Here it is…the last Sunday lesson in our “Ready, Aim, Fire” series. I can’t believe it.
I want to personally thank all the men that got us READY on Wednesday nights. I appreciate Greg’s work in helping us AIM on Sunday mornings. Finally, I am truly thankful for the small group ministry. I want to thank the elders for allowing us to meet in one another’s homes. I also want to thank all the facilitators and the members that have opened up their homes. This has been such a great opportunity to experience God’s blessings and attempt to put HIS will into action. My prayer is that this congregation will always be ready, aiming, and ready to take action. All to God’s glory!
Did you catch the scripture reading?
Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning!
Think through the phrase once more. I want you to truly think about the banner that has been pronounced over and over during this summer.
Ready. Believe it or not, you are ready! You have been thoroughly prepped!
Aim. Believe it or not, you know your target!
Fire. Believe it or not, it’s time to pull that trigger!
Stay dressed. Stay dressed for action. Keep your lamps burning.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
We are to understand God’s will. We are to interact with his will. We are to express His will!
That is your purpose. That is why I am here today. That is why you are here today. I know it is simple, but that is why you were created. It is your purpose (Ephesians 2:10).
Greg is not here, but I can assure you that he really wants to be here with you right now. This is a fact. Greg has dug through the scriptures. He has sat at the feet of God in prayer. He has begged God for clarity in regard to our summer theme. He has also begged God to deliver a clear vision for the overarching mission statement of this congregation.
I firmly believe God is at work here. He is working through our elders. He is working through Greg. He is working through our deacons. He is working through you, and I am trying to allow him to work through me.
Now, even though Greg is not here, he still has something to say to you. He is in El Salvador, but before he left he emailed me something he wanted me to share with you…
Serious provision and serious serving!
As our final Sunday morning lesson in this summer’s ready, aim, fire series, he wants us to recap our mission and then focus our attention on our target in this AIM message.
We started this year reading through he New Testament searching to discover God’s mission for the Signal Mountain Church of Christ. We considered the words: seeking, saving and serving and explored what God’s word teaches us about being like Jesus Christ. These three words: Seeking, Saving, Serving are not just nice “S” words that roll of the lips in a nice way. We discovered that they do indeed describe Jesus Christ’s own character. Seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first is the command of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, and it comes with a promise that God himself will provide for those that take this seriously and do it. Saving is the very reason Jesus came here and it embodies the greatest work of God through Jesus on the cross. We have a Savior and we are called to receive and declare His Saving gospel. Jesus commissions us to this great task as his final words in Matthew’s gospel. Serving is the means by which we express and live in the love of God. Jesus said, “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.”
This summer’s Ready, Aim, Fire series takes this mission of Seeking, Saving and
Serving to the next level where we attempt to move from talk to practice. Hearing the word of God does no good unless we also do what it says. Jesus told us this at the end of His Sermon on the Mount. Those who hear His words and do them are like the wise man that built his house on the rock, those that hear and DON’T do His words are like the foolish man that built his house on the sand. The storms will come, the rains will fall, the streams will rise, and the winds will beat against what we build our lives on. Jesus’ promise is that we who hear and do what He says will stand. All others will fall with a great crash!
Our mission must be about more than what we hear; it must be what we do. We are seeking His kingdom and righteousness in hope. We receive and declare the saving work of Christ to a lost and dying world in faith. We serve one another and others with the love of God, which He pours out upon us.
Today completes this series, but not this mission. We’ve begun a life long quest as seeking, saving servants of Christ. Today we look at the seriousness of serving.
2 Kings 6:24-7:20 tells the story of a terrible time of war and famine in Samaria. A vast army has surrounded the city and the food is almost gone. People are starving. There are four men with leprosy who decide to go into the enemy camp and face whatever comes: death or perhaps mercy. When they come to the enemy blockade they discover the army is gone! God has caused a panic among them and they have all fled, leaving all their goods behind. These four are ecstatic over this! They begin gathering food, gold and goods for themselves in a frenzy of excitement. Then they come to themselves and realize what they have and what they are doing. Listen to his words:
Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
Luke 12:13-21 gives us a parable of Jesus about a rich fool. His crops produced in a huge abundance and he is so excited! He has a conversation with himself in his celebration of his success – listen to his words:
He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.
Then he said, This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”
Notice the difference in attitude between the four lepers and the rich man. Which took the mission of serving seriously?
David Bible started this series off looking at a chart that shows us our weekly schedules. David asked us to consider looking at our schedules and our spending habits to see what our true priorities are.
I’d like to ask us to look at ourselves in this world and see what God has provided for us:
Do we have houses?
Do we have cars?
Do we have food?
Do we have clothes?
Do we have comforts?
Do we have entertainment?
Do we have employment?
Do we have safety and security?
Do we have electronic devices?
Do we have Bibles, comfortable church buildings, paid church staff…
Compare what we have with what most of the world has and with what Jesus Himself had. We are people who HAVE much. Let’s become people who SHARE AND SERVE much.
Service, Love and Sacrifice
As we make plans to serve, we must remember a few lessons from our Wednesday night speakers.
Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
When you come in contact with Jesus, change happens. Zacchaeus is a story of conversion. His interaction with Jesus changed him immediately. He realized that following Jesus was worth more than his worldly wealth. Also, he immediately began to mimic Jesus. When someone comes in contact with a true servant, they desire to be a servant. Jesus converted Zacchaes from a taker into a giver. That is what Jesus does. He gives. That is what His followers do too. Since He gives, they give too.
Sheep and the Goats – Matthew 25:31-46
To start off, let me just say that scholars disagree about who the “the least of these my brothers” is describing. Some say that the phrase describes Jews, Christians, the poor, and/or the disciples. Here is the truth. Jesus expects us to serve. So, regardless of your interpretation, Jesus expects you to serve.
Who? Well, I say everybody. Friends, enemies, poor, rich, black, white, Latino, Asian, attractive, ugly, tall, short, fat, skinny, etc. – you get the picture.
Jesus wants you to be a sheep. He does not want you to be a goat. Feed the hungry. Offer (living) water to the thirsty. Welcome in the stranger. Clothe the naked. Visit the sick. Visit the imprisoned. Sheep inherit the kingdom. Goats burn in the fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels.
The goats and the sheep had the same exact question. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
That tells me that service was a lifestyle for the sheep. It also tells me that selfishness was a lifestyle of the goats.
The sheep just did what they were supposed to without pomp or circumstance. It was a way of living. It was not something they really even thought about much. They just lived their life in a way that was God honoring. There was no program. There was no immediate reward. It was not something they did to boost their college application or resume. Service was not something they did to be seen or to advertise on Facebook. It was just a way of living for the sheep. It was a daily routine.
Service is a clear expectation of God.
God’s children serve.
Washing of the Feet and the New Commandment – John 13:1-17, 34-35
Feet. Just think about it for a few minutes and let it settle in your mind’s eye. Dirty. Stinky. Nasty. Feet.
Now, I imagine there are a few foot-lovers out there, but I am not one of them. I don’t hate feet. Your feet do not gross me out. I simply do not care to see your feet, touch your feet, or smell your feet. Can any of you identify or understand where I am coming from?
Now I want you to think about something…
At this point in the gospel of John, the disciples of Jesus had seen some amazing things. They saw Jesus turn water into wine. Their eyes had seen Jesus heal the sick and the physically handicapped. They watched as Jesus walked upon water. A blind man had been given back his sight. The disciples had even seen a dead man come back to life. Just let that simmer in your mind.
Jesus is powerful. Did you hear me? I said, Jesus is POWERFUL! Amen?!
This man. The man called Jesus of Nazareth. He can defy the laws of nature. The one that healed the lame and sick… The man that walked upon the water… The one that can give sight back to the blind… The man that can raise the dead back to life…
What was one of last lessons he gave his disciples? What did he do?
This powerful man… This amazingly powerful man… The Son of God…
He took off his dress shirt. He took a towel and tied it around His waist. This powerful man got water and washbasin. Then the Son of God got down on his hands and knees, and what did he do? He washed feet!
Now, think about the impact of this on the disciples. The most powerful man they had every seen… A man that claimed to be the Son of God… This was a man that could do whatever he wanted; His power was limitless, and He washed their feet.
Shocking! Simply, shocking! It was a 100% jaw dropping surprise!
Peter’s response is classic… “You’re going to do what?” “You will never wash my feet!”
Jesus’ actions were simply mind-blowing! Un-thinkable! Beyond comprehension!
Then Jesus always has to take it to the next level:
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Washing feet is a clear expectation of Jesus.
Feet. Dirty. Stinky. Nasty. Feet.
God’s children wash feet.
When you come in contact with Jesus, He will change you for the better. He will wash your feet and expect you to wash somebody else’s feet. The humble servant expects humble service. It is not about fame. It is not about power. It is all about service. Jesus is a servant. He wants you to follow Him into a life of service.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Jesus is the real thing. He is not a fake. When we love like Jesus, then people know we are legit.
I am telling you… People are craving real love. You are. I am. The world is too! If we are willing to let Jesus take the lead in our relationships, then world will KNOW we are His disciples. We don’t have to out-teach the denominational world. We don’t have to out-smart the atheist. We don’t have to overpower the nation of Islam. We don’t have to legislate morality.
If you want to make this world a better place, then love one another. Love like Jesus. Love when it hurts. Let love lead you into the realm of self-sacrifice.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
1 John 4:8-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Do you want to change this world?
Then, love. Love like God loves.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Yes, God expects us to serve! But, it must be done in love.
The expectation to serve is clear. The expectation to love is clear.
Now, let’s close by thinking through the core of the gospel – sacrifice. The very center, the bull’s eye of the gospel is SACRIFICE!
We will close with Philippians chapter two.
READ Philippians 2:1-13
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
You were created to serve.
You were created to love.
You were created to sacrifice.
Jesus is here today and ready to serve you. He will wash you clean.
Jesus loves. He has always loved you. His love is here today and it is here to stay.
Jesus died for you. I know that is a trite statement, but it is true. He sacrificed himself for you.
He emptied himself – for you!
He took on the form of a servant – for you!
He humbled himself to the point of death – for you!
God has exalted Him! At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. At the name of Jesus every tongue will confess that He is Lord.