A Diligent Hand and a Servant’s Heart
By Pastor Matt Black
Bible Text: Psalm 100:2
Preached on: Sunday, January 4, 2009, AM & PM
Servant’s Heart Sunday
Tabernacle Baptist Church
7020 Barrington Road
Hanover Park, Illinois 60133
Introduction: Open your Bible Psalm 100:2. The title of the message this morning is “A Diligent Hand and a Servant’s Heart”.
This morning our goal is to look at:
- The Possibility of Serving Christ
- The Power in Service for Christ
- The Place of Service for Christ
- The Purpose in Serving Christ
- The Proving of our Service for Christ
Psalm 100, “<<A Psalm of praise.>> Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
[Prayer for Guidance]
Introduction: I want to ask you a question that will reveal your heart this morning. Are you a servant, or are you just a spectator? In our modern day, many people are looking for a place where they can be entertained. Many people in churches are so well fed, but they are strangely so spiritually dead. God has not called us out of darkness to entertain us, or to satisfy our itching ears. He has called us each one of us in the Body to ministries of service. Christianity is not a spectator’s sport. The most spiritually deadly thing that you can do is to simply “attend church”. A spectator is simply a “hearer of the Word” only and not a doer of Christ’s work (James 1:22-25). We are not called to attend the church, but to “be the church”. The church is the hands, arms, and feet of the Lord Jesus. We are not called to be spectators but servants. We are called, as our text says, to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).
The world tells us that we need to put our self first. We are to serve ourselves. The Bible has a completely different agenda for Christians. Each Christian is to be a minister. We are not a church of 1 minister and 99 lay people. We are a church of 100 ministers! Each one of us is to be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). We are to give ourselves away in service to Christ.
So how can we not only serve the Lord, but serve Him with gladness?
I. Let’s first look at the Possibility of Service for Christ. The Pslamist invites us to “serve the LORD with gladness”. What does it mean to serve? The word “serve” specifically has the idea with working as a form of worship. The Psalmist bids us to “come before [God’s] presence” as we serve the Lord. To serve the Lord is to live joyfully in His presence throughout all of life. It is to dedicate your every breath and every action joyfully to Him in worship!
Application: The idea is that God is present in all our work. All of our work is worship to God. All our work is for Christ—it is to make followers of Him. Everything we do should be an act of worship to God. We are to have a diligent hand and work hard, because the Lord is worthy of all our hard work. What are you giving to the Lord? Can you say you have a diligent hand for Him?
A. Serving Christ requires salvation. Service for Christ begins with salvation. We are saved by grace, but we are saved as His workmanship “unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). With salvation God gives us “a servant’s heart and a diligent hand”. With that new heart, God puts within every Christian a desire to serve! So Service is made possible through salvation.
B. Serving Christ requires great sacrifice. Look over at Matthew 20:28.This is the opposite of selfishness. We are to serve the Lord’s interests without regard to our own pleasure. Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” We are to follow the example of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. We are called to be willing to do anything in the local church and for the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. If there is a need, you should be 1000% committed to serve. That is a given. Christ came not to be served but to serve. In the same way, as believers, we are to give our life away for Jesus Christ to the brethren. We are to serve as living sacrifices in Christ’s local church.
So there’s great sacrifice required in serving Christ…
C. Serving Christ also requires great humility. “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12). Notice that our greatness (verse 11) as the disciples of Christ is determined by our work as a servant. God says the one who is at the highest spiritual level in this church is not the one who knows the most doctrine or has the most Scriptures memorized, but he who serves the most!
Application: Let me say it again: your greatness and my greatness is not based on ability or personality. It is not based on how rich we are or upon our popularity. Our greatness in God’s kingdom is measured by our service to Christ!
How about you, are you willing to do any task? If I start asking you to serve in this church, no matter what the area, are do you have a list of excuses ready?
Listen, if we are going to grow, then I need to grow in delegation of service. I cannot do it all. The leadership cannot do it all. We are not supposed to do it all. Every member must take part. We all need that humble attitude that says, “Yes, anything Lord! I’ll do anything for you!”
II. The Power in our Service for Christ. Psalm 100, “<<A Psalm of praise.>> Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” Verse 4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
The idea of “gladness” is whole-heatedly, with great enthusiasm, eagerness, and expectation. Psalm 100:2 tells us to serve the LORD with “gladness”. The word “gladness” as we see is a reference to the heart. It is the heart attitude that says, I’m joyful and ready to SERVE! Nehemiah said, “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
A. We are all called to serve the Lord with our whole heart, and nothing less. Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
It goes with out saying that if you are saved, then Christ saved you to serve Him and not to serve yourself. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved BY grace, but verse 10 tells us that we are saved FOR service, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”.
As we have said so many times from this pulpit, a new heart always produces new desires. A good tree produces good fruit. A new heart always produces a life of service.
B. We are all called to serve the Lord without delay. There is no time to wait.
· Joshua told the people who were wavering, “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
· Elijah said to the wavering Israelites, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.”
· Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
Application: Are you waiting for another time to serve the Lord? Don’t delay! Jump in and serve Him today! As Gary Johnson was known to say, “If you don't have time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you'll have time to do it again?”. What are you waiting for? Where would you like to serve? Don’t wait! What makes you think you’ll have time to serve the Lord tomorrow. We are not promised tomorrow.
C. We are called to be faithful in the littlest of things. The commendation Christ gives to believers when we see Him is, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).
This means that we take the full responsibility for our area of ministry. We ought not need people having to tell us every time what to do. Being faithful means taking full responsibility for whatever you commit to. Consider the ant! Proverbs 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” The Bible says we should be self-starters. We ought not depend on someone telling us what to do. If you cannot make it to serve in the nursery or any other ministry, you ought to find your own replacement.
Application: We are called not only to be committed, but to do a good job with what we are committed to. We are called to be faithful in the littlest of things. That means:
· Being faithful in church attendance. You ought to be here for every service. I made a commitment early on in my walk with Christ that I would attend my local church and put it first. I would show my love to my brothers that way. When I was in college, I would rather get a bad grade on a Greek test than dishonor the Lord and miss Wednesday or Sunday night. It is such a blessing to me to see those with young children here each service. Sometimes the mom is feeding the baby most of the time, but she is here. And I want you to know that is spiritual service to Christ! On that note, it is a blessing, when Mom is at home with sick children to see the Dad here. That is faithfulness.
Illustration: If there was anyone who had an excuse not to come to services last week, it was Judy Johnson. She just lost her husband, but she did not make an excuse. She served the Lord with gladness, truly, and she was there playing the flute, playing the piano, singing in the choir and ministering to all of us. She takes her service to Christ seriously. So should every one of us.
· Being faithful means having consideration for those around you in church. If you are going to come to a service, it is very disrespectful to come late. Unless you are visiting, and can’t find the church, it is really unacceptable service for Christ. It is giving Christ the leftovers. We can be on time to a dinner appointment, and we ought always be on time for worshipping the Lord. As Gary always said, “If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late”. That is so true. Coming early shows a deep love and respect for the brothers and sisters in Christ.
· Let me speak of children in the service. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the Kingdom of God”. As you know, little children (or big children for that matter) squalling in the service does not bother me as the preacher. I’m single minded. But it greatly distracts from those trying to worship the Lord and get fed in His Word. It is important when we are together, if your child acts up, or begins to fuss, to make use of the overflow room when it is available or the nursery. You can still be a vital part of the service. As you know in the AM service, we have our Spanish ministry going on, but we are brainstorming for alternatives, so that we can make use of our overflow room. The point is: commit to putting others first. Consider others around you and not just yourself.
Our attitude in service is to be “gladness”, that is, a whole-hearted commitment to service with great enthusiasm, eagerness, and expectation. We are to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to service for Christ.
III. Now let us look at the Place of Service for Christ.
In Psalm 100, God had ordained that His service revolve around the Temple in Israel. Today, God has ordained that our works of service revolve around and build up the local church. We are to make converts to the visible church of Christ. How do we know this? Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28 that all our service is to result in the building up of His church.
A. The overall goal of our service is disciple making. We want to make fully committed followers of Christ.
· We are not simply to evangelize
· but we are also to assimilate believers into Christ’s church through baptism
· and to instruct them in all the teachings of Christ.
This is Christ’s Great Commission to us. It is to make Christ followers. It is to build Christ’s church through local churches. Matthew 28:18-20, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen”.
We see this more fully developed in 1 Corinthians 12:14. In other words, we are to be serving in a way that helps people become fully functioning followers of Christ. They are not just evangelized, but they are assimilated into the local church through baptism, and they are instructed and serving themselves and instructing others.
B. God calls us all as believers to have a part in this disciple making. We cannot do it alone. This Body is put together and empowered by Christ to do His will. Each member has a unique role.
1. Look at your role as described in Ephesians 4.
There is something seriously wrong in a church where the leadership do all the ministry. Ephesians 4:11-12 teach us that the leadership—the evangelists and the pastors and teachers are to equip and train the saints to do the work of the ministry. The leaders of the church are to be training you to disciple others.
Every single member is a minister of Christ. Verses 11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. My whole ministry is to build you up so that you are prepared and equipped to do works of service for Christ. My goal and my whole agenda is to train you to carry on this church, which is the Lord’s. You are to be functioning as the church—a living organism—here in Hanover Park. Every believer is equipped by God for spiritual service.
2. Look at your role as described in 1 Corinthians 12.
The Scripture describes the church as a Body—a living organism with many organs. 1 Corinthians 12:14, “For the body is not one member, but many.” I want you to see this, and how it is vital that we all be serving Christ.
Look at verses 15-21, “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” We all need each other to be serving. We all need every one to be totally and radically committed to Christ!
1 Corinthians 12:26 is so true when it says, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it". When all the members are not committed, there is an over-extension of the other members, and it seriously cripples the church, and all the members suffer. Ten per cent of the people do 80 per cent of the ministry, and Christ’s church suffers. I recently read a story that really illustrates this.
Dizzy Dean was a Hall-of-Fame baseball pitcher, whose career peaked in the 1930s. His 1934 season has never been excelled by any pitcher in history. Dean won thirty games that year, a feat that hasn't been repeated since (though Dizzy himself came close, winning 28 games the following year). But in the 1937 All-Star game, he took a hard line drive off his toe, and the toe was broken. It should not have been a career-ending injury, but Dean was rushed back into the lineup before the fracture was completely healed, and he pitched several games favoring the sore toe. That led to an unnatural delivery that seriously injured his pitching arm. The arm never fully recovered. Dizzy Dean's major-league career was essentially over in four years.
Something similar happens in any church where there are non-functioning members. The active members of the body become overextended, and the effectiveness of the whole body suffers greatly. Even the most insignificant member, like a toe, is designed to play a vital role.
C. If we do not all function properly, the Lord will eventually put the candlestick of this church out. Let me illustrate this by having us look to the seven churches of Revelation, beginning in chapter 2.
We see that when Christ himself wrote letters to believers of the first century, he wrote them to seven specific local churches, and he commended them for the works of service they did through their local church. I want you to see that when Christ addresses His church, he does not speak to the universal church, i.e. all the elect around the world, but to local churches. He addresses their service, and all of their service had a base in and through the local churches, where He Himself had ordained evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Turn over to Revelation 2 for a moment. Christ says to every single one of the churches: “I know thy works”. In other words, “I know your service to me”. God knows the service of Tabernacle Baptist Church also. May we be found faithful. Let us examine ourselves as we take a brief look into Christ’s words to these seven churches.
1. Christ says to Ephesus concerning their service: Revelation 2:2-4, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”. They were serving the Lord, but not with gladness! Verse 5, he says, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent”. If you don’t serve Christ with your whole heart, He will remove the church from the community! If Christ spoke to you, what would he say about your service?
2. Christ commends the church at Smyrna for their service. He has no words of rebuke. He commends their works of service, and the battle they waged against false teachers. (Revelation 2:9-10, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews [i.e., true Christians], and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”). Would you hear these words from Christ concerning your service for Him?
3. Christ then, once again, speaks to the church at Pergamos about their service. He says, “I know thy works” (Revelation 2:13). He rebukes them for putting up with false doctrine in the church and tells them to “repent” (verse 16).
4. Christ now turns to the church at Thyatira concerning their service. He commends their works, “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (Revelation 2:19). He rebukes them, because they would not follow through with church discipline. They allowed a woman named Jezebel to remain in their church, even though she was teaching falsely and living immorally (verse 20).
5. Then in chapter 3, Christ speaks to the Church at Sardis. Again he inspects their service, and he finds them lacking! Look at verses 1-2, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” He tells them to repent!
6. Christ then examines the service of the saints at Philadelphia, verse 7, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” He tells them in verse 11, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Christ says the same thing to us: we need to stay strong and hold fast. We need to not be weary in well-doing.
7. Finally, look at what Christ says to the church at Laodicea concerning their service. Revelation 3:15, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.” Laodicea is a church on the verge of apostasy. It is a dead church that Christ says he will “spue out of [His] mouth” (verse 16). In other words, Christ will cast them off as a church. They will cease to exist. He will put out their candlestick.
Application: Brothers and sisters, where is our service for Christ? Are we diligent in our service for Christ? “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
Do not minimize your works and service for Christ. Christ said, in Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
IV. Next, let us look at the Purpose of our Service for Christ. Why are we to serve the Lord with Gladness?
A. We are to give glory to God through our service. As Psalm 100:2-3, “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture”. We are God’s people. We are God’s sheep. He made us. We are to reflect His workmanship and shepherding in our lives.
· “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). You should be glad in every work of service, because it gives glory to God.
· Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
B. We are to serve the Lord because we are not our own. Psalm 100:3, “we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” We must be diligent in our service to the Lord. If we are Christ’s, we cannot simply do whatever we want to. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
C. We are to serve the Lord because it is our reasonable service. Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
When we do best works, we have still done only that which is required of us. We are still “unprofitable servants”.
D. The ultimate purpose of service is that all of the Lord’s church would be conformed to the image of Christ. As Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son”. We are to “walk in Christ’s steps”. Christ did whatever pleased the Father. He served the Father. We are to do the same.
V. Finally, I want you to see the Proving, or Testing of our Service for Christ.
There is coming a day, when God will reward all His servants for their labor and service of love for Him. He says in Luke 12:2-3, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
Look also at 1 Corinthians 2:6-15. There will be a day when God test and proves our works: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire”.
We will all have different rewards. This has nothing to do with our justification. Our justification is by faith in the blood atonement that Christ has accomplished for us. He is all our righteousness. This has to do with the kind of service we give to the Lord. The Lord will try it to see what sort it is.
We look at Hebrews 6:10, and we see a great encouragement for serving Christ. It is this: God will not forget your labor. Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” As human beings, we often forget to say thank you. We do not always know the things people do behind the scenes. But God will not forget!
Finally, turn over to Matthew 25. Listen to the Lord Jesus’ very preview of the Day when we stand before Christ in Matthew 25:31-40, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye [SERVED ME GLADLY AND] gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye [SERVED ME GLADLY AND] gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye [SERVED ME GLADLY AND] took me in: 36 Naked, and ye [SERVED ME GLADLY AND] clothed me: I was sick, and ye [SERVED ME GLADLY AND] visited me: I was in prison, and ye [SERVED ME GLADLY AND] came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Conclusion: Let me ask you: are you a spectator or a servant today? Where are you serving in the Lord’s church? Ten per cent of the people doing eighty per cent of the work will destroy a church. We are a church not of one minister but of 100! You see service is essentially worship to God. As His church, we are all to be involved in His service.
So let us commit this year to be more dedicated to the Lord’s church. Let us commit to serve one another. Our service is an act of worship to our God. We love our God so we serve one another! By God’s grace let us pray for a diligent hand a servant’s heart. Let us “serve the Lord with gladness”!
Harris, R. Laird; Harris, Robert Laird; Archer, Gleason Leonard; Waltke, Bruce K.: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. electronic ed. Chicago : Moody Press, 1999, c1980, S. 639. See also Bratcher, Robert G. ; Reyburn, William David: A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms. New York : United Bible Societies, 1991 (Helps for Translators), S. 852.
 John MacArthur. Lay People: Servants Not Spectators, article for Grace to You (available at www.gty.org).