Serve Only One

Matthew 6:24

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

It started before I had cancer. My friend David and I began to go through a daily Bible study called “The Walk of Repentance”. This study was one we had done while at Pure Life Ministries back in 2008. We both needed to return to a closer walk with the Lord, and felt this was a good place to start. That study was interrupted in May of 2016 by my
cancer, and picked up again in May of 2017. Every day we would text back and forth what we had learned that day about ourselves, and a short prayer for the both of us to do better.

We finished that book and did a study on Psalm 119, then a study about the psalms in general. Now we are back to that book and into week 8. After this book, we are planning to go through a book called “The Seeking Heart” by Fenelon. This is another book that greatly affected David and me while at PLM. It is a book of short letters he wrote to a lady named Madame Guyone back in early 17th century France. Fenelon speaks a lot about dying to self and humility, and I needed that in a huge way. The interesting thing about this book is that it rarely uses scripture, but is full of scriptural thought. Our plan is to take one short letter at a time and search the corresponding scriptures.

During these studies of ours, I have been using a Bible that my Father-in-law bought me way back in 1979. He bought it when I first went to the tent meeting in Fredonia, Iowa. My wife Janeen and I had been married for 10 months and we both decided to get baptized under the tent that year. Janeen was 8 months pregnant at the time. After the baptismal service my Father-in-lar bought this Bible from a vendor there. It was a Thompson Chain reference bible and it really touched my heart. If you are not familiar with this Bible, it contains very intricate reference in the columns that link together similar scriptures and thoughts throughout the Bible, like a chain.

This Bible became my only study Bible and I started making notes in it with zeal. I used one of those four color Bic pens most of the time, making notes from my own personal study and from sermons I heard. I spent long hours reading and studying things out, wanting to know about God and Jesus. I read through the Bible in a year two or three times, studying out verses that intrigued me. It was a time of great awakening in God’s word for me and formed the basis of my spiritual walk.

As I used this Bible for these studies, I slowly became aware that my love for God’s word is still there, but I don’t spend near the time in the word that I did back then. When I do read, I only read what the study asks me to and I make my notes in the pages of the study book. I really don’t study things further unless I am preparing a message to preach on Sunday. I don’t do word studies unless it is for the same purpose. I have come to realize that I have become too busy to spend more time in the type of study I did as a new Christian.

You might ask how this fits into the scripture for this lesson on not serving two masters. It is really very simple. I now take my time to do those things that I want to do and much of them include money-making duties. I work for a company that does maps of the rural farmland in the Midwest. They are called plat and directory maps, and I work on the plat side, which shows who owns the land by section, township and county. My job is to make corrections to the previous year’s maps. I am also an independent agent for Aflac, but this work has been curtailed by my cancer. I still have a tendency to be too tired to drive out of town, so I have not returned to that work and at this point don’t know for sure if I will be able to. I am also starting on another book about my cancer journey.

The last book I wrote, called “The A.S.K. Principle” did take me into the word quite often and it was a lot of fun pouring through the bible to find appropriate verses on prayer. A lot of the scriptures were already there from the original study done back in 1990. I just had to look those up again and a few more for good measure. I had learned a lot since then, and other scriptures fit into the study nicely. I started blogging this book back in January of 2017, and by early November had the book to the publisher.

The time I spend in God’s word today is minimal. I have been thinking a lot about that over the last month and realize I am trying to serve two masters. On the one hand, I am in the word every day with this study, but I am not taking notes for myself about the things I read, and I am not looking into things with the zeal I once had. I am not taking notes on sermons that I hear as often as I used to. I am torn between my time of work and of things of this world and spending more time with God.

I also see that I don’t approach His word the same as I used to. Before it was with a fascination of the things of God because I was a new Christian and I was hungry to learn more about how everything fit together. How did the New Testament tie into the Old Testament? Why is knowing about the OT sacrifices and temple so important to my understanding of Christ’s sacrifice? How do the history books have any significance in my life today? I approached the word as a child wanting more and more understanding and knowledge all the time. God honored that and has given me much wisdom and knowledge in His word.

But now I think I know a lot, and do not approach the scriptures as I used to. Other things take my time up and I am beginning to understand this verse more. I am serving two masters, and my love for the scripture is not as fresh and new as it was. I have not come to the point that I hate the scripture, but I must admit it is a chore to sit and just read it anymore. I read what I must and stop there. I am not hungry for the meat, or thirsty for the living water. I am a little stagnant in my growth and knowledge of His word. I need to change course.

Part of this is due to the internet I think. Web sites like Bible gateway have made it easy to look up scriptures and a search on various subjects has made it convenient to search scripture by typing my subject in and seeing what comes up. I don’t have to do a lot of reading and searching in the actual Bible anymore if I don’t want to. I don’t have to walk through the scriptures and pour through cross references like I once did. At the touch of a button it is all right there. Is this as good as flipping through the pages and searching for the answers? Actually it might be better from a thoroughness standpoint. But it is not better for me. It is just more convenient.

Jesus said we must become as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). One of the things this statement says to me is that I need to approach God’s word as a child, with a hunger and thirst to know more and experience more. A burning desire to get to the bottom of what this means for me, and a faith that accepts what God is telling me and make it a practice in my life. A child is always on a quest for knowledge and understanding. As adults we can come to a place where we think we have that wrapped up, and we stop growing.

I am caught up in work so much that I don’t take time to just study the word for myself. I need to change this. I must spend more time just reading His word and making notes for myself. Studying out truths again that I once did. I must let the scripture speak to me again, as if I had not read it before. As a child. I cannot serve two masters. I want to make God the master I serve. I must make a living and this honors God. But I must not neglect His word.

Doing studies like this one online have been a help to me in this quest. I have to look things up again that I have studied in the past. I have to get into the word to write these posts. I may not use a lot of scripture here, but I listen to God when I write things down/ I always hope that what I write will speak to you about your walk with the Lord. Are you taking the time in scripture each day that you need to? Are you learning each day, or are you stagnant in your walk? Can you read the scripture with fresh eyes each time, or do you bring all the previous learning with you and think you know this or that verse and what it means?

Today I challenge you, as I also challenge myself, to start a new chapter in your walk with the Lord. If you have been taking the time to really study His word and take notes on what you learn that is good. Continue to do that. If you, like me, have been coasting through the scriptures and not taking real time to study them out, than start to do that today. Start with a new book of the Bible that you haven’t read in a while and ask God to open up your heart to His spirit so that he can guide you into all truth. Make notes and underline scripture. Make this a priority at the same time each day. For me it will be in the morning before the cares of the day take over.

This is a new day! Give all you have to God and make the most of it. Serve only Him, and love Him more every minute. He will not disappoint you!

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2 thoughts on “Serve Only One

  1. isaiah46ministries

    I agree. I received a magazine unfrequented about bible study. I planned to throw it away, but started reading it. It had a interview with J.I. Packer, whom I did not know, ne re having been to seminary. Douglas knew him, though. The piece named a book called Knowing God. I ordered it for my Kindle and I am loving it.

    What is exciting is that I have been praying for forgiveness from God because I spend so much time on other things, I just glance at the Bible, unless I am preaching. I feel as you do, and now I am committed to word studies, which Douglas has tried to get me to do for nearly all of our marriage. I just study what I need to preach and I do read a lot of scriptures following so many Christian bloggers. But, it is not enough. I am now reading Blackaby’s Experiencing God, something else I only read on my weeks to teach.

    It is amazing and wonderful to know that we are not alone in our struggles. Somehow reading of your events makes me understand that we all can get sidetracked an that I don’t have to beat myself up so much. Just focus more on the things of God and less on other aspects of life, especially as I am retired and have lots of free time. Thanks, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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