Leading By Serving


Jesus and his students left that place and went on through Galilee (121).  Along the way, Jesus continued instructing his students:  “I am going to be handed over to men who will kill me. Three days later, however, I will rise to life again.” But his students didn’t understand exactly what he meant, and they were a little afraid to ask him.

Nevertheless, as they walked on, Jesus’ students debated as to which of them would be the greatest, after Jesus was gone.  Jesus was aware of this, so when they broke their journey in Capernaum, he asked his students, “What were you debating as we walked?” They were ashamed to answer him.

Then Jesus sat down, gathered the twelve witnesses, and taught them: “If you want to be the greatest from God’s perspective, you must take the lowest place from the world’s perspective.  You must be a servant to everyone in the world.”


Jesus took a child in his arms and said to them, “You must even be a servant to little children.  Anyone who welcomes a child in my name welcomes me.  Anyone who welcomes me welcomes God.”


John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man who was expelling evil spirits from people in your name; we told him to stop, because he’s not part of our group.” Jesus responded, “Don’t try to stop him.  It is not evil to do such a miracle in my name. Anyone who is not openly against us is effectively for us. Anyone who simply gives you a drink of water — because you are my friend — will be rewarded by God.

“It is true that God will often use fire to purify your lives here on earth, even as you use salt to purify your temple sacrifices.  But when the salt is bad, the sacrifice is impure.  Be salt for one another; make each other thirsty for more of God.  This is the way to avoid useless debates & live in peace with one another.”

Holy Spirit, please help us to love serving people in Jesus’ name.

(121) Matthew 17:22-18:14, Mark 9:30-50, Luke 9:43b-50

The Mission: A Cross For Everyone

Jesus concluded giving his witnesses their mission (100):

Don’t think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I came to bring division to the world. Your testimonies about me will set family members against one another; sometimes, your worst enemies will be the members of your own family. Whoever loves family members more than me cannot be my friend.

And whoever doesn’t take up his own personal cross and follow in my steps cannot be my friend. If you try to preserve your life on earth, you will ultimately lose it; but if you will lose your life on earth for my sake, you will have life preserved forever in heaven.


Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes God who sent me.

Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward.  Whoever welcomes God’s servant because he is God’s servant, will share in his reward.

And whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of my students, because he is my student, will certainly receive a reward.


When Jesus had finished instructing them, the witnesses went out & did exactly as they had been told.

  • They preached that people should turn away from their sins.
  • They expelled many evil spirits.
  • They anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

God, please help me to love You, even when family & friends reject me for that.

(100) Matthew 10:34-42, Mark 6:12-13, Luke 9:6

The Mission: Serpents & Doves

Then Jesus called his twelve chosen witnesses together and gave them authority to expel evil spirits and to heal every disease & every sickness.  These twelve men would be sent out in pairs by Jesus, with the following instructions (97):


Go to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Tell them that God’s kingdom is open to them right now!  They can serve God as their king right now!

Restore health to the sick, even those with leprosy; restore life to the dead; and expel evil spirits.  You have been freely given God’s kingdom, so freely give God’s kingdom to others.

Don’t carry any money; don’t carry an extra shirt or shoes or a walking stick. Trust God to provide what you need for your work.

When you come to a town, find people who welcome you, and stay with them until you leave that town. Bring peace to every house in which you stay; if the people in that house welcome you, let your peace remain with them; but if they don’t welcome you, then keep your peace.

If any home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the evil people of Sodom and Gomorrah, than to the people of that town.


I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So you must be careful as serpents, but also carefree as doves.

God, please help me to love trusting You as I serve You.

(97) Matthew 10:1 & 10:5-16, Mark 6:7-11, Luke 9:1-5


That evening, Jesus said to his students, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” So they left the crowd, got in a boat & started off (93).

Suddenly a strong wind blew up, and the waves began to spill over into the boat & to fill it with water. Jesus was in the back of the boat, asleep with his head on a pillow. His students woke him up and pleaded, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to die?!”

So Jesus stood up and commanded the wind & the waves, “Peace. Be still.”


Immediately, the wind died down, and the waters were calmed!


Then Jesus said to his students, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”

But his students were more distressed by the power that Jesus had displayed, than they had been by the power of the storm!  To one another they said, “How is it that even the wind and the waves obey him?”

Powerful God, please help me to love & respect Your power.

(93) Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25

The Mountain: Anger

Jesus began giving examples of the spirit of God’s word (59):

God’s word says, do not murder another person.

But I say, do not even indulge in anger toward another person. That’s the same as committing murder in your heart!


So, if you’re about to worship God in any way, and you remember an unsettled dispute with another person, first go & make peace with that person, and then return to worship God.  In other words, worship God by making peace!


For example, if someone brings a lawsuit against you and is taking you to court, settle the dispute with him before you get to court. Make that a priority before God.

God, please help me to love being reconciled with my opponents.

(59) Matthew 5:21-26

The Mountain: Blessings

One day, Jesus led the crowds up a small mountain, where he sat down. His closest students gathered around him and he began to teach them (57):

God wants to bless you, as you bless other people:

• When you admit your self-inflicted spiritual poverty, then you will begin to be aware of spiritual poverty in other people, too.  Deliverance from spiritual poverty comes in serving God as king.

• When you mourn for your self-inflicted spiritual poverty, then you will begin to notice when other people experience similar mourning.  Comfort in mourning is found only in God.

• When you humble yourself before God — admitting that He is God, and you’re not — then you become aware of how humility can draw all people closer to God.  In humility, God releases us from being enslaved to the world, and makes us inheritors of far more than the world has to offer.


• When you desire to live the right way, God’s way, then you will begin to be aware when other people desire to live God’s way, too.  Only in the family of God can we find fulfillment for all these desires.

• When you are merciful toward other people — when you hold back from giving them what you think they deserve — then you will experience a more profound appreciation of God’s infinite mercy toward you.


• When you try to focus on God’s pure heart — instead of being preoccupied with your own impure heart — then you will become more aware of God’s preoccupation with purifying the hearts of all people.

• When you begin to experience God’s peace, then you will become aware of how desperately other people long for peace with God.  God wants to use you as a peacemaker.

Jesus added a warning & a powerful promise: These new attitudes & behaviors will bring you troubles in this life, but God will greatly reward your faithfulness in the next life.

Then Jesus returned to his main point:

  • When you live for God, you’re like salt, which makes other people thirsty for God.
  • When you live for God, you’re like light, which helps other people see God in the darkness.

Living God, please help me to love living for You.

(57) Matthew 5:1-16


In the fields near Bethlehem, there were some shepherds spending the night, taking care of their flocks (34).


Suddenly, an angel of God appeared to them, and the glory of God was shining all around them! They were terrified, but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all people. Today, in David’s town, your Savior was born — Jesus the Christ! You will know this is true when you find the baby wrapped snugly & lying in a feeding trough.”

Then a great army of angels appeared in the night sky, singing praises to God! “Glory to God in heaven, and peace to his people on earth!”


When the angels had gone, the shepherds said to one another, “We have to go to Bethlehem & see this!” So they hurried to Bethlehem, and they found Mary & Joseph, and they saw the baby lying in the feeding trough.


The shepherds told Joseph & Mary what the angel had said about the child.  Mary didn’t understand it all, but she didn’t dismiss it either.  Instead, she kept all these things in her heart & thought of them often.

The shepherds went back to their flocks, praising God for all they had heard & seen.  Everything had happened just as the angel had told them it would.  As the news spread, people were amazed at the shepherds’ claim that Jesus was the Messiah whom God had promised in the inspired Jewish scriptures!

A week later, when the time came for the baby to be circumcised, he was named Jesus, the very name which the angel had given for him, before Mary became pregnant.

Glorious God, please help me to love thanking You every day for sending Jesus.

(34) Luke 2:8-21