SECOND NATURE SERVICE February 9th, 2020 VIDEO – SECOND NATURE SLIDE 2 – TITLE WELCOME Good Morning! Welcome to Fox Valley Christian Church, where every member is a missionary. SUPERBOWL Okay. It’s getting a little ridiculous. The 49ers had the lead in the 4th quarter and it was looking like I had a chance. 6:13 left in the game, 49ers have a 10 point lead and then the Chiefs got 3 touchdowns in 6 minutes. Ridiculous. And again … the team I picked lost in the 4th quarter. I am now 1 win and 6 losses. Of my 6 losses 4 of them saw the team I picked either winning or tied going into the 4 quarter. And 3 of them 4 were crazy last minute heroics that caused my team to lose. It really is unbelievable. But alas … I am 1 and 6. Now there were a lot of good commercials, but as I looked through some of the best ever Superbowl commercials, I can’t help but love this one. VIDEO - FEDEX COMMERCIAL SLIDE 4 – TITLE PONY EXPRESS I love that. I always thought it was funny in that movie the lengths that he went through to deliver that one package. Back in 1860-1861 a group of young men would go through some pretty great lengths to deliver packages. Being a rider for the Pony Express was a tough job. You were expected to ride 75 to 100 miles a day, changing horses every 15-25 miles. Other than the mail, the only baggage you carried contained few provisions, including a kit of flour, cornmeal, and bacon. In case of danger, you also had a medical pack of turpentine, borax, and cream of tartar. In order to travel light and increase speed of mobility during Indian attacks, the men always rode without a jacket, even during the fierce winter weather. How would you recruit volunteers for this hazardous job? The Pony Express ads read: SLIDE 5 – PONY EXPRESS AD “Wanted: young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Those were the honest facts of the service required, but the Pony Express never had a shortage of riders. THE DISCIPLINE OF SERVICE As we go through the Spiritual Disciplines … today we will be looking at the Discipline of Service. We need to be honest with the facts about the Discipline of Serving God. Serving God is not a job for the casually interested. It is a costly service. He asks for your life, He asks for service to Him to become a priority, not a pastime. He doesn’t want servants who will give Him the leftovers of their life’s commitments. Serving God isn’t a short-term responsibility either, it will never go away. The mental picture we have of the Pony Express is probably much like the one imagined by the young men of 1860 who read that newpaper ad. Scenes of excitement, camaraderie, and the thrill of adventure filled their heads as they swaggered over to the Express office to apply. Yet few of them envisioned that excitement would only occasionally punctuate the routine of the long, hard hours and loneliness of the work. SLIDE 6 – TITLE The Discipline of serving is like that. Although Christ’s call to service is the most spiritually grand and noble way to live a life, it is typically as pedestrian as washing someone’s feet. Richard Foster puts it this way: “In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus’ call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake of the Gospel, than His word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure. If we forsake all, we even have the chance of glorious martyrdom. But in service we are banished to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial.” - The ministry of serving may be as public as preaching or teaching, but often it will be as hidden as nursery duty. It may be as visible as singing a solo, but usually it will be as unnoticed as operating the sound equipment to amplify the solo. Serving may be as appreciated as sharing a good testimony in a worship service, but typically it’s as thankless as washing dishes after a church event. Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it. Beyond the Church walls … - serving is babysitting for neighbors taking meals to families running errands for the homebound providing transportation to the one whose car broke down or is unable to drive feeding pets and watering plants for vacationers and the hardest of all, having a servant’s heart in the home That’s why serving must become a Spiritual Discipline. The flesh plots against its hiddenness and sameness. Our laziness and pride, they hate serving. If we don’t discipline ourselves to serve for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom … we will “serve” only on occasion or when it’s convenient or when it’s selfserving. Dallas Willard, in the Spirit of the Disciplines says, “Not every act that may be done as a discipline need be done as a discipline. I will often be able to serve another simply as an act of love and righteousness, without regard to how it may enhance my abilities to follow Christ. There certainly is nothing wrong with that, and it may, incidentally, strengthen me spiritually as well. But I may also serve another to train myself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness. In that case, my service is undertaken as a discipline for the spiritual life.” Sometimes I serve merely out of love, sometimes it is love and training/growth occurs in me because I served, and sometimes the very act of serving would normally be against my will and instead is an act of training and discipline that humbles me, grows me, changes me … draws me nearer to God and godliness. Which is the purpose of the disciplines. And just as we have seen with the other disciplines … the discipline of service is expected. HEBREWS 9:14 SLIDE 7 – SCRIPTURE 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. We were purified from dead works to serve the Living God, for the purpose of living out God’s will. Service is expected … but since it is often mundane, thankless, and never ending … what should motivate us to serve? SLIDE 8 – TITLE When you are: - scrubbing the stove, assisting with a runny nose, scooping up dog poop, shoveling the sidewalk, reading a book out loud, - taking out the garbage, writing a lesson plan, emailing the team, pouring the coffee grounds, setting up the table, - changing a lightbulb, filling a backpack, pushing the chairs, licking the envelope, answering the phone What should motivate you to serve? MOTIVATED BY OBEDIENCE First and foremost, above any other reason or motivation is that we serve others and we serve God because we desire to obey Him. We are motivated to serve because we desire to be obedient to God. DEUTERONOMY 13:4 SLIDE 9 – SCRIPTURE 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. During this cluster of commands on obedience is this mandate, “serve Him.” We should serve the Lord because we want to obey Him. That is our ultimate motivation. SLIDE 10 – TITLE Imagine two couples, standing side by side and God comes and speaks to the both of them. He tells one couple that they are to go and serve Him by creating relationships with the world’s wealthiest CEO’s. In order to do this, God is going to give them wealth so that they can use it wisely and shrewdly to interact with those that God is calling them to reach. The other couple, God is calling them to go to Detroit and live in low income housing. God wants them to let go of all they have financially and live in poverty so that they do life with and reach those that are in those low income neighborhoods. Who is reaching the most valuable people? Neither. They are both reaching people and that is of value. Neither is more valuable than the other. Both are in fact invaluable, loved by their created, and therefore it is absolutely essential that we try to reach both. Therefore, it should be a matter of entire indifference to each of these couples which they were called to do. We serve God, first and foremost, because it is obedience to His will. His good and perfect will. MOTIVATED BY GRATITUDE Next, we serve God because we are motivated by gratitude. Listen to what the Prophet Samuel tells the Israelites as they are begging for a king: 1 SAMUEL 12:24 SLIDE 11 – SCRIPTURE 24 Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you. It is no burden to serve God when we consider what great things He has done for us. When writing about serving God out of gratitude, Donald Whitney says: “Do you remember what it is like not to know Christ, to be without God and without hope? Do you remember what it is like to be guilty before God and unforgiven? Do you remember what it is like to have offended God and to have His anger burning toward you? … Now do you remember what it is like to see Jesus Christ with the eyes of faith and to understand for the first time who He really is and what He has done by His death and resurrection? Do you remember what it was like to experience forgiveness and deliverance from judgement and hell? … He has never done anything greater for anyone, nor could He do anything greater for you, than bring you to Himself … What has God every given anyone that could compare with the salvation He has given to you as a believer? Do you see that there is nothing God could ever do for you or give to you greater than the gift of Himself? If we cannot be grateful servants of Him who is everything and in whom we have everything, what will make us grateful?” We are motivated to serve because we are so grateful for what God has already done for us. Consider what great things He has done for you. SLIDE 12 – TITLE MOTIVATED BY GLADNESS Next, we are motivated by gladness. There is this interesting interaction in scripture. Nehemiah gets this bad news about Jerusalem and that it is still in ruins even though Jews are returning to it from exile. Nehemiah himself is still in exile and he serves the King of Persia. NEHEMIAH 2:1-2 SLIDE 13 – SCRIPTURE 1 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. SLIDE 14 – SCRIPTURE 2 And the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart." Then I was very much afraid. Nehemiah was afraid, why? Because he was sad while serving the king. But why does this make him afraid? Because you don’t mope or sulk when you are serving the king. Not only does it give the appearance that you do not want to serve the king, but it is a statement of dissatisfaction with the way he’s running things. SLIDE 15 – TITLE Something is wrong if you can’t serve the Lord with gladness. I can understand why the person who serves God: - only out of obligation doesn’t serve with gladness. in an attempt to earn his way to Heaven doesn’t serve with gladness. But the Christian who gratefully acknowledges what God has done for him for eternity should be able to serve God cheerfully and with joy. For the believer, serving God is not a burden, it’s a privilege. That’s why the Psalmist writes: PSALM 84:10 SLIDE 16 – SCRIPTURE 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Do you serve on that church committee with gladness or gloom? Do you serve your neighbors willingly or reluctantly? Do your kids get the impression for you that serving God is something you really enjoy or merely endure? SLIDE 17 – TITLE SIDE NOTE(S): I have a couple side notes here. - - Note that Nehemiah had a sadness of the heart and the Persian king understood his sadness. If this man understood his sadness and his situation, so does God. Sometimes life hurts and we mourn, God gets it. This is not a call to serve fakely for God. It is a call to serve Him with gladness and not with begrudging obligation. Ministry is often hard and overwhelming. It is often thankless and burdensome. As an Eldership, we desire to remove burdens, hardships, pains in any way we can to help you more effectively and joyfully serve God. If you heard this and think … “I am currently serving out of gloom because the situation that I have been put in is causing the gloom” … please don’t walk away from serving or keep this from the Elders. Please come and speak to us so that we can understand and work to relieve any tensions, burdens, hurdles etc. I thank those of you who have been willing and open in the past and in the present and I pray that together we can continue to create environments where you are able to serve joyfully. I also thank you for continuing to serve through these hardships, because it shows your true motivation for the things you do for His kingdom. MOTIVATED BY FORGIVENESS, NOT GUILT Next, we serve because we are motivated by forgiveness … not by guilt. ISAIAH 6:6-8 SLIDE 18 – SCRIPTURE 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. SLIDE 19 – SCRIPTURE 7 And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for." SLIDE 20 – SCRIPTURE 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me." This is so awesome. God says … who shall I send? Who will go? God is looking for a servant and Isaiah shouts out … I’m right here! Look no further, you have found your servant … send me. Why? Was he motivated by guilt? No! God took His guilt away. This was the response of a man who had been forgiven. He had no guilt. SLIDE 21 – TITLE We do not serve God so that He forgives us, we serve Him because we are forgiven. When believers serve only because they feel guilty if they don’t, it’s as though they serve with a ball and chain dragging from their ankles. We are not prisoners who serve God grudgingly because of guilt. We serve willingly because Christ’s death has freed us from guilt and we are given the privilege and opportunity to serve. MOTIVATED BY LOVE Finally, service is motivated by love. GALATIANS 5:13 SLIDE 22 – SCRIPTURE 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. There are things that I do in the service of God that you could not pay me to do. It just wouldn’t be worth money. I am, however, willing to do them out of love for God and others. A missionary in Africa was asked if he liked what he was doing … his response: “Do I like this work? No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse … But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go,’ and we go. Love constrains us.” Love constrains us, it compels us. We serve God and others, because we are motived by love. We love God and we love others. Therefore, we serve God and we serve others. We even serve those that are not too particularly fond of because we love God. SLIDE 23 – TITLE WALKING STEPS As we leave here, missionaries and missionaries in the making … will you serve? Will you serve with the right heart and the right motivation? If you are looking for ways to serve here, specifically at FVCC … I can tell you that we could use: - Food on Sunday Mornings – Finally, every Sunday we do food after service. We have been doing this for months and I thank Bill and Glenda Kline for starting this. This is more than food. Look around as you are out there at the fellowship that occurs during this time. It is awesome. But it can only continue if people are willing to bring in food. In order to make the scheduling easier, we are changing the way we run this. We are going to have a Sunday Morning Fellowship Team. You don’t have to plan anything, you don’t have to go to any meetings, you just have to be willing to occasionally bring food. If you are on the team, you will get a quarterly communication - - - asking you what Sundays you will NOT be able to bring food for the next quarter. Then they will create a quarterly schedule and send reminders when it is your week. Since there are 13 Sundays in a quarter, there is a good chance you will only have one Sunday a quarter that you have to bring food. It is thankless and invisible, but it will allow us to continue to provide this great fellowship opportunity. If you would like to be a part of this team, you can sign up for it at the table with the food on it. Small Group Leaders. We have great small groups and great small groups leaders. We have people that wish they could be in a small group, but none of our current small groups fit their schedule. We need small group leaders. If God is pulling you to lead small groups, please consider this and come talk to myself or one of the Elders. Children’s Ministry Volunteers. We can always use people who are willing to give of their time and energy to serve in our Children’s ministry. It is not easy, it is often thankless, but it is needed. Student Ministry Leaders. We need people to not just volunteer in our Student Ministry, but to help offset the responsibilities that our current leaders have. Again, this is hard and often thankless work. I want to be clear here … Student Ministry is absolutely vital and often forgotten. Students struggle with depression, they begin to question what they believe (as they should), they feel in between ages and awkward, they are looking for validation outside of their home, they are often needy. They hurt, many of them hurt daily and are looking for people to process these hurts with. I know this because I was that age once and I am so thankful for the people that God put in my life. When I think back to the people that impacted me the most. Were they trained ministers? Nope. Were they cool hip young folk? Nope. They were real. They loved God. The loved me. They were willing to do whatever it took for me to grow into the man that I grew into. And I thank everyone of them even though they might never realize the impact they had on my life. We are looking for adults that love God and love the students in this Church and the community and all their friends. You do not have to be young. You do not have to be hip or cool (those might not even be cool words anymore and you might not know it, that’s okay). You do not have to be a gifted speaker, you do not have to have a degree in the Bible, you do not have to be a trained counselor. You have to love God, love students, and be willing to give your time and energy. It’s not easy. But if this is you … we really do need you to step into this role. SLIDE 24 – WANTED IMAGE WANTED: Gifted volunteers for difficult service in the local expression of the Kingdom of God. Motivation to serve should be obedience to God, gratitude, gladness, forgiveness, and love. SLIDE 24 – WANTED IMAGE Service will rarely be glorious. Temptation to quit place of service will sometimes be strong. SLIDE 24 – WANTED IMAGE Volunteers must be faithful in spite of long hours, little or no visible results, and possibly no recognition except from God in eternity.