“Followers of Jesus Serve Him And Others As The Body Of Christ – In Church” 9-18-16

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, tells about the Roman aqueduct at Segovia Spain. It was built in 109 A.D. For 1800 years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot city. But in the 1900’s, the town felt that the water aqueduct is so great a thing that it ought to be preserved for their children, as a museum piece.” So they decided to retire the aqueduct from service. They hired contractors to lay modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient bricks and mortar a rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun beating on the dry mortar caused it to crumble. The bricks and stone sagged and threatened to fall. What years of service could not destroy, idleness disintegrated it.

You know what robs us of spiritual growth? Simply not caring about growing to be like Jesus can rob us. This is usually manifested in a lack of attending worship or participating in worship. But there is an even greater robber of spiritual growth out there than all of these. Fact is, this has done more to diminish and in some situations destroy the life of many churches and close churches than any other thing. It is called idleness. We were created to serve, to be useful, and to contribute. If you are a follower of Jesus this morning and not serving God through the gifts He has given you, you are an easy target for idleness, you are already in the sights of the enemy.

You want to find fulfillment as a Christian? Then serve! You want to keep your spiritual life growing and moving forward? Then find where God can use you in the word andin His church and serve! Serving is the greatest deterrent in becoming a dead church, because when we serve we take action and move forward. We worship a God that is always moving forward in the kingdom and He wants us to move forward with Him.

Nobody wants the church to get dried out but 100 years ago D.L. Moody described what has become much to common in churches:
“A great many people have a false idea about the Church. They have the idea that the Church is a place to rest in… To get into a nicely cushioned pew, and contribute to the charities, listen to the minister, and do their share to keep the Church out of bankruptcy, is all they want. The idea of work for them—actual work in the Church—never enters their mind.”

His point is that every Christian is to be a minister. You are a priest. The work of the church, or meeting the needs of people, is the responsibility of all believers. When we practice the Presence of Jesus, we discover that the service we do for others is really service to Him.

See in Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells a parable about Himself as the King who judges; and He says…“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Now, let me ask you, what difference do you suppose it would make in our attitudes, yours and mine, if we imagined Jesus being the recipient of our service, of our proactive service and proactive volunteering?

What would be different in our minds if we believed Jesus would personally benefit from whatever ministry we did? I have to believe, that if any of us had the opportunity to directly serve Jesus, we wouldn’t want anybody else to do it! We would guard our chance to serve Him yet we wouldn’t make our place of serving our personal kingdom either. We would actively seek others to serve, to serve with us. To know what we do. 2 yoked together is better than 1.

You see we are to eagerly serve Jesus. We need to be willing to get involved in others’ lives.
We must not be afraid to get our hands a little dirty and jump into a messy situation. And when we do, Jesus personally benefits. Real followers of Jesus, real followers of Jesus serve Him and others as the body of Christ. It begins with service and that is service in the church as well as service in the world.
The first thing to know and remember in order to eagerly serve Jesus is to realize we are COMMON PEOPLE. We are all pastors, we are all priests. The pastor can not do it all himself. Super disciples are not what make’s up the church. Every one of you is called.

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has assigned or given you.

We need to remember prideful people hurt the church. Prideful people ignore the Lord’s call and implement their worldly plan rather than follow God’s plan. God’s plan since Jesus left this earth is to use humble servants to follow Him using God’s gifts which are given to every believer when Jesus truly enters their heart. Faith filled followers trust God to empower them through the Holy Spirit to step out of their comfort zone.

The cross is the great equalizer. We all have a common place that makes us common people. By His death on the cross, Jesus demonstrates His love for each one of us who has literally caused this death. So we cannot be dominated by pride. Who we are and what we have been given are gifts from God and we cannot take credit. Sometimes I believe that there is an exaggerated distinction between clergy and lay people. I humbly submit to you that we are the same, with the same calling to serve. Each one of us is to eagerly serve Jesus. If we are called to find and tell people about the love of Jesus, we must not just serve the church for our own self pleasure. Never forget, when people are hurting, it is not time to hide behind our supposed importance, but to love as Jesus loved, and so eagerly serve Jesus.

The second thing to know and remember in order to eagerly serve Jesus is we are interwoven together.
Romans 12:4-5
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

We are the body of Christ. Praise the Lord we are not all alike, we’re definitely different, but it is simple, we make up a body. We are to be like a team called to work as one. We belong to each other. We are not in this for ourselves and we cannot work independently. We must desire to work in harmony and when we do, we profit from each other. Together, we make a whole. We are to work uniquely and together as His body to be His hands, His feet, and His voice. Since we belong together, we share a common life, a common ministry, and a common power. As a consolidated whole, we are to serve Jesus.

III. The third thing to know and remember in order to eagerly serve Jesus is we are CONTRASTING
Romans 12:6-8
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

We are all different according to how God has graced us, graced us, God’s favor for each of us.. That is a biblical fact. We all have spiritual gifts with differing abilities and they are NOT just those gifts we might be comfortable with. God’s gifts find their source in God. It is because of His favor toward us that we have roles to fulfill and abilities that are to be used in service to one another. Since He has graced us with these abilities, we are to use them.

We are all to be participators. The way the text reads is that we are to be continually using these contrasting gifts. We are to be exercising them. And when we do, we honor and serve Jesus. Now you may be thinking that this sermon is just about church as in a building, as in Patoka United Methodist church with the family life center. Yes it is the place we call church but Jesus calls us to serve Him in a balanced way with all things leading towards His mission. Again Jesus said our primary priority is to (from the Message Bible: “I (Jesus) have been given say over all things in heaven and earth. As you go, therefore, make disciples of all kinds of people, submerge them in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit presence, and show them how to do everything I have commanded. And now look: I am with you every minute until the job is done.” All of our serving MUST be with this in mind. This is to be the guiding goal in any decision we make in our serving. It is to be meant to accomplish what Jesus demanded, commanded.

Peter tells us why we serve Jesus and what our servanthood is for – 1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

So fellow priests and priestesses, are you using your gifts to be serving? In your bulletin there is the organization of the Patoka UMC which is part of Jesus’ great universal church. If you desire Patoka UMC to be here for generations to come, that happens by one servant step at a time. If many rather than a few aren’t involved, ultimately a price will be paid. Yes, that is exactly what the devil wants. What committee can you serve on? Maybe the meetings aren’t on days that are good for you, get together and find the best time. “Nobody listens to me.” If you’re silent there is a 99.99% probability they don’t. “I don’t have the time or energy.” Well if you agree that when we serve, we serve Jesus, then you are saying to Jesus you don’t have the time or energy for Him. Please prayerfully review the insert.

Finally there are those of you, that for various reasons, truly do find serving on a committee not possible. Well let me close with how you too can be a priest with gifts you have for Jesus and I am borrowing from a talk Bonnie Priesthood of all believers will be making:
Be a true daily prayer warrior.
Give a hug to someone that has had a bad day or has never been hugged or at least brighten their day.
Send a card to people to lift them up…..electronics and all, we all love getting a card
Give a great and beautiful smile to brighten someones day
*some can tell others Jesus loves them…..just the way they are..
*some can visit the sick and brighten their day ….they may not have anyone come and see them so you can be the one God is using.
*some of us have aging parents that need our help…be there for them…

Our church is the world. Our church is to be outside these four walls. Our task as Peter said is to proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. This is the glorious reason why we serve. This is why Jesus made the church and why he left us to join His Father. He has faith in us to carry His mission on. Through the Holy Spirit He is speaking to you right now. Jesus calls you to follow Him and serve Him.

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