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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
As you read this TB I really want to challenge you to think about your service. We call this growing in acts of service at Bethel. Here are some questions to get your started:
Passion- What are you passionate about, love to do? Passion determines your area of ministry, the kinds of people you work with or place you may serve. For example in the gathered church, Jamie Stinson is known for her passion for children, Fred Grendel is known for his passion for youth.
Gifts- What are your gifts? While passion determines where we minister, gifts determine what we do in that area of passion.
We can apply these questions to both the gathered and scattered church.
This past Sunday we concluded our six-part series entitled, Touched by the Cross. As we study the cross which represents Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we learn about service. Our big idea on Sunday was that the cross mentors us in service.
What does the cross teach us about service?
A. THE CROSS MENTORS US IN SERVICE BY DEMONSTRATING A LIFE THAT WAS FOCUSED
Jesus did not end up on a cross because he lived a life of “do as one pleases” or consumerism or a life of “what’s in it for me” mentality. Jesus died on a cross, and the cross is so central to the Christian faith because Jesus the Son of God, was focused, committed, and resolute to do and accomplish what He had come to do.
Read John 17:1-4- How did Jesus bring the Father glory?
Read Luke 24:25-27- What did the Scripture reveal?
In both of these examples we see Jesus highly cognizant of his mission.
If you go to the beginning of Jesus earthly life we discover descriptions of Jesus that identify He was a man on a mission from His very birth.
Read Matt 1:21 and Luke2:25-32- How was Jesus “hard wired” from the very beginning of His earthly life?
What I find interesting is that from the very beginning to the very end Jesus stayed the course. In fact we read in Luke 4 that staying the course was not always easy. He demonstrates the Spirit filled life as he refuses to give in to the great temptation (Luke 4:1-13) that would have taken Him off course. In fact what is so interesting about this is what follows- the great declaration- Luke 4:14-19. Jesus stands up and declares the very thing that was attempted to be stolen from Him. He stood His ground!
How does this help us understand our life of service? As we look at Scripture we discover that we have also been hard wired from the very beginning- Read Ephesians 2:10. We are His what?
Check out 1 Cor. 12:27- What are we according to Paul? What part are you? We have been formed and created for a purpose, with gifts and passion. If we are ever going to pursue that passion and use our gifts in the scattered or gathered church we are first of all going to need to know what they are – passion and gifts, and then secondly stay focused when the great temptation comes to lose focus and become a useless body part.
What can cause people to lose focus and not follow through on passion and gifts? (fear, pride, hard heart, business, indifference)
How many local churches have missed out on the blessings, ministries that could have flourished because people didn’t take responsibility?
How many towns and cities have been left untouched because people did not take responsibility to pursue their calling?
The cross mentors us in service because it demonstrates a focus and resolute determination to not allow anything or anyone take away the agenda and plan that God has for all of us to do our part in the body of Christ. Focus and commitment is key if we are ever going to contribute as God intended.
B. THE CROSS MENTORS US BECAUSE IT SHOWS US HOW TO SERVE
There are three key issues to point out here:
In Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, he found that some of the most impressive corporate leaders had what he described as a paradoxical blend of professional will and personal humility. But where did this value come from? Listen to what John Dickson says....2. Excellence
“Ten years ago I was involved in a post-doctoral research project looking at the origins of humility in a secular ancient history department. The finding is pretty clear that humility came to be valued in the Western tradition because of Jesus and the early Christians. For an ancient person, to pursue honor was a great good; to experience shame was the greatest of all possible harms. Christians had to reflect ethically and socially on the death of Jesus. The most shameful, honor-less place in the empire was a cross. So they had to ask themselves, What does this mean? The greatest man we've ever known died on a cross. Was he not as great as we thought?
How did they resolve the seeming contradiction? The early Christians decided that greatness had to be redefined to include this word that had, up to that point, been associated with servitude...”
I love the line- “greatness had to be redefined...” Jesus certainly redefined a lot of things, one namely being service, and how we serve. Read Phil 2:5-11 for a fresh reminder of this important aspect of service.
In your group discuss why humility is so important in service.
Read John 19:28-30. Do you see the statement of excellence? “It Is Finished!” This statement declares that what Jesus offered up in fulfilling the Father’s agenda were not leftovers or some kind of second rate sacrifice. Excellence was written all over the cross. In the original Greek this statement is in the perfect tense. It speaks of a past action that still is having impact today. For instance: “I have closed the door,” speaks of a past completed action. But the implication is that, as a result, the door is still closed. Thus, the entire meaning is, “I have closed the door and it is closed at present.” “It is finished” is Jesus’ way of saying this past action stands for all of time. Christ’s work on the cross was completely sufficient, absolutely fulfilling the justice of the Father. The entire sense is, “It was finished and as a result it is forever done.” “It stands finished” would be a good translation. Read Heb 10:11,12 to see the excellence of what Jesus did.3. Empowerment
In your group, discuss what excellence looks like in using your gifts?
Read Ephesians 1:18-23Our prayer at Bethel is that the Cross would continue to mentor us in our service to the city, nation and world. Serve on with focus, staying the course and working out your passion and using your gifts for His glory. May you serve in humility, with excellence and under the anointing of the Holy Spirit!
I don’t know about you, but whenever I am working in my area of gifting and passion I sense increasingly the need for empowerment. The empty cross and tomb remind us of the power available to us as we serve. This is a must or else our service is purely our own efforts, done in our own strength. Where is it that you sense your greatest need for power in service these days? What is the context - family, work, gathered church? On Sunday I listed several examples of why we need His strength in service. List or journal your own thoughts on this.
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