Well, I got a question. Did you mean it? That's a powerful song. And let's not forget the words that we're singing when we're enjoying the song that we're singing. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. How many of you growing up were swimming on the shallow end, looking carefully at the deep end? Yeah. And there were times when you were like, "I don't know that I want to swim over there because my feet can't touch." Is our faith such that we are only willing to go where our feet can touch? Or are we willing to go in a place where all we have is Jesus to get us through? Let me give you a hint. You'll probably be given a situation like that anyway, so get used to it, because God has a way of putting us in unusual circumstances that shows us that we can trust Him above the circumstances.
Well, I'm going to hone in on a passage of scripture in Romans 12 on talking about how we serve Christ together. And the reading of the scripture from where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples reminds me of a time when we planted our church and where we went to what was called basic training for church planters. And the leader of that training event on the second night of the second day of the three days that we were there, had us all sit in a circle and he took a towel and he simply just started wiping each of our feet. We didn't take our shoes and socks off. I've had that happen a couple of times. In fact, when we started our service, our church, before we even got launched, somebody did that for me. And it was a powerful example of servanthood and love, and I grew up going to a church that did that.
But even just wiping the outside of our feet was humbling. And it reminded us that Jesus, the Son of God, the king of the world, the king of the universe, the King, bent down and served his disciples and demonstrated that the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give us life as a ransom for many. We did a series of messages on servanthood in our church when we got start in the early days. And we actually had a towel that was printed up, got our old style logo on it, and it says, "I will serve my Christ, my church, and my community." We handed it out to everyone who was willing to take it to say around here, we're not passing out titles, we're passing out towels because we are servant-minded. I still have a few of these.
If one of you wants to get deputized and be a servant, and we may even print some more up because it's a powerful reminder we are called to serve, and we serve together in Christ's name. How do we do that? And I believe chapter 12 versus three through six kind of gives us a hint as to how to do that. And I'm not going to go into the spiritual gift, mix lists of spiritual gifts, but I want to talk about the practical application of that we have them and how we actually use them for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ followers imitate Christ by serving. If you want to look like Jesus, start serving in His name. You don't look like Jesus by being in charge of a bunch of stuff. You might be in charge of a bunch of stuff, but you are in charge of a bunch of stuff as a servant of the people and the situation that you're in charge of. We are all servants in the name of Jesus Christ, and every believer is gifted to serve. Every believer has some kind of a spiritual gift. And I'm not talking about abilities; we'll talk about that in just a few moments. I'm not talking about - some people... we all sang this morning, only a few ought to have a microphone. And that's just, I mean, you know, in fact, I realized, did you all hear me singing through your earpiece? Good, because occasionally I keep it. They'll mute it up there, but then it still goes through the earpieces and my daughter's like, "Yeah, we heard you singing." I'm like, "Oh, I'm sorry," because it still comes through there. And so I'm like, "Eh."
But anyway, but we all have different gifts. I'm not talking about abilities. I'm not talking about talents, things that we're we just kind of naturally good at. Some people are carpenters, some people are mechanics, some people are neither, some people, right brain, left brain. We're going to talk about that a little bit this morning, but I want to hone in on the conversation that every believer is gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve. When you become a Christian, God gives you a spiritual gift. We're going to talk about it in Romans, but it also talks about it in 1 Corinthians 12 In your homework time, you can go look at 1 Corinthians 12, and in 1 Peter 4:10, I'm going to actually hone in on that a little bit later as well to say that we all - in fact, let me read that for you 1 Peter 4:10 says, "Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others as good stewards of the varied grace of God." We show the grace of God through the using of our spiritual gifts as we serve people in Jesus' name. And people will not really receive the full grace of God. And I mean, I'm not talking about you get the grace of God, but you won't experience that grace, that unmarried favor unless the body of Christ is functioning well and that we're all serving the way we're gifted so that everybody experiences the grace in a practical way.
You see, God says we're supposed to serve, but he empowers us to serve. Think about it. You may have had an employer or a supervisor or even a teacher that told you to do an assignment, but they didn't equip you to do it. Anybody. And if you're a supervisor, don't do that. A parent says, "Go mow the lawn," but if the parent doesn't show the child how to turn on the lawnmower and safely mow the grass, "straight lines, please," then and then get mad at them because they didn't do it right, that's just cruel. So in the same way, if God has told you to go serve people and then He doesn't give you any ability to do it, He doesn't show you how, that would be unfair. Not right.
There's a saying, you know, when you talk about calling and being called to be a pastor, being called to be in ministry, God doesn't call those who are equipped, He equips those who are called. He takes care of the empowerment part, we just have to show up and be obedient to do the work, and He will come through us and be a blessing to other people. So, we all are gifted to serve. And the reason He changes our lives and the reason that He wants to move in our lives and we become more like Jesus is so that we do serve people in His name. So in Romans 12, it starts out by saying, "Therefore brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true worship." And then he says verse two, a lot of times you may have heard this, if you've been in church a while, "Do not be conform to this age."
Don't just be a conformist to this age, to the people around you, to what's going on to the culture. No, no, no, be transformed. How do you do that? By the renewing of your mind. And we talk about prayer, bible study, getting around other godly people, being around godly influences, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God? So that you can do the right thing. And then the word "for" in verse three actually attaches itself back to what he said, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And when your mind is renewed, this is what you're going to do." So let me read for us, verse three, "For By the grace given to me," this is Paul talking through the inspirational Holy Spirit, "I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, he should think sensibly as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one."
Verse four. "Now, as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function in the same way, we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another, according to the grace given to us, we have different gifts. "
Let me pray for us, Father God right now, is we unpack this very meaningful and important and practical passage of how to experience and how to use the gifts you've given us, how to understand what you've done and how to function well as the body of Christ, Lord, may You deliver the message to every heart that's needed this morning. There might be someone who's far from God. They're not even figuring out what it means to have a spiritual gift. They're just trying to figure out how to hold things together. I don't know where people are this morning. I can't read minds. I don't know every heart. I've prayed for a lot of people in this room, but only you know where they are right now. And so, I just pray in Jesus' name that if it's someone who just needs to draw closer to You this morning, may You translate this message in their hearts to know that You love them and You have a purpose for their lives. And You want to work in and through their lives to make a difference in their situation, and that they can live a life of purpose and meaning. And if it's those of us that have lived with You and walked in You for a long time, Lord, wake us up to what You want us to do next, to serve You and to honor You and to be a blessing to You in whatever season of life we're in. And everywhere in between, God, You know what to do in this moment. May you be more important and may you be thought of more, and may I diminish even as I'm talking and I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Well, I want to talk about what Christian servants are like this morning. And this passage gives us a pretty clear picture of what servants in the Lord Jesus name are like. It first says in verse three that we are humble. Verse three says don't think of yourself more highly than you should think. We need to be humble. We're not all that more, but we are - I'll get that in a minute. But we need to make sure that we're not thinking puffed up, thinking about, "Oh, look at that. It's like the story of the pastor that's coming home from church and he's in the car and he's just thinking about how he got all the words right. He didn't twist his tongue up like I do occasionally. His kids didn't giggle at him when he messed up, and he just thought, you know, he brought it. You know, dropped the mic moment in the pastor's life, right? And he's just thinking to himself these thoughts. But you know, you don't say that out loud in the car. So he said something to the effect of, 'Aren't there a lot of great preachers out there today that probably preach the word of God?" And his wife heard that and she immediately said, "And probably one less than you think."
We need to make sure that we don't get too full of ourselves. Don't think too much of yourself. But then he goes right around and says, but think sensibly of yourselves. We need to be confident. There's these two bumpers or guardrails that we need to have in our lives. There's the bumper guardrail of pride that says, "I'm all that and more. "And I don't mean you can't use the word proud. I think there's a right way, but don't be proud. God resists the proud, gives grace to the humble. Do you want to be resisted by God? Don't be proud. So that's the bumper. Don't be proud, but don't feel like you're insignificant, like I don't matter to anything. As I said in the early service - worm theology, I'm a worthless worm. There's actually a hymn that we would sing, and it just brought this whole idea that I'm just a groveling nothing. And that is saying that God made junk. That's saying that God didn't make you into something special and important in this world. Like, you were the mistake in the universe. And that is a lie from the pit of hell.
That is an absolute lie, it's a lie that causes people to have more anxiety, more fear, more struggles. It causes people to have identity crisis and it causes people to take their lives, and anywhere in between. And they sit on a shelf and they think, "Well, I'm just not good at anything." You're good at something. You're not good at everything, but you're good at something. So don't be so prideful that you think you're all that more. And don't live life saying I'm not good at anything. That's a lie. God has gifted you. And every Christian in this room has been given a spiritual gift to be used to the glory of God. Again, not a talent or an ability; I'm talking about a spiritual empowerment that so uniquely makes you see the world that you see it in such a way, that sometimes when a brother or sister in Christ sees it a different way, you get a little offended. You're like, "Well, you're just not as merciful as you should be because you're the super mercy.
Or the person says, "Well, you're being a little soft on them," because they're more the teacher or they're the exhorter. A teacher, you know, kind of teaches an exhorter. I'm not getting into the weeds here, but an exhorter says, "Well, here's..." they come alongside and they encourage. There's hard gifts, there's soft gifts, there's gifts that are, you know, gift of giving, gift of mercy. And then there's the gift of forth telling, the prophet that tell it like it is. Frank and Ernest who's done more; those two men have done more to destroy fellowship than anywhere else - just being Frank and Ernest. Don't! No, we work together. I'll talk about that in a minute. I'm getting ahead of myself here. We need to be confident that God has given us a gift, but not so confident that we get high minded.
Sometimes we get too confident and we think we need to have some kind of recognition. God will recognize, and God will use the body of Christ to recognizing you. You don't have to worry about that, God don't take care of that in his timing. You present yourself. If someone's supposed to be in ministry, present yourself. That's a good thing to do. But let the body of Christ work with you and in and through you as you do that. Or to be humble, to be confident, and a Christian servant, we are gifted. Okay, let's just state the obvious. We are gifted. It says in that first verse there, verse three. And think sensibly as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Some commentators suggest that that measure faith phrase means "the faith" that God's been measured out, the faith of Jesus Christ, the faith in trusting in Him. And that's it.
Others will say no, that's actually, measure of faith is just a synonym for... it's another way of saying spiritual gifts. He's given you a measure of spiritual gifts. And I think of measure of faith like I've been given my piece of real estate to take care of in a football game, and I got to stay home. That's what one of the things they talk about, stay home. You need to stay where you're supposed to be as a defense to make sure that you're capturing and cleaning up the area that you're responsible for on the field. And just as the offense is supposed to go where they're supposed to go, you don't put two receivers to go the same direction. Maybe you do, but then there's a split off so that there's actually a confusion so that the quarterback can get to somebody who's open. You need to own the real estate you've been assigned to take care of. So you've been given a measure of faith; you have a spiritual gift that you've been given and you're responsible for taking care of it and using it and fostering it into better and stronger so that you might honor God with your life with that spiritual gift.
In verse six it says we have different gifts. We are given these gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, "A manifestation of the spirit is given to each person." The Holy Spirit gives you that gift. And by the way, there are things about our lives sometimes that we get irritated with ourselves about. Why don't we always see things that way? Why is it if I'm a hammer, every time I see a problem, I think it's a nail? And I just bang on things all the time, the way I design to bang on things and it just doesn't work right. Yeah, because I'll talk in a minute here that there's a reason for that, but don't resent the fact that you're a hammer. Don't resent the fact that you see the world that you just - why is it that I just get bent out of shape when I see bad things happening? That just tears me up. I don't know what to do about it. So just thank God that you have sensitivity, some of us don't, like you do.
Sometimes I have to - my wife and I, I don't think either one of us have the gift of mercy. Poor kids! And get hurt in games and we're like, "Get up. Throw some dirt on it." "Yeah, but there's blood on it." "The blood will make the blood clot better, faster." Yeah, just go for it. That's why one kid had a broken ankle for two days before we found out that they had a broken ankle. Yeah, that's God's six sense of humor on our kids. That's awful. Anyway, pray for my kids, pray for my kids. But we all are all gifted in our particular ways. That's no excuse by the way, for us not being merciful. That's why I'm self-confessing this morning. It doesn't mean that you can just forget mercy if you're not merciful.
Alright, let me give you another. I don't have the gift of evangelism, the gift of telling people about Jesus, but we're still called to go and tell people about Jesus. Just because you don't have the ability to help others do it better, and every time I was growing up, the evangelist would come into town, we'd have week long bible worship services each night and this evangel and every time he got on an airplane, it seemed like he was sitting next to somebody and they got saved on his way to somewhere else, or he'd be somewhere. Everywhere he went he'd be like, they all came to Jesus. I was like, man, I'm not that person. I talk to people, I feel like I might take people to the next step, but I just don't - I'm not the closer, I guess you might say. I don't know what it is. But the bottom line to is, people are super gifted to give, but it does not negate all of our responsibility to tell people about Jesus.
So I'm not talking about the commands to go and tell people. I'm talking about the spiritual unction that you have, that spiritual power that's within you that enables you to equip the body of Christ to be something more than they are already. We're gifted, but we are also interdependent. Verse four, "All the parts do not have the same function," which means none of us has all the gifts, only Jesus was perfect. And if we're going to be like Jesus, we got to work together to show what Jesus looks like through all of us doing our particular part in the body of Christ. Verse five, "We are individually members of one another." So we're individuals, but we belong to one another. There is this trend of going off and doing my own little house church by myself, all myself. And sometimes it's because they get offended by other people's spiritual gifts and they have to run off and they go off and they do their own thing, and then they become the hammer that sees the whole world as a nail.
Nonprofits are started in a positive way because of this. Someone has a spiritual gift, and they start a nonprofit ministry to do this, that or the other. And they're given that gift and they go do that, but then they don't realize that they are part of a bigger picture in the body of Christ and they are kind of soloed or they're siloed and they're basically over here doing their thing and they're not being inputted by others who have other spiritual gifts and they kind lose their way or they start resenting how everybody isn't like they are. And there's just that pride thing. And so we need to make sure that we're not... now, some people, they're wounded and there's struggles and there's been bad things that have happened in church. I've had some bad things happen in church, but God still works through the body of Christ, and He works as we are interdependent.
We're better together than we'll ever be by ourselves. We have different gifts. And it says in 1 Corinthians 12:7, "For the common good." Your spiritual gift isn't something for you to profit on by yourself. It's something to be a blessing; not just to you, but to other people as well. We're all in this together, working together blessing one another. In 1 Corinthians 12, it also talks about that each one has gifts, there are different ministries and there are different activities that result from that. Let me just say that maybe you have... like my pastor in the church that I was an intern in Texas would say that he had the gift of servanthood. He just, that was his spiritual gift and yet he's a pastor. Servanthood you would think, oh, he's the janitor, right?
I mean, I'm not saying that are good to say that, well that's how you're the pastor. No, no, no, no. Your giftedness does not necessarily mean what your ministry's going to be. His gift was service. His ministry was calling as a pastor of the church. But then it was God who brought about the activity and the result that was needed in the body of Christ. In that passage, it also says it is the same spirit who gives the gifts. It's the same Lord who gives the ministries and it's the same God who brings about the activity.
And what he would say is that I serve through my motivational gift of servanthood. And he would be the first one in this megachurch of thousands to get up on a Wednesday night dinner. And we had weekly dinners at the church in the family life center. And he would often be getting plates for people and serving. He was also administrating a massive church, but he administrated it as a servant in his spiritual giftedness. And it was God who gave him the gift, who called him into a ministry, who then by the power of the Holy Spirit brought about a result that was honor and glorifying to the one God who brought this all together as interdependent individuals for the common good to do the work together. We all work together to reflect the glory of God. We depend on one another as we all depend on God together. That's what it's all about, because ultimately not only we are we interdependent, but we are united.
How are we united? We who are many are one body in Christ. Our spiritual gifts combine together are meant to display the one Jesus Christ. There is no Jesus Christ superstar in the room. Jesus is the only superstar. And we in our own way, when we blend in unity and He says, "They'll know that you're my disciples if you have love one for another." I pray father that they may be one even as you and I are one," Jesus said. The oneness of the body of Christ is the most powerful witness that God is working and moving in this world. And we must work together to make that happen.
Again, what are the pitfalls? Oftentimes we see things the way we see things and we get a little upset when people don't see things the way we see them. In marriage there's usually an opposite attract, and then after a while opposites rub people the wrong way in a relationship. And yet, it's sort of like - let's just use a simple one, spenders and savers. How many of you live in a household, it's you have both in your home spenders and savers? Yeah, that makes for interesting conversation, doesn't it? Yeah, but if you were both savers, you'd be misers. You might not be generous. Your children would hate you. There's all kinds of things. I don't know. But if you're both spenders, uhoh, I won't ask if anybody's both spenders. You wouldn't have enough money to do anything. I mean, you're always broke because you're spending it all. So that particular, again, that's not a spiritual gift, but the gift of generosity is spiritual gift.
And by the way, people who have the gift of generosity aren't necessarily rich. Some of the most powerful people who have the gift of generosity are some of the poorest people you'll ever meet. And sometimes it aligns with people who have money. But oftentimes the gift of generosity, the gift of giving is possessed by a person who just like the widow give all to the god with faith that God is in control of the right resources. But we come together and as we do that, we sometimes we get upset or offended by the way somebody sees the world with their spiritual gifts. And that's true. Like we have in the benevolence team; we have people that are very merciful and people that are very forth tellers and say how did you get into that situation? And we want to know some more details to be able to kind of help you in a real way. We're not just giving out money. What does the rescue mission say? "Real change, not spare change."
We want to bring real life change. We want discipleship. We are to make disciples not just give out a bunch of money as a church. So if part of the discipleship process is that you help somebody financially, but it also might mean that you help somebody learn how to better manage their resources. And we put both people on the benevolence team and sometimes they fight over what they ought to do. I mean that in a positive way, they have a disagreement, but it works well because they're balancing each other out to represent the body of Christ in a holistic way, not just in one way. We are united for the purpose of glorifying God, fulfilling His purposes in the body of Christ, in the church and in the world. So, that is the explanation in Romans 12.
I want to close this morning with just a couple of thoughts about how to get started. First of all, how do you get started? Consider your shape. Shape - S H A P E. It's a little acronym. It's a word that's an acronym for spiritual gifts, heart abilities, personality experiences. So, what's your "s" your spiritual gifts? And I'll tell you, talk about every one of us has one and I'll talk about how to figure out what that is in just a minute. But consider what you seem to have the most heart passion for doing. Read the list, there's different list in the Bible. I already gave you some passages and if you go online, you'll see those passages on my notes and you can look up all of those.
I some people think that those lists are complete and others think that there's more than what even the lists and the Bible of spiritual gifts that there are. And I would just say be careful to go beyond the Bible, but don't think that you're like locked into, because the Bible never says anywhere. These are the only ones, but it doesn't say you can be creative and do whatever you want either. Yeah, be careful. So there's spiritual gifts, and then what's your heart interest. On Wednesday night we're actually going to have a meeting at 7:30 for anybody who wants to think and talk about how to help the rescue mission, the rescue mission minister team. And so if you are interested and you have a heart passion to help people; think about the rescue mission and the homeless, then come join us. But if you don't, don't feel guilty that you didn't go. That's not your heart passion.
We are a pro-life church. We believe in the life begins at conception. We also believe that we ought not to be practicing euthanasia, right? I mean, you know, we need practice on both sides of the spectrum. But some people are on the front lines of the pro-life movement. Some are out there on the front lines politically to make sure that that people are elected that will protect life and that we will be defeated in public office who don't respect life. Then there are people that they're there to serve and help people who are in crisis and are thinking at the crossroads. They are abortion minded. They're thinking about abortion because the culture says that's your only way out, and they are trying to support ministries. Those are heart desires and we all support life, but some support it in a heart passion that's more than others in the room.
There are people who... anyway, I can just go on and on and on, but those are different ministries, but different heart passions. So what are you interested in? Some people really have a big deal about our children's ministry and others are like, no, not so much. And here's the deal, by the way, let me just be real careful on this. We all ought to be serving that where we're shaped, you know, how God has gifted us to serve. That's our primary thought of where we're serving in the church, but other places we serve where we're needed. And just because you say, "Well, I don't know that I'm gifted to work with children," but you might be one of the safest, best persons to work with children. And we have needs all the time in the children's ministry, so I'm going to ask you right now for thus to have a signup list right here for the children's ministry, and my wife will thank you, and so will all the children and so all the parents of children who depend on our church to help disciple them in their own age appropriate way during our services.
So please don't think, "Well, I'm not so good at that," that doesn't mean you're not qualified to serve. Sometimes the qualify factor is, there's a need; show up, start doing it, come on. And then as we grow and more people come in, then you can hand that off to someone who might need more shaped than you are to serve.
And then we have abilities, we have certain things we're good at, and I mentioned that earlier. Some people are more gifted to do things with their hands. And some people are more right brain, left brain, they can do things. And we have to be careful to know what our abilities are. What are you good at? What do people said you're good at? And your personality; some of you are introverts and some of you are extroverts and somewhere in between. Some of you, you're very logistical minded in your ways of doing things, and some of you, you're all over the map. Wish you could be like me, all over the map anyway.
And then what are your experiences? What have you done? What's happened to you? Some of you come from intact Bible believing homes. Some of you come from good homes that weren't Bible believing. Some of you come from homes that exploded. Some of you are adopted; you that you all come from all different ways of life. You all have are different vocations in this room. You have different hobbies and activities. You've seen things. Some of you been in military, some of you have not. You all have different experiences. And God uses all those experiences for His honor and his glory. And there are some things, there's some things in this room that you've experienced that someone ought never experienced, but you know full well, somebody probably will. And God doesn't waste a hurt. He's going to use your hurt. As He healed you and as you found him in the deeper waters where your feet couldn't touch and you found His strength in the midst of that experience to get through it. And here you are today, victorious because of Jesus Christ, you can be there for someone else who's getting on the journey on that same problem.
God doesn't waste a hurt, consider your shape and then start serving somewhere. Just pick up a towel and start serving. Just get going. Serve where we're needed. There's a lot of entry places here at St. Joe. Just get involved. Ask your connection group leader, what's some things that need to be done? If you're a half decent smiler, we need more people to greet people when they come in. It's like, "thanks for being here. Here's a bulletin." You know, there's all kinds of different ways. If you're in a connection group, you don't have to like do something officially functional in the church life. There are all kinds of other things that we do for and with one another in the body of Christ that's never cataloged as a ministry service project in the church. Just start serving somewhere. And then ask other believers, am I good at this? And be willing to listen to them. Your mom probably thought you were good at everything. You aren't. Just listen to an evaluation. If there's any moms in the house, I'm sorry, your son is the best son in the world. My mom's probably listening to this at some point this week. Thank you, mother. I am the best son anybody could ever have. I'm her favorite son. I'm her only son.
But seriously assess your progress, get people asking you questions, "Am I doing this right? Is am I good at this?" Assess yourself. You know, I really don't get into this. At some point I need to give this away, and then keep it up. Keep it up. Retirement is not a biblical concept. Now, we may slow down, we may retool when we get older. We have seasons of serving in particular areas of the church life, of life in general. We have seasons of serving. We've gone on mission trips and there's things we've done on those mission trips that like... we've done unspeakable things on mission trip. I mean, down and dirty work that just needs to be done. Very hard stuff. And then you come home, you're like, "Man, I don't know if I'll ever do that again." And you're thanking God that you'll never do that again.
And then there's times when you go on that mission trip and you go, "Man!" It unlocks your whole door of like, if I could do this here in this mission field over here, I can do this when I get home. And that's why we take people on mission to do things because it gets you outside of your thinking of where you are just thinking, maybe I'm good at that, maybe I'll do this or that. And we just got to keep it up. Keep going, keep going, keep it up. So my final prayer this morning is that we will glorify Jesus Christ with our lives. And I'm just going to say, you can't do that if you don't know Jesus. You can't do that if you haven't put your life in His hands. You can't go deeper because you don't even have the one that you trust in your life to begin with.
And I pray this morning that if you've been listening on the outside of an inside conversation in our family talk this morning, we invite you to come into the family. We invite you to walk into the presence of the family by putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, by just admitting that you don't have the spiritual strength to do what you know is right and wrong. And you know that you've offended a holy God that deserves your allegiance. And you just say, "God, I can't do enough to earn my way into your favor." I can't do enough to earn my way into heaven. I'm a good person, but I'm not a perfect person. And only perfect people get to heaven. You know when you become perfect because you've trusted in Jesus to forgive your sins and you become the righteousness. His righteousness becomes our righteousness. We become like Jesus when we put our faith in Him. And we get in not because of how much good we've done, but because we've trusted in the one who did it all for us when he died on the cross. We trusted Jesus.
And this morning, that's the step you need to take this morning, is to put your faith in Him. Maybe to come forward and say, Pastor, I like to know more about what it means to be a Christian. Or go in the back and we'll have some people in the back praying. And if you want to have some prayer time with them, say I need to know more about this trusting in Christ. I want in on what God's up to in the world. I don't want to miss eternity without Him. And then I pray that we will demonstrate the love and the unity in Christ's name, that we will together display the unity of the body of Christ by the way in which we serve with one another in His name.
The world needs to learn how to get along in their differences. God's given us a prescription, and I think the world and our nation especially needs a better answer than anybody else is giving. We can give it to them by demonstrating our unity in Christ as we serve together. And finally, that we will serve one another with our unique gifts so that God's grace will be experienced.
It says in 1 Peter 4, "Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others as good stewards of the varied grace of God." My final appeal this morning is that we all have the grace of God if we're a Christian, but we may not be experiencing the grace of God, the unmarried favor of God, the love of God, because somebody in this room is sitting on their gifts and not expressing them in such a way that we all experience the grace of God like we need to.
So I pray in Jesus' name, will you get up and go and start serving in His name, trusting that, yeah, I don't have all the gifts, but I got something. Show up, get going, that others might experience God's grace in their lives. Now let me just give you a little secret. No, it's no secret. The Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive. You'll go in thinking that you're the blessing; I've gone into many times at Greystone Nursing Home and Cindy listens to us all the time in the live broadcast. And I go in there thinking, and I don't mean it in a prideful way. I say, "I'm going to go in there and try to be a blessing." You just try to go be a blessing and you walk away more blessed than when you thought. You probably gained more than you gave. So, you want to live the best life ever; show up, start serving and trust what God's empowered you to do.
How We Serve Christ Together
October 16, 2022
Christ followers imitate Christ by serving (Matthew 20:28)
Every believer is gifted to serve
1 Corinthians 12
1 Peter 4:10
We are being renewed to serve others in Christ’s name
Romans 12:3 is connected to Romans 12:1-2
Christian Servants Are…
How to get started
Consider your SHAPE: Spiritual Gift, Heart interests, Abilities, Personality, Experiences
Start serving somewhere
-ask other believers
-assess your progress
Keep it up!
-retirement is not a Biblical concept
-we may slow down, retool, etc, but we don’t stop serving!
The New Covenant
1 Corinthians 11:25
September 18, 2022
Covenant- a relationship agreement/pledge/promise
What did Jesus mean when he said “new covenant”
God initiates a love relationship with us!
God initiated a covenant with Noah and humanity
-Genesis 9:12-17 God’s grace (unmerited favor), no more flood,
-There will always be seasons until the end of the earth
-God’s promise was unconditional
God initiates a covenant with Abram
-Genesis 15:17 God alone made a promise, not Abram
-God reveals we are made righteous through faith alone
-God’s promise to save Abram was unconditional
God initiates a covenant with Israel through Moses
-built on God’s covenant with Abraham, their forefather
-God reveals his demand of righteousness (the Law)
-Jesus transformed the Passover to become our Lord’s Supper
-Jesus Christ became the perfect atonement (John 1:29)
God initiates a covenant with David
-2 Samuel 7:15-16, 28-29
-Jesus was born into the family line of David
God initiates the New Covenant 1 Corinthians 11:25
-The Passover reminded the Israelites how God set them free
from Egypt and slavery
-The Lord’s Supper reminds us how God set us free from the
sin and shame
2 Corinthians 1:20 For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God.
-This New Covenant fulfilled and replaced all the others!
The Lord’s Supper
We affirm our faith in the New Covenant Jesus established through his shed blood on the cross
-1 Corinthians 11:25
-The Lord’s Supper is only for followers of Jesus Christ
We must examine ourselves
-God’s gift of salvation that does not require good works does
NOT diminish God’s demand for righteous living
-Pause to confess and turn from your sins right now
1 Corinthians 11:24-25
Come to the table when you are ready, down the center aisle
-with friends, family, or by yourself
Take the elements and exit the front by using the side aisles
Pause, pray and take the bread and cup
Remain quiet until everyone has finished
Summary Advice for a Local Church
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
August 28, 2022
A letter for all churches
-Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
-An enduring letter of encouragement all ages
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Support spiritual leaders vs 12-13
-leaders who labor- servants, not just people with titles
-in the Lord- growing followers of Christ, true to the Bible
-who also admonish- speak the truth in love, no compromise
-recognize them openly- support practically, affirm openly
-regard them highly in love- build a Christlike relationship
-1 Corinthians 13 love!
Build up other believers vs 14-15
-warn the idle
-comfort the discouraged
-help the weak
-be patient with everyone
-suspend your right to pay back evil with evil
-do what is good for “one another” and everyone
Follow God carefully vs 16-22
-Basic steps to knowing God’s will: rejoice, pray, give thanks
-Depend on the Holy Spirit
-don’t stifle Him- quench, oppose, try to suppress
-“prophecies”= what God has said to us
-today we are highlighting God’s prophecies
-The Thessalonians did not yet have the complete Bible
-“test all things” God will never contradict himself!
-Pursue what is good; stay away from what is evil!
A final prayer and personal comments vs 23-27
-God of peace-
-sanctify you completely
-spirit, soul and body kept blameless- all, not part of our lives!
-at the coming of Jesus- HE IS COMING AGAIN!
-vs 24 Jesus will complete this work in us!
-Paul expresses his dependence on and affection for the church
-Paul sent this letter to more than one church body
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
-Will you submit your life to Jesus Christ today?
-Admit you are a sinner
-Believe Jesus died for your sins and was raised
-Commit your entire life to Jesus right now
-Will you continue growing as a follower of Jesus Christ?
-Follow God’s advice for your life and the church
-stop stifling what God wants to do in your life and in our
-re-surrender your entire life to Jesus right now
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
August 7, 2022
God’s letter to our church
-The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write this letter
-2 Peter 1:21b “men spoke from God as they were carried
along by the Holy Spirit”
-2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is inspired (breathed) by God…”
-Read Belief Statement on “The Scriptures”
-Three questions when reading the Bible:
-What did it mean to the people who first received it?
-What are the timeless principles
-How must we apply those timeless principles in our current
Reputation inside the church 1 Thes 4:9-10a
-Paul complimented them on their family love
-Phileo- brotherly/family love
-This type of love within the local church is mentioned often in the NT: Rom 12:10; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 2 Pet 1:7
“Taught by God to love one another”
-God-taught, evidence of the Holy Spirit
-Hebrews 8:10-11 We have God’s laws written on our hearts
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20 We are the temple of the Holy Spirit
-love: agape, unconditional love
-1 Cor 13; Matt 22:37-39; John 13:34-35
“the entire region”
-Our love must extend to other believers in other churches!
-Our church networks with regional, state, and national
churches to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!
-Our church must love other churches in our city!
-We may agree to disagree on methods and specific beliefs
-We must always respect other churches, work with them
when we can
Reputation outside the church vs 10b-12
“do this even more”
-building our reputation never ends!
-one poor decision can erase a lifetime of good decisions
“seek to lead a quiet life”
-don’t give outsiders a reason to reject Jesus or the church!
-1 Peter 2:12- conduct yourselves honorably…
-The gospel is always offensive, Christians must never be!
-Paul may be telling them to stay under the political radar
-Context matters: they had no rights, we live in a Republic
-we are personally responsible to elect our leaders
-Jeremiah 29:7 Pray for the well-being of our city!
“mind your own business”
-Stop trying to fix people around us!
-Stop expecting unbelievers to behave like believers
-We are powerless to live a godly life without Jesus
-Paul is not saying we aren’t accountable to other believers
-Paul OFTEN told the church to correct sinful believers
“work with your own hands”
-Jewish mindset: manual labor is honorable and expected
-Greek mindset: manual labor is slavish, demeaning
-Paul’s pattern: full time support, part-time, voluntary
-2 Thes 3:10-13 don’t work = don’t get free food!
-Genesis 1:28 Humans are required to take care of creation!
“so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone”
-Why would people want to follow Jesus if His followers have poor reputations for getting along with outsiders and freeloading on people???
Do you naturally love other believers?
-Only Jesus can change our hearts to love correctly! Trust Him!
Do you have a good reputation outside of our church?
-A double life offends God and hinders our church’s mission!
St Joe Community Church’s Belief about the Bible
I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
This letter to Thessalonians was written by Paul, but it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. And our particular subject matter today is Reputation Matters. It matters what the body of Christ is like inside the church, and it matters what people think of the body of Christ outside the church. And in these short few verses, we're going to unpack both of those things. We're going to talk about our love for one another in the body of Christ and our reputation, the way we act and live outside of the body of Christ. This is God's letter to our church. This isn't just a letter that was written to the Thessalonian. It's a letter that God gave to us. God inspired Paul and we've have some Bible studies that we've gone over that, and I'd be more than happy to sit down with you or others and our leaders in our church that can help you understand more carefully, this idea that - this understanding that this isn't just some history book; it's God's book for you and for me.
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul, just as in 2 Peter 1, it says that men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3, all scripture is inspired by God. It's God breathed is what is says in that passage of scripture. We as a church, believe that the word of God is without any mixture of error, the perfect record of what God wants, not just for the time period that He gave it to, but for all time periods, until Jesus comes again and even into eternity, His words will never pass away. In fact, we know that the word of God from the Old Testament, as it proclaimed and as the New Testament, as it revealed, it all points to one person and who is that? Jesus. It all points to one person, the word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, Jesus Christ.
He was the word in the flesh. He is the final word for our faith and practice. And so is the word of God. As we study it together, we figure out what was it that Paul was saying, particularly to the people. So when we, when you're studying the Bible, you always say, what did the original hearers think about what was said? What was it like for them? Paul wrote in one letter, he said, "You know have somebody bring my coat to me." He obviously left this coat somewhere. Some of you do that here. And so he sent a letter and he says, "Hey, I need my coat. I'm kind of cold." Now, that wasn't obviously something... that was a particular thing. It was a personal request in the midst of a letter that God wrote to us, but that's, you know, take people, their coats. I don't know.
But in other words, that was some particular thing, but in the middle of that letter, and throughout that letter, there are timeless principles. So you have what it was it like back in how did they receive it. What are those timeless principles that were true for that church and for our church? That's the bridge from them to us. What does it mean to us today? What are the truths that will always be true that we must always think about? And then a Bible study, a sermon, anything that we do, it's not just about educating us about something, but about helping us to learn how to be different, how to apply it to our lives. How do I apply that to my life right now? What am I going to do about it? How am I going to live this out in my day-to-day life until I go home to Jesus or Jesus comes, whichever comes first?
It's God's letter to the church because it was timeless principles that will always need to be applying to our lives. Paul, in this letter is narrowing down. We talked last time about being pure in our lives, living a pure life. And now he's centering on the concept of family relationships in the church, spiritual family, the body of Christ. And so, I'm going to unpack it verse at a time, but I want to read the first couple of verses starting in verse nine, Paul says about brotherly love, "You don't need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you're doing this toward all the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia." The reputation inside the church is important. We need to center on what the inside of this church is like. Our reputation inside here matters. And what does that reputation centered upon? It's centered upon our love for one another. Brotherly love! Brotherly love! Sisterly love you could say as well. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It's family love. We need to care about one another.
And Paul says, you don't need to tell, I don't need to tell you how to do this, you're doing it. And I would say in testimonies even this week, when someone's saying how they have been loved on by our church family in practical ways, I hear this a lot. So-and-so came by to see us or such--and-such, or this was given to us, or we had this situation and we were just encouraged, or we were stopped and we got a text message from somebody, or something happened. I see people loving each other on Facebook, where they like or love or happy anniversary or happy birthday, and that can be a very superficial thing. But then that just investment in caring about what somebody else is going through, that's love.
And I will say I'm very grateful to serve and to be the pastor of a church that knows how to do this as well. Just as Paul said about them, I would say to you, I don't have to tell you about this, you're doing it. Oh, keep on doing it. It's good stuff. This type of love within the local church is mentioned often in the New Testament; Romans 12, Hebrews 13, 1 Peter 1, 2 Peter 1. This is a common word for loving one another as family.
Now I didn't mean that you always like each other. Sometimes we don't like each other. Sometimes we don't like what each other do. We have differences of an opinion, which means you're wrong and I'm right. That's what opinion means, right? I mean, don't tell me you guys don't always - that you always like each other. Sometimes we don't. Some of you don't always like me. Maybe someone still doesn't like me. Oh, my feelings are hurt. It bothers me a little bit. Okay, don't I get you. Anybody that doesn't care what people think about them, there's something wrong with them. That's not cool. Everybody cares what people think about in some way, shape or form it. But love supersedes the like moment. Love says I'm going to lean into this person and see where they're at and help them and maybe go the extra mile and humble myself and say, how was I part of us getting sideways ways. We do the hard, heavy lifting, because we love one another we're family.
Someone say, we're all we got. Come on. Let's go after this. Some of you have even said, you love your spiritual family, and you find love from your spiritual family, more than your own physical family. In fact, some churches shy away from calling the church, a family because of the brokenness of so many families of the people that they're reaching for Jesus. They just don't. They don't get what that model and say, "Well, if you're a family, I'm in a family and I don't want that I'm coming here for not that. That's not what we mean and I hope you know that. This is like, oh, when I was pastoring my first church and I'm like, what? Late twenties, mid-twenties, and I got men in my church that are in their seventies. They've forgotten more scripture than I've learned. They've been after this a long time. They've got grandkids my age, and I'm supposed to be their leader? Defer to them as fathers in the ministry.
Please think of your tiny, your young pastor as a son in the ministry. Family love enables you to get through that chronological struggle in the family of God, so that a young leader can still be leading in a respectful familial way. That's the way it ought to be. You know, Bray, he acts a lot older than he looks. He's a young guy, but he's a mature young man, and he's going to lead people twice his age. And he already does in some situations. He does it in this room when he is leading us for worship. And he's due this respect that he's due because of what he does. But in no way is he going to say, "Well, I'm the leader, here's how it is." No, he's a brother in Christ. And he's a son in the ministry to some who could be his earthly father like me. And so, we have a spiritual family love for one another.
We need to have brotherly love. And Paul says, and you were taught by God to love one another. This taught by God - God-taught. It's one word - it's kind of a combination of words in Greek, which means there's an evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person when they're loving somebody supernaturally. Supernatural love causes us to go the extra mile for people when we don't feel like it. This taught by God moment, this is like - God... when the Holy Spirit comes into you and I, when we become a Christian, God writes the law of God on our hearts. This is no longer an external rule for us to follow. It's an internal drive that makes us want to. He changes our want-to. This is not a reformation. It's a transformation. This is not getting an upgraded software on our computer. It's an incredibly new hardware. It changes our heart makes it soft, makes us want to do the right thing. And when someone doesn't have that evidence in their lives, I wonder if they have a religion instead of a relationship. We need to make sure that as we're doing this, we're not trusting in ourselves. We're trusting in the one within us that's helping us to do this very thing.
I said a couple of weeks ago in 1 Corinthians 6, that we're the temple of the Holy Spirit, that's why we don't defile the temple we're living in. We're defiling God, himself, as the [hope11:43], the person that we're hosting within us when we do things that are unholy with our lives and our bodies. But then he says, you're taught by God to love one another. He switches words; love one another is actually the word love in this passage, in this particular verse is the word agape, which means unconditional, no strings attached kind of love; love that's not expecting something in return. [Unclear12:08] of love is that give and take. I love you, you love me, we kind of have this mutual partnership of love, but agape love is loving without any kind of expectation of a return on the love that you invest in that person.
You know, it's sort of like when you give a gift to somebody for their birthday, and then when your birthday comes around, they don't give you a gift. Well, that's not how the rules are played. If I give you chocolate, you give me chocolate. Karen, I bring you a donut, you bring me a donut on Friday morning, right? That's how that works. We have family love. Agape love says, Karen brings me a donut all the time and I never bring her one and she's still happy. She actually still would be because she's that kind of person. She's more spiritual than I am. But seriously, that's what agape love is. It says I'm giving you full love and care, and I'm not expecting anything in return. Who did that for us? It's a simple answer every time I ask you this morning. What's the Bible all about? And who gave us agape love? Jesus - every single time. It's Jesus! Who lives within us; the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ lives in us to show us how to love one another unconditionally, the way Christ loves us. That unconditional love was exemplified in 1 Corinthians 13, Matthew 22, John 13. And Paul says, you're not only loving one another in your local church, but you love is expanding to people throughout the region of Macedonia. What's the practical principle here? We need to love Christians besides just the ones that go to St. Joe.
We had a handful of people from out of town today that were visiting family. We got love on them, they got love on us. That's just how it goes. When people come here and are visiting, we love on them as they go back to somewhere else - when we are on vacation, we go to a church and that church is a church that's in love with Christ and love with people. It's a natural byproduct that they're going to love the people that come alongside and aren't going to be there all the time. Here's another byproduct of loving people; loving other churches around us and other Christians to go to other churches. I mean, I'm kind of personal to ours, but I'm telling you, there's some other good churches around here and you need to be up on everybody. And we don't need to be up on things that aren't right about things. But I'm just saying, you know, we are going to agree to disagree on things, specific things that we might do, and that's what makes each local church unique. But it doesn't mean, and it doesn't mean we are allowed to bypass loving one another. We got to love one another.
You know how many churches loved on us over the 20 years of our existence? 20 years ago, coming up in October 20 years ago, November actually, we had our first membership class in the basement of Cavalry Baptist church on St. Joe Center Road. We had organizational meetings in other churches because we didn't have a church building. We had churches that let us borrow baptismal tanks. We learned how to take a baptismal tank through a 36 inch door and bring it into the Carmike Movie Theater down by the screen so that we could baptize people, and then we put big old plastic out, big tarps out so that when people sloshed, when the pastor sloshed them we'd be able to clean it up better. And we had churches that let us borrow that. We built one, then we gave that away to somebody else and we got a building, but we've had dozens of churches. When we've had church meetings we needed a building, when we had weddings and funerals. And by the way, let's have a moment of silence for the place we can no longer visit, Carmike Movie Theater.
We have a couple over here that renewed their valves right there in Carmike Movie Theater. How many here got baptized at Carmike? Anybody here? Couple people did, maybe a few. I mean, it was a special place for us. If you've been there recently for a movie, it ain't so special now, but probably why it closed. But it kind of hit me like, wow, there's a lot of spiritual stories that took place there. But while we were there, we could only be there on Sunday morning, and other churches opened their doors to us. Blackhawk Ministries tapped us into a worship leader that we had for a few years. And we even used their choir room, their practice room for our band to practice on certain nights of the week. We had a key to the back door to Blackhawk Ministries down the street from us here. We had churches that gave us literature for our vacation Bible school or Bible study materials. They recycled the materials by giving it to us.
We had all kinds of people serving us and encouraging us. Why wouldn't we want to do the same for them and others? Thousands of churches voluntarily gave financially through the North American Mission Board so that I could be a full-time pastor right out the gate, the first three years of our existence 20 years ago. They loved on us. We got letters, cards, people praying for us, we benefited, and my prayer is that we will pass that love on to others for the rest of our existence until Jesus comes. And we'll do the same - loving on other churches, respecting other churches and working with them when we can and caring for the body of Christ, big church, even as we're taking care of business in this church. May our love bleed into all areas of Christian contact with other believers in the region and in the world.
And then, Paul kind of moves to a different type of reputation; that's the reputation inside the church. Now let's look at the reputation outside of the church, and he kind of in the middle of verse 10 - and by the way, the verses in chapters, Paul didn't do that in his letter. That'd be kind of weird, wouldn't it? But later on in history, people who were copying the Bible started putting these chapters and verses in here so that we could find each verse place in the Bible more carefully. And in the middle of verse 10, it sort of changes gears even though it's in the same verse, according to the way they organized it. But it's a different thought, because he starts looking outside. He said, "But we encourage you brothers and sisters to do this even more." And what does he mean by that? Verse 11, "To seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands as we commanded you." And verse 12 was the results, "So that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone."
So what's he saying here? So the reputation inside the church is important. We need to show love for one another. But on the outside of the church, we need to be respected for the way we live our lives. Do this even more - building reputation never ends. One poor decision can cancel a lifetime of good decisions. People get fired overnight for stupidity, even though they may have done a long history of doing good things up until that moment. Old men and women lose their godly influence in churches when they get bitter and hardened in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pastors about my age get to that midlife and we go, is it really worth it? And we start slacking, and suddenly our decisions become kind of mundane and routine. And suddenly we're on the path of losing the reputation that we gained when we were zealous and energetic. There is never a moment when we're not building our reputation to outsiders for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The moment we can let down our guard about reputation is the moment we take our last breath on this earth. I'll rephrase my favorite movie phrase, "Reputation never takes a holiday" Mall Cop. Okay. Anyway, safety never takes a holiday. Okay, never mind. Maybe it's too old of a movie.
Do this even more. What's he telling them to do? Seek to lead a quiet life. And what's he saying here? Don't give outsiders a reason to reject Jesus or the church. Two things turn people away from the church. What is it? Usually their own problems, circumstances, physical illness, they'll say, "Well, who's God, he's going to do this to me or whatever" and then people in the church who do things bad to them or look like they don't get along. I mean, if we are bickering and fighting, who wants to be in this church? But if we're living a [duclicit21:40] life, who wants to be in this church? Well, they may practice it there, but they're not preaching... they preach it there, but they're not practicing it in their own homes.
Now, a wayward believer is no excuse for any believer to reject Jesus. When someone goes before God and he says, why did you reject me? They're going to say, "Well, Jimmy, over there was a screw up for the Lord Jesus Christ. I mean, he was a really poor example and he really turned me off to you." That ain't going to cut it. We're all standing guilty before God, needing holy God to forgive us through the blood of Jesus Christ, so there's no excuse for this. However, there's no excuse for us to give anyone a reason to not want to follow Jesus by our behavior and lifestyle outside the church.
There is one thing that ought to always be offensive to a person, and it's the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, by nature, we do not want to be told we're wrong, right? Do you like to be told you're wrong? How many of you love being told you're wrong? And the gospel tells us we're wrong. That we're sinners and we need forgiveness. We can't earn our way into heaven. We must trust in the work of Jesus Christ and what he did to pay for our sins. We have to trust that. And it goes against the grain of human nature; it goes against the grain of humanity, generally. It goes against the grain of America that says pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you didn't work hard enough. And I love the idea of the American dream around here, but I'm telling you what; when it comes to spirituality, the American dream is not what saves you. It's humbling yourself and admitting you need to be forgiven, you need to be changed; you need a change maker, Jesus in your life.
That is offensive. What you're doing is sinful and outside of God's boundaries, but God wants to forgive you; not justify what you're doing. So, we'll never get over that offensive truth. You and I, as a believer, had to face that offensive truth and receive it, accept it, and now live in it and understand it and appreciate it. God loved us too much to leave us where we found us, amen, but we should never be doing anything else in our lives that's so offensive. They may hear the gospel message through us and think that the gospel's not offending us or offending them; our personality is offending them. The way we're treating them is offending them. What we're doing is offending them and they mix the two up. And Paul says that ought never be. You need to lead a quiet life. "Conduct yourselves honorably," 1 Peter 2:12 says.
Now, Paul may have been saying stay under the radar politically, because right now remember we were persecuted. And if you listen to my other sermons, they had been persecuted so much so that Paul had to leave town quickly so that he didn't cause any more problems for them. And so, seek to lead a quiet life might have meant stay under the radar of the governmental affairs. Bless the city, but don't make a big deal about it.
Now, context matters. In our context, we are participants in this Republic and we have a responsibility, and I think we'll be answerable to God for how we used our freedom to choose who is elected and who's serving. And in fact, maybe we ought to serve and be a part of that. But the context in Paul's day had nothing to do with that. And by the way, we don't know for sure what Paul was saying about quiet life, so we don't even know if that's even what he meant, but that was something that is brought up occasionally when they look at this particular passage. We know way back in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were deported into a foreign city, and they thought, 'We're going to go back, we're going to go back." And Jeremiah says, "No, hang on. Build houses, plant gardens, pray for the wellbeing of the city within you." This is Jeremiah 29. Pray for the wellbeing of the city and do good and help that city prosper, the city you're in. So if you're planted here in Fort Wayne, make Fort Wayne better by the way, you live your life. Pray for Fort Wayne, invest yourself, do what you can do to make this place... bloom, where you're planted. I think we heard that from a speaker a couple weeks ago. Bloom where you're planted, make a difference where you are.
And then he says here, mind your own business. Stop trying to fix people around us. Now, men, I'm going to be honest, I'm a fixer. And your wives, if you're married, does not always need a fixer. Women, amen. Oh, I know I'm touching on toes here, but sometimes I have to ask my wife when she starts coming home with a problem from work or there's a problem from the school with the kids. And I'll say, "Okay," because used to be, I'd say, oh, I know how to fix that. I didn't, but I thought I did. And now I have to say, "I'm working on it. I'm getting better at it. I think." You can ask her later. Okay, is this something you want me to help you fix or I'm just here to walk alongside you with the problem? Most of the time, it's just walk alongside and listen. Occasionally she's like, yeah, I'd like some input, but ask permission.
And isn't that true with coworkers that aren't believers, you got all the answers, right? They're doing all kinds of crazy stuff and they're suffering the great, crazy consequences of it, and you have all the answers. You're like, well, you know, if you didn't do that, you wouldn't experience that. And you're like getting into their business. I never asked you. Now, there's a way to do that. You know, you can get alongside somebody, but you got to show them you love them and care about them before you start trying to fix them. I mean, and you're not there to fix them. You're there to be a conduit of God's blessing and love in their lives. You're not there to give them religion. You're there to connect them into a relationship. Mind your own business.
There's times when you just need to butt out. And quit trying to think that non-believers are going to act like believers. When you get ticked off by somebody at work, check yourself for a moment. Is this person following Jesus or not? No. All right, they don't have the intel inside like you have. They don't, so don't expect him to act like you're trying to act. And by the way, mind your own business. Paul is not saying in the church mind your own business; he's saying mind your own business as you're dealing with your affairs on the outside of the church. If that was the case, he's actually telling... he's getting in the church's business, telling them what to do in this passage. So we're not saying that we don't.... we're supposed to hold each other accountable.
Brothers and sisters, if you see your brother in sin, you're supposed to restore that person gently, but be careful because you might too also fall into that same temptation. We are supposed to hold each other accountable. We are supposed to get in each other's lives, and sometimes somebody's got to get in my face and say, "Greg you're being prideful, arrogant and foolish." Please do that if that's the case, because I don't want to suffer the consequences of being prideful, arrogant and foolish. That's what's signing up into the covenant relationship with the church is all about is I'm covenanting together to hold each other accountable to be like the body of Christ is supposed to be like to glorify Jesus Christ.
So, it's not talking - he's talking about more of an outside thing than he is the inside here. And then he says work with your own hands. He concludes with a conversation about working. Now, a Jewish mindset was that you would work with your hands; manual labor is an honorable and respectable thing. But in this Greek community and in the Greek mindset in general, working with their hands was demeaning or beneath them. Well, I imagine some of the people that were believers in Jesus Christ had lost their day jobs, their desk jobs, so to speak, and they're starting to have to work with their hands. There might have been a few that said, "Well, if Jesus is coming in any moment, what's the purpose in working?" Well, it's been 2000 years, He hasn't come yet.
I've never heard more clamor for the idea that Jesus is coming than I have in my lifetime than I have recently, maybe during the cold war era in the very, very, most tense moments of that in the early part of my life. But it's getting more and more that says, well, look - and we had our server last night at the Tin Caps, some of the guys went over there and she's from the Ukraine and she still got family over there, and we were talking about that. When I was at Whitewater rafting up in, - actually in Pennsylvania during our vacation three weeks ago. On the bus ride back to get to our cars, we were all crammed in together, and a Taiwanese student that was at Penn State, a PhD student was sitting next to me and she was talking about how China is.
I said, "Wow, you must be feeling a little tense right now." She says, "Yeah, we don't want China to get excited if Russia wins against Ukraine, they might get emboldened and come and invade us." It's a really scary moment in world events right now. And you probably have been reading in current times, there's some saber rattling, there's some missiles going over the top of Taiwan and some assertion of authority say, hey, you're one of us. And so, there's some crazy stuff going on. I says, was Jesus coming back, let's get this all cleaned up. It's Armageddon time. The chart on the wall says Jesus could come in any moment. The chart on the wall says He come any moment, but we do not know the times and dates.
Let's just say - I'm still putting away for my retirement in case he doesn't come back when I'm 75, okay. 80, 90, hopefully if I live that long. I still need a bank account. I still need to keep working. He might come back and that means nothing. Yay! But if he doesn't come back, I'm going to hurt if I quit my job. These guys might have thought no big deal. And Paul's like, "No, no, no, no. Keep working with your hands." In fact, in the second letter that he wrote to them, there were some people that were freeloading. And he says, 'If that person doesn't work, don't give them any food." Our reputation from outsiders should be that we're the hardest workers they've ever employed, amen, that we have the highest ethic of any employee that they have, amen. And that we are willing to go the extra mile, mind your own business, do the right thing, keep our head under the cover and just do the right thing. Stay under the radar. Don't try to be the Mr. Fix-it godly know-it-all with a big Bible that takes every five minute break to tell people about Jesus and not do their job.
Did pastors just say, don't tell them about Jesus? If you're being employed by somebody by the hour to do a particular thing, put a widget on a widget, for instance. And during the widget on a widget somebody says I want to know more about Jesus. If you can do that while you're widget on a widget, or you get your quota done, or you get your run finished and you have a break, go talk about Jesus. But if you say, "Oh, thank you, I'm going to be spiritual and get away from the widget on a widget and talk to you about Jesus," you're stealing from your employer. And what kind of a reputation is that? Your reputation is more than just talking to someone about Jesus. It's about your whole life. A person of integrity does the right thing and is an honorable worker in the workplace and a good witness for Jesus Christ when able and when their time permits to speak about Jesus.
But your authority to speak about Jesus will be granted to you when they see that Jesus is flowing into who you are and what you do. So this morning, I got a question. Do you believe that reputation matters? Because reputation matters. Bray is going to come up and sing one more song for us. He's going to help us sing one more song together. And I got a couple of questions before we end. Do you naturally love other believers? Do you have a reputation in our church for loving people? Only two reasons why that wouldn't be the case; one, you're a Christian in rebellion. Get right. There you go, we can go home now. Or I don't even know what that means. Find Jesus, He will show you how.
If you're looking for that relationship with Jesus Christ, I welcome you to put on your card today. I'd like to know more what it means to have this kind of love that you're talking about pastor, because I don't have it. But for you and I who are Christians, we know better. And if for our love isn't showing right now, it might be a recalibration moment for us to say it's time for us to say, God, I need more of what you want from me to be loving to people around me. And the next question I want to ask is do you have a good reputation among outsiders? Do the people outside our church know that you love Jesus and that you love them? I mean, I sometimes wonder if believers don't invite their friends who don't go to church to church because they don't look any different than their friends. That it would be foreign for them to hear from you something about God.
Now, I'm not saying, I believe that's true in this room. I'm just saying in general, our ability to help people find and follow Christ is based upon the reputation we have among people who don't know Him. And what's that like for you? I'm going to be honest. There are times when I'm working on the outside of this church and I do it a lot and you know that about me. I thrive on the edges of lostness, on the edges of crazy, on the edges of where people aren't yet following Christ. And it's really easy to start laughing at the jokes, even your pastor. It's easy sometimes to possibly once or twice change my language to fit where I'm at. And that ain't right either.
We chaplains can sometimes go into some dark humor moments with our fellow officers and first responders. And that really gets us through some of the worst crimes that you've ever seen in your life. But there's a line between dealing with it and disrespecting it. And I work on that, because I don't want my reputation to be that I'm just like them. I want my reputation to be that I'm representing Christ in their midst. I am the presence of Christ. Sometimes I never get to speak about Him, but I do want them to see Him, see Him through me. I pray that would be true for all of us and our reputation for Jesus.
Let's stand together. Let's just soberly, carefully, prayerfully and joyfully embrace what he would have for us. Reputation isn't built overnight. It can be lost overnight, but it isn't built overnight. And so for you this morning, you're like on an uphill climb and you're thinking, "I got so far to go, Greg, what are you talking about?" Well, the first step on any journey is the step you take today. So let's get on it. Let's take our step. Let's move forward. Let's talk to somebody. If we need some help, get a card and say I'd like some help. Talk to me, talk to your small group leader. Let's take that step and build our reputations by God's strength for His glory.
Glorify God, by Pastor Greg Byman
Full worship service
Full worship service
B: Bible book