The Heart of a Servant pt 3

The Heart of a Servant  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:59
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Yesterday, I was reminded of something that I… you… we… probably often lose track of…
Some of you know that yesterday, Ray, Melissa, Melinda, and I took a ride down to Allen to participate in the Unity Breakfast with the Christian Riders United group. (Is that right?)
Let me tell you… It was an amazing time! There is absolutely nothing greater, or more powerful than a group of men and women united in a common purpose… with one goal in mind!
The guest speaker shared out of John 17
John 17, contains the words of the longest prayer Jesus prayed… And guess who it was for?! YOU! and me…
I want you to see something right in the middle of this prayer:
John 17:11 NRSV
11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
That last part: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Reads a little bit different in Ancient Greek — “Holy Father, You keep them in Your Name, which You give me, so that they will be One as We are.” (Greek New Testament, SBL)
Jesus is not praying for our protection here, that will come next.... Here, He is praying that we would be unified in one common thing — His Presence!
“Keep them in Your Name...” Is not “protect them,” but “unify them with yourself!”
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is protection involved… We cannot be unified with God, and not receive His protection and provision, Amen?
But… Unity is the focus!
Jesus prayed that we would be unified… not only with each other… but with the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit)!
Because there is absolutely nothing more powerful than God’s Children… united in Kingdom purpose!
Acts 4:32-36 hold what is probably the most powerful example of the power of Christian Unity. Look at verse 32:
Acts 4:32 NIV
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
I love the way “The Message” puts it:
Acts 4:32 The Message
32 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything.
Church — there is nothing more powerful than a United Church! When Christians come together in One Mind, for One Purpose, and that is to share God with the world around us! Powerful things happen…
Yesterday is a prime example… As I sat there, listening to the guest speaker… listening to him share about unity within the body… I began to look around the room… Do you know what I saw?
I saw people… Dirty old bikers, prim and proper businessmen, restaurant staff, … , people who ordinarily would not be in the same room with each other, worshipping, praying, and sharing a common united faith!
Do you know what else I saw?!
I saw a restaurant full of people — employees, customers, men, women, and children — impacted by God!
Because when God’s people are united in Him, race doesn’t matter… social status doesn’t matter… appearances don’t matter… because we are all God’s Children united in Love!
Galatians 3:28 NRSV
28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Unity in the Body of Christ — in the Church — changes the world!
There are young people all over the world… and a growing number of older people… who are saying that they do not like, or want, the “institutionalized Church”!
You know what?! NEITHER DO I!!!
I want to see the Unified Church, amen! Because that is the church that is going to change the World!
Ephesians 4:4–6 NRSV
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
We are ONE, and when we come together as ONE powerful things happen… Amen?!
People are healed, Prayers are answered, Lives are changed…
But… What does it take to find that kind of unity?
A servant’s heart.
Unity begins with a servant’s heart.
That’s why we have been talking about this. That’s why we have been exploring what it takes to develop a servant’s heart.
We have seen through the Apostle Paul, that it takes Humility, Compassion, and Faithfulness in our lives.
BUT… What do those require?
The Christian life takes courage… it is not for the faint at heart.
Acts 20:18–19 NRSV
18 When they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews.
Paul was under constant harassment from his Jewish brothers… Yet, he endured it for the sake of people.
He never gave up… He never quit… He never changed his message in order to be more “palatable” or “acceptable” tot he people…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but Paul was not “politically correct!”
He didn’t change, or “water down” his message, just so that people would accept it… No! Paul told it like it is! Boldly!!
Paul knew that in order to do God’s will, he had to be willing to reach out to people, no matter the cost!!!
And he knew that cost!!!
In case you doubt that Paul knew what he’d face in Jerusalem, take a look at verses 22-23:
Acts 20:22–23 NRSV
22 And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me.
Paul didn’t know the details, but he knew it was not going to be pleasant… He knew that he was going to suffer…
Let me ask you this— If I was to ask you to go visit a family later this week, and I said, “Now understand, when you get there, their probably going to throw rocks at your car, but don’t worry… If you get out of your car quickly, they’ll stop throwing rocks at your car! But… they might keep throwing them at you.
But, don’t worry, just go ahead and walk up to them… now, when you get to them, you need to know, they might start hitting you with sticks, rocks, pretty much anything they can get ahold of… You probably won’t be able to stand for long, and they probably won’t stop once your down…
AND… once your down, their going to tie you up and take you to jail, claiming that you committed crimes against them.”
How many of you would be eager… or even willing… to go?
How many of you would suddenly feel “led” to make a different visit?!
You see — that is exactly what Paul did...
Acts 21:10–11 NRSV
10 While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ”
What would you have done if you were Paul? Would you still go? Would you go somewhere else?
Paul went!
Acts 21:12-14 tells us:
Acts 21:12–14 NRSV
12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.”
That is the kind of Courage the Church needs today.
Let me ask you — What would you do if it suddenly became illegal to talk about God? To carry your Bible? To share God’s Word?
What if just wearing a Cross meant going to jail? Imprisonment? Even death?
You see — It does in some parts of the world, and it could happen here, even in America.
Some of us are quick to say that we would be faithful… that we would go to jail to share the gospel… But… I wonder…
It takes serious courage to actually do so.
So, what does it take to develop that kind of courage?
We must count the cost.
Acts 20:24 NRSV
24 But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.
Jesus tells us to count the cost:
Luke 14:26 NRSV
26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
This is the type of commitment Christ is looking for. Unless our place in Him is more important than the rest of the world… Unless we are willing to give up ALL… EVERYTHING… for the sake of unity with Him… we are not able to follow Him.
Are we willing to pay that price?
(End of the Spear)
In the 1950’s, a group of men from several denominations, united in one common purpose… They believed that God wanted them to take the gospel to the Auca indians in Ecuador.
Now, you need to understand, the Auca indians were known as the most violent people in the world! In fact, their violence, and tendency towards murder, was driving them toward extinction.
But, God laid it on the hearts of these men to change that. They were united in their goal, and so were their families...
One of those men was Jim Elliot.
As they were preparing to go, Elliot’s family and friends called him a “fool”… they told him he was throwing his life away… that he was going to get himself killed, and they would not accomplish anything for God… He was wasting the gifts God had given him....
Do you know what Jim said?
(this is one of the most quoted statements in history)
“No man is a fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” — Jim Elliot
If you watch the movie, End of the Spear, you can see their story, which was written with the help of Jim’s son.
There is one point in the story that always sticks with me… as Jim is preparing to leave, to go pick up the other men on the day that they would attempt to make contact with the tribe, Jim is talking to his son…
His son asks him, “Dad, do you have your gun?”
Jim says, “Yes.”
He asks, “Will you use it? Will you shoot them?”
Now, listen to Jim’s answer:
“No! They don’t know Jesus… I do!”
You see, Jim understood… Ending their life meant condemning them to hell, and that was not his goal!
God had sent him to save them.
There will be times in our lives… in our Christian walks… when serving God will mean sacrificing something… But… let me tell you… that thing God asks us to give up, is not something we can keep anyway… One second after death, nothing we’ve accumulated in this world will matter anymore!
Now… back to the story…
Anyone who knows the story, knows what happened… Jim and the other three men find the tribe, they spend days dropping gifts for them, hoping to establish some trust…
They find a small patch of river bank they can land the plane on, and wait… The women of the tribe come out first, “checking them out”… everything seems to be going well… But…
Then the men attack… killing all four of the men…
What would you do if you were the wife of these missionaries?
The story tells us something interesting…
You see… those women knew the mission God had given their husbands… and they were united in their mission…
So, they did the unimaginable… they packed up their children, their belongings, they supplies they would need, and… they went out on foot to find the Auca…
the rest of the story is absolutely amazing!!!
Elizabeth Elliot, along with her son and the other men’s wives, find the Auca… they set up camp near them… and eventually end up living with them… They even meet the man who murdered her husband!
Now, here’s the awesome part… through their efforts… through their work… through their unified mission… the Auca, including the man who murdered Jim Elliot and the others… were saved!
Jim’s son even eventually befriends his father’s murderer and takes a trip with him to America.
How many of us would be able to do that?
It is easy to get distracted by worldly concerns and threats… Today, we have worries over the election… covid… political and social “justice”… But… we must not let that cause us to forget why we are here!
Paul knew the dangers of his mission, but he decided, I’d rather die in the will of God than to live outside of His Will!
What are you willing to do to see someone saved?!
God has a plan for this church…
He has a plan for your lives…
Do you want to know what that plan is?
To see the people of Fannin county… of Bonham Texas… receive, embrace, and live within His grace!
God does not want to see people strung out on drugs… addicted to alcohol… struggling in their marriages…
He does not desire to see children struggling from abuse and neglect… wondering if they are going to get to eat today…
He doesn’t want to see people continue to be lost… broken… depressed… wondering where to turn…
God desires to bring healing!
But… understand this… He brings it through us!
We must be UNITED in God’s mission!
We must be willing to run the course to the end.
We must be willing… eager even… to see the plans of God through, not matter the cost to us personally.
Acts 20:24 NRSV
24 But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.
Hebrews 12:1 NRSV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
Look at the NLT
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We must stay focused on the goal!
God has given us a mission… God has a purpose for us… We must set our eyes on it, and not look away.
There is an interesting things that happens with runners… You see, when they run, and keep their eyes on what’s in front of them, they do fine. BUT… if they look away… look back… they risk stumbling and falling....
The same is true for us!
God has a plan for you. He has a purpose for your life.
Many of us have expressed our desire to see people’s lives changed right here in Bonham… We have talked about our desire to see safe places developed for the youth of our awesome little town… We have expressed the desire to see people’s lives changed…
To see the chains of addiction… of divorce… of abuse… of neglect… broken.
That happens through us!
We have been called to a ministry!
Everyone of us!
You are not here by accident! You are a part of this family! You are a part of God’s ministry here, and He is calling us to UNITE and seek His Face… for this community!
The question is: What is stopping us?
What is holding us back?
What is preventing us from having a Servant’s Heart?
What ever it is, we need to confess it… and turn it over to God?
(altar call)
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