Jim Easton - "The Spirit of Service"

Matthew 20:20. "Then came to Him the Mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And He said unto her, "What wilt thou?" And she said unto Him, "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand and the other on the left in thy Kingdom." The influence that a good father and mother have on their children is a very precious thing, to put the right things before them, the things that a child will value more and more. The home-life is the base of this Kingdom. If Christianity does not begin at home, it has not begun at all. God’s approval in the home-life is the light to the world. God is concerned with our private life, men are concerned about what others see and think. God sees and knows all, and is very concerned with the home-life.  Here we have a mother who had a true love for her sons, she had a real vision. Here was a mother who was precious to the Kingdom, she had a true love for her children. She had a vision where true values lie. So she took her two sons and brought them to the feet of Jesus, different to what we see in our country, and we are thankful that the Lord is raising up mothers and fathers like this mother. A Mother has a very strong influence on her children, and if the right influence prevails in the home, we do not need to be afraid of the influence in the world.

In
Japan, from the time that the little ones are brought up, they are thinking that they should have the best kindergarten as they get older. They should have the best school, and then as they are nearing high school, they must have the best high school.  If they can send them to the top school in the country, this is their greatest ambition. This is all outside the Kingdom of God. It makes the children so proud and arrogant, and they can never be touched by the Gospel. Here was a mother who had a vision of true values - I want them to be in your Kingdom. I don’t care if they’re a nothing or nobody in this world, but so long as they are in your Kingdom. We are thankful today that these mothers are still in the Kingdom, who have a love for their children, and this is a love that God wants to put in the heart of every mother and father. People who realise the great riches of the eternal Kingdom. Jesus answered and said, "Are ye able to drink the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?" They say unto Him, "We are able." I have often wondered where did the sons get this confidence from - we are able. I am able to answer that from my own experience, because this confidence is what I saw in my own mother, We are able - there is nothing impossible with God, Jesus spoke of the suffering in the Will of God, it is not an easy path, and He spoke to them and said, "Are you able to share in these experiences and pass through them?" They said, "We are able." They had a confidence because of what they had seen in their mother.

The baptism is just for our cleansing, it is the provision of God for us. Jesus was baptised, but then there were other baptisms we read of. There are three baptisms in the Scriptures. The baptism of repentance is the first one, which washes away our past and brings us into newness of life, into a new future. When we sincerely repent we do not need to carry the burden of the past into the future but all the past is forgiven, and this will not be remembered again.  Then there is the second baptism of the Holy Ghost, and the baptism of fire, and these are all for cleansing.  There are two baptisms that will continue right to the end of the journey. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is when we submit to what God speaks to us, when we die to ourselves and submit to all the Will of God. In one part, Paul says to quench not the Spirit. This Spirit will lead us, will teach us, will tell us how we should act.  It will guide us, it will comfort us, and as we submit to the Spirit, it will cleanse us. Will keep us clean. Then there is the baptism of fire, this is a different experience. We have the example of gold tried in the fire, and we go through these tests, too.  There are some things that you cannot clean with water, some things cling to our human nature, and we need the experience of fire so these things can be removed, and we can see the image of God in the gold, all the dross is skimmed off.

Peter said, "Don’t be amazed when you go through the fiery trial, one day you will be thankful for all these experiences. God wants a clean people, and the blood of Christ will cleanse us from all sin."  (Matthew 20:25) "But Jesus called them unto Him and said, 'Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant.'" Living in the world we see men like this that think they are something, think they are great, but this means nothing to God. We can see that men like to exercise authority, but this only feeds the pride in the heart of man, and this is seen everywhere in the world.

Jesus said, "You will see these things in the world, but they are not to be so among you, that is not the standard in God’s kingdom, but he, that wants to be great, let him be your servant." There is something nice about a servant. This teaches us service. Here I notice that you have a "server’s board."  In Japan we call it a "privilege list," and it's nice to see the youngest amongst us go up to see if their name is on the list.  They love to serve, and when I was young, it was the thrill of my life to have my name on there. When I was young, I was cleaning pots, and then later washing dishes.  I never got any further than that, but others were water carriers and some were chopping wood, and the old men all have their place too, enjoying their little place of service. There is joy in service, God’s blessing is upon the spirit of service. We are living in a different Kingdom, we have a different Master, we have the spirit of service. This breaks down all pride, all the lofty thoughts.

We can read together of Jacob, his life is just an example of service, he was serving Laban for 20 years, and it tells us in Genesis of what happened. Genesis 31, verse 6, he gives his testimony and says, "And ye know that with all my power I have served your father, and your father hath deceived me and changed my wages 10 times but God suffered him not to hurt me." Jacob had come down with just his staff in his hand, but now after 20 years of just serving he had become two bands, and we read of all the possessions that he had, in spite of his wages being changed ten times. God suffered Laban not to hurt him, he had a difficult master. Sometimes we have difficult masters.  In the New Testament, we are taught to serve all masters as though we are serving God. We have opportunity to serve wherever we are, and this is acceptable to God. This invites God’s blessing. After 20 years, he was able to say that God had blessed him, he lost nothing. He was rich in all the treasures of the kingdom.

Joseph is another one who also had the spirit of service, and he learned that from his father. Joseph had a good influence of his father and mother. Joseph was told by his father how God had dealt with him when he was serving Laban, and he was able to tell Joseph that nothing had hurt him, and now it was Joseph’s time. Jacob’s experience helped Joseph. First he was learning to serve his father, then he was learning to serve his brethren, and we know how he took the provision to his brethren, and he was sold into Egypt. But the underlying thought to his success was this:  that I fear God. Where did he get this? I know where I got it - it was, in my father and mother’s home. Joseph had seen this in his home, and he said, "I fear God."  He was brought into Potiphar’s house and he served in that house, and God caused all that he did to prosper. He was serving Potiphar just as though he was serving God. Then in prison, whatever was done was done by Joseph and God caused all that he did to prosper. He did not lose heart, and he did not say, "I don’t want to serve the Jailer."  No, he felt that by serving the Jailer he was serving God, he was keeping the spirit of service, that of a servant.  Then we know that God’s time came, and he was raised up to become next to Pharoah. We know how he was united with his brethren, and the reason why he had such forgiveness is because of what had gone before. That meeting he had with his brethren was a memorable occasion. In his past life, he had served God and he had learned to fear God, and he was able to say those words, "My service is not unto men."  His service was unto the Lord. We need to remember that our service is unto God, and if we realise this, we can’t hold a grudge, we can’t hold an unforgiving spirit, because we know this will only get us out of the Way of God quicker than anything we know. Joseph wept aloud, and if there is anyway we can approach a brother or sister it is with a soft spirit. He said, "Come near to me."

Sometimes people forgive and they said, "I’ll forgive but I don’t want to see you again, get away from me."  But the salvation of life is willing to go the second mile, "I will nourish you and your children too."  He did not go halfway, he went the second mile, the third mile. Later Joseph was so grieved that his brethren did not believe in him, he had forgiven them so completely. In Luke, chapter 10, we have the right order of service.  Mary had the spirit of service. This matter of coming to the Master each day - what do you want me to do today? This is the spirit that Mary had, and she was able to have the spirit that Jesus praised.  This is a lesson that I learned early in life. When I was 11, before I went to school I had a cow to milk.  When I got up to milk the cow, there was someone who had been up a long time before me. My mother was there, listening for the Master’s voice. She had six children, and always there was somebody staying with us.  If it was not the servants of God, it was some of the friends, and she did everything herself.  She had the right order to service - she was getting bread for her soul, and she was getting power to be able to serve. This is the order of service - first listening to the Master’s voice, and then serving with a meek and quiet spirit. When this is done, we are not so easily riled when things disturb us. Mary taught how to serve.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we read of Priscilla and Aquilla.  They were servants to the Church, they were helpers. They served the church in the Kingdom.  They were having a home where God’s servants could rest - it’s a wonderful privilege to have a worthy home. Abraham sat at the door during the heat of the day, he was making sure that nothing could come into that home that would disturb. Good when we realise the order and control of the home, it is not an easy thing, but it is a great benefit to the Kingdom to have a worthy home, to not see or hear anything there that would bring a wrong influence. We all have the privilege to be servants.  We think of the little maid in Naaman’s home - she was a nobody, she had a position that not many would choose, but she was chosen by God to be a princess in that home. We think of Anna, she was another princess. At the age of 80, she was serving in the temple, day and night. She was serving in the Kingdom there, praying for others. We read of Solomon, that in his Kingdom he had many princes there. When the Queen of Sheba came, she said the half had never been told, that the servants were so happy, those who were standing there, those who were doing nothing - just waiting. Sometimes to wait is harder than to serve. It is sometimes so easy to get busy with other things while we are waiting, and we think that when we are busy we are serving our Master, but we may not be serving Him at all. We need to learn to serve in the Kingdom of God
. Jesus gave the example. He knew what was in the heart of Judas. Jesus could have humiliated Judas in front of the others but He told his Disciples afterwards that "I did not come to be served, but to serve." He humbled Himself, He took upon Himself the form of a servant and He said to them, "Ye call me Lord and Master. I have washed your feet." We have so many opportunities to serve all the members of the Church, the body of Christ, and what we do to another member we do to ourselves. If we cut our finger off, we do hurt to ourselves, and this is so in the Kingdom: whatever we do for others, we do for ourselves. This is the standard in God’s Kingdom: "I came not to be served, but to serve." The spirit of service brings the blessing of God.