Commit to Serve

Sermon Summary

This message completes the series on the Northshore Church's model of doing church. It is based on a study of the first New
Testament Church in the 2 Chapter of Acts. We come to worship, connect in community groups, and commit to serve! The members of the first New Testament Church were committed to one another so deeply they even sold their belongings in order to help those who had needs. Pastor Larry then looks at a passage from Acts chapter 20 where Paul, describes his commitment to serve. From this passage comes 6 lessons on service.

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to a way of life!"

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to humility and gratitude!"

"A commitment to serve is accompanied by a message"

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to finish the task

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to place the needs of others ahead of your own"

"It is more blessed to serve than to be served!"n

o matter what it takes"

1. ICEBREAKER: Share a story of a time when someone served you, and you knew it was done in the name of Jesus. 

2. One of the lessons of service is that it is a commitment to serve for life.  How do/can you serve others with your life?  

Acts 20:18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.

3.  Bro. Larry pointed to fact that our service and the message of Christ go hand in hand. We don't force the message on people, but we should never be ashamed of representing Christ as we serve. Explain how serving others can open a door to share the love of Christ. 

Acts 20:20-21

20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.

21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

4.  Why is it more blessed to serve than to be served?  What are some areas of your life where you can implement this truth more often?

Acts 20:35

35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

 

 

Full Sermon Notes

Commit to Serve

Come to Worship

Connect to a Community Group

Commit to Serve 

We come to worship The Creator God of the Universe. The One who made us, loved us, and paid the price to save us! We connect to God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ! We then connect with His family as we fellowship with one another, study God's Word with one another, encourage one another and minister to one another. So we come together in worship and connect in community. But the circle is not complete if we are unwilling to commit to serve! When a person truly connects to God his or her heart is radically transformed! How can a person accept the amazing grace of our God and not feel a desire to show gratitude for such an extravagant gift? How can a person connect with others and see their hurts and needs and not be moved with compassion and a desire to help? Especially when they've received so much help from God and others? But here's a most important fact. We are not conscripted to serve God! God's army of servants are volunteers. We are not overpowered and taken as slaves. We willingly commit to serve the God who gives us our every breath and the God who has saved our very soul from eternal death!! We serve with great enthusiasm because of our excitement to be a part of transforming worship, people and the world! Like the New Testament Church! Our text is Acts 2:41-47. Peter had just preached his powerful message on the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost was a Jewish festival celebrated 50 days after Passover. Also known as the feast of harvest, feast of weeks, and the day of first fruits. Jewish folks and converts to Judaism were gathered from all over the known world! Listen...

Acts 2:41-47 

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.

45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Let's PRAY and ask God to teach us by way of His Holy Spirit through His Word this morning!

We're going to focus on just one of these verses this morning. Verses 45.

Acts 2:45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Talk about commitment to one another. Some of the people who had come together to worship The Lord and who had connected in smaller community groups in homes began to realize the tremendous needs around them. They were so concerned and committed to serving God and their brothers and sisters in Christ they were even willing to sell their possessions in order to help meet those needs. They realized how much God had given them and they wanted to give back. Again, not because they had to but because they wanted to. Not because someone had twisted their arms or made them feel guilty, but because their eyes had been opened to see how blessed they were and what a blessing it would be to help someone in need. Two weeks after Easter, I'm going to preach a whole message on the concept of generosity! Today you will get a little sneak preview. Most of you know that many Bibles have the Words of Jesus printed in red. Most of these words are found in the four gospels. But did you know there are some red letter words in the book of Acts? They are found in a message preached by a guy who was reached through the ministry of that first New Testament Church! A guy who actually was one of the men who tried to shut down that first New Testament Church before he got connected with Jesus personally. You might have heard of him, a guy named Saul of Tarsus whose name was changed to Paul. After Paul came to Jesus, he connected with a small group of Christians and then quickly committed to serve God with his whole life. God called him to travel as a missionary and a church planter. One of the greatest church planters who has ever lived. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church, one of the churches he had helped establish. He wanted to talk to them. Listen to what he said to them about his commitment to serve. It's so powerful.

Acts 20:18-24 and verses 32-38

18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.

19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.

20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.

21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Acts 20:32-38

32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.

34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.

37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.

38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

What can we learn about being committed  to serve from these words Paul spoke to the leaders from the Church at Ephesus? 

Lesson 1

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to a way of life!"

 

Acts 20:18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.

Serving Jesus and others is not something we schedule when it's convenient or just do on Sundays. It is truly an attitude and a way of life. You think service! You breath helping others! You look for opportunities to serve! Why? Because there's a need and if we can meet it we will!  Again, why serve? Not so everyone will see how great and wonderful you are, but so they'll see how great and wonderful your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is! You serve others, but you serve them as if you're serving Jesus Himself! Listen to what Paul wrote to the Colossian Church…

Colossians 3:23-24 

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

So serving is a way of life. We do it because there's a need. We do it because in serving others we serve The Lord. We do it because others can see The Lord through our service. Back to the words Paul spoke to the leaders from the Church at Ephesus. Paul gives us more insight into a Christian's commitment to serve. 

 

Lesson 2

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to humility and gratitude!"

 

Acts 20:19 

19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.

Folks I'm just gonna tell you self-pride and serving others will not mix. Self-pride usually leads a person to be self-serving! Paul said he served the Lord with great humility. Why? Paul knew his past! Before he served Christians he persecuted them. He was there when Stephen, one of the leaders of the first New Testament Church was stoned to death. Paul was so humbled that God would even love him. He was amazed God would forgive him. He was even more blown away God would call him to be a servant of God! And why does Paul say he served the Lord with great humility and with tears? Look at the verse again...

Acts 20:19

19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.

It doesn't say he served with great humility and tears because he was severely tested. He says he served with great humility and tears ALTHOUGH he was severely tested. His tears were not simply due to the persecutions he was facing. I believe they were also tears of gratitude! His humility and tears were because he was so moved that God would allow him the privilege of being a representative of God to the very crowd he once ran with. I think his tears were partly tears of shear amazement at God's mercy and then partly due to his deep desire for his brothers in Judaism to be saved! Why do I think this? Listen to what Paul wrote to young Timothy...

1 Timothy 1:12-17

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst.

16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Ok, let's return to Paul's talk to the Ephesian Leaders. He gives us yet another lesson on a Christian's commitment to service.

Lesson 3

"A commitment to serve is accompanied by a message"

 

Acts 20:20-21

20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.

21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

 

Our service goes hand in hand with our message. We serve because there's a need whether a person receives our message or not, but our message should never be hidden! We should never be ashamed of our message. Folks please here me out. I would never refuse to give someone a drink of water or a piece of bread because they refused to accept my message of Christ love, but If I give them the water and the bread, they're at least going to know it was the love of Jesus that compelled me to reach out to them. Now you might say, "But Bro. Larry, Jesus had to compel you to help the hurting?" Let me answer this way…I'm moved with compassion to help the hurting when I see their need, but you must understand, I was not always this way. Before I met Jesus, it was all about Larry! What dose Larry need. If Jesus hadn't changed my priorities in life, I could be one of those people who just pass right on by and never even notice the other person's pain. I probably would have never gone to Haiti and witnessed first hand the human tragedy that exist in other parts of the world. So, yes it's Jesus who compels me to serve. Just remember, compels, encourages, and reminds me of the need to serve. I'm never conscripted or forced into servitude. My God given free will was there when I decided to follow Jesus, and it is still there in my daily decision to serve or not serve!

Joshua 24:15

15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Some groups think they've got to serve and hide the fact they're serving Christ. Folks, I did a wedding in New Orleans a week ago and my wife and I went by Cafe Du Monde to get hot chocolate and beignets. When I handed our server a card and told him if he were ever on the North Shore, to come visit us, know what he said? It was so cool! He said, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ!" I was thinking, "Hey me either!" 

Lesson 4

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to finish the task no matter what it takes"

 

Acts 20:22

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Most of us who commit to serve are willing to serve even if it comes with difficulty. Notice I said IF it comes with difficulty. Most of us hope it won't be that difficult and it's usually a joy to serve. However, Paul was warned that his commitment would be accompanied by difficulty and persecution. Would that change your commitment? What if you knew it might lead to your imprisonment? Now about now Jay and our team leaders are thinking, Bro. Larry you're supposed to be encouraging people to commit to serve, I'm not sure this is going to work!! Let me reassure you that non of our ministry opportunities you'll find today are illegal or will lead to persecution. Of course  that could change someday, but here's my point, or should I say, here's Paul's point…Paul said...

Acts 20:24

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

When your life has been transformed because you've connected with God through Jesus Christ, you realize you were on a path of destruction, but were rescued from the jaws of death by the heroic act of The Son of God! When you have this realization, you understand that every day you live, every breath you breath is a gift from God. It therefore becomes a privilege and an honor to serve God with your every waking moment. You begin finding greater purpose in serving God than you ever found in serving yourself! Your desires and goals in life become intertwined with God's mission for your life. That mission is to serve God by serving others. And like Paul you begin practicing lesson 5... 

Lesson 5

"A commitment to serve is a commitment to place the needs of others ahead of your own"

Acts 20:32

32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.

34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

A commitment to serve changes ones basic attitude. Your attitude becomes polar opposite of the world's attitude. Your attitude becomes radical. It's no longer what can you do for me, but what can I do for you? How can I help you become all God wants you to be? How can I build you up in Christ! This is radical folks! This could change our world. This is the answer to broken homes! This is the answer to human exploitation! This is the answer to world hunger! This is the answer to increasing violence in our cities. Yes and this is even the answer to suicide. Nothing could be more selfish and self serving than leaving a family to morn and to wonder what they did wrong or how they could of helped but didn't. When a person surrenders selfishness and self-serving to God, suicide is no longer an option! Placing others above ourselves is the answer to so many things. However, we must know, without the example, the power, the forgiveness and the Spirit of Jesus Christ moving in the hearts of individuals, this will never happen. Our world is stuck on self and until we crucify our old selfish ways and allow the new nature of Jesus to reign in our lives and cause us to become committed to serve, things will not change. 

In this context, I believe it would be true to the spirit of Christ's words and to Paul's intent for this passage to put it this way...

Lesson 6

"It is more blessed to serve than to be served!"

Paul put it this way...

Acts 20:35

35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.

Let's pray!

"Lord, so many today have adopted a philosophy that says the world revolves around self and so people make decisions for what is best for them and not others. As followers of Christ, we know this is not what's best for us or for those around us. Our world should revolve around you and around those you've called us to serve. Because of your words and your amazing example, we have come to learn it is truly more blessed to give than to receive. It really is better to serve than to be served! We don't serve because we have to, and we don't serve because of the rewards, but there are amazing personal rewards when we stop living for self and start living to serve you and others. Please, God open our eyes and our hearts to the opportunities to serve which are all around us!!