It is good to have everyone here this morning! It was so nice to get some rain yesterday, and see the daffodils starting to poke up through the ground. Spring is just around the corner – or so I choose to believe! Visitors, we are so thankful you are with us today.
This is a special day for us. Today we are having a service fair, and that is why there are tables setup in the foyer. In just a little while, we will all have an opportunity to get involved in areas of work that serve those within our church family and those throughout our community.
First, let’s spend just a few minutes looking at what God tell us about service. In Ephesians 2:10 we learn that as Christians, we have purpose:
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Once we are saved, there is some area of service that God has prepared for us. Paul also spoke of this in 1 Corinthians when he discussed how we are all part of a body, working and serving together. In verse 18 of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul wrote that God arranged the parts of the body just as he wanted them. The first thing we can understand about service is that God has prepared an area of service for each one of us – we all have a place of service, and we all have a purpose for serving.
It is also important for us to remember who benefits from our service God. Our efforts are not just some abstract check-off list that has no real meaning. One passage that speaks at length about Christian service is Ephesians 4. There are two verses that I want us to focus on, verses 12 and 16:
Starting in verse 11 of Ephesians 4:
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
Continuing on in verses 15 and 16, we see this same thought again.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
When we serve, when we work together, we build up the Lord’s church, we strengthen the bond of love that we have in this family. And those of you that have served in many different ways over the years, you know this to be true! The most enjoyment you have had has been building that cabin, painting those walls, cooking those meals, singing those songs, praying for those in this family, raking leaves, printing bulletins, knocking doors, sharing Christ, teaching Bible classes, and on and on – working side-by-side, with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
But there are others who benefit from our service. Rex shared a passage from 1 Peter 2:12 with us last week.
12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
When those outside the church see us working together, making a difference in each others lives and in our community, they do notice! Our service is a sermon to them. At a minimum they will see that we love God, and our hope is that they will want to share that love through our example. And, some of our ministries are focused specifically on those out in our community. Our benevolence and jail ministries are just two ministries that have more of an external focus. Not only do we have purpose and a place for service, we have a family to build up, and friends to influence and help through our service.
Sometimes it is hard for us to see on down the road and to understand what lies ahead. I always love it when God shares what is coming down the road. What is the long term result of our lives of service? Verse 13 of Ephesians 4 makes that clear:
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Paul tells the Ephesians that the result of our service is that we will all reach unity in the faith and in our knowledge of Jesus. We will become mature. If we really think about verse 13, we will see that our knowledge of Jesus will never be complete until we do serve. For example, we will never really understand that personal satisfaction that Jesus must have felt in being an extension of God’s love, until we serve and show God’s love to those around us. Knowing Jesus takes on new meaning when we serve.
And don’t you love that last phrase: “Attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” If we want unity in the faith, if we want to really understand Jesus, if we want to be mature Christians and become like Jesus, we must serve. There is not only a place and a purpose for us to serve, and family and friends to strengthen and influence through our service, there are results and rewards in serving our Lord.
Paul told the Philippians in chapter 2 and verses 5-7, that if we want to become like Christ, we have to have His same attitude – we have to take on an attitude of service. We cannot legimately state that we disciples of Jesus, that we strive to be like Jesus, but then through our actions or statements show that we really don’t want to serve. Our Lord was a servant, he came to teach us about service, his church is all about service. Our love for him, for this family, and for the lost – that love is what moves us to service.
There are times in our lives where we may find ourselves in a team at school, or a group at work, or in some other setting where we may see that classic 80/20 rule – 80% of the work gets done by 20% of the people. Thankfully that is not the model or the situation in God’s church. We live by the 100/100 rule – 100% of the people doing 100% of the work. Notice the closing phrase of Ephesians 4:16, “as each part does its work.” Service to God is not for just the young, or just for those who can drive, or those who are older, or those with experience. Each part must do its work as God has purposed.
The results of a life of service, the rewards we see in this life and the one to come, are truly wonderful. In just a moment we will have a song of invitation and encouragement, followed by a closing prayer. Then there will be an additional song for the deacons and various ministry leaders to go out to their tables in the foyer. After that final song, we encourage everyone to step into the foyer, ask questions about areas where you can serve, and sign up this morning for those areas of service. Since we are ending our lesson a bit early, parents with children in Children’s Bible Hour will have ample time to visit the various ministry tables before picking up their children in the back of the building.
I know there are many specific needs in our ministries – needs that are unmet at this time, waiting for someone like you to step up and say “Yes, I want to help!”
It all begins by putting on Christ, by saying “I’m tired of my old life, I want that new life in Christ,” and by burying our old self through emersion in baptism, becoming like Jesus in his death. A new and exciting life of service to Jesus waits for you. If we can help you in any way this morning, won’t you come as we stand together and sing.