Each of us has hobbies or activities that we enjoy, and because we enjoy them they tend to take precedence over other activities of lesser significance. Likewise, we all possess a drive or determination to do those things tht are most important and enjoyable to us. You might recall one such activity or hobby in your own life such as hunting, sewing, fishing, gardening, singing, reading, cooking, or spending precious time with family and friends. Other activities we enjoy, from a spiritual perspective, may include Bible reading, praying, praising God in song, teaching, giving, and serving. Do we spend more time or focus on any one of these activities than another? As with our hobbies and other activities, serving the Lord requires motivation and determination. It requires initiative and effort. It is a never ending commitment. Let us consider the idea of joyful service to Jesus. Others, and you least of all.

Notice Jos. 22:5 the instruction to serve the Lord wholeheartedly: "But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His Ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to HIm, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." An option or alternative to serving Jesus is not given, however we are aware of trhe consequences of not doing so, (1 Chron. 28:9; Psa. 9:17). Our service to the Lord should take precedence over all other activities in our lives. We should desire to joyfully serve the Lord and that desire should supercede our interest or involvement in extra-curricular activities and hobbies. The Lord desire His children to serve Him. In Exo. 8,9,10, He speaks to Pharaoh through Moses saying: "... Let My people go, that they may serve Me." Serving the Lord whenever we feel like it or on our own time is unacceptable, wouldn't you agree? If we are serving the Lord with all our heart and all our soul as Jos. 22:5 suggests, then we are constantly serving Him and doing so joyfully. The Psalmist says in Psa. 37:5 to "Commit your way to the Lord..." so when we commit to something we carry it into action or follow through with it. Never with our hobbies or activities of interest do we settle for mediocrity. The same should be true of our attitude toward serving God Almighty.

On the premise that serving the Lord in our lives is foremost, we will become inclined to the idea of serving others. Once we are committed to serving the Lord, serving and helping others become more natural and innate. While our society views serving fellow mankind as a burden, true Christians realize it's just another way of serving and glorifying Christ. Just as there is scrifice and commitment involved with serving Jesus, there is sacrifice and commitment involved with serving others. In Rom. 12:3-8, Paul alludes to the fact that each of us is given different "measures of faith," different "talents," or different "gifts." The point Paul makes is we are to use whatever gifts God has graciously given us to serve Him. Yes, perhaps we are serving others with our gifts or talents, but in serving others we are ultimately serving Jesus. Paul adds another dimension to our duty of service in Gal. 5:13, that we "...through love serve one another." Are we joyfully practicing what Paul has commanded? Have we prioritized our lives such that our service to God supercedes all else? To fail in this regard is to miss out on the privilege and blessing of serving Jesus and others, but more so to jeopardize our spiritual relationship with Him.

We serve ourselves best when our service to the Lord and to others precede our own hobbies and activities of interest, as long as those things do not interfere with our service to Jesus and to others. This becomes more challenging especially when those of the world would have us to think otherwise -- where the focus is more on self and me as opposed to Jesus. We must keep our priorities and activities in check and not be overtaken with more than we can handle, whether it be a hobby, extra-curricular activity or work. I recall a cliche which my father stressed through my adolescent years. "Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last." My hope and prayer is for each of us to serve in that manner. Only then will we know the true meaning of JOY.

By Ed Whittlesey via Gospel Power, Vol. 16, No. 44, Nov. 1, 2009.

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