E-votional - Serving Faithfully
November 9, 2004


“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.”

2 Thessalonians 2:17(NRSV)


After 13 years Dantes, the main character in The Count of Monte Cristo escapes, becomes wealthy, and then seeks revenge on those who ruined his life. Dantes struggles deeply with his belief in God, moving from a simple faith to a loss of faith, and finally to a mature faith. During his years in prison, Dantes' makes friends with a wonderful priest, whose godly influence has a huge impact on Dantes' spiritual understanding. Together they dig a tunnel to escape, but just before it's completed, a cave-in injures the priest. As he lies dying on the stone floor of his cell, the priest gives Dantes a treasure map that he'd hidden all his years in prison, which ends up making Dantes wealthy. But it's the priest's final words that stick with Dantes forever.
"When they asked me about the treasure of Sparta, I lied," the priest confesses.
"You lied?" Dantes asks.
"I'm a priest, not a saint." [Then he tells Dantes how to use the map to find the treasure.]
"When you escape," the priest continues, "use the treasure for good. Only for good."
"No," Dantes says angrily. "I will surely use it for my revenge."
"This is your final lesson. Do not commit the crime—[the priest struggles for a breath] Do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, 'Vengeance is mine.'"
Dantes says, "But I don't believe in God."
"It doesn't matter," the priest responds with a smile. "He believes in you."
Moments later the priest dies, and Dantes escapes. Not only do the priest's words help Dantes discover the treasure—by the end of the story they help Dantes rediscover the God who is faithful even when we are faithless. God believes in the worth of fallen humanity. As Romans 8:31 says, "God is for us."

Hear the Good News, If God is for us, none can be against us! The challenge is to not serve as our own greatest antagonist. You see, we are the ones who hinder our lives and our faith, it is not someone else. Therefore we need to understand, that in life, we are called to serve, serve faithfully, and allow God to make a difference in the world through you.
If we are to step out of the trap of being our worst enemy, the first task is to put others first and make a difference in someone else’s life. We make a difference through Useful Service. This is when we realize we have a calling and a use. You and I have a purpose in life, can you believe that? You should, in fact you probably already know this. Our calling, is that something from deep inside of us that beckons us to respond. Our calling is the longing for completeness in the world. In terms of Vocations, our calling is that thing that we ought to do with the rest of our life. You and I might do something well, a couple of things for that matter, but there really is one thing that grabs your heart and pulls at you. This is your calling. Teachers, Doctors, People in the service industry, folks in the industrial world. People who create and people who fix. People who solve and others who guard. This is that one thing, that when you are doing it, nothing else matters. Often times our frustrations stem from an internal conflict of what we are called to do and being put in a different spot. This is like putting a square peg in a round hole. It just does not work. When it happens, the result is discomfort and frustration. The key here is useful service. Our service turns from frustrating work to useful service when we allow the Spirit to lead us and direct us in what we do. Basically, when we introduce God to our life and to our calling, what we not only bring order to our life, but we fortify our vocation. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Our Challenge in life is to explore and embrace the way God is leading us. Don’t give up on yourself, God Doesn’t. This endeavor takes Faith. We are talking about faithful service. You know, being led is such a tough thing to do. People who are more interested in leading rather than being led say, when you follow, the view never changes, but when you are the lead dog, it is always changing. Well, when we are talking about God leading us, there are a couple of simple things for you not only hear, but understand.
When we read the Thessalonians passage again, it become clear that:
• God Chooses you
• God Uses You
• You will Make a difference

Thanks be to God!


   Gracious God, thank You for calling me to love and serve You. Through Your love we are all intimately linked to one another. Help me to accept not only Your direction in my life, but also the service of others. Strengthen me to serve for Your greater purposes. Thank You for all You have done and all You continue to do. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Grace & Peace

Rev. David Banks
First United Methodist Church of Onalaska
PO Box 687
Onalaska, TX 77360
(936) 646-5859


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