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“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 1

As some of you know, I will be preaching at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel (their website is here) in New Jersey Sunday, September 30th, on the topic “The Poor You Have With You Always.” On the following Sunday, October 7th, I will address the issue of our using our spiritual gifts to serve in the local church.  I’m entitling this message “Servants of the Servant.”

One preacher said, “God has no sons who are not servants!”  I beg to disagree.  I believe it is quite possible to be a child of God but not be fully engaged in serving Him or His Body, the church.  There may be a variety of reasons for such non-service (one we will examine in this post), but the normal Christian life is to live a life like the Lord Jesus — one who “came not to be served, but to serve” (Mk. 10:45).

One reason some Christians do not serve the Body of Christ is that they may not know what their spiritual gifts are.  Ministry out of one’s giftedness is the biblical pattern, so knowing what abilities one possesses to serve the Lord and His people is critical.

There are four major passages on “spiritual gifts” and they are Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4.  Let’s spend a few minutes this morning looking at Romans 12.

I see four truths from Romans 12 —
1. We serve out of humility, not out of pride or poor self-image (Rom. 12:3). It is difficult to be grateful and prideful (or thankful and downtrodden) at the same time!
2. We must strive to preserve and advance the unity of the Body! (Rom. 12:4-5). The unity of the church is critical. It is not maintained by believers standing around just shooting the breeze (although shooting the breeze is a vital element of friendship). Our gifts contribute to our unity!
3. We will serve out of thankfulness for God’s grace in gifting us! (Rom. 12:6-8).
4. We must be aware that the Holy Spirit gave us our gifts and empowers our using them (Rom. 12:3; we will see this more extensively in our next post which will be on I Cor. 12:1-6). There is another Person involved in this issue of service — and that is God the Holy Spirit. He is continuing the work of the Lord Jesus — through us (Jn. 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15)!

Assignment: Please list your gift below as a comment.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2018 in service

 

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A Ministry Update! Preaching and Teaching and Editing, O My!

The Lord is so good! He is keeping me busy during my early days of retirement. After I was downsized from my teaching position at CIU, He provided a fourteen-month position as preaching pastor at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, Georgia.

After they called their next senior pastor, I began to wonder how the Lord would use me.  A church in New Jersey, Cedarcroft Bible Chapel, brought me up last week to do some ministry with them.  I preached both Sundays (New Year’s Eve and Jan. 7), gave an overview of the book of Acts for their mid-week Bible study, spoke at a men’s breakfast, surveyed I-III John for Sunday school, and consulted with the elders on a variety of subjects.  I’ll be finalizing a position paper on marriage, divorce, and remarriage for their consideration over the next month.

They’ve invited me to come back in April and I will speak on two consecutive Sundays (April 15 and 22), conduct two Sunday school classes, and lead a half-day seminar on preaching for area lay preachers.  I’ll use my Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better! as well as a workbook for those men.

My larger projects are producing two online courses for Emmaus Bible College, editing a manuscript for a Scottish publisher, getting ready for my two messages for Biblical Eldership Resources in Rochester, NY, in March, and preparing for a three-week teaching ministry in Myanmar in August!  I’m not letting any moss grow under my feet!

I’m also open to conducting my “Theology Matters” conferences and have a brochure I would be glad to mail to you and your church for your consideration.

Again, I’m so grateful for the opportunities HE is giving me to serve Him.  Please lift me up in prayer, would you?

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in ministry

 

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Please Pray for Our Next Assignment!

What a wonderful chapter this has been!  After being downsized and losing my seminary teaching position a year ago, the Lord graciously connected us with this wonderful church in Augusta, Georgia.

I’ve had the privilege of being their preaching pastor for the last year and a half.  That’s a lot of Sunday sermons!

But they have now found their next pastor and my tenure ended on September 24th.

Would you consider praying for Linda and me as we await our next assignment from the Lord?  I’m very open to helping another church that is between pastors.  The Lord is also providing some work in teaching online courses.

We are so grateful to the Lord for these last almost 1 1/2 years.  Thanks in advance for praying for us!

If we can serve your church, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email or call us.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2017 in Christian ministry

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #5- SERVICE) (con’t)

One of the primary areas where Christians get BOGGED DOWN in the Christian life, it seems to me, is in SERVICE!  And God’s Word has much to say about the spiritual gifts God has given by His grace to Jesus-followers who want to dig their way out of this area of STUCKNESS.

This is my last series of sermons for Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta. They have found their next senior pastor and he will begin his SERVICE in several weeks.  We have looked at three of the four passages on spiritual gifts.  In this last post on SERVICE, let’s look at I Corinthians 12:

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Yes, this is an entire chapter devoted to SPIRITUAL GIFTS.  We can only make a couple of comments on this central passage:

(1)  First, note the prominence of God the Holy Spirit! The gifts are “of the Spirit.” Though the gifts are different, the Spirit is the same who distributes the gifts. These “manifestations” of the Spirit are given “for the common good” (vv. 1-7)
(2)  Second, a variety of gifts (I count nine) are mentioned here: a message of wisdom, a message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues (vv. 8-10).
(3)  Third, we are one Body with many “parts” and each should respect God’s sovereign placing of each part in the Body (vv. 11-26).
(4)  Fourth, a second list is given by the Apostle Paul (apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues) to show that we have different gifts and must work with one another in love (vv. 27-31).

May I ask you, faithful reader, what is your primary SPIRITUAL GIFT, and are you using it for the Lord?

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #5- SERVICE!) (con’t)

Would you say that sometimes you get BOGGED DOWN in your SERVICE in the local church?  You find too many other Chrsitians doing very little — and you’re exhausted with all that you do?  Or, you’re not sure where or how to SERVE, and you’re becoming increasingly frustrated?

This is my last series of sermons for Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta.  They have found their next senior pastor and he will begin his SERVICE in several weeks.

But we want to continue our study on spiritual gifts.  We’ve looked at  Romans 12 and Ephesians 4.  Let’s look at the third (of four) passage on this critical area: I Peter 4.  There we read:

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

What a powerful paragraph!  As Peter anticipates the “end of all things,” he advises the believers to be alert, “be of sober mind so that you may pray.”  The highest challenge is to “love each other deeply.”  Why?  Because “love covers over a multitude of sins.”  All believers are to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”  And each believer should use their gift to serve others because we are to be “faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

What “form” has God’s grace taken in your life?  How are you to SERVE?  Two specific gifts are mentioned here: SPEAKING and SERVING.  For those with the gift of speech, they are to speak “as one who speaks the very words of God”!  For those who SERVE, “they should do so with the strength God provides.”  And why do we SERVE God with the various forms of God’s grace that He has given us?  So that “in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”  That’s why we SERVE!  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #5- Service) (con’t)

One area in which believers get BOGGED DOWN concerns SERVICE!  We are often self-centered consumers who want to know, “How is the church going to serve ME?”

This series (which we are preaching at Crossroads Fellowship Church; website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) deals with topics which often cause the Jesus-follower to get STUCK!

But we have been saved to serve!  Ephesians 2:8-10 make it clear that, although our works can’t save us, once we are saved we are to do good works for Him!

There are four major texts on spiritual gifts — Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4.  Let’s take a look at Ephesians 4 this morning:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

There is so much here.  Just a few points:   (1) The Christian life involves living a life worthy of your calling, an attitude of humbleness, gentleness, patience and love.  The goal is to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  (2)  That unity or oneness is balanced by different gifts given by Christ to all believers.  (3)  Some of those gifts are: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.  (4)  Why are those gifts given?  To equip God’s people for works of service, to build up the body of Christ, to move toward maturity and the “fullness of Christ.”  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #5- SERVICE!)

“It is a truth that stands out with startling distinctness on the pages of the New Testament that God has no sons who are not SERVANTS.” (H.D. Ward)  Even though this is a great quote, I’m not sure I agree with it!

We are going through ten topics (which we are preaching at Crossroads Fellowship Church; website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) which sometimes BOG DOWN the believer in Jesus.  Our next topic is SERVICE.  The biblical ideal is that every son of God, every daughter of God, should see himself or herself as a SERVANT!  But that is often NOT the case!

Too frequently we are simply consumers.  We want to know how the church and its members can serve US.  What programs are available?  Will the senior pastor visit me if I go into the hospital?  Will the church help me if I have financial problems?  Marriage problems?  Challenges with my children?  What’s in it for ME?

The better and more biblical question is WHAT’S IN ME FOR HIM?  How can I serve the Lord Jesus in the one thing that He is building today — His church?  And this is where SERVICE comes in!

We are talking about spiritual gifts and how every Jesus-follower has at least one spiritual gift which is to be used for building up the Body of Christ.  The four major texts on spiritual gifts are: Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4.  Let’s spend a few minutes on Romans 12 this morning.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Please notice a couple of points from this passage:  (1)  We are to think of ourselves soberly (we are to be neither filled with conceit nor weighed down by self-doubt), for God has given “faith” to each of us.  (2)  That “faith” (in this text) seems to refer to different functions in the Body, different gifts which are to be used to the greatest extent possible.  (3)  The gift has not been given to simply be opened and admired, but to be used!  (4)  Seven gifts are mentioned in this text:  prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy.  Do you have any of these seven gifts?  Please write down your gift in the comment section below (to be continued)


 
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Posted by on September 23, 2017 in christian growth

 

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