiritual Disciplines Series

Serving God is not a burden, it’s a privilege

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“Serving God is not a job for the casually interested,” says the author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Donald Whitney. “It’s costly service, He asks for your life.”

“The ministry of serving may be as public as preaching or teaching, but more often it will be as sequestered as nursery duty. It may be as visible as singing a solo, but usually it will be as unnoticed as operating the sound equipment to amplify the solo. Serving may be as appreciated as a good testimony in a worship service, but typically it’s as thankless as washing dishes after a church social. Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it.

Beyond the church walls, serving is baby-sitting for neighbors, taking meals to families in flux, running errands for the homebound, providing transportation for the one whose car breaks down, feeding pets and watering plants for vacationers, and – hardest of all – having a servant’s heart in the home. Serving is as commonplace as the practical needs it seeks to meet.”

In today’s podcast episode I will continue the book review series of Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life by Donald Whitney. As a result of overwhelming response to my 2014 reader survey, I want to focus on the challenges of personal spiritual growth. Literally, 100% of those that participated in my readers survey selected personal spiritual growth as a challenge in their life. With that, I’m diving into a very influential book that offers practical application.

Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life by Donald Whitney has been powerfully impactful on my personal spiritual growth. I’m convinced it will help you as well. I encourage you to get a copy, read it, and begin to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).

Book Notes:

  • “Serving God is not a job for the casually interested. It’s costly service, He asks for your life.”
  • “Two of the deadliest of our sins – sloth & pride – loathe serving.”
  • Dallas Willard in The Spirit of the Disciplines
    • Not every act that may be done as a discipline need be done as a discipline. I will often be able to serve another simply as an act of love and righteousness, without regard to how it may enhance my abilities to follow Christ. There certainly is nothing wrong with that, and it may, incidentally, strengthen me spiritually as well. But I may also serve another to train myself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness. In that case, my service is undertaken as a discipline for the spiritual life.
  • Every Christian is expected to serve – motives matter in the service we offer to God
    • Motivated by Obedience
      • Deuteronomy 13:4 – It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
      • “How can any professing Christian think it is okay to sit on the spiritual sidelines and watch others do the work of the Kingdom?”
      • “Not to serve God is sinful.”
    • Motivated by Gratitude
      • 1 Samuel 12:24 – But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
      • “When the fire of service to God grows cold, consider what great things the Lord has done for you.”
      • “What has God ever given anyone that could compare with the salvation He has given to you as a believer?”
      • “If we cannot be grateful servants of Him who is everything and in whom we have everything, what will make us grateful?”
    • Motivated by Gladness
      • Psalm 100:2 – “Serve the Lord with gladness.”
      • “The Christian who gratefully acknowledges what God has done for him for eternity should be able to serve God cheerfully and with joy.”
      • “Serving God is not a burden, it’s a privilege.”
      • “Do your kids get the impression from you that serving God is something you really enjoy or merely endure?”
    • Motivate by Forgiveness, Not Guilt
      • “The people of God do not serve Him in order to be forgiven but because we are forgiven.”
      • “We can serve willingly because Christ’s death freed us from guilt.”
    • Motivated by Humility
      • “With astonishing humility, Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, washed the feet of His disciples as an example of how all His followers should serve with humility. (John 13:12-16)
      • “By the power of the Holy Spirit we must reject self-righteous service as a sinful motivation, and serve “in humility,” considering “others better” than ourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
      • “In the discipline of service, the issue is not always how well you serve, for even the world serves well when it leads to profit. But the Christian serves with humility because it leads to Christlikeness.”
    • Motivated by Love
      • Galatians 5:13 – You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
      • “There is no better fuel for service tat burns longer and provides more energy than love.”
      • “Greatest command is to love God… next most important one is to love your neighbor” (Mark 12:28-31)
      • “In light of these words, surely the more we love God the more we will live for Him and serve Him, and the more we love others the more we will serve them.”
  • Every Christian is gifted to serve
    • Spiritual Gifts
      • 1 Peter 4:10 – certifies that each Christian is specially gifted and that the purpose for that gift is service
      • Spiritual gifts lists
        • Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:5-11, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, 1 Corinthians 14, Ephesians 4:7-13, 1 Peter 4:11
      • “Regardless of your theology of spiritual gifts, the 2 most important points about them remain those given in 1 Peter 4:10
        • If you are a Christian you definitely have a spiritual gift
        • God’s purpose in giving you that gift is for you to serve with it for His Kingdom”
      • “The best way to discover and confirm which spiritual gift is yours is through serving.”
    • Serving is often hard work
      • Ephesians 4:12 – the equipping of the saints for the work of service
      • “Sometimes serving God and others is nothing less than hard work.”
      • Colossians 1:29 – To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
      • “God supplies us with the power to serve Him.”
      • “True ministry is never forced out by the flesh. But the result of His power working mightily in us is “labor”.”
      • “Remember that service costing nothing accomplishes nothing.”
      • 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always five yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
      • Hebrews 6:10 – God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
      • “Disciplined service to God is work, hard and costly labor sometimes, but it will endure for all eternity.”
  • More Application
    • “Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship. Godliness requires a disciplined balance between the two.”
    • “You are expected to serve and gifted to serve, but are you willing to serve?”


Links to resources mentioned in today’s podcasts:


Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life


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