Word Alive! © 2022 Fall Series Connected! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 6 Dec. 2022, Lesson 5, Part 1
Thom S. Rainer, Connected – My Life In the Church (Session 5)
Devotional Time: Thom S.Rainer, Connected, Chapter 5 (pp. 44-53)
Connected In Service – God’s great servants were called such, because they were devoted to assisting others in the name of Christ. The Greek word diakonia, is used widely to mean to “be available for others.” Giving ourselves on behalf of others does not diminish; but enhances our ourselves. The human instinct is to put self-ambition above everything else. While we must properly love ourselves, and cultivate our lives to develop our best selves, we must not neglect to assist others. Jesus made this point clear when the brothers, James and John thought they could inherit a place of preeminence in heaven, over the other disciples. Jesus told all the disciples that such a request was not for him to give; but all of them must follow His example of becoming a servant (Read, Mark 10:42-45, NLT). Jesus wanted the disciples (and each of us) to realize that “true greatness” does not come from being entitled or positioned. True, unselfish service makes a person great in the sight of God! The servant-leader spirit was evident in Jesus, even as he prepared for serving and the crucifixion. He left His own example of servanthood for us to follow, in humbly washing the feet of the disciples (cf. Matthew 13:14, NLT). Peter warned some young men in the early Christian church to “serve each other in humility.” Some among the younger group had been very strident and disrespectful to the elders. They also assumed an immediate place of prominence in the church, before being properly trained and prepared for leadership (cf. I Peter 5:5-6, NLT). because God favors the humble, all who chose humility over a prideful behavior, will be lifted and honored in the “right time.” God’s intent for the nature and healthy ministry of the church is, as author Thom Rainier says, “to focus less on getting what we want, and concentrating more on serving others.” Helping and serving others does not deprive us of our personal spiritual needs. It’s through the exercise of our gift (s), that we experience spiritual growth and Christian maturity. Our service to others will be different; we serve according to the abilities God has given us. But the source is the same; the Holy Spirit (Read, I Corinthians 12:4-7, NLT).
Service is valued so much in the Christian faith because:
a. Christ came to serve, and to give His life for us.
b. We follow Christ’s example in life and in faith.
c. Jesus said we become “great” by serving others.
Connected In Service, Part 2 – Our service is not merely measured by how we assist and treat others; but also, how “we” live our lives. It is true, before any of us can benefit others, we must first treat ourselves well. There are many admonitions in Scripture, warning us to “safeguard ourselves” against evil influences and bad behavior. Paul gives us this oft-quoted warning from a well-known poet: “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for bad company corrupts good character.” The Christians in Ephesus were urged to keep their behaviors in check, and to “understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Read, Ephesians 5:15-17, NLT). Ephesus was a turbulent city, where Christians were tempted to compromise their moral and spiritual teachings. If these Christians were to be witnesses of Christ and His teachings, it was important for them to be wise and not foolish. The New Testament Greek word used for “foolish” is moros, which means “to be dull;” or, “to be unsharpened.” We are warned also, to be sober; having a clear mind and conscience. The unstable behavior of a person under the influence of excessive alcohol is used in the Scripture, to describe the behavior of one who is immature; and whose life is teetering in the wrong direction. (Read, Ephesians 5:18, NLT). We see this example in the Old Testament as well. (Read, Proverbs 20:1, NLT).
In our Christian teaching we see clearly the need for spiritual character formation (maturity) on a personal and corporate level. The message in these Ephesian passages, and in other areas of the Scripture, remind us the service is both “being” and “doing.” Our service to others should be an act of spiritual maturity; unswerving devotion to Christ and reverence before God; and, respect for others (cf. Ephesians 5:19-21, NLT). Self-examination is essential in attaining the maturity we need to live healthy Christian lives. Paul warned the Christians in the Roman Empire to search their lives, so they could “measure up (mature)” to God’s expectations. In maturing every Christian would discover the gift(s) entrusted to them, and using that/those gift(s) would “serve others well.” (Read, Romans 12:3b-6a; 7a, NLT). Serving others can be a blessing! (Read, I Cor. 16:15-16, NLT).
__________________________KEY IDEA __________________________
What We Believe!
“We are connected to each other through devoted service.”
1. We are called into the Body of Christ to be of service.
2. We reflect the humility of Christ when we serve others.
Mark 10:42-45, NLT
“So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first among you must be the [servant] of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 13:14 NLT
“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.”
I Peter 5:5-6 NLT
“In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.”
I Corinthians 12:4-7, NLT
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”
Ephesians 5:15-17, NLT
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Ephesians 5:18, NLT
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Proverbs 20:1, NLT
Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.”
Ephesians 5:19-21, NLT
“Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Romans 12:3b-6a;7a, NLT
“I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us…In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well… If your gift is serving others, serve them well.”
I Corinthians 16:15-16, NLT “You know how Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you dear brothers and sisters to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion.”