Serving Others

How long have you been a Christian?

  • LESS than 5 years
  • 5-10 years
  • 10-20 years
  • More than 20 years

I have been a Christian for over 35 years and I have been a pastor at NCF for 27 years. I love being a pastor (most days) and I love the church – especially this church.

But, can I rant about a problem that plagues the church, and has plagued it for centuries? Well, I am going to anyway, but you expected that 😉

The Dilemma

The church, meaning YOU AND ME, have settled for a watered down, socially acceptable, comfort driven non-participation version of what God has in mind for us.  Really. God has always intended for his church to be the faith wielding world changes that live above the everyday and make a dent in eternity. Instead, the modern church has become a business model, story-telling session that tries to cater to a post-modern society.

In a nutshell – I think we, the modern church, are missing out on the real experience of being a church.

The Diagnostics

When you notice something is not right with your car and you take it to the mechanic to have it diagnosed and fixed. When you are not feeling 100%, you go to your doctor and get checked out to see if there is something wrong, so it can be treated.

Over the next few weeks, starting today, it is going to get a little uncomfortable and even confrontational as we examine what it means to be a Jesus-follower according the God’s Word. That means we will be looking at what the Bible says about what an active faith looks like, when then using that as a gauge to see what in our lives need to be adjusted, removed or added to help us have an active faith.

The Definition

Let’s start right now with a very controversial author: James.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:14–20, ESV)

As Pastor Len reminded us, we are saved by Faith Alone (sola fide). But simply believing is not all that God desires of us. Our faith must permeate our lives and affect the way that we live.

You and I will either have an ACTIVE FAITH or we will have a LETHARGIC FATIH. Either our faith is ALIVE or it is DEAD. The difference? What we DO.

 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22, NLT)

So, the definition of an active faith might be:  “living our lives in obedience to God, believing that He is right and trusting that His way is best”. That is an easy thing to say, but can be very challenging to live up to as we will see throughout this series.

Let’s jump right in looking at the first sign of an active faith:

I have an ACTIVE FAITH if I am SERVING others

To be a Jesus-follower means that you and I are to imitate Jesus with our heart, soul, mind and strength. It means to live out WWJD.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Matthew 20:28, NLT)

Jesus came to what? SERVE! And if we are going to be Jesus-followers, if we are going to imitate Christ (ref) then we need to do what? SERVE.

A Theology of Serving

That is a simple statement we made. Maybe we should dig in a little deeper. I have a feeling that every Jesus-follower knows this, but that does not mean we have embraced it.

 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NLT)

“And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.” (Ephesians 1:13, NLT)

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11, ESV)

“Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, NLT)

The Bible says that when you accepted Christ, the H. S. came and indwelled you.

  • How many of you believe this?

 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, NLT)

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans 12:4–8, NLT)

 “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–11, NLT)  ** and the rest of chapter 12

The Bible says that EACH OF US (not some, not a few, not most) has been given a spiritual gift by the H.S.

  • How many of you believe this?

 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, NLT)

“And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12, NLT)

 “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:11–16, NLT)

The Bible says that God gives each one of a gift to USE it to build up His church

  • How many of you believe this?

Our theology says that the moment we believed in Jesus as our Savior and surrendered our lives to Him, we were given the gift of the holy Spirit, and that same spirit gives each one of us gifts to use to serve others, and by doing so we accomplish the work that God planned for us before we were born.

EVERY believer has the HS and a gift that God expects them to use to serve others.

Do you believe that? Amen!

The Diagnosis

Then, WHY it is a nationally published fact that in the average church, 10% of the people are active in serving? Perhaps because we are:

Too busy to prioritize

Sometimes our busy-ness is beyond our control – like when the government tells you what you will be doing. Most times, however, it is because of choices that we make – to take on a project, to watch a program, to do our hobby or to shuttle our kids to all of their activities that they want to be involved in.

None of these things are bad.

WHITEBOARD: However, if I were to draw a chart on the whiteboard, and put the things that keep us busy vs the things that we do to serve Jesus, would the columns be balanced? If not, what might that tell us about our priorities.

It is simple to see when it is on a whiteboard, it is not so simple to see when we are charging through life at 100mph just trying to keep from crashing, that sometimes we can miss what is most important.

Too insecure to try

The GOOD news about this one it… that is what FAITH is for!

Too comfortable to change

This one is dangerous. Comfort breeds complaining and kill compassion.

Too blind to see that SERVING is one of the REASONS we are saved?

When we fail to serve, we fail God and accomplish the plan of our enemy, Satan, that wants to see the church flounder and fail and die.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8–10, ESV)

Let me be clear: you were saved, sealed and selected by God to serve in his Kingdom, and if you are NOT serving, you have a hospice faith not an active faith.

The Faith Lab

Each week we are going to have a faith lab. This is a place for us to get active with our faith – making sure that we are doing what we say we believe.

Experiment:

Three volunteers will make a brownie mix. The ingredients will be at a table to the side. They will need to make and bake the brownies. However, they can only use 1 hand (their weakest) and they cannot talk – they are all mute.

You know the beauty of a small church? We break statistics easily 😊 We have ALWAYS been blessed with 40-60% of our people serving in ministry. We MUST.

In some circles this would be considered a “healthy” church with active members.

As I look at this group working together, I have allowed them to have at least 90% of their bodies functioning. I only took away a few things. What do you notice about the way they are working? It takes longer, it is messier, it looks silly, and you might not like the result.

Curious: if only 60% of your PHYSICAL body was functioning, would you call yourself healthy? So WHY is this considered OK with the church, God’s body?

“Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.” (Colossians 1:18, NLT)

Until we accept that fact that anything less than 100% of the church serving is unhealthy, we will not become the active, healthy church that God intends us to be..

Application

God did not save us, just so we can sit in church and soak in sermons. He saved us to SERVE others.

So, I know you get it. This is a great church full of awesome people. I have just smacked you upside the head with the Word of God. Pastor Len and I call this “going into prophet mode”.

My goal is not to beat you up, but to build you up.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:23–24, ESV)

It’s time for us to get very practical. Take some time to fill out the worksheet attached below.

SERVING OTHERS WORKSHEET.

Summary

God’s design is for us to be a healthy, 100% active church body that serves others the way Jesus did. 

As followers of Jesus, we need to spend less time seeking the entitlements of the church that benefit us, and more time seeking empowerment of the Spirit to serve others. Amen?!

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A little about NCF

NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.