TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

I.  Preliminary Instructions and Insights

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Chapter 28  Part I

Preliminary Instructions and Insights

All of God’s people are his servants – and so need to be prepared to serve him. This requires devotion to God, and to his work. As well as instructing us to serve God, the Bible provides plenty of encouragement to persevere in doing so. The Bible also gives insights into being guided by God, something which is very much applicable to serving God as well as to other areas of our lives.

Be Prepared to Serve God

Be prepared and ready to do God’s work

So prepare your minds for service and have self-control.   1 Peter 1:13a  NCV™

[God:] But you, Jeremiah, get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say.   Jeremiah 1:17a  NET

Being prepared for God’s work requires godly living

[Paul, speaking of church leaders:] For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain. 8Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled.   Titus 1:7-8  NET

Be Devoted to God’s Work

Serve only God

[Samuel, to the people of Israel:] Give your hearts to the Lord and serve only him. Then he will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4So the Israelites removed the Baals and images of Ashtoreth. They served only the Lord.   1 Samuel 7:3b-4  NET

Devote yourself to God’s work

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted.   1 Corinthians 15:58b  NCV™

Dedicate your life to living for God and Jesus Christ

[Paul, to believers:] So then, my brothers and sisters, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.   Romans 12:1  GNT

Then he [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.   Luke 9:23  NET

We must deny ourselves – give up living for ourselves and what we want – and live for Christ instead, daily shouldering the accompanying difficulties.

Reasons to Serve God

God is our God, who has done great things for us

[Moses, to the Israelites:] Revere the Lord your God, serve him, be loyal to him and take oaths only in his name. 21He is the one you should praise; he is your God, the one who has done these great and awesome things for you that you have seen.   Deuteronomy 10:20-21  NET

Your work for God will be productive

[Jesus, explaining a parable:] But the ones on the good soil are the people who hear the word but also hold on to it with good and honest hearts, producing a crop through endurance.   Luke 8:15  ISV

As with “fruit” elsewhere in this chapter, “crop” may well be referring to – or at least may be applied to – the productivity of one’s work for the kingdom (the theme of this subsection). Alternatively the spiritual growth of the individual believer may be in view.

You will be rewarded for your work

But as for you, be strong and don’t get discouraged, for your work will be rewarded.   2 Chronicles 15:7  NET

Whoever does not produce “fruit” will be cut off from Christ

[Jesus, speaking of God:] He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit.   John 15:2a  NCV™

Being Guided by God

The topic of being guided by God is very pertinent to serving God – such as in ascertaining his will in regard to how we should serve him. It is also of course important in other aspects of our lives. For it is vital in living righteously generally and in navigating through troubled times, as reflected in some of the following verses. God’s guidance also becomes an issue when we need to make a significant choice or decision.

God’s guidance may come through such sources as: the Holy Spirit’s promptings; inner conviction or assurance (itself largely of the Holy Spirit); Scripture; circumstances; or advice from others. But God does not always guide his people by making them aware of his will. They may not even be aware of being guided by God, only recognizing his guidance in retrospect. The Bible actually says little about how one should find out God’s guidance. But it does speak of how living a godly life and prayer are critical for being open to it – as is indicated in the following subsections.

To be guided by God, live a godly life

[Directives to Israel:] You must remove the burdensome yoke from among you and stop pointing fingers and speaking sinfully. 10You must actively help the hungry and feed the oppressed. Then your light will dispel the darkness, and your darkness will be transformed into noonday. 11The Lord will continually lead you; he will feed you even in parched regions.   Isaiah 58:9b-11a  NET

Ask God to guide you (as in troubled times)

[David, to God:] For you are my rock and my fortress; for the sake of your name guide me and lead me.   Psalms 31:3  ISV

Pray for persecuted Christians