Duty

Sometimes hope shines from an empty tomb.
Sometimes it sings in the quiet following a violent storm.  Sometimes hope whispers inside us while the storm still rages outside. Always, hope hardens the will as each day we perform our duty.

Duty is not a thing of sadness, nor is it a thing of parades and marching bands.
Duty is the quiet song of the sparrow in the morning, at noon, and in the late afternoon, as the worthless little brown birds fly joyfully from bush to bush, doing what God made them to do.

  • They don’t get the press that eagles get, high on their perches or soaring almost too high to see.
  • They don’t signal doom like circling buzzards or danger like the watching hawk.
  • They don’t form graceful lines as they fly like geese overland or like pelicans over the sea.
  • They do not make formations that we can discern.
  • They fly close to the ground in short hops, almost falling even as they fly.

Yet, the Lord told us to observe and learn from birds as examples of the Father’s excellent care. Sparrows are the least of these. We are certainly more valuable to God than sparrows!

He does not look for graceful arcs or impressive appearance or stunning skills.  God looks for the one who will do his/her duty, day after day, night after night.  The Lord prizes the one of the humble and contrite spirit who hits the mark and performs the job dependably at each opportunity.

What is our duty?
As His ultimate creation, each person has a duty to honor God.  We honor God

  • Through consistent and faithful prayer,
  • Through constant consumption of the Word of God,
  • Through continuing compassion for others, and
  • By walking through the doors He opens for us and refusing to enter those He closes to us.

Solomon’s Experiment
King Solomon had the resources and the time to conduct a grand experiment to determine the meaning of life.  Like a good researcher, he reported his findings in a thesis called “Ecclesiastes.”

  • When life is lived in vain, Solomon’s observations are bitter and realistic —it is like trying to eat the wind.
  • His conclusion is the hope that strengthens the heart—love God and keep His commands; this is the whole duty of man.

King Jesus lived that life for us.
He did His duty, taking up the cross of God’s love and justice and bearing it to Calvary.  His command to us signals the start of every day and shines like a bright star through every night—take up your cross—your duty—and follow me. That duty may seem small and little noted by others, but it is the brief flight of a sparrow that holds the intense attention of heaven. Each sparrow is an eagle in heaven’s eyes.

We should not underestimate the power of consistent living.  As we live faithfully each day, hope shines from an empty tomb, sings in the quiet following a violent storm, and whispers deep inside us while the storm still rages outside.

Scriptures:
Matthew 6:25-28; 33 RSV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? …But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
Matthew 16:24-27
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Isaiah 66:1-2
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD.”This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Acts 23:1-2
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; 12:13 AMP
I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied myself by heart and mind to seek and search out by [human]  wisdom all human activity under heaven. It is a miserable business which God has given to the sons of man with which to busy themselves. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a striving after the wind and a feeding on wind…All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to do my duty to You today. I will sing Your praise. I will respond to You with worship. I will read Your Word and listen prayerfully as I read. I will perform the tasks You have given me to do today. These things I will do with joy, anticipating Your reward both now and in eternity. Thank You for bearing Your cross of pain so that I can follow You, taking up my cross of joy in serving You. Show me my duty, Lord, make it clear. I will obey. In Your lovely name! Amen.

Song:
Give of Your Best to the Master
Words: Howard B. Groce; Music: Claribel

1. Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

2. Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

3. Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain
Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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