Acts Series #11
Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
The Call to Serve
By the way … we would appreciate your increased daily prayer for the Goforths … as of 3:30 this AM we officially have TWO TEENAGERS in the house as Bryan is now 13 … thank you for your prayers and I now with TWO teenagers I officially do not know anything …!
As we look at the early church we see something common in every new church or church. That is the leadership vacuum that comes with growth.
It is the need for people to step up and serve.
Growth creates needs, and reveals areas of weakness.
In the midst of growth we tend to depend on the primary leader(s) for everything. Eventually something must suffer.
The disciples recognized that they couldn't do everything so they had to make some choices.
What were the things that only they could do, or that they were specifically called to do in their role of leadership? Then what was left, that others could do and others were called to do.
If the apostles continued to serve the widows, they would not be able to give effort to Study and Prayer which were critical to their ability to lead, teach, and equip the church, which was their primary responsibility
So, today we look at the Call to Serve. We find today that it was NOT just for the apostles, not just for the Clergy, the "Professional Christians",
I want us to see more today than just a call of a select group of 7 men to serve as Deacons.
We're going to go from Simple to Complex today on the Call to Serve
So let's jump right in … The first thing we see about servants is that they are …
1. Called to Serve
The most basic and simple reason we serve is being a need was expressed and a request was given
A. Called because of Need
1. Grecian Jewish Widows were being neglected
2. the apostles were becoming overwhelmed with physical social ministry and didn't have time for prayer and preaching and teaching the Word of God
3. The leader cannot do everything and the more that he does in the everyday ministry and doings of the church, the less that will get done and the more the spiritual ministry of the church will suffer
B. NOT INFERIOR WORK
1. in our western mindset we think the apostles were saying that they couldn't quick their "important" work to be waiters, or menial servants
2. that is NOT the picture here
3. in the 1st Century Jewish culture, it was the Job of the HEAD of the Household to distribute food, that is why Jesus served his disciples at the Last supper. So, it was a FIRST CLASS, head of the House job to distribute food at the Table
4. ALSO, "to wait on tables" - the word "table" as can refer to a bank or money changers table and could be rendered "to sit at manager's desks" and could include distribution of food and money. So these men were not being asked to do menial work but very important work of caring for people, and distributing the food and money that had been brought into the church by people for the care of the needy
5. This was very important work, but not the work that they apostles were set aside to do
Because the work was so important, they were very concerned about who they put in charge of this work and so their was a need and they were called but the deeper level of service is being …
2. Commissioned to Serve
There was a need, but they didn't just ask for volunteers …
A little deeper yet on the Call is when we are set aside and commissioned to serve.
It's a visible expression of the internal acceptance of the call to Serve
It carries a greater public responsibility because we are making a commitment
These men were commissioned not just because there was a need but because they were
1. choose 6 men who were "Hellenistic" or "Greek" Jews and one who has a Gentile proselyte
2. they were qualified because they had a background that matched those who needed their ministry
3. they were able and willing to serve - "distribution" - diakonia or diakonos - v1 -
and diakone---o - SERVE - wait on
*4. known - reputation - Greek Word - martyreo - (mar-too-reh-o) -
a. means to testify or bear witness to legally communicate truth from first hand knowledge -
b. these men were living lives that were a living witness to who they are and their qualifications for ministry - this was NOT a popularity contest these men had lived out a reputation of qualification before they were called and commissioned for service
*5. Full - Greek word pleres (play-race) - means - hollow vessels that have been filled up - these men were NOT full of themselves they were empty vessels filled with a testimony for Christ - it also means a surface covered in every part - i.e. every part of their outside was covered in their testimony to Christ - INSIDE and OUTSIDE they were FULL - of WHAT?
*6. of the Spirit - Inside and Outside they were FULL of the Spirit of God - "full of" also means controlled by - they were not on their own agenda, they were fully controlled by the Spirit of God - yielded to his will over theirs
*7. of Wisdom - means - broad knowledge of diverse matters … skill in management of affairs … skill and discretion in imparting Christian truth …
These men, these servants, these diakonos were qualified to be Commissioned so they did …
1. prayed - asked God's blessing on them, protection, guidance
2. laid hands on them
3. turned over responsibility - we often ask people to do things, tell them what we want done, but then we dn't let them do it - to Commission people we must LET them Do what you have asked them to do - I work hard at doing this in Ministry - If you have responsibility and have been equipped for your task, I will do my best to turn it over and stay out of it
C. The Word of God Spread
Warren Wiersbe says as a result, the church was unified v5 - multiplied v6 - magnified v7
When People operate in unity in the ministries of the church, The Word of God goes forth … v 7 the Word Spread - Numbers increased rapidly … and a large number of priests, religious who had missed Christ, became obedient to the Faith
1. when needs are met the Word of God Spreads -
2. when flower beds are taken care of the Word of God spreads
3. when gutters are cleaned out … the Word …
4. when people recognize needs, are commissioned to work, know their gifts and find places of ministry, whether is seems important or insignificant a church with commissioned servants, freeing the pastors to stayed prayed up and studied up finds results in spreading the word
But there is a deeper level of ministry and the Call to serve
You might be thinking, well this is a great message and I hope our deacons or other church leaders are listening or those hoping to serve are listening, but what about me?
Well you don't NEED a TITLE to serve.
If you need a Title in order to SERVE … then you probably NOT yet READY for a Title anyway.
Why? Because there is a deeper call than simple needs expressed,
Deeper than a commission of the qualified to serve
It is an inner drive when you are
3. Compelled to Serve
You might have answered a call and signed up or you might have accepted a commission, but a deeper commitment comes from within where we are compelled to Serve.
It is the deepest inner drive, it is a soul on fire that MUST serve
There are 3 things that compel us to serve
A. The Example of Others Compels us
1. In Our Country - so many have gone before us that call us to serve - Americans have always come to the aid of others in need and responded to the needs of the world - more money is given to the poor, more money is given to aid other countries, more lives have been lost in protecting freedom in other countries by Americans than any single country in history? And it compels us to serve
Saving Private Ryan - "Earn This"
2. Example of others In the Church - William Wilberforce, Carey, Livingston, and countless missionaries, Mother Theresa and multitude of servants to the poor. - Evangelists like Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Spurgeon, Pastors Like Criswell, and Moody, men of today like Adrian Rogers, and Charles Swindoll They have set an example for Us
3. Example of Others in our church - I think of those who have served in our church here before us, people who have been faithful in service for years. No list would be fair or complete I know and I don't mean to leave people out, but the example of Al and Betty Heinle, Hermon and Gladys Self, Chuck and Peggy, Mike and Janine, Maxine Pollard, Keith your Grandmother and Grandfather … and so many of you in the next generation down inspire us to serve. Many of you that are younger than I am but have a heart to serve people Inspire and Compel me and us to service
B. The Spirit Within Compels us
1. The American Spirit is one of Service - used to be that people would step up and serve simple because we are Americans
2. The Human Spirit causes us to rise to meet the need in the tragedies we see
3. But as Christians, the Spirit of God within us Compels us
C. Christ Compels Us
We don't need a church title to Serve.
The only title we should need to serve is "Christian" - that is one who is LIKE CHRIST
1. The Example of Service -
?12? When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. ?13? "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. ?14? Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. ?15? I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. ?16? I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. ?17? Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
2. The Exhibition of Love
2 Cor 5:14a - For Christ's love compels us …
John 13:1-5 READ -
a. he knew his time to leave had come
b. having loved his own
c. "he now showed them the full extent of his love."
d. knew all things were under his power - he could do what he wanted - he knew he was returning to the Father
e. so … what did he do … he got up … took a towel, and laid down his life in service
THAT'S LOVE … That's Service … that's FROM THE DEPTHS of one's soul
John 15:13 - greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends
V15 - I no longer call you servants … (but) friends …
V16 you did not choose me, I chose you - I CHOOSE to SERVE YOU in LOVE
V17 this is my command: Love each other - how do we spell love from this example by Christ? SERVE - Lay Down Your Life
1 John 3:16 this is how we know what love is: Jesus laid down his life for us …
John 8:31-32 a new commandment I have given you, love one another, as I have loved you must love one another, by this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another
3. An Examination of the Cross … Compels Us
2 Cor 5:14-15 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died 15 and he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again 16 so from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view …
There She Stands
In the midst of a world that hates us there she stands
In the face of an enemy that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy there stands the cross
When it seems love has passed us by There she stands
When it seems all hope is lost and the night is dark, There stands the cross calling out to us over 2 centuries proclaiming that Love is proclaimed in the Sacrificial service of Christ
There she stands
Look to the Glorious Cross
Look to the Cross and Be Forgiven
Look to the Cross and Live -
John 3:14-16 - look up and live in forgiveness
There she stands
Look to the Cross and Love -
As he has loved us
There she Stands
Look to the Cross and Serve
Service has never been more fully given than at the cross
Look to the Cross and Go
Tell someone, Love someone, Serve Someone
Look to the Glorious Cross and find the reason, the passion, and the power to lay down your life and serve