Thank God For Godly People!
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
June 12, 2022
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians
-Paul, with others, wrote this letter to the Thessalonians
-Thessalonica- 100k people, affluent, peaceful, idol worshippers
-They did not enjoy religious freedom, as we discover today
-Acts 17:1-4 Paul shared the Gospel, several people believed
-Acts 17:5-10 Paul left after three weeks due to a riot against
Him, which he refers to in today’s focus passage
-This church was growing spiritually, highly encouraged Paul!
Who are your spiritual encouragers?
-Christian leaders, friends, family members
Who is thankful for your spiritual walk with Christ?
Paul thanked God for the Thessalonian Christians!
-1 Thes 1:2
-1 Thes 2:13 That is why we constantly thank God…
-refers back to 1:7-10
-and now he continues his complimentary words to them
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
1. Godly People Trust the Bible Vs 13
-they “received the word” as “the Word of God”
-God’s Word was changing them! “works effectively”
What is the Word of God/the Bible?
-John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God.
-Jesus is the living Word, our perfect human example!
-2 Peter 1:21 …no prophecy ever came by the will of man;
instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by
the Holy Spirit.
-God caused people to write exactly what He wanted us to
read, know and obey
-2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is God-breathed (inspired by God)
-Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and effective and
sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as
the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able
to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
-The Bible powerfully changes the core of our being!
-Godly people want to know and obey the Bible
-they compare all other claims of truth against the Bible
-they reject all other claims that contradict the Bible
2. Godly People Set the Example Vs 14
-They “became imitators of God’s churches in Christ Jesus”
-they set an example as a whole community, not individuals
-You and I aren’t examples for churches by ourselves
-United obedience to God’s Word shows the world that Jesus
is building His church!
-The miracle of the local church is that, in spite of our humanity,
she still exists all over the world!
3. Godly People Endure Opposition Vs 15-18
-The Thessalonian Christians were persecuted by their own neighbors and
-John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may
have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be
courageous! I have conquered the world.”
-Jesus suffered, we will suffer! Jesus forgave, we must forgive!
-Real Christians endure opposition and persecution
-Opposition is Satan’s effort to keep people from finding God!
-Vs 16b “wrath has overtaken them at last” God will be their
ultimate judge for stopping people from finding Jesus
-vs 18 this opposition kept Paul from being with them
4. Godly People Desire Eternal Rewards Vs 19-20
-Paul described the Thessalonians as his “crown of boasting”
-Who is following Jesus because of you? New believers will
forever testify that you and I were “witnesses” for Jesus!
Thank God for Godly People!
-who do you thank God for?
-who is thanking God for you?
Jesus Defines Greatness
G.O.A.T. is a normal human measurement
Greatest Of All Time
Behavioral research reveals we naturally shift to competitive mode when doing projects with other people
How many ways do you tend to keep score in life?
How often do we apply God’s standards when measuring GOAT?
Jesus defines greatness in God’s kingdom! Read passage
1. Jesus just predicted his crucifixion and resurrection
“Promise that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right and the other on your left, in your kingdom.”
-Mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee) asks this
-Mark 10:35-37 says only the sons asked about this
-They are asking for the greatest positions in God’s kingdom
“You don’t know what you’re asking”
-Jesus challenged their understanding, he just said he was going
to suffer greatly
-How often do we pray with similar ignorance???
-Do we really know the consequences of what we ask for?
-Can you drink this cup?? Can you take what I’m about to take?
-Matthew 26:39, 42 the cup in Jesus’s prayer- cup of suffering
-James and John (obviously with their mom in this request) tell
Jesus they are able
-Jesus explains they WILL suffer (drink this cup)
-James was the first person killed/martyred Acts 12:2
-Jesus affirms He is under his Father’s authority- he didn’t have
the right to determine greatness/status in His kingdom.
-Jesus neither grants nor denies their request
Jesus Defines Greatness
“It must not be like that among you”
-Spiritual greatness is not defined by how many people you rule
over (lord it over = political, positional power)
-Spiritual leadership is not about disregarding who you rule over
(act as tyrants = manipulate, exploit, all for personal gain)
-The world defines greatness according to how much authority a
person has to rule and control people
-Note: Jesus doesn’t actually condemn authority or leadership
-Jesus re-defines for us what a great leader actually does
-Jesus has all authority, submitted to his Father’s authority
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”
-servant- Greek word diakonos, deacon, minister
-ironically, the church struggles NOT to give people with these
titles a special status in the church!
“Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave”
-slave- literally doulos
-lowliest person with no worldly rights, puts everyone else first
-how have your decisions benefited others?
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve”
-Jesus had every right as our king to be served
-Jesus set the example of spiritual greatness
-do you serve others or expect others to serve you?
“And to give his life as a ransom for many”
-Jesus identifies himself again as the Isaiah 53 suffering servant
-Philippians 2:5-11 Christ became great through selfless suffering
Do you want to be great?
Reject the world’s definition of greatness
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” Phil 5:5
There's a lot of good music out there. My daughters were at a concert in Illinois; my youngest is visiting her sister, my other daughter in Purdue this weekend. And they took a picture of the name of the... I have never heard of these people before. And they're worshiping God - I didn't know if it was a secular concert or Christian concert and I looked it up and now it's on my Spotify. All the way into church this morning I'm listening to music that my daughters went to hear in a concert, paid good money, I think my money. Anyway, to go see - and at least some of it, and all comes from one source anyway. But there's so many ways and styles, and the way in which we worship evolves, but it all goes back to what we're singing, not the style. Are the words honoring to God? Are they honoring God? Are they talking to God? Are they talking about God to God's people together? So, I really appreciate the diversity and the variety that Bra and the team bring to us each week that we worship together.
Worship is not only singing and praying and hearing and reading God's word, but hearing about God's word. And so, here we are in the worship time where we hear about the word of God in Matthew 20 this morning, where Jesus defines greatness. And we are heading towards the cross, which then three days later is the resurrection. And next Sunday will be remembering the Lord's Supper together. And for those of you that are watching us online, just prepare ahead of time, get some juice and some flat bread or cracker or something. Or if you need some help with that, we can help you this week and bring it to you. But we will be worshiping the Lord together and observing the Lord's supper this coming Sunday which is Palm Sunday/ it's the Sunday that we also remember in history that Jesus came into Jerusalem and they laid down palm branches and they were singing Hosanna, Hosanna, and praising His name. And that same crowd would be turned, and so many behind the scenes would turn that entire scene into a scenery of execution where in by God's divine providence, Jesus died for our sins.
And that gets right to the heart of this story because greatness is not determined by the way, in which we think greatness is determined. I have a question to ask, Goat! Who in your mind is the goat in sports? Now, right now, some of you don't even care about sports, and God bless you, you have a lot more time on your hands to do other things. But so for those of you, that love sports right now and if you're watching, I want you to shout out loud who you think the goat is. I don't care what sport it is. I don't care if you pick swimming, I don't care if you pick bowling or NFL or ooh, who wants that, you know, NCAA; I don't care what you think, but who is the goat? 1, 2, 3. I don't agree with any of you. I don't agree with any of you. Is there an asterisk by any of your goats? Oh, home run hitters. They had some asterisks now in baseball history.
Anyway, but we all have this idea of what the goat is because behavioral research reveals that we naturally shift to competitive mode when doing projects with other people. I don't care what the project is. I remember as a kid, we would swing, and may have swings - I don't know if they still have those anymore, if they're dangerous or not, but we had swings. And I think every kid has to sign a liability sheet that says, if I get her on the swing, I will not sue you, and so my parents neither will blackburn somebody else.
Anyway, but there's all these rules and regulations, but we had swing sets and we would swing and we would jump... this is the worst part. We'd jump off the swing. How many jumped off a swing, lived to tell, here you are today? We did. And then you would mark in the grass, a rock usually, because what else do you have to mark where you landed to see who landed the furthest. It wasn't just fun. Let's all jump off the swing together and have fun and tumble and not break our legs. No, let's see how far we can jump without breaking our legs and see who wins. And you know, how many made it to... we always had these competitions - jump off the monkey bars. We do everything. It's human nature.
I participated in this team, building powerful ministry teams. I'm certified to teach it and all that and all fun stuff. And we had this thing where we had to get in a group, two or three different groups and we had to solve a project together, solve a problem. And invariably, not only did we see what the other team was doing... are we getting done faster than they are? The only rule was, solve the problem. They didn't give us a time limit and they didn't tell us that we got chocolate if we won first. I mean, they didn't do anything. They just said solve the problem. And invariably, we went into competition mode. Ours is better than yours. We have a better answer than you have. We got done first. And researchers have shown that that just tends to be the case every single time we do something.
One time I remember being a part of a team that went together and they actually, there was this path that you had to walk on and it was like a grid. And then electronically, it had the landmines - oh, you had to start over again. You had to start over and you had to get to the end. And there were two pads and you had to walk without getting on the wrong spot. I remember one team actually helped the other team finish because they couldn't get it done. And he said, "Yay, you win," because it wasn't about competition. It was just about completing the project. But by human nature, it tends to come out that we just want to be better/good. We want to be the goat. We want to be the goat or at least kind of like it, kind of close. How many ways do you keep score in life?
My kids dressed not as funny as your kids dressed. I don't know. I heard from my kids this week. Well, I didn't hear from my kids. We get this competitive mode of everything is got to be better than somebody else. So many times we have a better back shadow, a backstory of being beat down in life somehow; maybe physically, heaven forbid, but that's probably true statistically in this room; spiritually, mentally, verbally abused. You were in a relationship that you are in abuse, and that backstory always comes roaring ahead, and you always keep score about how well you're doing based on how well you might look in the eyes of someone in the past that shouldn't even have the dignity of having any kind of say about how good or bad your life is. And we just do this, and it roars ahead of us, and it gets in our current story even though the past story is over and we're not living it anymore, it still affects our present story in our lives.
The question I want to ask here is how often do we apply God's standards when measuring goat? How are we measuring it according to what God thinks? And that's what this is all about this morning. Jesus is going to define for us what true greatness is. Jesus defines greatness in God's kingdom here in this passage.
Matthew 20:20, "Then the mother of Zebedee sons approach him with her sons..."
And by the way, the mother of Zebedee sons, the sons are James and John, the disciples of Jesus, and here's mom and her boys.
"...And she knelt down to ask him for something. 'What do you want?' he asked her. 'Promise,' she said to him, 'that these two sons of mine may sit on your right and the other on your left in your kingdom.' Jesus answered, 'You don't know what you're asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I'm about to drink?' 'We are able,' they said to Him. He told them, 'You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and left is not mine to give. Instead it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my father.' And when the 10 disciples heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them over and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. Just as a son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
So, what's going on in this passage? While we see here that this comes right after Jesus has predicted His crucifixion and resurrection. We went over the three different times He said that last Sunday in worship. He had just said I'm going to suffer a crucifixion. He described what they would immediately know as the most horrid, feared way of being killed in that time period and probably of all time periods, and that's to be nailed to a Roman cross. This is what's going to happen to me, and then I'm going to rise again. And they didn't catch what was going on because right after that, mom zooms up, the first century helicopter mom. And she said, "My boys, you look how special they are." I had a grandma who's in heaven today, and if she's looking down she'll chuckle, I think. I don't know if you can see us down here, but I tell you what, she'd say, "You know, I know you're the only grandson I have. And I know a lot of people in the world say they have wonderful grandchildren, but I really do think you're the best grandson anybody could ever have." And I'm taking it to the bank. I was my grandma's goat. I'm just saying.
I mean, she wasn't biased, right? I mean, no, not at all. Of course not. But here's this mom coming up, telling Jesus that she wanted her boys to sit on the right and the other on the left; the most prominent positions in the kingdom of God. Will you please let my boys have top dog spots in your kingdom? I hear there's a kingdom coming. And when it all said and done, can you put them in the most prominent position possible in your kingdom, Jesus? Now we know that it's James and John, we know Mark 10 actually mentions James and John; he doesn't mention that their mom is advocate for that position.
So, here's this story and here they are asking questions, and you know, this is Jesus, the son of God. He calls himself the son of man to identify himself that He is human and He is with us, but He's also the son of God. He's divine and He is human. And He's always being asked for something. And isn't this the case? I mean, wouldn't this wear on you if you're being asked something all the time? If you ever, you have a leader that you know, or somebody you see, and you see somebody - in fact, there are people I know that they're in leadership position, and even at most meetings, even if we're in a public gather, I just don't go over to them right away because I know that oftentimes they're getting bombarded by people. And most of the time people are asking for favors.
When you meet somebody who's very prominent and you asking why in the world are they just kind of not so excited? Because most of the people that come to someone like that is usually coming to get something. And the best thing you can do by the way, just a side note has nothing to do with this. The best thing you can do with someone who's an authority or someone who is a person of prominence, person of wealth, is when you come to them, say, how can I pray for you? That's all you need to ask. I need to ask a favor. Oh, what is it? I just want to pray for you. We don't have to right now; that person might not be a person of faith. They might be weirded out by your faith. I don't know. I'm glad they're being weirded out if that's the case, by the way. They need to know that you support them as they support and influence people in their lives.
Just pray for them, just encourage them' just a side note, just a thought, and then ask for the selfie. I'm kidding. Don't do that. No, no, no. Don't ask. I'm kidding. You don't know what you're asking for, Jesus said. You don't know what are asking for. How many of you have prayed a prayer and you really didn't know what you're asking God for? We've all done this. We pray out of this ignorance of, I think I know how the universe runs. And if you give me this, the universe will run a whole lot better. Ain't that what we pray? I know better than you, God, because you haven't given me what I want, and what I want's more important than what I already got, so give it to me now.
I'll get here in a second here. I'm not saying not to pray big prayers. I'm just saying that sometimes when we pray, maybe oftentimes, we really don't know what we're asking for. He challenged their understanding because He had just said, "I'm going to suffer greatly. If you follow me, take up your cross and follow me.: He had said that earlier. Did you forget that guys? Guys, do you realize that the greatest person in the world, Jesus, I'm going to die? Are you following me to my death, to your death? Do you really know what you're asking for? Do you know the consequences of your request if it's granted? Can you drink this cup? What do you mean drink this cup - the challenge, the Holy Grail, the one that Indiana Jones was going after, is that what we talking about? What kind of cup are we talking about?
No, it's euphemism for the idea. Can you drink... can you come after and deal with what I'm going to have to deal with? What did he say in the garden of Gethsemane? "Father, if it be that will, could you take this cup from me? This cup of wrath, this moment of suffering that's about to take place in my life, but nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." The same word imagery, this word picture of I'm going to have to drink the worst thing I've ever had. I'm going to have to drink into my life the worst thing that's ever happened to me. Are you willing - are you able to drink the cup? And of course they said, "Yeah, we can do that. We can do that."
And Jesus says, "Well, yeah, you're going to suffer. You're going to drink from my cup. You're going to be ostracized. You're going to be cast out. James, He didn't tell him this, but James would be the first murder of the Christian Church, he'd be put to death before anybody else. And then later on, John would suffer greatly in his ministry for Jesus Christ. He'd be banished to the Island of Patmos. And he would receive as a blessing, a tremendous revelation, which we have today recorded as the Revelation of Jesus Christ about the end times. And it is historically tradition has says that basically he did die of an old age. He didn't die and suffer a martyr's death of crucifixion like Peter did, or by being filet to death by some other means by horrible means as some others did. You know, even doubting Thomas died a martyr's death. And so, this one that was doubting Jesus, and this one that we go, how weak his faith was, how strong his faith was in the end according to a tradition. Yeah, you're going to drink the cup of mine.
But by the way, guys; boys, I just want you to know it is not mine to give whether or not you're on my right or my left. That's up to the father. Because as a person in authority, I am under authority and my authority is trumped by God's authority, by my father's authority. I'm God the son, He's God the father, and He's the one that's prepared those decisions, not mine. He neither denied nor granted their request. He just said, let's leave it in the hands of the father. I think there's been at least three times I've been asked, do you think this is it, Pastor Greg, do you think this is it? Do you really think I've been around different scenarios and different circumstances, some horrific, some exciting, and all these different places you keep hearing, you know, Russia is getting, and this is happening and that's going, and our nation's getting... and I think maybe my lifetime maybe and all these different things are happening. And even when I talk about that, I say, "Well, it could be; we're closer than we've ever been." And then you're in the car and you say how close are we? Closer than we were five minutes ago when you asked. I mean, we are getting closer and it does seem like there's some things going on. But I want to tell you, Jesus even said, when they said when you're coming back? When's this going to happen? And in Acts 1, He said, "It is not for you to know it's the father's business. I don't even know. But you will be my witnesses here and everywhere."
In other words, keep after it. Look at the signs. Look what's going on. But trust the father's divine plan. Don't quit. Don't sell your house yet. Although it's a good time to sell houses. Don't do it. Don't give up the shop yet. Keep working, keep living, keep doing, look forward, but trust the Father's divine authority over the times and the ends and trust the Father for who's going to be first and second and third in the pecking order of the kingdom of God. That's up to Him, not Jesus.
And he's like, yeah, you're going to suffer, but that's one part. But guess what? The other part where you're going to be, that's really up to my father. You don't know what you're asking. You don't realize the authority question that you're asking. And so then, Jesus now defines greatness. After this, the disciples come up, it's like, "What are you boys asking for? Come on!" Now, were they mad because they were asking first? Didn't say! We wanted to ask that question. You know, Peter's like, "Why not me? You said I'd be the rock." By the way, he never took steroid. I should stay on script. Sorry guys. Yeah. Yeah. Amen, oh me.
It must not be like that among you, that's what Jesus said. What did He say? You know that the rulers are the Gentiles lorded over them. And those in high positions act as tyrants over them, but it must not be like that among you. In other words, He said, there's a world system, there's people who lorded over others and there are tyrants. And by the way, don't get your democratic, the people are in charge and don't deal with this hierarchy. They were used to hierarchy. They had no idea what voting was - human rights. You had zero rights under most authorities.
Paul even said obey those in leadership, they don't wield the sword for nothing. God had put them in charge to maintain order. Whether they were godly or not, you need to honor authority in the world. And there's a whole ethic of conversation about doing the right thing, and I'm not getting into that today. But Jesus is saying, this is what you're used to seeing; political powers, they lorded over people, they're lords. And then there's people that have authority by their wealth or influence, and they hold it over people; they're like tyrants. And you know that's kind of how the world acts, and a great person is seen by how many people they are in charge of. Spiritual greatness is not defined by how many people you rule over or how many people you can manipulate. It's not about disregarding, who you rule over; acting as a tyrant, manipulating, exploiting all for personal gain. This is not how greatness is defined.
You don't come here and try to get in the kingdom and say, "Well, I want a position." It's not about position. At our church we often have said, and we'll say it again. I'm saying it right now. We're not here to give out titles. We're here to give out towels. The world defines greatness according to how much authority a person has to rule or control people. Now, Jesus doesn't actually condemn authority or leadership; He's just redefining what a great leader is. He's defining greatness. He's not denigrating leadership or position. He's just saying that if you want to be a great person, it's not based on position; it's based on how you live out in whatever position of life God has given you.
Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. The word Diakonos, the Greek word, where we also get later on in the New Testament, the word for deacon, the word for minister, but that's not what Jesus is establishing here. He's saying you need to be a servant. You need to serve. He's not putting a title here. He's saying we're looking for a way of living, serving other people. Up in the upper room, He said, "This is what you're supposed to do." And He gets down on His knees and He washes their dirty feet. And He says, "And as I've done for you, you do for others." You need to serve and need to be willing to take... nothing should be beneath you. We were talking about some kind of activity or something or washing or mopping or something. And wasn't a point of arrogance; it was just, well, that's not beneath me. It should never be beneath you. Serving people, serving generally. You know when you know that you're not a good servant is when someone calls you one and you don't like it.
Ouch! You must be a servant. Ironically, the church struggles not to give people with these titles special status: the deacon board, the minister. These titles are I think, honorable and good and biblical. And yet, why is it that they become the elevated person that now is lording it over in access tyrants over the church, and an unhealthy church system lets it happen? Because we are taking the world's definition and we're imposing it on the church's life, instead of letting the definition of Jesus interpret for us what greatness is.
And then He says, "Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave." Another word he uses, "doulos" slave, the lowliest person with no worldly rights who puts everyone else first. I have a question. How have your decisions this week about you lived your life benefited other people? I'm not saying we deny our basic needs; take care of us... I'm not saying that we like, I'm a worthless worm, I'm nothing. We need to eat, sleep, drink. We need to do our things, we need to have... But I'm talking about as you make decisions, how has it affected positively the people around you? When I talk about men being the spiritual leaders of their home, and I talk about a husband leading his wife spiritually; I always ask the question, will you be willing to put your wife and your children first whenever you make a decision and your last? That's what a servant leader is in the home.
As elders, as ministry team leaders in our church, as people who have spiritual leadership in our church, every decision we make is based on what is best for what everybody else needs, not what our needs are. I have personal preferences. I like it this way. I like blue. Other people like red. I like this. I like fufu coffee. Other people don't care. I mean, we have these ways of living that we think, well, this is how it ought to be done, but it's usually how I want it to be done, not how is it best done for the benefit of not only today's church, but the future church and the generations of church until Jesus comes again church.
I said a long time ago when we started the church; we started at a certain benchmark of style and way in which we did things. Method never changes. The message never changes - methods do. And I said, I'm sure that in the end of my ministry, we'll be doing methods that I probably won't really like so much just because I'm an old fogie, but I pray and I will fight tooth and nail that the message never changes.
Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. If you want to be first, you need to be last. You need to be the slave, because the son of man did not come to be served but to serve. You're following me; be a servant. You're making out me to be the greatest of all time; well, the greatest of all time just bent down and served you. And by the way, this is how he served you and to give His life as a ransom for many. Jesus had every right as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to be served. And He said, "I didn't come here to be served. I came here to serve you. I didn't come here to be the greatest of all time on this earth in this earthly system that you guys are living in. I came here to be the greatest of all time for the kingdom of God forever and ever to the glory of God, the Father, amen and amen. And I came here to do that by serving you, because God wants a people for a kingdom of himself. He wants a priest to the believers. He wants a group of people that honor and love Him, and there's no way we can earn our way into heaven. I'm going to die for you so that you can get there without your own ways of getting there. I'm going to do it for you. I'm going to die so that I will pay off what you owe God. You owe him eternal death for what you've done to rebel against a holy God. And I'm going to take that punishment for you so that you don't have to take it so that you can receive by faith, the grace, the unmerited favor of God." The forgiveness of your sins, eternal life; not by any kind of work so that no one can boast and say, I got in this way, how'd you get in?
We all got in because of Jesus. You know the one question they'll ask you in heaven; I don't know, preacher said this all the time and I don't know how that's going to go down in heaven. But the one question to be asked is what did you do with Jesus when you enter into eternity, did you trust Him or reject Him? And if you trusted Him, He says, "If you will confess me before others, I confess you before the Father. But if you refuse to confess me before others, then I'll have to refuse to confess you before the Father." "No one gets to the father, except through me." Jesus said. "I came to die for you, to serve you." And if you want to be great, if you want to be the goat in your lifetime, you need to be like Jesus.
So based on this passage, we look at Philippians 2 where Paul later on identifies a little bit more in chapter 2 where he says, "If you're going to honor people in your life, you need to honor them the way Jesus did. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ. Emphasizing what Jesus says here in Matthew 20, "Jesus who existed in the form of God did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead, he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on the cross." He died to pay the ransom for many, his punishment for our inequities - Isaiah 53.
So, who is the goat? You want to modify your answer? Who's the goat? Who's the goat? Jesus is the goat. He's the greatest of all time. And if you want to be like Jesus, and if you're a Christian, if you say I'm a follower of Christ, you're Christian; that means you are trying to be like Christ. And you want to be the greatest of all time under Christ; you're not trying to compete against Him, right? But if you are having a mindset to want to do the way Jesus did, to be as Jesus was and to live as Jesus lived; then you too will live out a life of service and slavery to the best of what God has intended and wanted for the people in your life and around you and the people you influence.
If you happen to make your way into a person of authority and status, he's not telling you to sell everything and become a slave of the world. He's saying that in your position of authority, in your slavery to what God wants - you do the right with whatever you have to do with. If you're a leader, you lead in such a way that is not about your leadership; it's about the best of the people that you lead. It's about taking care of the people that you need to take care of. It's about America saying that we have been given so many privileges and responsibilities that, yes, we do owe a debt to the world of taking care of and doing things to encourage and help in ways that other nations never could, because by the grace of God, we have what so many others never have had.
We have an opportunity to be a shining light of encouragement as Christians, as believers in Jesus Christ to make a difference in other people's lives, by serving, not by telling and by lording it over and acting as a tyrant and acting not like Jesus when we don't get our way. We say, Jesus, you're in charge of my life, and because you were a servant and bow yourself to the point of death, I want to live my life pleasing to you.
A passage that I didn't have in the notes, but I think is appropriate to read, 2 Corinthians 5:15, where it says, "And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised."
I pray this morning that we will reject the world's definition of greatness, that we'll stop living in competition for those things that don't even matter. Yeah, kids, keep jumping off the swing and seeing who gets first. That's fun, but our status and our worth is not determined by how fast or how far we go compared to everyone else in the world. Our status and our worth is already been settled in heaven. We're valuable enough for a King of King to die for us, and so the least we can do is just say I'm willing to die to myself to live for Him as I serve and encourage others around me. Let's reject the world's definition of greatness, and let's adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ. Let's adopt the attitude of Jesus.
I don't know if it means for the first time you put your faith in him and you tell the world I'm a Christian. Maybe before Easter or right on Easter Sunday, we'd be more than happy to help you follow through in believers’ baptism. Or maybe it's to say, "I re-surrender again, because I'm done in all this competitiveness that Io keep living in; it's my back story that's getting in the way of my present story. I got to get into the God story of my life." And maybe that connection card, maybe you just say, "I'm not even sure what I'm asking for, but I'd just like to meet with somebody and pray with them, or just pray for me this week so that I define greatness the way God wants me to and get rid of my stinking thinking." Let's adopt the same attitude of Jesus Christ.
Let's pray right now. Father, God, I don't know what you want to do in this room and how you want to move and who you're working on. You've been working on me all week on this. What is leadership? And this just puts a wrinkle in, in all the ways in which we've been taught in this lifetime, in this world of what leadership is and what leaders do. And I thank you that you get in our way and you help us to not think in temporal finite terms, but think in eternal terms. And I know that these two men that were asking questions went on to greatness because of their sacrifice of their lives for you, Jesus. And so, I thank you for the examples of James and John. Yeah, a little arrogant at the front end, and God, I just pray that we won't be afraid to ask big prayers because we might be asking wrong. But Lord, be willing to submit to your final answer when we ask them. I just pray that you'll help us to be successful spiritually in front of you. This week, as we think about the people we influence and encourage, that we might influence and encourage them in a way that benefits them and honors and glorifies you. Show us how to do that, Jesus, we're still learners. We're still growing. And help us to be obedient to publicly proclaim today whatever it is you want us to. And I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Full worship service
Full worship service
B: Bible book