GROW In to GROW Out  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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-The past few weeks I have been going through a series on spiritual disciplines called GROW In to GROW Out—which means if we as a church are going to have an impact outside the church building we need to be growing spiritually
-The first week, I spoke about being SEEDED BY THE WORD, then last week I spoke about BEING WATERED BY PRAYER
-Staying with the metaphor of cultivating a plant for growth in the springtime, to encourage growth we usually nourish plants by giving them nutrients by fertilizer or plant food
-Our own spiritual growth needs nourishment, and I see that giving ourselves over to the service of others is the right discipline to give us the spiritual nutrients we need as it points us outside of ourselves to what we can do for others
-We have the greatest example in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who said of Himself in Mark 10:45 that He did not come to be served, but to serve—with His greatest service being that He gave His life as a ransom for all who would believe in Him
-But as Christ sought to serve others rather than serving self, that same call is given to us—instead of thinking that the world or the church is here to give you what you want, your mindset ought to be that God has placed you on this earth to show love to others by serving them
-That means we get up off the pew and we get up off the couch and we do something for somebody else—being the hands and feet of Jesus for those both inside and outside the church
-So, we see today that Christians nourish their spiritual growth when they serve others in Jesus’ name. In the passage we are looking at today, Peter exhorts the dispersed church to serve others in light of God’s gift of grace to them and the impending return of Christ. May this cause us to look outside of ourselves and seek practical ways to serve others both inside and outside the church
1 Peter 4:10–11 ESV
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
-I want to look at four specific attributes of the type of service that we as Christians give in Jesus’ name:

I) The supply for service

-In v. 10 Paul talks about all Christians having each received a gift. The word for gift is connected to the word GRACE, and refers to special gifts given through God’s generosity (or grace) to each individual Christian
-The basic idea is that there are different types of grace-gifts given by God through His Holy Spirit for that person to use to serve God and others
-Passages such as Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 list such gifts (although these are by no means exhaustive) such things as:
Prophecy, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, etc.
~In our passage for today Peter just puts them into two broad categories: gifts of speaking and gifts of serving
-There are a few things, though, that I think are important to note here:
~First, these gifts are given by God through grace—these are not talents or attributes that we ourselves choose to build or strengthen (although the gifts can be better learned and honed through discipleship). But these are gifts that God gives to a person based solely on His own will, plans, knowledge, and wisdom. We do not choose them, God chooses them for us
~Second, it should be noted that just because we don’t have a certain gift doesn’t mean that we don’t have that attribute. For example, just because I don’t have the gift of wisdom doesn’t mean that I don’t have any wisdom at all. The gift of wisdom is a Spirit-endowed, supernatural gift given by God for specific service. The grace-gift of wisdom gives a supernatural insight into people and situations in specific ways. Yet the entire book of Proverbs is a call for God’s people to gain for themselves wisdom for life.
~Third, finding how God has gifted you takes time and effort on your part through prayer, Bible study, and seeking godly counsel. God gives you this gift through His Spirit to yours, and when He does there isn’t necessarily some sort of moment of epiphany. Yet, at the same time God doesn’t purposefully keep you in the dark. Through spiritual searching, and seeing where God has laid the passion of your heart, you can find out exactly how God has gifted you, and then search out in what capacity you are to use that gift
-Tied to these gifts is another very important attribute of service:

II) The sphere of service

-In v. 10 Peter says to take the gift you have been given and use it to serve one another—who is the one another? It is the church.
-So what Peter is trying to say is that God has given you the gift to be used in the sphere of the local church.
-We see that Paul tells us something very similar in speaking about the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,
25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
-You cannot separate the gift from the sphere in which it is used—the body which is the church
-And so we serve others in conjunction with and in view of the whole church
~That means we serve people within the church as part of the church
~But that does not mean that we don’t serve people outside the church—but when we do, we do so as being a member of the body—when we serve people out there we don’t do it all lone ranger like, even though we might do it by ourselves, we do so in the name of Christ as a member of the local body
-So, as we serve the believers and we serve the community we do so for Christ’s sake as a member of Harvest Baptist Church

III) The stewardship of service

-In v. 10 Peter says that we serve one another with the grace gifts we have been given AS GOOD STEWARDS OF GOD’S VARIED GRACE
-A steward is someone who is entrusted with the authority and responsibility to manage something—in Jesus’ day a richer person would put a servant in charge as a steward of their business or household
~A steward was given great authoritative power, but as we learn from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility—they were to look after the master’s affairs rightly.
-So, Christ has given us authority to represent Him here on this earth, and He has given us gifts by which to do it—that means that we have a responsibility to use those gifts rightly.
-But not only have we been given stewardship of the gifts we are given, we also have to consider the fact that we are given stewardship of the resources that God has provided. The resources that God gives us is also to be used in service.
-There are two things in particular I want to mention with regard to our stewardship of resources.
-First, the Bible tells us that we are to be good stewards of the time that God gives us
~Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
-Our time is not only given to us for us to live for self, but it is given to us to live for Christ and to minister in His name
~Each of us is given the same 24 hours a day, so the question is what are we going to do with it?
-No doubt a lot of our time is taken up by work or school and sleep—but what is it we do with the rest of our time?
~Yes, there needs to be time for us to rest and relax and have some recreation, but when entertainment and sports eat up all the remaining time we have, and we have little to no time for serving others, is that good stewardship of time?
-Second, we also have a stewardship of money—in Luke 16:10-13 Jesus tells us:
10 "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?
13 No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money."
-So, Jesus is asking His followers to take stock of how they use their money—are they faithful in using it for kingdom purposes, or is it used for selfish gain and greed?
-If you use all your extra money for your toys, and giving nothing to the church, nothing to charities, nothing to the advancement of the gospel, how are you going to answer for your stewardship?
~So, take stock of your life: how is your stewardship of your gifts and resources?

IV) The spotlight from service

-At the end of v. 11 Peter says that the reason we serve through our gifts and resources is IN ORDER THAT IN EVERYTHING GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
-That means, when we serve others, it is to shine the spotlight on Jesus, and not on ourselves
~When we serve, who gets the glory? Who gets the honor? Do we do it so that people think much of Christ or think much about us?
-This is a call to check our motives, and I think that there is an easy way to find out where our heart really lies—answer this question:
~If I serve either in the church or outside the church, if the pastor or staff or the church in general does not recognize what I have done, do I get immediately offended? Do I get offended when I do not receive the credit that I think I am due?
-If you truthfully answer yes to that, then you want the spotlight on yourself, not Christ—of course, most people will be in denial of ever doing this, but just see what stirs up inside of you when someone does not pat you on the back for some good deed that you have done
-Jesus said in Matthew 6:3-4
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
-What He is saying is that when you do your works of service, do it in such a way that people don’t shine the spotlight on you, but on Christ—it’s as if you did it in secret so that Jesus gets all the glory
-Because ultimately, what we are trying to do through our service is open people’s hearts to the gospel of Jesus Christ—so that, when we serve, people are amazed at the Christ we serve
~So that people will be open to hear that we serve in the name of Christ who is God in the flesh, who came to earth to point people to God and to die on the cross to pay for their sins and rose again and is preparing a place in heaven for anybody who believes in Him
-We serve so that Jesus is highlighted and the gospel is shared
Richard Foster wrote a comparison between self-centered/self-righteous service and what true service in Christ’s name really entails:
Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside.
Self-righteous service is impressed with the "big deal." True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.
Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness.
Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results.
Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. True service is indiscriminate in its ministry.
Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need.
Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style.
Self-righteous service is without sensitivity. It insists on meeting the need even when to do so would be destructive. True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.
Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community.
-What kind of service do you render, if any at all?
-Christian, maybe you want to come to the altar and ask God to reveal how He has gifted you? Or maybe you want to come to the altar to ask God to give you a heart for service or to reveal where He wants you to render your service?
-As, as always, there we call you today to place your faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for you—there is nothing and no one else that can open the doors to heaven for you. Come forward, and give your life to Christ today…
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