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Strengthen Faith-Part IV

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The Marks of a Servant of Jesus are, Integrity, Courage and Drive

Integrity

We are picking up in the middle of Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian elders. Actually we are about a fourth of the way through. Verse 17-24 are the first half of Paul’s discourse which is focused on the Ephesian elders personally witnessing Paul’s Christlike example. Paul provides them with three marks of a servant of Jesus and we examined two of the three last week. The first was integrity, Paul lived out what he believed. We saw this mostly in verse 19, were Paul says, “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews.” The three nouns here are explanatory or descriptive of Paul’s service of the Lord, it is with humility which is something these elders viewed. Paul did absolutely nothing for his own sake or to elevate himself, it is all for the sake of Christ. In fact all that Paul endured would have sent anyone of us packing long before his first missionary journey had ended. I mean seriously I think we would all be John Mark’s bailing at the first sign of difficulty. Not Paul, energizer should use him as a spokesman, he took a beating and he kept on going, literally. Paul had humility, Paul knew who he was serving and he served Him. Paul knew what was at stake and he knew it was more than his own personal comfort and his own personal feelings. It is about serving an incredibly powerful, holy and righteous King and seeing others serve Him too.
Paul continues and talks about his tears. This goes right along with humility. Paul wasn’t crying because he was personally offended they didn’t listen to him. He was crying because people were rejecting the gospel and rejecting salvation from an eternity separated from God. Paul tear’s were because he knew these people would suffer for all eternity. Oh and be the way just to clarify something about Paul crying for those who reject the gospel, it is not just as simple as being separated from God. You do realize that for all eternity those who are separated from God will have to endure God the father’s wrath for all eternity. These tares Paul apart inside because he knows what Jesus has done. Jesus has taken all of God’s wrath on Himself at the cross so we, who trust in Him, do not have to endure God’s wrath for all eternity. Those tears are out of love and compassion for the peoples and out of sorrow for their sin. Big men don’t cry, well that doesn’t hold true if you are a servant of Jesus Christ because love for mankind and sorrow for their sins should make even the toughest man cry. Cry, Mike, cry!
The third noun here that describes Paul’s serves to the Lord is ‘with trials.’ Listen don’t ever think being a Christian is a walk in the park. It is treacherous, it is difficult and the path is narrow. Trials are difficulties in our lives that come out of the blue for one purpose and one purpose only, perseverance. If the Christian’s life were easy and free from trials, it wouldn’t take faith to walk the path. No matter how much it hurts to walk that path stay on it, once you get to the end and look back on the pain you see how God through that difficulty strengthened you. Every Christian goes through trials and the more you walk with Christ sometimes those trials get tougher but they are designed for your strengthen and for you to persevere, building you up. Paul endured some serious trials and never failed or faltered but kept pushing forward trusting God even more and serving Jesus.

Courage

This mark of integrity moves seamlessly to the second mark of service, ‘courage.’ Paul continues in verse 20, “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house.” Here is courage, true courage. Paul was not deterred by any of the trials or difficulties that came his way. It takes courage to proclaim the gospel and it takes courage to call people out in their sin. Paul’s message never changed it was always the same, and it didn’t come from his opinion but from the only source of information that is profitable and completely sufficient for life and practice, God’s Word. There is nothing else that can be used to tell people the truth about their fallen, depraved condition and nothing else can teach us about God’s mercy and grace and nothing else that can be used to renew our minds and set our minds thinking correctly about the world, about God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and about our own position before Him. God’s Word is Paul’s source and he doesn’t back down from keeping a consistent message, publicly or privately. This took courage for Paul and it takes courage for us today as well.
Paul even provides a summary of the message in verse 21, “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s message is not bias or partial, but it is inclusive both to Jews and Greeks. This message took courage to proclaim because it was not the message the Jews had and proclaimed, theirs was not a message of grace but laws and traditions. Their message was exclusive, if you wanted to go to heaven you must become a Jew first. Paul’s message is not the same, it is a message of grace through turning from rebellion against God and trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is a message everyone needs to hear but not everyone can except. Still, Paul never fails at providing the message or falters, he is resilient and proclaims it continually, because this is what he is called to do and he courageously speaks God’s word, no matter what.
So Paul is a servant of Jesus and he is marked by integrity, courage and now we will look at his third mark, Drive.

Drive

In verse 22 Paul tells the elders. “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” Here we see the essence or the source of Paul’s drive. It is a supernatural drive, and must be the source for any servant of Jesus. Paul is bound by the Holy Spirit Himself to go on this journey to Jerusalem. Paul is compelled to go, almost as though he is pulled along and has no other choice. Actually I like the way the New Revised Standard Version puts it, ‘captive to the Spirit.’ A true servant of Jesus doesn’t have much of a choice, when he is called to follow, the servant follows. Wasn’t this Jesus’ words to the disciples on the boat, ‘follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ Jesus commanded they follow Him, it was no wonder they dropped their nets and followed Jesus. They disciples were compelled and even held captive by Jesus’ authority. Paul knew well he wasn’t going to be able to turn from this journey, his path was set and he was firmly connect to the source and allowing the source to direct his steps.
For Paul it was as though he was being pulled along by the Holy Spirit. If you are a servant of Jesus it is much better to be pulled along than to be dragged. Better to be like Paul then to be like Jonah. Jonah was called by called and he was compelled as well. he packed up his things he charted a boat and sailed in the opposite direction God wanted him to go. Well when God calls you, He make sure you get to where He wants you to go. Jonah needed a big fish to get him back on track. And all God wanted Jonah to do was tell his enemies about God’s mercy. Jonah went kicking and screaming, Paul went joyful to serve His Master. Either you go along with where God is leading you or you fight it and you get there anyway, a little more bruised then if you just followed in the first place.
Paul was compelled to be driven by the Holy Spirit, he had his sights set on Jerusalem and he didn’t even know what was in store for him. You don’t have to take my word for it, look Paul’s own words, “not know what will happen to me there.” He doesn’t know what’s in store for him but he keeps pushing forward, driven by the Holy Spirit to get there. Still, even though he doesn’t know what will happen look at what he says in verse 23, “except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.” How does Paul not know what will happen but he knows bonds and afflictions await? Simple, he knows he knows he will be bond and he will cone under abuse, the details of how it will happen and what will transpire and how long it will last he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know exactly how the arrest will happen, or how it will impact his captors and were he would end up. He only know he will be bond and afflicted. this doesn’t deter his drive or effect his faith or trust in the Holy Spirits leading, Paul is simply determined to follow the source of his calling which is to make disciples and he does this by being a servant of Jesus. Not only is he determined to go but he is ready to face whatever awaits him. By the way did you notice the play on words here, it is just as clear in English as it is in Greek. Paul the servant of His Master Jesus is bound to the Holy Spirit’s drive in his life even to the point of being bound by his enemies. This is true drive.
As we come to verse 24 we find the key to this drive, Paul is embraced by the source but Paul is also needs to surrender all to the source. Sure it is a supernatural drive placed in Paul by the Holy Spirit grabbing hold of him and guiding him the whole step of the way, but verse 20 provides what sets Paul apart from Jonah. Verse 24 reads, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that my course and the ministry which I recieved from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul didn’t look at his life with any value. A huge influence in our lives that cause us to hold back from serving Jesua and pushing forward in this life to give the full gospel is the amount of value we place on our own lives. We think we deserve to be treated better than we are treated, we believe people should listen to us, we believe we are worth others peoples time and energy and we also believe we are the barometer in who is privileged to receive God’s mercy. We put way to much stock in our own reputation before man and we begin to care very little about our reputation before God. We are to concerned about being men pleasers and being pleased by man.
Colossians 1:9–10 NASB95
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
What it boils right down to is we place undue and unrealistic value on ourselves and this deters us from truly serving Jesus, not only does this hamper our drive but it completely knocks us off course. Everyone thinks more highly of themesleves then they should, its called Pride. My feelings are more important then yours, my family is more important then yours, my job is more important than yours my time is more important than yours even my body is more important than yours. Me, me, me, I, I,I and all this me, me, me, and I,I,I holds us back from true surrender to Jesus Christ our Master. The disciples had this mentality and right after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, which the Holy Spirit drove him to say, Jesus gave them this instruction.
Matthew 16:24–26 NASB95
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
The key to true drive in serving Jesus is complete surrender, a denial of yourself. It is an emptying of yourself. A dumping out all you think you deserve from your thinking and your life. Denying yourself is really aligning your will to the will of your Master in heaven. Your family is not yours, they are a blessing from God, they are His. Your job, is a blessing from God provided to you by God for a season in your life. Your time. your time, you have no control over your time it is all God’s. Your body, not yours either. Nothing we have in this life and in this world is ours and nothing in this life has any true calue or meaning outside of a right understanding of who we serve. When we really understand who we sere and that all we have is meaningless compared to him that is when we can begin to be driven by Him. Man wants so badly to hold on to what they know and are comfortable with instead of holding on to Jesus, actually it is more letting Jesus hold on to you and you keep ing wanting to resist by holding on to the world. Embrace Jesus’ hold on you and allow the thing of this world to grow strangely dim. The more you embrace Jesus the more He will strip away the I’s and me’s because He will move you from being self-centered to becoming Christ-centered. Drive cause you to surrender all.
Paul understood this, he knew what it meant to embrace Jesus and not his won life. He knew where his worth lay and it is in Christ and he counted his own life worthless apart from serving Jesus.
Philippians 3:7–21 NASB95
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
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