SERVE: It’s the Way of Jesus! (Week 3)

“The 5 Steps to Effective Serving!”

(Romans 12:1-8 & Luke 10:25-37)

In the first week of this series we looked at the heart of ministry by looking at the heart of Jesus Christ, who did not come to be served, but to serve. We saw this truth most clearly displayed through His sacrificial death (Philippians 2:3-11), but also through how He washed the feet of His disciples on the night he was betrayed before going to the cross (John 13:5-20). Last week we dove into the heart of what keeps us from serving. We took time to ask God to check our hearts and minds so that we could hear from Him what He would have us do. The concept of being uniquely designed for service was introduced to you—you were created with good works in mind (Ephesians 2:10).

 

In fact, we each have a unique S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart passions, Abilities and talents, Personalities, and Experiences) for service because God created us and saved us to serve. Your form follows your function—to serve according to God’s design! Are you serving effectively?

 

Over the next 2 Sundays, we are going to walk through Romans 12:1-8, where Paul lays out for us the 5 steps for how we are to serve like Jesus served. We are going to learn how to walk in the good works that God prepared in advance for us to do—we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), that is who we are!

 

Today, we will cover the first 3 steps and next Sunday we will cover the last 2 of how we each can know we are serving effectively, as according to God’s design and purposes for us.

 

Step 1: Dedicate Your Everyday Life to Jesus!
Romans 12:1 is an invitation to each of us every day, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

 

Paul is not talking about your initial conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. He is talking to church people, people who have already made a decision to be disciples. The first step every day for disciples of Jesus Christ is to present themselves to God as living and holy sacrifices, by getting into the yoke of Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

Jesus gives us this promise from Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

This is not only a promise; it is a way of life (a daily praxis). Every promise of God is ours to believe, but also ours to live as a praxis of life (as a lifestyle). I get in the yoke of Jesus each morning with my early morning quiet time (a.k.a. “coffee time with Jesus”) because I know that if I am not in the yoke, then one of my 3 A’s—anxiety, ambition, or ambivalence—will take over and lead my day. It has become such an ingrained habit that a majority of the time I am awake before my 5:30 alarm ready to get in the yoke with Jesus. Before, I used to wake up distracted, filled with anxiety for the work that needs to get done or driven by the impulses of my body, but now I wake up desiring to be with Jesus and once again submit and find rest in His yoke.[1]

 

This is the first and most important step: submit to God, dedicate your day to God’s glory! Just like in spiritual warfare, before you have authority to rebuke the devil, you have to first submit to God (James 4:7). It is in submitting to God that Jesus’ authority and power flow through us.

 

Step 2: Eliminate Competing Distractions!
Romans 12:2 is a daily promise to each of us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

But this promise of God—to know the will of God for your life—like all the promises of God, comes with daily challenges! I am an easily distracted person and I have triggers from my past that must be safe-guarded against. For example, TV for me is like one of those old school bug zappers that was on the back porch when I was growing up. ZAP! If the TV is on, then I am glued to it and being sucked in. ZAP! To stay alive, I have to stay away from it! For me that is eliminating a competing distraction. I don’t know what it is for you, but that is part of what it looks like for me to follow Jesus well. You may have better time management skills or more brain space than me, but I don’t have minutes, nevertheless hours, to invest in someone else’s program for my life. It also saves a lot of money which allows us to be even more generous with both time and money! I realize that not everyone will have the same issues that I have, so I don’t command this. I just ask you, “what are you doing to eliminate those things that are after your brain space, your heart space, your calendar and your checkbook?”

 

Remember Jesus’ words from Matthew 6:19-21, 33a, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” Friends, we do not serve what we love, we love what we serve!

 

So often, I will tell people that spending minutes a day in Jesus’ program for your life is not enough if you are spending hours in the world’s program for your life. Jesus does not want to be one of your priorities, He wants to be “The Priority”. He doesn’t want to be on the top of your checklist of things to get done today, He wants everything on your checklist to be for Him and through Him. Jesus is a jealous God and will not tolerate idols in His people! Why? Because He loves us and knows that those very idols we serve are killing us from the inside out.

 

Your heart will follow that which you treasure—guard it well! Whatever you feed your mind and heart with will influence you the most. Who are you listening to? Where is your treasure?

 

Step 3: Remain Humble in God’s Grace!
Romans 12:3 teaches us, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

 

Pride comes before the fall. Pride is the ruin of the great servants of God. I have hit the wall of pride and performance in my own life, and I am here to tell you that step #3 is essential to serving in the way of Jesus—be humble in God’s grace! While this is an everyday process, I exhort you to not think more highly of yourself, but as Paul commands us in Philippians 2:3-8,

 

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

Having a servant’s heart is critical to serving like Jesus! In fact Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-4, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

 

What does this look like? I will need a whole bunch of children to help me illustrate what this humility looks like. We are going to have some fun to help us all remember today’s lesson.

 

With the children acting out parts, tell the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37.

Being available every day to serve like Jesus is not self-service! We each need to STOP self-serving! The clearest sign of a humble person is not that they think less of themselves, but that they think of themselves less.[2] We need to start being humble servants! It is our willingness to love our neighbor as we love ourselves—by God’s grace! Jesus is our motivation. Grace is our empowerment! Jesus gave you grace so that you can give grace to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! We are saved to serve!
 
 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Do you think you can get to be on time so that you can get up earlier than necessary to start your day by getting in the yoke of Jesus? The following quote reflects the positive ripple effects that come from the spiritual fruit of self-control (Gal. 5:22-23) that can lead to such a morning routine. This is not legalism or an evangelical check list. This is God’s grace to empower the abundant life: “One way in which the self is resourced is through self-discipline. Though it is an unpopular concept in a materialist world propelled by consumerism and expectant of instant gratification, self-control or self-discipline is critical in resilience and can be learnt by practice. Self-control is defined as the self’s ability to alter its states and responses. Since self-control is central to most forms of virtuous behaviour [sic] it can be regarded as the primary or master virtue. It seems to operate like a muscle which is weaker after exertion and replenishes with rest, slowly becoming stronger with repeated exercise and also strengthened by social support. For those in adversity, self-discipline during times of trauma can enable physical escape or psychological protection. After trauma self-discipline helps to deal with anger and hurt, setting boundaries in relationships and the rebuilding of life, as when survivors of childhood trauma make an ongoing, deliberate choice to manage their anger and hurt” (Justine Allain-Chapman, Resilient Pastors: The Role of Adversity in Healing and Growth, New Library of Pastoral Care [London: SPCK, 2012], 28–29).

[2] “The concept of humility is enriched rather than diminished by religious understandings, she argues, because the religious perspective describes one’s place in the world in relation to God, so that one can be smart, but not all-knowing, and have personal power, but not omnipotence. There is a connection between humility and compassion which resonates with the observations already make about empathy. Humility, viewed positively, leads to compassion because of self-forgetfulness, rather than a self-focus that can come with false humility. Thus humility is not a devaluation of oneself but an increase in the valuation of others” (Justine Allain-Chapman, Resilient Pastors: The Role of Adversity in Healing and Growth, New Library of Pastoral Care [London: SPCK, 2012], 32–33).


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SERVE: It’s the Way of Jesus! (Week 2)

“Designed with Service in Mind!”

(Ephesians 2:10)

What is your response to the starving child in Africa commercial? What comes to your mind when you see a person with a card board sign outside of Walmart? What happened inside of your head and heart a month ago when I asked for people to open their homes to a young couple and their 2 children? How do you respond for a request to commit your Saturday morning to help someone move or to bring a dinner to someone in need or go help clean someone’s house? What feelings come up when you are asked to hold babies in the nursery or work with teens one night?

 

Let’s just sit in that for a minute. What happens in your heart when you are asked to do something for someone else that is inconvenient, costly, or uncomfortable?

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SERVE: It’s the Way of Jesus! (Week 1)

“The Example of Jesus!”

John 13:5-17

Parents want what is best for their children so they attempt to give them the very best. I am no different. As a parent, I want my children to grow up to be humble followers of Jesus who love God and express their love to Jesus through their love and service to a local church, their family and community, starting with their spouses and their own kids. I can’t just teach my three children about service; I have to serve them so that they can learn to serve others. I get to model it for them because children learn best through watching someone else do it. We all do!

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