Finding God s Will # 5 Shaped for Serving God Ephesians 2:10

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1 Finding God s Will # 5 Shaped for Serving God Ephesians 2:10 The day was August 16, 1977 when Elvis Presley died. Thirty-five years after his death his records are still out selling every other artist! Now in spite of enormous success, Elvis was, according to friends, an unfulfilled and unhappy man. He died of obesity and drug dependency at 42. And in an interview with his wife, Priscilla, she said this about her husband, Elvis never came to terms with who he was meant to be or what his purpose in life was. He thought he was here for a reason, maybe to preach, maybe to serve, maybe to save, maybe to care for people. That agonizing desire was always with him and he knew he wasn t fulfilling it. So he would go on stage and he wouldn t have to think about it. What a terrible waste that Elvis Presley never understood his purpose in life. We are continuing our series of messages dealing with finding and fulfilling God s call for you as a believer. And we are going to look at God s fourth purpose for your life, which is; you were gifted to Serve God. Elvis felt like he was here to do something, to serve, to preach, to save to do something with his life, but he just couldn t quite figure it out, said his wife. I don t want you to make that mistake. Let me remind you once more of what we have been told in Ephesians 2:10, We are God s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. I really want you to notice the word workmanship? The indication in the Greek wording here is that you were made to make a contribution, not just to consume. God made you to make a difference. And what matters is not how long you live, but how you live. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of your life. On this planet nobody gets a free ride. We are all meant to give something back. We are all meant to make a contribution. The Bible says we are created to serve, we are saved to serve, we are gifted to serve, and we are shaped to serve. Job made this observation in Job 10:8, Your hands shaped me and made me. God never gives us an assignment without first of all giving us the ability to do it. God made you unique and your uniqueness is not for your benefit, as seen in 1 Peter 4:10, As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. The Bible says that we are to use whatever gifts that God has given us to serve others! Your talents are not for your benefit. Remember, we have said it is not about you. Your purpose in life is to be what God made you to be. And He gave you gifts and talents and abilities and background and experiences and all these things for the benefit of other people, to be used for serving others. 1

2 So write this down, My fourth purpose in life is to serve God by serving others. Do you want to know why you are alive? That is why you are alive. You were not put here just to take up space, consume and get a free ride through life. You were put here to serve God and the way you serve God is by serving other people. Now, some people want to serve God; they just don t want to serve others. But you can t do that. The only way you can serve God is by serving others. You serve God by serving others. Now the Bible has a word for this, it s called ministry. And, again, like worship and fellowship and discipleship, this word ministry is a misunderstood word. When I say the word minister most people think of priest, pastor. But the Bible says every believer is a minister. Now not every believer is a pastor, but every believer is a minister. Ministry simply means using my gifts, talents and experiences to help somebody else in the name of God. Any time you use your talents, your abilities, your background, your experiences to help somebody else, you know what that is called ministering. And if you have been saved by the grace of God you are a minister. In the Bible the word service and ministry are the same word. And in the Bible servant and minister are the same word. So all of us are called to ministry. Some of you are thinking, I know that I am saved, but I really don t think I have been called to ministry. Oh yes you have! If you are called to salvation, you are called to serve. And so, as we continue in this series concerning God s purpose for your life, we are going to talk to you about your ministry. Before we do, I want you to turn to the person next to you and say, You are a minister. The Bible very clearly teaches that every Christian is a minister. Any time you use your talent to help somebody else, you are ministering. You are serving. And this is the fourth purpose of your life. Every saved woman is a minister. Every saved man is a minister. All little kids, all old people, if we have been saved by the grace of God, we are all called to serve Jesus Christ. You will remember that I said in the very first week of this series that life is preparation for eternity. What God wants you to do while you are here, the 60, 80, 90 years of your earthly life, is practice what you are going to do in heaven forever and ever and ever. And one of the things you re going to do in heaven is serve God and serve others. And what God put you on earth to do is practice, practice, and practice! He wants you to learn how to serve, and we are going to talk about that today. Now the good news is that God not only created us for service, He gave us a model. He came to earth Himself and said, This is how you do it. I want you to watch Me. And so he came to earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, and He said, This is what I want you to do with your life. You will remember that we have already seen that we were created to be like Christ, and what did Christ do while He was here on earth? The answer is given for us in Matthew 20:28, 2

3 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many. The Greek reads like this, For even I, the Son of man, came here not to be served but to serve others Now listen to this, your gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences determine your ministry, but your attitude determines your maturity. If you want to know what God wants you to do with your life look at your spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences. But your attitude determines your maturity. And I know a lot of people who figure out their gifts, talents and abilities, but they never seem to get this second part down. Therefore, today we are going to look at learning to serve like Jesus. And what does it take to be used and to learn to serve like Jesus? We are going to look at three things. Number one, serving like Jesus means being available. Matthew 20:30 tells us that one day Jesus was walking down toward Jericho, And, behold, two blind men sitting by the wayside, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. Verse 31 says, And Jesus stood still Jesus stopped. If you want to be used by God, if you want to serve God, you must be willing to be interrupted. Most of Jesus ministry and most of Jesus miracles were interruptions. All the people he healed the blind man, the lame man, the sick people, the paralyzed man, the dead child all of them were interruptions. His first miracle - interrupted at a wedding. His second miracle interrupted on the way to Galilee. Jesus was able to minister because He allowed Himself to be interrupted. He never allowed His agenda to become more important than people! Listen; if you are going to be used of God you must be available. There are hurting people all around us, and the wounded will not wait. And yet, byin-large, the average Christian is doing nothing in this area of ministry! What is it that keeps us from being available to be used of God? Let me give two common barriers. Number one, self-centeredness. Philippians 2:4 says, Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. The Greek reads like this, Forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand. You see the number one enemy of compassion is busyness. We just get too busy! And because I am so busy, I don t have time to serve. I have my agenda, my plans, my dreams, my goals, and my ambitions. You know what the problem is? And we are saying to God, Do not disturb my heart. I have my safe little life going here, so don t disturb me for the needs of other people. A second barrier to being used by God is perfectionism. You know, wanting for every thing to be just right. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, If you wait for perfect conditions, you ll never get anything done. Real servants, Christ-like 3

4 servants, do the best they can with what they have for Jesus Christ today. They don t wait. If God only used perfect people, what would get done in this world? Nothing, zip, zero! We are all a bunch of misfits. We all have weaknesses. We all have faults. We all have handicaps. But guess what? God doesn t use perfect people because there aren t any. So go ahead and do it for His glory! Serving like Jesus also means being grateful. Psalm 100:2 says, Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing. Psalm 105:1-3 says, Oh, give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him; talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name; let the heart of them rejoice who seek the Lord. What do we have to be grateful for? Let me just give you one reason He saved us! And if He never did anything else for us, that is enough to be grateful for the rest of our lives to serve Him. Do you know the number one barrier to being thankful? Criticism! Listen very carefully to this statement you cannot be critical and grateful at the same time! It is an emotional impossibility! I can show you Christian after Christian who has lost their joy and gratefulness because of being critical. Child of God, a critical spirit is the same thing to a Christian as the James gang was to a bank it robs you of your value! And last of all, serving like Jesus means being faithful. Now what does that mean? The Bible teaches us in Romans 12:3 that God has given to every man the measure of faith. Ephesians 2:8 says, For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Faith is a gift from God. He gives us the amount of faith that we need and it never runs out. It is true that in 2 Peter 3:18 we are admonished to grow in grace and knowledge, but it is an insult to ask God for more faith. In fact, when the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, He responded this way in Luke 17:6, If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you. Faithfulness, on the other hand, is our response to our faith. It is what we do with our faith. And that is up to us. The dictionary defines faith this way, To follow through with a commitment regardless of difficulty. That is a good definition, but me give you the biblical definition, Faithfulness is love hanging on. Faithfulness means, I will not quit. There may be misunderstandings, there 4

5 may be disappointments, there may be discouragements, but I will not quit. It means you don t give up. It means you don t quit in the middle of your assignment. If a husband says, "I love my wife," and then he goes out and has an affair, you may call him a liar. You may call him a cheat. But most of all, you will say, "He was unfaithful." Because that is what he has been. And no matter how strong his arguments may be, no matter how loudly he proclaims his love for his wife, you will now believe him because his unfaithfulness negates his proclamation of love. And if someone says, "I really love the Lord," or "I really love the church," and then is unfaithful, then it is hard to believe that he really does love the Lord. Because, you see, faithfulness and love always go hand in hand. Faithfulness is love hanging on. You may get discouraged. You may be disappointed. But faithfulness says, "Because of my love for Jesus, I will not quit." When Jesus told the story of the Talents He emphasized faithfulness. And in Matthew 25:21 He makes this promise, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. The Bible says this in 1 Corinthians 4:2, The one thing required of servants is that they be faithful. Ladies and gentlemen, God is looking for faithfulness among the Body of Christ! Now let s be honest folks, most of what we do in life doesn t matter. It isn t going to matter next week much less next year or next century or in eternity. But any time you are serving in Jesus name, no matter how small, it matters. Listen to what Jesus said in Mark 9:41, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." Listen to what we have been told in 1 Corinthians 15:58, "Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort. Why would the Bible say that? Because in God s work, there is no little service. It is all important. Have you ever wondered why you are here at Mountain Grove Church? I ll tell you why. You are here at Mountain Grove because God knew you had something to give back. He did not bring you here just to sit and soak and enjoy. He brought you here to serve. And He knew that you have something, some talent, skill, ability, or whatever. God brought you here for a reason. God brought you here, where you could find serving possibilities. 5

6 Now listen, when you boil it all down, you can do two things with your life you can waste it or you can invest it. One day you re going to stand before God and He s going to say to you, What did you do with what I gave you, the talents, the abilities, the background, the experiences, the freedom, the education, the family experiences?" In heaven you are going to get eternal rewards. Will you hear those wonderful words, Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things so; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master s happiness. Or will you stand before Him ashamed of how you wasted your life? If you have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, why not today? Everyone please stand for prayer. Father, I realize that I was saved to serve You by serving others. Help me to make time for what matters most. I want to give something back. I want to hear You say, Well done, good and faithful servant." In Jesus name. Amen. 6

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