Craig Groeschel - Faithful in Service
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Hey, it's great to have all of you with us today. All of our Life.Churches are open network churches, our church online family. I want to congratulate everybody who was baptized last week. Every single one of you transformed by the grace of Jesus. And if you were here last week, it was hard to describe, but we asked people to go bold in public and declare their intention to turn from sinful ways and follow Christ. If you can imagine this last weekend alone, publicly, we had 2,397 people say that they were becoming followers of Christ. And this is something that I want you to internalize, realize, recognize; we're not praying that God is gonna move in a supernatural way. We're living in the middle of it, bring people, just believe he's gonna touch lives.
And we're gonna continue what God is saying to our church, we're in a message series called Selfless, we live in a very self-centered culture. I want to introduce this week's message on faithfulness and service. Last week, we talked about being bold in spirit. Today we're gonna talk about being faithful in service. I'll introduce it with a story that my kids tell over and over again about our family. We've had lots of different people live in our home throughout the years for a short period of time. We had one girl who was a friend of another pastor friend of mine and invited us to consider taking his daughter in for a summer. Great girl, the first day she was in our home, my kids were like, ecstatic, 'cause you get to meet somebody new that was gonna be living with us, and this girl came in and I guess I must have been a little romantic with Amy. Maybe a little kiss, maybe a little huggy-huggy, I'm not sure what it was, but she said, "Oh my gosh, Pastor Craig, really loves Amy"!
And my daughter Anna just kind of scoffed, with a big smile and she said, "Oh, believe me when I tell you, once you've lived here for about 30 seconds, you're gonna get used to it 'cause Daddy is always loving Mommy". And that was the introduction to this new girl living at our house, "Daddy is always loving Mommy". That raises the question I wanna pose to you today, and that is this: If somebody were to describe you with the word "always," what would they say? "He's always doing such and such" or "She's always doing this". The question is this: What would others say that you are always doing? What would others say that you are always doing? They might say you're always encouraging, they might say you're always griping. They might say you're always finding fault, or they might say you're always finding good. What would they say that you're always doing? Maybe you're always working, man, he's always working. Or, she's always working out. He's always sharing his faith. She's always scrolling on Instagram.
What would others say that you are always doing? Our series is Selfless, and I think you would probably agree that we live in an incredibly selfish, self-centered, self-gratifying, self-promoting culture. In fact, I just looked up the work "self-promotion" on Google just to see what came up and on the first page, there was article after article teaching you how to promote yourself, to get ahead with self-promotion. I listed in my notes three of the different articles of all the many ones, there was one called, "The Art of Self-Promotion: 6 Ways to Get Your Work Discovered". Forbes wrote one called, "Self-promotion is a Skill". In other words, if you want to be good in this society, you better learn how to promote yourself. Then this is one that maybe somebody needs to read: "40 Ways to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerk". How about that? Self-promotion is a skill and we need to get really good at it. Well, this idea is becoming pervasive throughout our culture. In fact, if I ask you what do you think is the most common career that a teenager wants?
This is the aspiration of the common teenager today. What do you think it would be? Well 54% of teenagers, for a career, want to be a celebrity. I want to be a YouTube star. We have to learn to self-promote, to help others see just how great we are, as a career, 54% of teenagers today want to be a celebrity. What do we wanna be? Well, if you live where I live, I just want to be the GOAT! I want to be the GOAT, how many of you know what the GOAT is? Raise your hand, let's just see how many of you have teenagers? Are you still kind of cool? The GOAT? What does the GOAT stand for, G-O-A-T, help everybody else understand what is the GOAT? The GOAT is the, greatest of all time. I just want to be the GOAT! I want to be the greatest of all time.
And it's self-promoting, self-centered, selfish-oriented culture, the problem is that if you want to follow Jesus, Jesus is teaching his diametrically-opposed to a self-centered, selfish, self-promoting culture. This is what Jesus said: If you want to follow me, you don't promote yourself. He said, first you must deny yourself and then you pick up your cross, in other words, you are dying to your own selfish natures and then, you follow me. Jesus said, if you wanna be great, you don't self-promote. But Jesus said, the greatest among you, let's say it aloud, will be what, all of our churches, the greatest among you will be your servant. If you are a follower of Christ, we are not called to self-promote or to live selfish, self-centered lives, but instead, he calls us, invites us, to be selfless, denying self and taking on the very nature of a servant. In other words, as Jesus followers, serving, is not just something that we do. It's an action that reflects who we are. Serving isn't just what we do, a servant at our core is who we're called to be.
I would say it this way: I am a servant, I'd love for you to say that aloud, I am a servant, say it. I am a servant of the Most High God, say that. Let's start from the beginning. I am a servant of the Most High God. When I serve others I am serving Christ. Again like you mean it. I am a servant of the Most High God. When I serve others, I'm serving Christ. Serving isn't just what we do, a servant is who we are. What are you always doing? If someone were to answer that question, what would they say that you're always doing? Acts chapter nine verse 36 is a powerful little verse, one verse that shows what someone was always doing. In Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha. In Greek her name is Dorcas. Can we go and pause there for just a minute? Last week, it was Anos, okay? Who would name their kid Anos? Probably the same people who'd name their daughter Dorcas, okay? I'm just saying the poor girl, God bless her, her name is Dorcas. She was actually the first Greek female mentioned in the New Testament. Her name means "gazelle," so some scholars think she might've been a beautiful woman, we don't know for sure. But what we do know, is what she was always doing, what does the text say?
The text said she was always doing good and helping the poor. What a description. What was Dorcas always doing? She was always doing good and helping the poor. What she actually did is she made clothing and she would give it to those who were struggling and would often serve widows. Her ministry evidently so important that when she died, God used Peter to raise her back from the dead; this little revival broke out in her community, because here is this woman and what was she known for? Her ministry was so important that she was brought back from the dead because she was always doing good. Instead of always being self-promoting in attitude, she was always selfless using what she had to make a different in other people's lives, serving, because she knew who she was. She is a servant of the Most High God. So how do we, as Jesus followers, how to we become a faithful servant? You might say, I can't make clothes so I can't give to the poor, you know, I can't sing like the worship pastor can sing. I'm not a great Bible teacher, I don't really know how I can make a difference.
And so what I wanna do today, is keep it really, really simple. I'm gonna give you three images from Scripture, tie it in with three very simple stories that I hope will be memorable and will inspire you to serve because of who you are, you're called to be a servant of the Most High God. How do we become a faithful servant, three images. The first thing you can do, is you can bring a lunch. You can bring a lunch. You could also offer a ride. Or, you can carry a towel. How do we become a faithful servant? You can bring a lunch, offer a ride or carry a towel. Let's start with the lunch, and I wanna show you a story from the Old Testament about King David, King David was a war hero. He rose to notoriety when he killed the giant, Goliath. When he'd come back from battle, he was so admired that the women would actually gather in the street and they would sing songs to him, about him, like, "Here comes David, he's our hero". They would sing songs, I am still believing my faith, one day, I'm gonna come home from the battle preaching God's word, and Amy's gonna be in the driveway, singing a song to me. Hadn't happened yet, but you know it could happen. Maybe even today.
And so it kind of raises the question, you know, why was this guy so great? A lot of people say that he was great because he won the battle. I would tell you, he was great because he brought a lunch. Let me say it again. A lot of people say that he was great because he won a battle. I would tell you, he was great because he brought a lunch. You look all throughout his life, whether he was playing a harp for Saul, or doing the right thing behind the scenes. This man was promoted in the kingdom of God because he had the heart of a servant. What do we mean by the lunch? Well, David was the youngest of eight brothers, the son of a man named Jesse. The older brothers were out fighting at war, or at least preparing to fight and the father said one day, "Son, I need you to do something, it may not look important, but it's important to God". One day, the Bible says, Jesse said to David, "Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. See how brothers are getting along and bring back a report on how they're doing".
In other words, hey David, you want to one day fight in the battle? First, you bring a lunch. First, you're willing to do what may seem insignificant, what isn't often visible to others. What you may do may feel like it's behind the scenes, but the way you're promoted in the kingdom of God is never by self-promotion, it's always by serving. If you want to be great, what do you do? You serve, the greatest among you is a servant, and one of the ways you can do this, is simply being obedient, to bring a lunch. You can also offer a ride, you can offer a ride. I love this Old Testament prophecy, 553 years before the event ever took place, imagine this, Zechariah the Prophet prophesied that one day, the King would come riding in on a donkey. This prophecy would have blown people's minds, because they're gonna think, if the King's coming in, he's not coming in on a donkey, but he's coming in on a white horse with flowing robes, a crown on his head, and everybody going crazy, just like in our culture, it'd be like, he's coming in, in a stretch limousine, paparazzi's everywhere, but instead the equivalent of riding in on a donkey would be, here comes the King puttin' in on a moped.
That's what it was like. And Jesus said to his disciples, I'm gonna need you to secure a donkey. A 553-year-old prophetic event is about to come down, and Jesus says, if anyone asks you why, here's what I want you to tell them. If they say, "Why are you untying the donkey"? Just say to them, "The Lord needs it". How can you be faithful as a servant? Well you can simply, offer somebody a ride. This is exactly what this businessperson in the New Testament did, and what I love about this story, is we don't know his name, we don't know what he did for a living, we don't know if he owned one donkey, 10 donkeys or 500 donkeys. We do know, and can assume, he had a business because it was a luxury to be able to afford a donkey, and this guy simply said, "Yes, you can take what I have and I'll offer a ride". Notice what this guy didn't do when they went for the donkey, that had never been ridden before. This donkey had never been ridden. Notice what the guy didn't do. He doesn't say, "Oh, I didn't realize you were asking for my low-mileage, never-before-ridden donkey. This isn't Eeyore, this is the high-end donkey. This has the upgraded hooves, you know, this is the best of the best, so it's gonna cost you a little more". No, what he simply did, was said, "If the Lord has need of it, then I'm willing to offer what I have, because I am a servant of the Most High God".
How can you make a difference as a servant? Well, you can bring a lunch, or you could simply offer a ride. By offering a ride, this guy made a way for Jesus to ride into town, you can make a difference, by bringing a lunch, offering a ride, or, you can carry a towel. You can carry a towel. In fact, to me, this is one of the most powerful pictures from the New Testament. The setting is just before Passover, it's a Thursday night, there's a secret meeting going on in the upper room. Jesus was seated there with his disciples, and he knows that he's about to give his life. In other words, the very reason that he's here is about to come to pass and he is gonna suffer in a big way. And then, an argument breaks out amongst the disciples. Do you know what they were arguing about? This is what they wanted to know: Who's the GOAT? Who's the GOAT? Who is the greatest of all time? That is exactly the argument that broke out, right before Jesus was going to give his life. Who do you think is the greatest?
And you can almost imagine each of the disciples kind of pitching their part, I can just imagine John saying, "Well, obviously, I'm the greatest because everybody knows that I am the one that Jesus loves". Do you realize how annoying John was? John wrote about himself in second person and called himself the one that Jesus loved. Read it, you're reading in the Gospel of John and over and over again, he says, "And John, the one that Jesus loved". You know that ticked Peter off, Peter's all up in John's face going, "No, no, no, no, no. Remember when Jesus walked up on water? And everybody else stayed in the boat? Who was it that got out of the boat and walked on water? It was moi, me, not you, but me, you set your butt on the boat 'cause you are afraid, sitting over there, I was the one walking on water". Think about it, somebody else speaking up going, "Yeah, but you only took three steps and then you sank". Oh, "But yeah, he brought me out, because I'm his favorite". And then there's Bartholomew going, "Yeah, but what about me, I'm the greatest". And they're all like, "Bartholomew, we didn't even know you were a disciple, nobody's gonna remember you".
And he shuts up 'cause that's poor Bartholomew. Who's the GOAT? Who's the greatest of all time? Jesus is sitting at the table, knowing that he did not come to be served, but to serve others, looks around and sees, proud hearts and dirty feet. And so what does Jesus do? Well, Scripture says, Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist. After that he poured water into a basin, and he begin to wash his disciples' feet. Now, if you had been there, this would have been the most scandalous act of selfless service that you had seen in your whole life. Everyone there is going, "No Jesus, you can't do this, no, not you, and not to me". Now you may say, what is this washing feet business about? This was a tradition or a custom, it was polite, for example, if you came to my home today, I would say, "Hey, can I take your coat or could I offer you a drink"? And that's kind of what they would do.
Can I take your coat, offer you drink, can I wash your feet because, you're in sandals, you walked a long way here, your feet are dirty and dusty, but the host would never wash feet. Like if you came to my house, I wouldn't say, "Hey, can I take your coat, can I offer you a drink, and you want me to give you a pedicure, bro"? I wouldn't do that, 'cause you're like, "Huh"? And it's nasty, because feet are nasty, especially mine. My feet are this big, my toes are half of that. Amy, she hates my feet, she says all the time, "I love everything about you, you're perfect in every way, I love you from the top of your head to the bottom of your ankles, everything in-between, I love you". And after that, she does, but you know, feet are nasty. And so what would happen is, that you would invite someone in, can we have your feet washed, and then you'd ask your servant, or you could ask your slave, to go and kneel down and to wash feet.
And what Jesus does is he looks around the room, and he sees proud hearts and dirty feet, and Jesus puts on a slave's apron, gets down on his hands and knees, takes a bowl, and a towel, and starts watching feet. Who is Jesus? He is the son of God. He is the bread of life. He is the prince of peace, he is the living water. He is the great high priest, he is the light of the world. He is the lamb of God, he is the righteous judge. He is the living stone, he is the true vine. He is the King of glory, he is the chosen one. He is the King of all kings, he is the Lord of all lords. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, he is our redeemer, he is our righteousness, he is our sanctification, he our rock, he is our Lord, and he knelt down. Took a bowl, carried a towel, and he washed feet. Because Jesus knew the greatest among you, is never a self-promoter. But he's always a servant. I didn't come to be served, I came to serve others, to give my life as a ransom for their sins.
How to become great, you bring a lunch, you offer a ride, you carry a towel. Because serving is not just something that we do, a servant is who we are. I am a servant of the Most High God, and when I serve others, I'm serving Jesus Christ. Say, well, how does that make sense? Well, Jesus told another story, in Matthew's Gospel, Matthew 25. And Jesus said, "One day, at the end of time, all the people are gonna be standing before me, and I'm gonna separate them. I'm gonna put the sheep on this side, and on the other side, I'm gonna put the GOATs". The GOATs, who do you wanna be? I wanna be the greatest of all time. And he would say to the GOATs, "I'm sorry, but we didn't know each other". And he'd say to the sheep, "Welcome into the kingdom I have repaired for you, and I just wanted to tell you, thank you. Because when I was thirsty, you gave me a drink. And when I was locked out, you invited me in. And when I was sick, you prayed for me. And when I was in prison, you visited me".
And the sheep will look back and say, "Um, glad we're getting in, but I don't remember that happening. When did I visit you, when did I give you something to drink"? And Jesus would look back and them and said, "What you did to the least of these brothers, you actually did to me. When you visited someone else in prison, you were actually showing love to me. When you offered a drink, to someone in another country that didn't have access to clean drinking water and you can contributed to helping them get a well, you were actually doing that to me. When you welcomed somebody who didn't feel welcome, and you showed them love and grace, you were actually welcoming me". How do you become great? You become great by being less about you, and more about him, therefore more about other people. Because serving isn't just something that we do, a servant is who we are. It's our essence, it's our core, and then Jesus would look at his sheep and he would say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant". Because serving isn't just what we do, a servant is who we are, you may say, "But I'm not great at a lot, I may be able to do something small but it's very insignificant".
Listen, in the kingdom of God, the little things are the big things. It's the little things, it's the things that you do when nobody else is looking, it's what you do when you feel insignificant, and in your faith with the little things, God trusts you with even more. Promotion is not a reflection of self-promotion, promotion in the kingdom of God is selfless serving, putting others ahead of ourselves. I'll tell ya about some of my favorite servants from our church family. From Life.Church Norman, Kagan, is a junior in college. And every week for every service she serves in LifeKids and then comes back on Wednesday night to serve in Roots. Kagan, thank you for being a servant of the Most High God. Amy, at Life.Church Jenks, uses her gifts in sign language to share the message with those who are hearing-impaired, because they can't hear God's word, they can still visualize it and internalize it because she is a servant using her gifts.
Ky, from Norway, serves every week at the same service at Church Online. Then Ky does a Bible study for about 25 or so English-speaking people because there's no English-speaking church nearby in Norway. On the other part of the globe, is a servant of the Most High God, working with our church to serve other people. Stacy, from South Tulsa, Oklahoma, serves five services every weekend, Life Kids, and then with her own money, buys Bible App for Kids Storybooks to give out to first-time children, to say to their family that we believe God's word matters, and using what she has, she gives out books, because she is a servant of the Most High God. C.J. in Aubrey, from Life.Church South Oklahoma City, took in a 13-year-old boy when his mom died unexpectedly two days after Christmas. Using what they have to reach out and show God's love. How do you become a faithful servant? You can take in a young boy.
David and Denise from South Broken Arrow Life.Church, show a host team, the ops teams, and they prepare food each week and take it to serve the homeless. And God prompted their heart to reach out to a 19-year-old boy, who they took into their home to invest in, to empower him to go back out into life, stronger than he was before. Charlie from Life.Church Albany leads a team of five volunteers at a local mission partner, and they stuff backpacks, about 1,000 of them, to give to kids who are very likely not to eat otherwise, except for the food that they put in these backpacks, week after week. Then there's Roger from Life.Church Owasso. Roger gave his life to Christ three weeks ago.
Last weekend, Roger served at eight of the nine weekend service at Life.Church, eight of the nine, why was he slacking and not serving the ninth one? Well, 'cause Roger was busy getting baptized at the very last of his nine services, because he had found life in Christ. What are you always doing? What are you always doing? If someone were to describe your life, he's always, she's always, wouldn't it be amazing if they said, "Oh, he's always offering a ride. She's always carrying a towel. He's always bringing a lunch. She's always holding a baby. He's always welcoming people at the door. She's always giving to somebody who's in need. Oh, he's always praying. Oh, she's always a light in our office".
How do you become great, it is not, and never is, by self-promotion. When you come to Jesus, you deny yourself, it's not about us, it's all about him. But when it becomes all about him, the only thing you can do is respond and say, "I'm not doing good because I want to impress anybody, but because of what he did for me. I am a servant of the Most High God, and when I serve others, I am serving Christ". How do you become great? Well, you can love a teenager and one day you'll be before God in Heaven, and Jesus may look at you and say, "Thank you for encouraging me when I was only 15". Like, Jesus, when did I do that, I don't remember seeing you when you were 15? Every week when you led that small group at Switch, Jesus would say, "You were loving and serving me, because what you did, unto the least of these my brothers, you were doing unto me".
Here's my honest suggestion for you, for every single one of you who are Jesus followers, I would suggest that you have a consistent place that you serve. This is where I use my gifts. It may be someplace in the church. It may be someplace in the community. But I have a systematic place that week after week, I am there, consistently pouring into people, in the name and for the love of Jesus. I believe that we should all have this place, we have gifts that we consistently use to serve. Then, every single day we wake up.
And we say something along the lines of, "God, this is the day that you have made, I will be glad and rejoice in it God, give me your thoughts, give me eyes to see people who are in need, God give me a heart that breaks for the things that break your heart. I am your servant. Help me God, see opportunities today, I'm on call, prompt me by your spirit anywhere, anytime, my answer is yes. You may prompt me to carry a lunch. You may speak to me to offer a ride. You may tell me to wash somebody's feet. But I will say yes to you, because the Lord has needed it".
And then one day, if someone were to hear the question, what's he always doing, what's she always doing? They would have a really powerful answer. She's always serving. He's always making a difference. She's always engaged, helping people seeing the love of Jesus. He's always there, every single week, showing consistently. You can count on her, she doesn't just talk about Jesus, she lives the love of Jesus. Then one day, one day, you will stand before him, and he will say, "Thank you for what you did, for me, because what you did for the least of these, you did unto me. Well done, my good and faithful servant". Because serving is not just what we do, a servant is who we are.
So Father, we ask, that you would stir us, shake us God, move us out of this selfish, self-centered, self-promoting way of thinking and God, may we start by denying ourselves, and all of our churches, those of you who would say, "I am a follower of Jesus and I want to grow in my heart to serve, God help me to see myself as you would see me, a servant, making a difference every day".
At this, lift up your hands high right now, just lift them up, lift them up.
Father, I thank you for people that you are speaking to their hearts, God, I pray that you would help all of us to have that consistent place, somewhere every week in our church. God, somewhere every week, in our community, where we represent you consistently, engage in the lives of people using the gifts that you've given us. In a very simple and a very small way, to do what may seem insignificant, may not be in the spotlight, but God, is important to you, help us God, serve because we are servants, then God, give us eyes to see, and a heart that breaks for things that break your heart. On call, every single day saying, yes, I can meet that need, yes, I can lift her up, yes, I can be a servant to him. Give us eyes to see we are on call, as you prompt us, because God, serving isn't just what we do, a servant is who we are. We are your servants, God. Help us to serve you by serving others.
As you keep praying today, at all of our different churches, there are some of you, you're gonna become incredibly and acutely aware of the reality that you're pretty much living for yourself. And let me tell you what, this wouldn't be unusual, this wouldn't be unnatural, this is normal. Because by nature, we are all incredibly selfish. You never have to have, like, selfish lessons to teach somebody to be selfish. We are selfish, sinful, self-centered beings. Let me tell you what Jesus did, Jesus said, "I did not come to be served by people". Imagine this, the son of God, "I didn't come to be served, but I came to serve. To offer my life as a ransom, as a payment, for the forgiveness of sins".
Who is Jesus? The sinless son of God, the lamb of God, the lamb of God, who was slain for the forgiveness of our sins. When you recognize who he is, and what he did, your only reasonable response is yes, I want that, when you call on the name of Jesus, he hears your prayers, listen, he forgives every sin that you've ever committed, you become a brand new person, but he doesn't just save you, but he changes you, and suddenly you recognize, life isn't about me, it's all about bringing glory to him and to making a difference in his name and all of our churches, there are those if you recognize you've been selfish, self-centered, self-promoting, self-absorbed, and suddenly you see Jesus is the son of God, after what he did for me, I want his freedom. I want his forgiveness, I turn to him, today, I give my life completely to him and all of our churches, those who say, I need his grace, I need his mercy, I need his forgiveness, I turn from my sins, I turn toward him. Today I give my life to him, that's your prayer, lift your hands high now.
All over the place, say yes, let's meet here in this middle section, right back here, others of you. Over here on this side, God bless you, back here on this side, both of you right back over here, others of you, way back here toward the back, come on church, would you celebrate the goodness, the grace of God, right back over here and over here as well, praise God for you. Church Online, you click right below me, somebody worship, somebody cheer, somebody tell God, thank you for saving us through the grace of Jesus. Everybody, would you simply, pray aloud, pray with those around you, pray:
Heavenly Father, I give my life completely to you, Jesus forgive me, of all my sins, save me, and make new. Fill me with your spirit, so I can follow you. So I can serve you, so I can serve others. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.