Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What is your SHAPE?

This message was preached at Word of Grace church  by Colin D Cruz on the 22nd of April 2012. You can listen or download  to the Audio recording ( in mp3 format ) of the message by clicking here

Well, today we’re continuing our 40 Days of Purpose, and we’re in the process of discovering why we ARE here! – that God has a Purpose for your life, and you don’t have to go through life lost, uninformed, or wondering.   For those who may be visitors or guests here today, so far we have looked at the first three Purposes which God has for our lives: What are they? WORSHIP- You discovered Three of God’s Purposes for our lives.  First- is WORSHIP – that you were planned for God’s Pleasure. Then  FELLOWSHIP – You were Formed for God’s Family. Thirdly, -DISCIPLESHIP – You were Created to become like Christ, and today were going to look at God’s fourth purpose for your life,- and its written  there on the top of your outline…you were Shaped to Serve God.  Elvis felt like he was here to do something, - but he just couldn’t quite figure it out! 

   On 16th August , 1977 Elvis Presley, at  the age of  42. died of obesity and drug dependency. In spite of his enormous success- Elvis was, according to friends, an unfulfilled and unhappy man.  When his wife, Priscilla, was interviewed, she said: “Elvis never came to terms with who he was meant to be or what his purpose in life was.  He thought he was here for a reason, maybe to preach, maybe to serve, maybe to save, maybe to care for people.  That agonizing desire was always with him and he knew he wasn’t fulfilling it.  So he’d go on stage and he wouldn’t have to think about it.”      How tragic to go through life and not know what you were here for.

The Bible says,in Eph. 2:10, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. 

God made you to make a difference – to DO good works, - and what matters is not how long you live, but how you live.  The Bible says we’re created to serve, we’re saved to serve, we’re gifted to serve, and we’re shaped to serve.     Now whenever God gives us an assignment to do something, He always equips us first. And in the next verse Job says, “Your hands shaped me and made me.” (Job 10:8).  God uses five things to shape you – to equip you personally for Service. –

SPIRITUAL GIFTS
God gives every believer gifts to use in ministry. Not earned or deserved.
Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit but for the benefit of others. 1 Cor 12:7
If others don’t use their gifts you get cheated, and if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated.
An unopened gift is worthless. We need to find out what our gift is and then use it.
HEART – passion
Heart – bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams and affections you have.
As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person. Pro 27;19
Physically – unique heartbeat. We also  have a unique emotional heartbeat.  That races when we thing about subjects, activities or circumstances that interest us. Passion
Serve the Lord with all your heart…
Enthuisasm + Effectiveness
ABILITIES
Natural talents you were born with Ex 31:3-5 skill abilities andknowledge
All our abilities come from God.
 The brain can store 1 trillion facts. Mind 15000 decisions a second (digestive system)
Nose can smell upto 10000 odors. Bundle of incredible abilities an amazing creation of God
1 cor 10 : 31 whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.
PERSONALITY
Introvert extrovert
Thinkers feelers
Sanguine – Peter, Paul choleric , Jeremiah melancholy

EXPERIENCES
Family
Educational
Vocational – jobs
Spiritual
Ministry
Painful
Greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.
Your Spiritual gifts, your Heart interests, your personal AbilitiesPersonality, and even theExperiences you’ve been through.  That spells ‘SHAPE’.  Through those five things God has uniquely made you and shapes you, for a purpose.  And that purpose is identified clearly in the next verse. –where  its says  - 1Pet. 4:10, “Each of us should use whatever gift he’s received to Serve others!  Your talents are not for your own benefit.  Do you remember the first line in the Purpose Driven Life book?  “It’s not about you.”  He gave you gifts and talents and abilities and background and experiences and all these things for the benefit of other people, to be used for serving others. 

            So write this down, “My fourth purpose in life is to serve God by serving others.” That’s why you’re alive.  The only way you can serve God is by serving others, in the same way that the only way we can love God is through loving others. 

Now the Bible has a word for this, it’s called “ministry”.   And my prayer is that God is going to be saying something to you in your heart today about your ministry.  Any time you use your talent to help somebody else, you are ministering.   And this is God’s fourth purpose for your life. 

Now the good news is that God not only created us for service, He also gave us a model.    in the form of His Son, the perfect man, Jesus Christ, and He said, “This is what I want you to do with your life”.  This last week you have been learning about Discipleship – that You were created to become  like Christ,-  and what did Christ do , while He was here on earth?  He served, didn’t He?  .  Notice the next verse.: Matt. 20:28Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

            Now what does it take to learn to serve like Jesus?  Well it takes three things. 
Number one, (write this down.)  Serving like Jesus means firstly, being AVAILABLE
 One day Jesus was walking down in Jericho and some blind men start yelling at him.  And the Bible says (Matt. 20:30-32): “Two blind men shouted ‘Lord, have mercy on us! Jesus stopped and called them.  ‘What do you want me to do for you?’.” 

And what did Jesus do? --   Jesus stopped!   If you want to be used by God, if you want to serve God, you must be willing to be interrupted. I find this a hard lesson to learn, because generally, when Im doing something I don’t like to be interrupted. But most of Jesus’ ministry and most of Jesus’ miracles were interruptions, weren’t they?  I had never realized this before, but all the people Jesus healed – the blind man, the lame man, the sick people, the paralyzed man, the dead child – all of them were interruptions.    A  lot of us say “I’d like God to use me more.  I’d like His power in my life., ..but it seldom seems to happen ?  Perhaps the reason is that we’re not willing for God to interrupt us in our schedule.

Ill. David sent to 1 Sam 17:17, Joseph Gen 40

Well there are  three common barriers  that keep us from being available to God.? 

Number one:is  self-centeredness.  The Bible says, Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4) Whenever you see a need right in front of you and it’s really obvious that somebody needs your help, right there and then God is giving you the opportunity to practice serving - to learn to be available, to be like more Jesus Christ.  Real servants have only one agenda – and that is to serve God through serving others. Let’s remember that as Christ-followers   - we are all in the Service industry. – serving others.
second barrier to being used by God…is perfectionism.    -  wanting every thing to be perfect.  When I’m not so busy, when things settle down, then I’ll serve.”  Let’s read Eccl. 11:4: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”   Real servants do the best they can, give what they can, with what they have, for Jesus Christ today.  They don’t wait until some perfect time  - for that time never comes.  We all have weaknesses.  We all have faults.  We all have failures.    But guess what?  God uses us all.  Why?  Because there aren’t any  perfect people. God uses ordinary people.  We have seen that in the 40 Days of Purpose as nearly 25 or so ordinary people opened up their homes as hosts.  And 250 or more people are being blessed.  Why?  Because normal, ordinary, average people said, “My house isn’t perfect, and I’m not perfect.  I don’t perfectly know the Bible, but I could do this!”  And you could!  And you did.  And God is blessing it.  So God says, “Don’t wait for perfectconditions.”  Don’t wait for things to settle down. As long as you are alive there will be stress, strife, trouble can challenges. Go ahead and start serving.  

Number three:is  materialism.  Materialism is the third barrier that keeps us from being available to serve.  Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters.  You cannot serve both God and money.” (Lk. 16:13).  Now would you notice the word “cannot”?  He didn’t say, “You shouldn’t  serve both God and money.”  He said, “You cannot serve both God and money.” You’ve got to decide, really, whether you want to be rich or whether you want to be blessed.  You have to ask yourself - “What’s number one priority in my life?”  If God wants to give you wealth, that’s great - but it is not the number one goal of your life.  You cant take your wealth with you to heaven, but you will take your character
            So in our main topic headings  - Serving like Jesus means (1)  BEING AVAILABLE.
(2) Serving like Jesus means BEING GRATEFUL.   The Bible tells us a story in John Chapter 11 of Jesus serving in an incredible way.  His friend Lazarus had died, and Jesus went there,- some people thought, for the funeral, but Jesus had a different idea in mind.  He went there to serve, - to raise Lazarus from the dead.  The Bible tells us in John 11:41-42, “Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You heard me.  I know that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here.’”  “I want them to know that I am grateful that you heard Me”. 

Jesus had an attitude of gratefulness in everything that He did.  That was the attitude that pervaded His ministry.  His Ministry and miracles always happened in this attitude of gratefulness.  So why should we serve God, not with a sense of duty, but with a sense of delight and gratefulness?  Well its because He’s given us new life through Jesus Christ!  And if He never did anything else for us, that alone is good enough reason to serve Him and  to be grateful for the rest of our lives.  In 2 Tim. 1:9: Paul says  “who saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace..” He saved us, and out of the gratefulness of that, of what He has done for us, we serve Him. 

Now, as we might expect, there are some barriers that get in the way of our being Grateful. One of these barriers is when we are  comparing and criticizing. ( fill in the blanks!)  Those are barriers  that gets in the way of being grateful. Give two children a bag of lollies each and the first thing they will do is compare what they have with what the other has, and then criticize the giver!  And adults do that in life, too.   But why should we do that? We’re all on the same team.  We have the same goal!  God has given each of us different abilities, different tasks - and it’s  pretty ridiculous really to compare or criticize one another for what God has given.   Comparing and criticizing get in the way of gratefulness. 

The second barrier that gets in the way of being grateful is wrong motives.
The Bible talks about this in Matt. 6:1. Jesus said, “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off.  If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven”.  A lot of our service can be done with very mixed motives. We might serve in order  to get others to like us. We might serve to be admired.  Or maybe we even serve as sort of a bargaining chip with God. “God, I’ll serve and You take care of me here.”  How do you know if you have a wrong motivation?  The answer is whether you are serving with a true sense of  Gratitude. When you lose a sense of gratefulness and gratitude then you can know right away that there’s something wrong with your motivation.

            If you want to learn to serve like Jesus, you have to learn to a) Be Available; and b) Be Grateful. And then there’s a third thing.
 Serving like Jesus means  c) being faithful.  That means you don’t give up.  You keep on going.  You don’t quit in the middle of your assignment.  At the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, Jesus said - in John 17:4,-“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work,”Note the words -  “completing the work”, “that You gave me to do.”  I want to be able to say that when I get to heaven – that I completed the work God gave me to do! I want you to be able to say that too !  Jesus was faithful in fulfilling His service.  He didn’t give up.  He didn’t give in. You may retire from your job someday, but you never retire from ministry.  You never retire from service.

So what motivates us to keep on going?  The Bible says, (1Cor. 4:2) “The one thing required of servants is that they be faithful.”  What motivates us to stay faithful in serving God over the long haul?  Well, there are a number of things which keep us going.   Being grateful for all the past that God’s forgiven in our lives,  is one thing. We also know that what we’re doing really matters.  Most of what we do in life doesn’t matter.  But any time you’re serving in Jesus’ name, no matter how small, it matters.  The Bible says this in 1Cor. 15:58, (let’s read it,) Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  Notice “nothing”: - that means it all matters, even the little stuff. Why?  Because in God’s book, there is no little stuff!  .    Jesus  said, “Even if you give a cup of cold water in my name to a child,--  that counts.” 
Significance and prominence
            Some years ago two teenage boys tried to come into an evening  church service , only it was packed out, and they couldn’t find any seats.  So they turned around and decided to leave because they couldn’t find a seat.  But one usher said, “Come on, guys.  I’ll find you a seat.” And that usher personally escorted them down to the center and set them in the middle and found them two seats.  That night both of those boys accepted Christ and became Christians. One of them was Billy Graham who has now led millions of people to Christ.  Do you think that usher is going to get any credit in heaven?  We have no idea of the significance of small acts.    It doesn’t matter if you’re doing something important that is well known or if you’re doing something important that’s not well known.  It’s all important.    God brought you here to this church so that you could practice  serving – because in serving God and in serving others – you are going to find fulfillment in your life.     The best use of your life is to invest it in that which is going to outlast it. 

One day you’re going to stand before God and He’s going to say to you, “What did you do with the life I gave you?  Will you be able to reply – “I did what you made me for – I fulfilled the purposes you created me for.!”   And God will say (Matt. 25:21). “Well done good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things so; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.”  You know, more than anything else, I want God to be able to say that about you –“Well done!  You did what I put you here on earth to do!.  You worshiped me, you fellowshipped with other believers, you grew in character to be like Christ, and you served Me, the way I shaped you.  Well done!  Come on in and enjoy eternity and all the rewards I’ve planned for you.”     I want God to be able to say that about you, because you were shaped for serving God.   Let’s bow our heads.  Would you pray this? 

Colin D Cruz
April 2012