March 17

Deuteronomy 1:38 (NIV) 38But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.

How appropriate that the one whose name in Aramaic is Jesus, should lead them into the Promised Land. Now, Jesus of Nazareth leads us to inherit all that God has for us. There in the wilderness, Moses was telling the people that Joshua, son of Nun, was going to need their encouragement.

Leadership is listed as one of the gifts in Romans 12:8 (NIV)if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Just because some have and use this gift does not mean they can do it on their own. They need others using their gifts as well. The first gift mentioned in the Romans passage is encouragement.

We think of the gifts as uniquely New Testament, but they were existed to some extent in the Old Testament too. Leaders tend toward discouragement because they see more of the problems than most. They are also the target of criticism when things are not going well. Some are not satisfied because their personal preferences are not acted upon and let the leader know it. A number of times Moses had experienced discouragement while leading with God's direction. Moses knew how needed encouragement is.

Encourage your leaders. Of course they can get a big head and become prideful like anyone else, but most are in need of hearing an honest encouraging word. Look for the things that you sense are the leading of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the Elders around you, and encourage them with the testimony of how it has ministered to you.

Consider dropping them a note or giving them a call. Everyone can be an encourager.

March 17

Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV) 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Jesus had spoken of thrones that the disciples would receive because they had left all to follow Him. The mother of James and John asked that they be on the ones closest to Jesus, the most prominent positions. Once again, Jesus must help them understand the difference between the kingdoms of men and the kingdom of God. He pointed out how Gentile authorities use their power to have their way, to control and push others around. Jesus said, "Not so among you." If you want to be great, serve others. God's way up is down. If you want to be first, be a slave. What you are with God is often the opposite of what you are among men.

Then Jesus used His own life as an example. He was not there seeking out people to serve Him. He was serving as many as He could, healing, teaching, feeding and setting free. Not only was He serving, but He was also about to lay down His life as the ultimate act of service to the Father and man. Do you want to be great, truly great? Give your life to God and see how He would have you serve Him and mankind. Just as He had a plan for the life of His Son, He has a plan for your life. We would all like to think that means importance in the eyes of men, but that is rarely the case. It often means humiliation in the eyes of men.

Consider: Is your life about serving, or being served?