SERVING: The Path to God’s Blessings!

SERVING : God’s Path to Blessings!  

Do you want your life to count for something meaningful?  When you come to the end of your life – how would you like for someone to assess your life?  Wow – look at all they accomplished with their life?  Or – Whoa, what a tragedy, all of those unused talents and abilities!

We all want for our lives to count for something meaningful.  We all want to come to the end of our journey – and hear others, especially God, to say Good Job!  The challenge we all face is figuring out the path to a meaningful and fulfilling life.  How do you get there?  Is the path to a meaningful life based on how much fun you had – how many parties and vacations you went to?  Is it based on how much success you achieved – money, investments?  Is it based on how much prestige you accumulated – through your job, your degrees, your name in the newspaper?

We all want for our lives to count.  We all want to find lasting fulfillment and joy.  The Good News we celebrate is that Jesus came to show us that lasting fulfillment and joy is within the reach of every person.  It doesn’t depend on how smart you are, how rich you are, or how much prestige you have.  Lasting fulfillment and joy is within the reach of every person – when we make the decision that we are going to follow Jesus by growing as a servant.

Matthew 20:26-28 (TLB)    Jesus said, Anyone who wants to be great in God’s family, must be willing to serve others.  …You should have the same    attitude I have.  For even I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give My life to save many people.

One of the things I find very helpful about Jesus – is that He has a sense of humor.  In John 13 – the Apostles came to Jesus with a big problem.  They had been fighting over Who was going to be the top dog in heaven?  Jesus said, Gentlemen – I am afraid that you have missed the point of everything I have been trying to teach you.  Joy or fulfillment are not going to be found in being on the right or the left hand.  Joy and fulfillment are found by serving others.

Jesus then said, let Me show you, let Me give you an example – here is the path to finding and growing in God’s blessings. 

John 13:12-17 (NLT)    Jesus said Because I, your Lord and Teacher, served you by washing your feet, you should serve each other…  I have given you an example to follow.  Do for each other as I have done for you.  …Now that you know these things, God will bless your life  — if you do them.

The big question I want to ask you today is – Is Jesus right?  Is life better when you serve others, or when you expect others to serve you?

Think about it in practical terms.  Is my marriage going to be better – if I focus on telling Penny ways that she can serve me?  Here is my menu requests for next week.  Here is how you need to do my laundry.  Here is how you need to do all of the chores in the house.  What do you think would happen to my marriage – if my main focus was on ways that Penny could serve me?

How about here in the church?  What would happen if I focused on ways that you as the church family could serve me?  Here’s what I think you should do to make me happy.  Here’s what you can do to tell me that I am important, I am wonderful.  What would happen to the church – if I put my energy into looking for ways that the church family should serve me?

Sitting back and waiting for others to serve us – only creates one thing – resentment.  Who does he think he is?

But if I turn it around and I focus on serving my wife, serving the church – then what happens?  Instead of building resentment and anger – I am able to build appreciation and win-win relationships.  We all prefer to people who care about us and are committed to giving their best to help us – instead of people who are always looking for what they can get out of us.

Jesus shows us that everyone can build a meaningful and joyful life – if they are willing to follow His example of serving other people.

Now, I do need to put in a caution here.  The Healthy Serving that Jesus teaches – is not letting other people take advantage of you or pretending that you don’t have any needs.  Jesus didn’t do whatever people asked Him to do.  Jesus also made sure to take care of Himself – taking time to pray, to recharge His batteries.

Healthy Serving – not allowing yourself to be used and abused – is the key to reaching the blessings God wants to give you.  God created you to accomplish good things with your life.

This morning – as you think about how to receive God’s blessings in your life – I want to encourage you to examining carefully the SHAPE God has given you for serving.

In his excellent book, The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren shares that the biggest reason why most Christians don’t enjoy or stick with serving God and others – is because they try to force ourselves into doing things that aren’t a good fit for them.

So to help you grow in receiving God’s blessings by growing as an effective servant – I want to invite you to consider What SHAPE has God given me?  Where can I be most effective?  You don’t have to be a pastor to serve God.  You don’t have to be a Sunday School teacher to serve God.  There are hundreds of ways that you can serve God.  Let’s take some time to consider together – what is God’s SHAPE for me?  Good tool for discovering your SHAPE – Acronym. 

Make the Most of the SHAPE God Has Given You for Serving 

* Spiritual Gifts   * Heart   * Abilities   * Personality  * Experiences 

* Spiritual Gifts

 

Everyone has a Spiritual gift – and there is a lot of variety in our Spiritual Gifts.  Bible uses analogy of our bodies.  Bodies have different parts – Heart, Brain, Arms, Legs, Livers, Kidneys.  Tempted to think the more glamorous parts are the most important – Brain, Heart.  Bible warns us – actually the parts that you think are least important can have the biggest impact.  You may not like to think much about your intestines – but if they stop working – you are going to be in a world of trouble.

Every part of your body is important.  And every Spiritual Gift is important. 

1 Corinthians 12:7 (LB)    A spiritual gift is given to each follower of Jesus, so that we can help each other, and build up the entire church. …The Holy Spirit gives one person the ability to speak with wisdom… faith to another… and gifts of healing to another.   …And every gift is important.

I am thankful that God gave me the Spiritual gift to serve as a Pastor – but I figured out in about 4 weeks of starting in ministry 32 years ago – if I think the church is all about me as Pastor – we are all in big trouble.  I can tell you that I was very thankful when I learned from teachers like Rick Warren and John Maxwell – the goal for me as a pastor was not to try to do it all by myself.  The goal is to do as much as I can to help people discover and develop their gifts – so that we all win.

God has a Spiritual gift for you.  Maybe it’s wisdom – helping to counsel people.  Maybe it’s administration – you can help people to manage their lives and their money.  Maybe it’s faith – praying for others.  Maybe it’s healing.  Just like your body needs all of its parts to work together – our church needs to help everyone discover and to develop their Spiritual Gifts.  Because every gift is important.

God wants to help you to discover your Spiritual gift.  Maybe it’s obvious to you.  Maybe you need to get out and do some experimenting.  The most important thing is to realize that God did not create any of us to be Spectators or to sit on the Bench.  God wants every believer to get in the game – by helping them to find their Spiritual Gift and by helping them to find their Heart – their Passion – the Ministry that Gets and Keeps them Excited. 

* Heart 

A lot of Christians don’t like serving – because they have the mistaken idea that the more boring and painful something is – the more holy it must be, because I should be suffering for God.

It’s an interesting idea – that we should be suffering for God to be holy and for our service to count.  But it is not what the Bible emphasizes.  Yes, there will be some times of suffering and challenges.  But if I am serving in the right place – what should stand out most clearly is resonance in my heart.  I’m in the right place.  This is where I can be most effective in serving God.

Psalm 100:2 (LB)    Serve the LORD with joy! 

I am thankful that I can serve God as a pastor with joy – and I hope it gives some joy to you and others.  But I learned very quickly that I could never serve God with joy in music ministry.  I’m no good at it.  I end up miserable and everybody else ends up miserable.

God wants to help us find the places to serve that resonate with our heart.

Romans 1:9 (NLT)    I serve God with my whole heart — so that I can share the Good News about Jesus. 

God wants to help you find the ministry where you can serve with your whole heart.  It doesn’t mean it will always be easy.  But it does mean – I know this is the place where God has called me.

God wants to help you to find the place you can serve with your whole heart – and that you have the abilities to be effective.

* Abilities    

God wants to help you find the right ministry – by helping you to discover both what you enjoy doing and what you are effective at doing.  Most of us have things that we know how to do – but we have discovered that we’re not really effective at doing.

For example, I have taken several courses on Counseling.  I know how to offer people counseling – but I also know that I’m not really good at it.

So God wants to help you to discover what you enjoy doing and what you are really good at doing.

Romans 12:6-8, 11 (TLB)    God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.  …If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.  If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful.  If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it.  If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously.   …Whatever your God-given ability is — use it to serve the Lord enthusiastically!

God wants to help you find a Ministry that fits you – Your Spiritual Gifts, your Heart, your Abilities, and your Personality. 

* Personality 

You may have noticed that God likes variety.  Just look at all the different types of animals and plants that God has created.  I’m not sure why God created hundreds of thousands of different kinds of bugs – but I will trust that He has a purpose for all of them.

God loves variety – which you can also see in all of the different kinds of unique personalities God gives us.  Some people are shy, while others are outgoing.  Some people are patient, while others are always in a big hurry.   God wants to help you see that He can work through hundreds of different kinds of personalities. 

1 Corinthians 12:6 (TLB)    There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God Who does the work in all of us.

I’m not sure what kind of personality type you have.  Penny tells me once in a while that mine is a little weird.  She reminds me – you don’t look at the world the way most people do.

I figure we’re all a little different – and hopefully God can bring something positive out of each of our personalities.  For example, my personality doesn’t have any problem going to the Jail to lead a Bible study.  But I would rather die than have to sit through bureaucratic meetings.  So I’m glad God gave some people a personality that can actually enjoy bureaucratic meetings.  And Penny said I was weird!

The last item God wants to help you to look at in order to find a ministry that is the right SHAPE for you – is your life experiences. 

* Experiences 

God has brought all of us through hundreds of different kinds of experiences – and sometimes the best help that we can offer someone comes out of our most difficult and painful experiences.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (TLB)    God wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.  So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

One of my most painful and difficult experiences was trying to find my direction and purpose in life as a teenager and young adult.  It was very tough for me – and I think those experiences have helped me to have compassion for the men in our Jail ministry who are having a hard time finding their way in life.

God wants to help you discover the path of blessing – by guiding you to the ministry that fits your SHAPE.  And as you think about where might be the best fit for you – I want to close by reminding you that we all need to be seeking a Ministry – because God shows us that we will all have a final examination of our lives. 

What Will God Say About Your Service? 

As you consider your commitment to Christ this morning – I want to encourage you to think about the evaluation that Jesus is going to do of your life, my life, all of our lives.  What did you do with the gifts and abilities I gave you?

Matthew 16:27    Jesus said, I, the Son of Man, will come again… and  judge each person on the basis of what they did with the gifts and abilities they were given.

We all want to make our lives count.  God shows us that it is possible for each of us to live a life that is significant and joyful.  The secret to receiving God’s blessings – is to be willing to serve.  Whether you help to feed the hungry or write letters to home bound members – we all need to find a ministry to share Jesus’ love with others.

Ask God to help you understand your SHAPE – so you can give your best to serving – which will unleash God’s best in your life. 

Read with me:    1 Corinthians 15:58 (TLB)   Since future victory is sure, always be abounding in the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for   Jesus is ever wasted!

 

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