Serving Christ in Your Church

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Does God have a specific task and calling for every believer in the local church? Yes! Yes! Yes! Beginning with Christ and His disciples and throughout the New Testament, God teaches believers that we were saved to serve. While the world has always despised serving others and promoted being served, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite. All those who follow Christ should be servants.

In many churches today, there is a dangerous philosophy that has crept in. It is the idea that the pastor and staff are paid to do all the serving. With this philosophy, soulwinning, cleaning, maintenance, vehicle repairs, lawn care, snow removal, hospitality, care for the hurting, widows and fatherless and much more is hired out to staff. The Bible says in Ephesian 4:11-12 that the very purpose of a pastor is to develop believers to serve in the church. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11–12) Yes, the pastor is to serve and one of the greatest ways he can serve believers is by developing them to serve. Certainly, a part of this development, is personally modeling a servant’s heart just like Jesus did for His disciples in John 13.

As a believer, don’t buy into this philosophy that you come to church to be served. You have a vital part in what God wants to do in your church and community. William McDonald aptly said, “Limitation of Christian service to a select class of men hinders the development of God’s people, stifles the cause of world evangelism, and stunts the growth of the church. The distinction between clergy and laity is unscriptural and perhaps the greatest single hindrance to the spread of the gospel.

I encourage you that if you do not already have a place to serve in your church with your God-given gift, this Sunday, ask your pastor how you can serve. Don’t wait to be asked. Be eager to serve.

 

A Follower’s Testimony

I was privileged to meet Jed Duarte, a third generation missionary to Brazil, for coffee as a get-to-know meeting. Very quickly, my heart was blessed by his testimony of absolute surrender. Our theme this year is I Will Follow. Here is a young man who made that decision and is having the time of his life. I wanted to share it, so we sat down for a quick interview. Jed and his family will be with us at Grace Baptist Church on September 30 for the final Sunday of Mission Weeks.

Men’s Leadership Night Recap

I really enjoyed Men’s Leadership Night! I am so thankful for the group of godly men at Grace Baptist Church. I rejoice in their responsive hearts to be Biblical leaders.  There is so much to discourage Christian men today from accepting and exercising their God-given role as a loving, servant leader in the home. God is able to more than compensate every discouragement and challenge men face with His abundant grace.

What happens when God points out an area of our leadership that we need to correct? How do we go forward? Remember the promise of 1 John 1:9 given for believers,  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  If we have not accepted and exercised and leadership role that God has given, we have disobeyed Him. We must confess it to Him and seek His forgiveness. Furthermore, we should get it right with the people our disobedience affected—wife, children, ect. Receiving forgiveness for not taking the lead both from God and others will give the fresh start that is needed to begin doing the will of God. While it may be hard to admit, it will be worth it! God will give you grace in your humility.

Listen to Men’s Leadership Night Lesson

Books for Cultivating your Leadership:
I have read these over the past year and have been helped.

 

Following Feelings

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It is natural to follow feelings. You get too close to the burner on your stove and your feelings (senses) tell you that you had better move back quick. In our daily life, we often adjust our behavior based on our feelings. It is natural!

However, when we come to being committed followers of Jesus Christ, our feelings can really mess things up. Here’s what I mean. The Bible tells us to “Love your enemies…“. It also tells us to “...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” Immediately, our feelings say, “No way!” Yet, God commands us to do these things. It is important to stop and look at the facts. The fact is, with every command, He will give the strength to obey it. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If we live by feelings we will never obey God’s Word. So what is the answer?

The answer is to live by faith, not by feelings. We can obey by placing our faith in fact—the truth and trustworthiness of God’s Word. Living life by your feelings is to live life backwards. You will be fickle and frustrated. Living life by faith in God’s truth, will always keep you following Jesus. This is a life of safety, stability and spiritual strength.

Developing a Fertile Heart

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Your spiritual heart is the real you—your thinking, will and emotions. The parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 shows us that Jesus was very concerned that his followers would have a heart that was ready to receive the His truth. Today, Jesus is just as concerned that we would have that kind of heart. Consider some ways to develop a fertile heart for God’s truth.

  1. Honor God’s Word. One of the most obvious signs of a hard heart is a casual approach to God’s Word. It is seen in the take-it or leave-it kind of attitude. When we begin to convince ourselves that daily reading of the Bible is really not that important. Hearing your pastor preach God’s Word is good and needful for my children, but its not a big deal if I miss church or am distracted at church. Honor God’s Word by giving time and priority to both reading it and hearing it preached.
  2. Plan to Respond. Every time our Bibles are opened, God intends to guide us into all truth and we must respond to that truth.  We can respond positively or negatively. As a preacher, I am often burdened at the hesitance of believers to respond openly to God’s Word. We have, seemingly, bought into the world’s thinking that our relationship with God is completely a private issue, so we keep it to ourselves. The problem with that is, we begin to present ourselves as never having the need to progress in our relationships with God. We give the impression that we have nothing about which to be humble before God and others.  Let’s keep a fertile heart by planning to respond to the truth that God reveals to us.
  3. Choose to be Real. We all want to appear well. In church, we want to appear as spiritual. Sure, we would not admit or say that. If we are honest, this desire can be  nothing more than cleverly packaged pride. When you or I come to God’s Word, we must come realizing that we are broken messes in desperate need of God to fix us. Why? Because we are human. We have flesh. Let’s learn to admit it and simply be real so that we can have a fertile heart that is ready to be fixed.
  4. Eliminate all Distractions. God’s truth cannot have an affect on your heart if it does not have access to your heart. Much of the reason God’s Word does not have access to our hearts is the constant barrage of distractions. Life will give you 101 alternatives to being in your Bible or in church—lawn care, shopping, sales, events, extracurricular activities, sport schedules and fatigue etc.. Even when you go to church, there will be a host of distractions that would keep you from being in the Word. Go to church to hear God’s Word for yourself personally. If this will happen, distractions must be eliminated.

Proverbs 4:23  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.” Our hearts will only remain fertile as we choose to guard them from becoming hard. The propensity of every heart is to harden. Praise God, that with His help, it is possible for every heart to remain fertile—ready to hear, accept and apply God’s truth in our daily lives.


Listen to A Responsive Heart

Instruction, Law and Wisdom

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Disobedience, rebellion and stubbornness is nothing new. From the earliest pages of the Bible the pattern or not listening to a father’s instruction was demonstrated. Adam and Eve neglected to follow the instruction of God and by their disobedience, sin entered creation. Not long after, we see Cain follow suit and disregard the instruction of God and likely his father concerning the required sacrifice for sin. The storyline of refusing instruction repeats time and time again throughout history.

Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, And chains about thy neck.” Let’s take note of a truth and pattern that ought be applied by dads, moms, sons and daughters.

A Father’s Instruction

Here is first plea of the father in the book of Proverbs. King Solomon implores his son, Rehoboam, to hear instruction. Notice that it is the father who gives the instruction here. Fathers are responsible for the moral instruction of their children. If it does not happen in the home, dads are to blame. Though Solomon gave the instruction, Sadly, Rehoboam did not hear it and his rule as king was marked by foolish decisions. What an awful mess he made! Though characterized by a lawless spirit, the world has little use for the one who refuses instruction. Whether an earthly child or a child of God, the one who hears the father’s instruction will find great benefit. Hearing instruction in order to understand and act on it will be as a special decoration to their life.

A Mother’s Law

Children are commanded to adhere to the mothers law. Here the mother is seen as reinforcing the father’s instruction. Many times in home there is much frustration because mothers are left to bear the responsibility of giving the moral instructions. The absent themselves from the leadership role God has given to them. Fathers should be careful to remember that the must lead out in instructing while mothers ought be mindful to reinforce that instruction. Parenting is a team effort.

A Child’s Response

Instruction should always be heard in order that it might be followed. It is the responsibility of children to hear instruction and to embrace the rules given by their parents. The worldly experts and show hosts tell us that parents must not restrict them from expressing their individual personalities. Telling them “No” will damage their self-esteem. Providing them with reasonable consequences for disobedience is looked at as passé. This humanistic philosophy has been promoted for several generations resulting the rise in rebellious, lawless and violent behavior that fills the headlines. This problem starts back the breakdown of the foundation, structure and in homes.

How desperately we need a return of dads and moms hearing God’s instruction, dads instruction their child, mothers reinforcing that instruction and children hear and embracing this instruction. Imagine what a difference this would make.


Listen to a related sermon

 

Kindling Love and Commitment

Couple.jpgRelationships are an amazing gift from God! Beyond the relationship that God wants to have with us through Christ, the greatest relationship that can be had is found in marriage. Before we even get two chapters read in the Bible, we see marriage debuted. For a short while Adam and Eve knew perfect harmony with each other and their creator. In fact, their marriage was the only perfect marriage.

If we are honest, none of us have perfect marriages. There are times we argue, are unkind, exchange hurtful words, are unloving, show disrespect and the list could go on. Truly, every marriage that will be harmonious takes effort, commitment and an ever growing relationship with Jesus Christ by both husband and wife.  Marriage is a relationship to be kindled each day for sure. Consider kindling your marriage like this:

  1. Practice Love and Respect. God instructs husbands in Ephesians 5 to love their wives unconditionally. Regardless of the behavior the wife, the husband is to show love. The practical standard of this is the husband loving his wife as much as he loves himself. Guys, kindle your marriage by truly loving your wife even on her worst day. Wives, on the other hand, are told to respect their husbands. Often wives give respect based behavior. However, God tells wives to respect her husband no matter what. Respect is demonstrated when a wife encourages and does not belittle.  One man said, “A wife that is loved will grow in loveliness and a husband that is respected will become more respectable.”
  2. Practice Clearing the Air. When troubles and conflict do arise, be sure to settle them quickly. In all cases, never go to bed angry. The Bible warns us about letting the sun go down upon our wrath. Every night before you fall asleep, kindle your marriage by making certain nothing is unsettled.
  3. Practice Investing in your Marriage. There are many things that will drain a marriage of harmony and closeness. Even good things can be the culprit. Reading books on marriage, maintaining time alone, planning dates and including times to get away to focus on your marriage are all important ways to invest. One of the greatest reasons we Grace Baptist Church host a Couples Retreat is to provide a way for couples to invest in their marriages. Sitting under Biblical instruction for marriages will always be a worthwhile investment.

Will you plan to kindle your marriage today? Will you plan to do something in this week as an investment in your marriage?

 


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