40 Days in God's Presence
Everyone who ventures into God's presence is changed forever. Through these moving devotions, you will see Your Savior through the eyes of people who interacted with Him in dramatic ways. Like them, you will leave His presence transformed.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is an inspirational speaker and best-selling author who has authored or co-authored nine books and has written articles for Home Life, Discipleship Journal, Family Circle, Marriage Partnership, Woman's Touch and Focus on the Family. She has also been an inspirational newspaper columnist and church deaf interpreter. Rebecca and her husband, Larry, have two married daughters and sons-in-law and three grandchildren. They make their home in Greenville, Texas.
The God of Kitchen Duty
By Rebecca Barlow Jordan
CBN.com All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. – Acts 6:15
Many would have chafed under the assignment of “kitchen duty.” Their ideas and aspirations of doing great things for God would definitely not include waiting tables or distributing food to some complaining, jealous women. Can you hear their protests? “I was made for better things!” “What am I doing in this hot, smelly kitchen?”
But not Stephen. Acts describes Stephen as a man “full of God’s grace and power” (Acts 6:8). The new church in Antioch had chosen some men who had the touch of God on their lives to minister to the widows of their church. Their appointed duties would free the apostles to accomplish their work of preaching and teaching of the Word. Stephen was one of those men assigned to “kitchen duty.”
Oswald Chambers says:
Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine …. The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever …. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
The sixteenth-century Brother Lawrence, who called himself “the lord of all pots and pans,” initially fought against his kitchen duty, but God soon changed his heart. He realized the power of submitting to God’s Spirit: “The time of business,” he said, “does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” (Brother Lawrence and Teresa of Avila, The Practice of the Presence of God, The Way of Perfection)
Stephen must have possessed the same powerful secret. Soon after he accepted his assignment, Scripture records Stephen doing “great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). Stephen’s words and great wonders angered his enemies, and they began arguing with him. But just as in similar conversations with Jesus himself, these Jewish leaders could not refute Stephen’s wisdom or “the spirit by whom he spoke” (Acts 6:10). The joy of Jesus shone through. A holy glow appeared around the face of Stephen, giving him the appearance of an angel that even his enemies noticed.
Incensed further, they trumped up blasphemy charges. Only after listening to Stephen expound the entire gospel message in a nutshell, from Abraham to Jesus, did Stephen’s enemies explode with the same fury as some did when crucifying Jesus.
But God looked down on his servant Stephen, who was still full of the Spirit, and allowed him a glimpse of his glory. Not only that, the Bible records Jesus not sitting at the right hand of God – as do most passages of Scripture since Jesus’ resurrection – but Jesus standing as if to applaud and honor Stephen’s faithfulness (Acts 7:55).
Many of God’s children have exclaimed from their deathbeds of suffering, only moments before their passing, their delight in seeing a great light, angels, loved ones waiting to see them – and even Jesus himself. But in Stephen’s case, Jesus was standing to welcome Stephen home. And Stephen was so caught up in the moment, he described exactly what he was seeing to all who could hear.
This further fueled the Jewish leaders’ anger and accusations of blasphemy. They had listened to Stephen quote Scripture, pointing out their refusal to believe Jesus and proving their guilt in Jesus’ death. Not wanting to accept any blame in Jesus’ crucifixion, the Jewish leaders had Stephen stoned.
Stephen’s words – and his face – revealed the secret of his holy boldness: when God’s Spirit consumes us, we are like actors playing out our divinely assigned part in heaven’s dramatic history. Stephen enjoyed God immensely and knew God powerfully. I wonder how much of that joy and power grew out of his willing “kitchen duty.”
God’s Holy Spirit continued the work he had already begun in Stephen: from dishpan hands to the face of an angel. And with Stephen’s death, the world suddenly mourned the loss of the first Christian martyr.
When God captures our hearts and we understand his greater purpose in our lives, the most ordinary drudgery will not repel us. It will actually enhance our enjoyment of this powerful God of Kitchen Duty.
Powerful works and personal joy begin with submissive hearts.
Holy Spirit, fill me with an unquenchable desire to turn ordinary moments into extraordinary lessons. Lord, I surrender to the work you have called me to do – whether in a palace or a kitchen.
What “kitchen duty” has God called you to do?
Excerpted from 40 Days in God's Presence: A Devotional Encounter by Rebecca Barlow Jordan, Copyright 2006. Reprinted by permission of Warner Books, Inc, New York, NY. All rights reserved. For more information you can visit: www.twbookmark.com/christian.
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