Love Always, Serve First, Listen Well

As a new or experienced volunteer, the days leading up to a Legacy Retreat can be quite nerve-wracking. There is a lot of information to read through prior to the retreat and then abundantly more poured at you during the volunteer meeting (the night before families arrive). Beyond all that information, I knew this devotion would also be good to deliver.

I was inspired to do this devotion from a sermon my pastor, Brandon Bruce (Church Experience), gave back in February of this year. I actually wrote “IoH Devotion” on my sermon notes and held on to these, you know, in case I ever actually got the courage to give a devotion. I kept it all this time waiting for the right time to share, and God made it abundantly clear to me that now is the time.

On my sermon notes, I wrote several things, but there are three I want to share with you. If you remember nothing else from this devotion, please remember this:

1.    Love Always
2.    Serve First
3.    Listen Well

In Galatians 5:13-15 Paul says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And then in Deuteronomy 6:5 we are also called to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

How do we do that? How do we love God? It’s easy for us to see and experience love here on Earth. We can love our spouse, our children, family and friends, those in the physical world. But how do we love God?

Just as it says in Galatians…we serve one another humbly in love.

And nobody served better than Jesus. Mark 10:45 reminds us: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

As followers of Jesus, we are called to do the same. To serve. And I love the order in which this verse is written. First, He did not come to be served. It wasn’t about Jesus. He came to serve. And by not making it about Him, by serving, He makes it about God. Isn’t that neat!? We can do the same. We aren’t here to be served, we are here to serve. We are more blessed when we serve than when we are served. Isn’t that great?! It’s not about us. Like, what a relief that it’s not about us!

I’m going to ask you to do something our pastor has us do from time to time, something I’m not a huge fan of, but I’m going to ask you to participate.

My pastor recently had us all say out loud, “It’s not about me.” So, I want you all to do the same!

So good! Right? Like literally, thank God it’s not about me. It’s like a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. It’s such a good reminder. I have started my day with this statement every morning and it’s honestly quite refreshing.

Okay, now to the third point from my sermon notes, which is to listen well. James 1:19 says,  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…”

There will probably come a time during the retreat when the family you are serving will open up to you or just simply want to talk. There will also probably be times when they share something with you in which you are caught off guard with no response. When that happens, just remember we are called to be quick to listen and slow to speak. If you’re struggling for words to say, that’s probably the Spirit prompting you to bite your tongue. Oftentimes these families just want to be heard, someone to listen to them who genuinely cares.

The same applies to God. We are often quick to come to God in prayer, with requests, pleads, desperation, but are we taking the time to listen to what He has to say to us? God wants to be heard too.

So…Love Always. Serve First. Listen Well. I wanted to rephrase these three things based on sermons and other devotionals I’ve heard over the years. Here’s what I would say:

1.    Love is a verb. The world sees love as a feeling, but we cannot feel loved unless we are loved. And how do we love? We serve.
2.    Serving doesn’t work unless you do.
3.    Though we are reminded to listen well in God’s word, God also prompts us of how to do this through physical reminders in that we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.

I want to end with something kind of off topic to this, but very relevant to IoH. I just finished reading an incredible book which will go unnamed so I don’t spoil it, but in the story there is a family and the wife gets diagnosed with cancer. The doctor asks her if she wants to know a timeline, and the woman quickly says no. As a woman of God she knows that the doctor has no clue how long she will live, only God does.

The story goes on and one day the woman finds herself in the mall, where she runs into a friend who says she’s so sorry to hear about her terminal cancer.

The wife quickly ends that conversation, drives home in tears, calls her husband to the garage and asks him, “Am I terminal?”

The husband’s narrative goes on to say, “Terminal is a harsh word when used in the context of death and not one we’d ever uttered aloud. But according to Webster’s, it’s also a place people pass through on their way to somewhere else.”

I just loved that.

Okay, let’s pray.

Dear God, thank you so much for the vision you put on Kristen and Deric’s hearts to start Inheritance of Hope. Thank you for each and every person in this ministry. Lord I pray that despite any anxieties or nervousness that we feel, that you would remind us to Love Always, Serve First, and Listen Well. It’s in Your name we pray. Amen.

Lara Milligan is a Legacy Retreat® Coordinator with Inheritance of Hope. She originally shared this devotional with the May 2018 Orlando Legacy Retreat® team.