Weekly Seed of Faith 4/27/19

Seed of Faith – Serve One Another   By Pastor Dave  

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Dear Friends and Faithful Seed Sowers:

We made it! Lent is history and Easter is still a mystery! The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!

I have to be honest with you, sometimes the church calendar feels more like a glacier than a calendar! We move from Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter and, to be honest with you, us pastors are nothing but exhausted! Keep praying for your pastor.  Right about now they can use a text, an email, a phone call, a slap on the back that says, “Hallelujah! YOU MADE IT! The tomb is empty, Pastor! Jesus is alive…and YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!”

Today we come to another “One Another” statement found in  the Scripture!  We have looked at “Greet One Another,”  “Be Devoted to One Another,” “Honor One Another,” and “Live in Harmony with One Another!” 

When I started working on this sermon series, the Lord put it on my heart to seek His understanding of what “One Another” meant from His perspective.  It hit me this week, and not just the chelation cycle 4 of 5.  What hit me were the thoughts of how my life, our family, the church, our schools, and work places would change if only we understood the principles of “one another.” What would happen is we greeted one another each day? What would happen if we were devoted to our spouse, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schools and churches? What would happen is we honored others and chose to live in harmony with one another?

Our Scripture for today is written by the Apostle Paul and he wrote it to the church in Galatia and Ephesus.  The Galatian church was struggling with legalism and the Ephesian church was needing encouragement.  What’s Paul’s answer? SERVE ONE ANOTHER.

When you hear the word “serve,” what comes to your mind?  When I thought about the word “serve” a bunch of questions flashed across my brain.  How well do I serve? Who or what do I serve? When do I serve? How do I serve? What is my attitude when I serve? Why do I serve? How much should I serve?  “You, my brothers (and sisters), were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love Galatians 5:13

Here’s a fun game. Rate yourself from 0 to 10 (zero is the lowest) with a scorecard. Here are the questions. (I’m going from preaching to meddling now.)

·      How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

I find it interesting that one of the Greek words for “serve” is “doulos.” Duolos is translated as “slave or servant.” Are you a slave or a servant in your serving? (Hey, I told you I went from preaching to meddling!) There are four basic words in the New Testament that are translated “serve,” “servant,” or “serving.” All of these words have one basic concept.  The concept of serving. The words serve, servant, slave, serving are used over 300 times with 130 of those times in the Gospels and Acts, and approximately 170 times in the Epistles. This averages out to have the word “serve” used 10 times in each book of the New Testament. The two words that are used the most frequently are douleo and diakoneo. Douleo literally means “to be a slave, to serve, to obey, to submit.” It’s used in both a good and bad sense. On the positive side, the word douleo means to serve God and others in the context of Christian love. On the negative side, douleo means to become a slave to a base power. For example, in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he taught that we can be “slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

Diakoneo literally means “table waiter or servant.”  We get the words deacon or minister from diakoneo. Think about having a really terrific table waiter at dinner. Your table waiter can literally make or break your meal time. A really great table waiter has to have some sort of mental list that they go by: introduce yourself, tell them about the specials, get their drink order. Come back with their drink orders and see if they have any questions or if they are ready to order. Bring their order out and serve them with a happy heart and smile. Bring their ticket but tell them there’s no hurry.  Yes.  You got it–that is exactly what we’re supposed to be like in our families, in our employment, in our schools, in our churches. We’re supposed to be really great table waiters. Are you? Are you a really good table waiter?

So who or what do you serve?  How do you serve?  Do you serve yourself before you serve others? Do you serve God? Do you serve money?  Jesus told His follower in The Sermon on the Mount that we cannot serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24

When James and John’s mother came to Jesus and asked if her two sons could sit on the right and the left of Jesus when he came into His Kingdom, Jesus responded with a powerful statement of servanthood. “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 These are powerful words!  If you want to be first, you need to be a slave!  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Here’s the question put just a little differently: HOW’S YOUR SERVE?

When my family lived in Rochelle, Illinois, I worked in the Goodyear tire business and GMC truck business during the week and served our church as co-youth pastors with my wife.  During the 18 years we served as youth pastors, we helped to organize at least 9 “Go-N-Serve” mission trips for our youth.  Every other year we would choose a location and raise our funds and we would take the youth on a “Go-N-Serve” Mission. These mission trips were a time to teach the youth how to serve others and for them to experience more about God and living in community with others.  We’ve visited Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Vermont and all the states in between. A Go-N-Serve mission trip consisted of our  youth group serving and working for a week. We did many different jobs: we worked in old cemeteries refurbishing them, we worked in retreat camps restoring, in Florida we worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes. Every other year, 20-40 teenagers signed up to “GO AND SERVE” and an additional ten to twelve adults loaded up and traveled with us.  We were gone for 10-14 days. We drove out in vans and camped along the way. Once we arrived at our work site, we wanted to teach the youth that serving is an opportunity for them to give back.  It was an opportunity for them to learn how to serve one another with a cheerful heart. Our work days consisted of working from 8 am until early afternoon. They then had the rest of the day to rest or play and, almost always, a lake, river, or ocean were involved in their leisure time. Night time was group time—time to talk about our day and have devotions to close out the night.

On one of our trips, we were headed from Chicago to Vermont. We spent the week restoring and renovating a camp ground and retreat center.  The kids stayed in cabins along the lake. On our way to Camp Wilmot, we stopped for the night outside of Buffalo, New York.  We had arrived too late to set up camp and cook dinner for 40 people, so we decided to set up camp and go into town for pizza. We set up all the tents and headed into town. When we arrived back to the camp, we found a mess. All of our tents had been knocked down.  When the youth started checking their tents and belongings, they found toothpaste squeezed into their pillows and sleeping bags, and all their belongings had been tossed all around.  To say the least, everyone was really upset.  I went to the camp host and explained what had happened.  The host said that the winds coming off Lake Erie were really powerful.  It could even have been a mini-tornado.  I asked the man if the winds knew how to open toothpaste and squeeze it out into sleeping bags.  The host looked at me blankly. The camp was called Mini-tonka…but we began calling it “the Winds of Mini HaHa.”

It turned out that the camp host had several teenage children and they had been sitting on the ledges by the bathrooms when we were setting up. We were pretty sure they were the culprits.  Some of our youth football players wanted to go over and pick a fight with them to get even.  I sat the kids down and led a campfire devotion on becoming a servant and serving one another. We had a long discussion that night on forgiveness and grace.  The kids asked if we could invite the teenage culprits over to join us for smores and stories. As the evening began to unfold, the camp kids told our youth that they were sorry, they had torn up our campsites. Our youth told the boys that they were forgiven. We left the next day but we promised to come stay there on our way home. When we arrived after our week of serving in Vermont, the boys had our fire ready and smores waiting. Serving is an opportunity to grow.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 The Message Bible

Your “so what” challenge this week is for you to look and see someone you can serve.  Make a mental note of this idea and try to serve one person each day.  See how your life will be changed.  See how the life of the person you serve will be changed.

I know several people right here in our church who chose this idea as their Lenten project. Each day they looked for the opportunity to serve. My wife said my message on serving one another had to be a hit because every Sunday she is now bombarded with people stopping by JESUS CLASS asking, “How can I help?” Being a church that is stored inside a trailer during the week, Miss Jac packs up at least 8 rollers, and 4 huge bins each Sunday. And, now, people are strolling through JESUS CLASS asking, “What can I bring to the curb for you?”

GET YOUR SCORECARDS READY. Zero means you are a very poor table waiter.  Five means you are an average table waiter. Six to ten means you’re going to get a 20% tip someday!

·         How well do I serve?

·         How well do I serve others?

·         How well do I serve my spouse?

·         How well do I serve my children?

·         How well do I serve my co-workers?

·         How well do I serve my church?

Seed you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

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Isaiah 65:1-25 God answers the cry of His servants

 

In chapter 64 it seems that God is very far away, on the other side of a vast chasm (see 64:1). The silence of God is a terrible thing. But the truth is that God is not far away, and never has been. All through Israel’s history, even when they were too far gone in apostasy, or just sheer hopelessness, to seek Him, God has always been seeking them. If He had held back, it was only to spare them the full venting of the wrath they so richly deserved. But God never ceased to reveal Himself to them. Generation after generation He had sent His prophets to speak to them in His name, saying “here I am, here am I (v. 1). But they had obstinately chosen their own ways rather than His and had sunk deeper and deeper into pagan superstition and uncleanness (vv. 2-4), foolishly regarding them superior to the wholesome, simple trust in the Lord which should have marked them as His children (v. 5). If there was a chasm between God and them, it was of their own making not His.

There were however, those who did dare to pray – and went on praying – for the coming of God’s kingdom: not just Isaiah himself, but many who have followed in his steps. They are the focus of attention in the second part of the chapter (vv. 8-25). They are God’s servants (v. 9), people who seek Him (v. 10), His chosen ones (v. 22), and a people blessed by the Lord (v. 23). They are the faithful remnant, the prayer warriors who have stayed at their post through the long dark watches of salvation history, never abandoning their trust in God or their confidence that His promises would be fulfilled. The good news of this chapter is that the new world for which they have waited so long will surely come; God will bring it to pass for their sake (v. 8) and gather them into it (v. 9).

The contours of that new world open up here in ever-widening circles (vv. 9-10, 17-18). There is something much more here than the mere realization of a utopian dream, a glorified Israel that would be the wonder and envy of the world again, as in the days of Solomon. It is a whole new order of things in which all political structures are transcended. It will be so new that the past will be forgotten entirely (v. 17). The Promised Land will no longer be Canaan of Israel but the whole earth. As we saw in chapter 62, the New Jerusalem will be so different from the old that it will require a new name. The servants of God will be all who have found mercy and free pardon through the work of the perfect Servant; they will be all of God’s faithful people in every age. The chapter ends with an unmistakable allusion to the final undoing of the work of the serpent who brought sin and death into the world in the first place (v. 25). The new world will be history perfected and paradise regained, and it will be full of the modest and simple delights that God always intended us to have: joy (v. 18, fullness of life (v. 20), security (vv. 21-23a), and rewarding work (v. 22b), fellowship with God (vv. 23b-24), and peace (v. 25).

Isaiah’s vision is breathtaking in its scope: new heavens and a new earth. But for all that, he is not a universalist. He does not believe that all will be saved. From verse 8 onwards the contrast between those who are God’s servants and those who are not is drawn ever more starkly. There are those who seek Him and those who do not (vv. 10-11), and their destinies are as different as light and darkness (vv. 13-15). There are the saved and the lost in this chapter, there is heaven and hell. And again we note that the demarcation line is not ethnic or political, but personal and confessional. This chapter speaks of the final and irrevocable separation that will be made on the last day between them and God’s servants. But before then, the choice that the people have made becomes clear from the way they live. God calls, but they do not answer, He speaks, but they do not listen (v. 12). They forsake their Maker and choose fortune and destiny (v. 11), and reap anguish and brokenness (v. 14). Hell, in the end, is God simply giving us what we have chosen. Isaiah is quite clear about this. To be servants of God or not is a personal decision that none of us can avoid, and the consequences are eternal. There will be a new world, but God will not force us into it. The choice is ours!

Isaiah 65:1-25 Reflection Questions:

How is your personal relationship with Jesus doing?

Do you see the Old Testament and the New Testament coming together here?

Are you one of God’s servants and prayer warriors?