Tough Teaching: Be a Slave?

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My sermon notes from the June 30, 2013 sermon “Be a Slave?” from the series “Tough Teachings of Jesus”.  You can hear the podcast on the Adventure website.

Be a Slave?

Intro:  Pastors, church staff and church leaders revealed in a recent survey that some of the most difficult challenges they face each week are church member’s apathy, inward focus and the inability to motivate and keep volunteers in ministries.  If “we” (meaning Christians) just understood and took to heart this one “Tough Teaching” from Jesus, it would go a long way toward eliminating those challenges.

Mark 10: 43-45 — “Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus tells his disciples, and us, that to be “great”, we must first become a slave — a slave to Jesus Christ and His purposes!

The Christian Paradox

This scripture, and teaching, reveals another aspect of the “Christian Paradox”.  A paradox is what seems backwards, inside-out, upside-down.  A paradox is not the natural way we think of things.  The Bible is full of them.  Examples:  to live you must die, to be rich you must be generous, to lead you must follow, and, to be first you must be a slave.

What Are the Characteristics of the Christian Paradox:  Be a Slave?

It’s Voluntary

No one is going to make you do it.  The word “slave” means “bondslave”, which is a voluntary position of servitude.

It’s a Choice

You can say “yes” or “no”, but not both, and not neither. — note:  saying “no” is obviously a rejection of doing what the master wants.  But, we need to also realize that failure to say “yes” (i.e., sitting on the fence, or trying to remain neutral) is also saying “no.”

Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….” — note: while Jesus was teaching on the love of money in this scripture, the principle remains the same: we cannot not be both devoted to the things of God and the things of “something else”.

It Means Submitting to the Master’s Will

Submission to God’s will and not your own will is the characteristic of a slave.  God is our master.  Submission to His will is going to require us to sacrifice.  We will have to sacrifice our comfort, our desire, our time, our energy, our money, and our priorities to what He wants.  We will be asked to do things that we may not want to do.  We will be asked to do things that we would rather not do sometimes.  But “slavery” to the will of God is doing what He wants, not what we want.  — This will become real in our lives as we serve in ministries in the church, as we allow our lives to molded in His holiness, and as we live a life as directed by the Bible.

Luke 22:42 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” — As Jesus prayed this on the night before He was crucified, Jesus gave a perfect example of what it means to submit to the will of God first, and to be willing to sacrifice everything.

It Requires Action Toward Others

Saying yes.  Declaring your intention to do something.  Wanting to submit to God’s will. — All of those things are great.  But they are all meaningless without action.  There is a big difference between saying you are going to do something and actually doing it.  We only reveal ourselves as “slaves of Jesus” when we actually act on what we say and what is in our heart.

Colossians 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, …. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Remember that when you serve that you are not just serving another person, you are actually serving Jesus Christ, your master.  You are connecting to Him by way of the Holy Spirit as you submit yourself to Him and you are connecting another to Him as you represent the hands and feet of Christ to that person.

Conclusion

If all of our church would allow our hearts to be transformed by this one truth, we would make an impact for the Kingdom that would be beyond our imagination!

Church Matters: Commitment – Buddy’s sermon notes

church matters

Here are my sermon notes for “Church Matters: Commitment” for the message dated February 3, 2013.  The audio isn’t up yet but will be soon by going to the Adventure Church website.

Church Matters: Commitment

What a church should commit to you:

  1. To teach the whole  Bible – Acts 20:27 “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”
  2. Leaders who set an example – Philippians 3:17 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
  3. To care for you and watch out for you – Acts 20:28 “Keep watch over yourselves and all of the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
  4. When necessary, to Biblically exercise church discipline – Matthew 18:15-17
  5. To seek to fulfill God’s will in our community and beyond. – Matthew 28:19-20 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

What you should commit to the church:

  1. To protect the unity of the church – Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
    1. acting in love toward one another
    2. refusing to gossip
    3. following the leaders
  2. To share the responsibility of the church by:
    1. praying for its growth and influence
    2. inviting unchurched people to attend
    3. welcoming those who attend – Romans 15:7 “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
    4. giving financially – regularly and sacrificially
  3. To support the testimony of the church by – Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
    1. attending faithfully
    2. learning God’s Word
    3. living a godly life
  4. To serve the ministry of the church by:
    1. using my gifts and talents – 1 Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
    2. developing a servant’s heart
  5. To support others in the church and myself by:
    1. connecting with others for fellowship, encouragement, support and accountability
    2. allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me

 

Keep “Thanking God” at the Forefront

April 30: George Washington becomes the first ...

The First Presidential Proclamation by George Washington, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God …

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people … and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. …

The people of our nation will gather around tables this Thursday to eat turkey and stuffing, to tell stories and talk football, and, to devise strategies for Black Friday shopping excursions.

My hope and prayer is that we will not forget what Thanksgiving Day originally was meant to be – a day of acknowledging God and thanking Him for the blessings He has granted us.  It is because of God that we have food.  It is because of God that we have family.  It is because of God that we have leisure.  It is because of God that we have Christmas!

Here are some ways to keep “Thanking God” at the forefront of our holiday this Thursday:

  1. Pray a personal prayer of thanks for all that you have received this year.  Thank Him for family and friends, for responsibility and opportunities to serve, for church family and mentors, for days of joy and for days of trial.  We learn about God and ourselves in all circumstances and should be grateful for everything that draws us close to Him.
  2. Sign on to the blog:  The Thankfulness Experiment and share some of your specific “thanks”.
  3. At your Thanksgiving Table, have each person share one thing for which he or she is thankful.  Start with the youngest at the table sharing first, with the eldest sharing last.
  4. Pray together as family and friends.  Pray for our country, for freedom, for our President and government leaders.  Pray for your church, your pastors and leaders, and for your church family.  Pray for family.  Pray for friends.  Pray for those who do not have a table that even closely resembles your own.
  5. Send a personal note, an email, a text or a tweet of thanks to at least one person who has made a positive impact in your life this year, thanking him for the effort.

Giving thanks is personal.  It’s powerful.  It’s special.  And, it makes a difference.  Remember who is ultimately responsible for it all – the Lord God Almighty.

Happy Thanksgiving!