Read: Isaiah 32:1-4
Psalm 100:1-2


It must have been a dream. I was sitting on this bench
in Central Park. Apart from the sunshine and the
birds, the place was deserted. A chap came along and sat
down on a bench a few feet away and started reading his


Then a man came up from Woodward Avenue with a weary step.
When he got to the bench where I was sitting he stopped
and looked at me as if he were waiting for me to say


"What are you doing?" I asked him.

"Serving God" was his reply.

"Serving God is not easy, my friend", he
continued. "As a matter of fact, I'm very
tired today. I've been out late every
night this week helping people and going
to fellowship.


Still my heart is heavy for I know I'm
not doing enough. Right now I'm trying
to decide whether I should go to a meeting
or make some hospital calls."

With that the weary servant of God trudged off toward
Washington Boulevard.


From behind his newspaper the stranger on the next bench
said, "That man isn't serving God. He's serving a bad


A woman with a worried face came hurrying toward my

bench. She too stopped and looked at me as if she were

waiting for me to speak.


"What are you doing, M'am?" I asked.


"Serving God" she replied. "And today
I'm all confused. My neighbor wants me
to go to a Bible Study. My mother-in-law

expects me to come over and rub her
back. I'm returning these slacks to
Walmart because my husband says they're
too expensive and the sisters in the
fellowship where I go are down on me for
missing two meetings in a row."


With that she turned and ran toward the bus stop.


My friend with the newspaper commented. "She isn't
serving God. She's serving other people's expectations."


"Praise the Lord, Brother!", said a well­
dressed man with a Thompson Chain Reference
Bible under his arm.


"As you can see, I'm serving God, hallelujah!
It's really great to be in the King's business.
It's fun being saved! Why don't you come to
our evangelistic services tonight at 8.00.
Praise God! And bring your friends.


We have the fastest growing Sunday School

in town. We walked away with all the prizes
at the convention last year. Well, I'm on
my way to testify at a Laymen's Luncheon.
See you later, Praise the Lord!"


"Religious ambition", muttered my friend with the news­


Just then a woman came walking through the park holding
her head in her hands.


"I've tried and tried to serve the Lord!
But all I ever do is fail. I just don't
seem to be making any progress in my walk.
I don't see any fruit. My prayers are
dry. I might as well give up."


"She's been serving the Accuser for ten years", said the
man with the newspaper.

A chap descended the steps of a nearby church, crossed
Woodward Avenue and came walking through the park talking
to himself.

"All these years I have served you. I

never transgressed one of your commandments.
Yet, you never gave me any joy. But when
these sinners come into our church after
wasting their lives in dissipation, you pour
out on them your Holy Spirit! It isn't fair!"


With that my friend put down his newspaper and looked the
man in the eye. "All these years you have served whom?"


"Why God, of course", answered the church­
man. "I've been serving God."

"No", said the man with the newspaper. "You
haven't been serving God. You've been serving
a distorted image of God tailored to your own
liking. The picture of God you have in your
mind isn't God at all."


"What do you mean?" demanded the churchman
in anger.


But suddenly the man with the newspaper vanished before
our eyes, newspaper and all.


How many times we tell ourselves we're serving God when
we're not serving God at all.


- We're serving a bad conscience.

- We're serving other people's expectations.
- We're serving religious ambition.

- We're serving the Accuser.

- Or, we're serving a distortion of God in
    our own minds.


And the proof that we're not really serving God is that
there is simply no gladness in it. No joy,

no liberty,

no real communion

with God Himself.


Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye

Serve the Lord with gladness.


That gladness is only possible when it's the Lord Him-­
self that you're serving.

When you're serving the Lord,

- you're not worried all the time that God
is going to punish you,


- you're not thrown into a depression when
you discover that people aren't satisfied
with you,


- you're not a slave to the need for visible


- you're not obsessed by your failures,


- you're not forever afraid that God is
being unfair to you.


You're free from that bad conscience,

free from other people's expectations,
free from the curse of religious ambition,
free from the lies of the Accuser,

free from the sick distortions of God that have
corrupted your vision in the past.


Our Lord served the Father with gladness. It was His
meat and drink to do the Father's will. That's all
that mattered.


If people didn't appreciate Him - it didn't
ruin His day.


If Satan accused Him of fraud - He didn't

  try to defend Himself.


If John the Baptist was disappointed in Him,

If He appeared to all the world as a failure,

If He had to hang on that Cross with nobody
to comfort Him –

He remained faithful.


Who for the joy that was set
before Him endured the Cross.


And that Cross is our doorway to true, free, glad service
to God. No one can serve the Lord with gladness but by
the power of that Cross. And no man or woman can con­
tinue to serve the Lord with gladness unless they remain
continuously in the shadow of that Cross.


And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind,

And a covert from the tempest.

As rivers of water in a dry place,

As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land:



You serve the Lord with gladness when you serve the Lord
under the shadow of His Cross. The Cross is your comfort,
                                                                              your peace,
                                                                              your rest in God.

It's your liberty from yourself and from the fear of man.


The twin streams that flow from the wounded side of

the Lamb are the fountainhead of all life. But let some-­
thing come between you and the Cross, good as it may seem,
and before long your service to God degenerates into
bondage to something other than God.


- Whatever you're doing in the service of God,
- Wherever you are,

- No matter how well or how badly things may
   seem to be going,


                - ­stay in the shadow of the Cross.


l. For there and there alone you experience the clean­sing

   power of Jesus' blood.


How much more shall the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered
Himself without spot to God, purify your
conscience from dead works to serve the
living God!

You can't serve the Lord with gladness if your conscience
is troubled. When your conscience is troubled you're

not serving God, you're serving your troubled conscience.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you can ease your
conscience by working harder to do good. The harder you
work the worse your conscience feels.


          The cure for a bad conscience - the only

 cure - is the blood of the Lamb.


Bring your conscience to the Cross where your guilt
before God was truly dealt with and truly removed;
stay in constant touch with the Cross as you serve
God---and you'll serve God with gladness.


2. It's in the shadow of the Cross that you experience
liberty through the death of self.


I don't have to struggle to stay alive if I’m already dead.

And so I am. My life is hid with Christ in God.


I am crucified with Christ. It is no

longer I who live but Christ who lives

in me.


And the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God who
loved me and gave Himself for me.


Hence, I don't have to defend myself,

                          or vindicate myself,
                            or justify myself,
                            or prove my point.


I'm dead - now Christ in me is free to serve the Father
joyfully in this flesh.


The only good Christian is a dead one.
The only free Christian is a dead one.


And the only place, on this side of the grave, where my

death and the liberty that flows from it becomes actual

is at the Cross.


Far be it from me to glory save in the
Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which
the world has been crucified to me and
I to the world.


3. Finally, it's at the Cross where the Spirit of Glory
and of God comes to rest upon us.


Many people think that the resurrection Spirit of God
only began working on the third day. The resurrection
Spirit began working the instant Jesus died.


- Through the eternal Spirit He offered
Himself without spot to God.


- By the Spirit He tore through the veil

of the Temple and entered the Holy of

Holies with His blood.


- By the Spirit of God the earth shook

and the tombs were opened when Jesus died.


The place where, to this day, we experience the resurrection

power of Jesus is where the world would least expect it:

at that place of death.


That I may know Him in the power of His
resurrection, the fellowship of His

sufferings and be made like Him in His death.


And when you share His sufferings and death, then you
share in that resurrection, you rise with Him.


Rejoice insofar as you share Christ's
sufferings, that you may also rejoice
and be glad when His glory is revealed.
If you are reproached for the name of
Christ you are blessed, because the Spirit
of Glory and of God rests upon you.

                               I Peter 4:13


Behold a King shall reign in righteousness,
and princes shall rule in judgment.

And a man shall be as a hiding place from
the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as
rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow
of a great rock in a weary land.

And the eyes of them that see shall not be
dim, and the ears of them that hear shall


The heart also of the rash shall understand

knowledge and the tongue of the stammerers

shall be ready to speak plainly.

                                 Isaiah 32:1-4  


... a King shall reign in righteous....that King is already reigning.

His princes are coming together.


              Their gathering place is "the shadow of a great rock

              in a weary land": Calvary.


       The call to us is to come under that shadow, get under His yoke,


by the power of the Cross to learn from Him to
serve the Lord with gladness.