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James Merritt - Don't Waste Your Life

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    James Merritt - Don't Waste Your Life
TOPICS: Meaning of Life

If I could give one piece of advice to everyone that is born and I knew they would take my advice, I knew it, they'd live out what I'd ask them to do, it'd be easy. I would tell them in four simple words don't waste your life. If I knew everybody would take that one piece of advice, what a difference it would make. Pastor John Piper told two stories in his church about two different couples of people. He told a story about two ladies who were both over 80 years of age. One lady's name was Ruby Eliason, the other lady's name was Laura Edwards, both over 80 years of age.

Ruby was a nurse, and she had been single, never married, had lived all of her life taking the gospel and sharing God's good news to the sick and the poor among the most unreached places in a country called Cameroon. Laura, in her retirement, she was a doctor, when she retired, she joined Ruby and they went from village to village in this little country sharing the gospel, taking medicine, taking help, and taking aid, and doing all that they could to show the love of Christ village after village after village. As they were driving to one of these villages, the brakes in their car failed. They went over a cliff and they were both instantly killed.

When John Piper recounted that story, he then asked his people this question: Is this a tragedy? And as you can imagine, most of the people with sympathetic ears and hearts nodded their head yes, that is a tragedy, and most of us would say yeah, that really was a tragedy. But then he shared the other story. He found it in a reader's digest. I'll read it to you. Bob and Penny took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect seashells. John Piper paused and said, "Now that is a tragedy".

Laura and Ruby die, they stand before God, God says to them, "So what did you do with your life"? They reply, "We sowed the seeds of goodness and grace in the lives of others. We shared people that needed to be served, we served people that needed to be served. We shared the love of God wherever He could". He said now Bob and Penny die and they stand before God. And God says to them, "What did you do with your life"? They say, "Look at our seashell collection. How do you like our softball swing? And oh, by the way, what do you think about our boat"?

Now the point of the story is not that it's wrong to retire, it's not. The point of the story is not that it's wrong to have a nice house or a nice boat or a nice place on the lake, there's nothing wrong with any of those things. God gives us all good things to enjoy. There's nothing wrong with enjoying life. The point of the story is this: don't ever center your life on that. Don't ever center your life on the stuff. Don't ever center your life on those activities. Instead, center your life and devote your life to sowing and sending and serving and sharing. Piper's mantra, don't waste your life, would also have been the catchphrase of a man by the name of Paul.

As a matter of fact, he shared exactly the same advice to a group of believers in a place called Galatia, we call it Asia Minor today, in a church called Galatia. And he's closing out this letter that he's writing to them, and in Galatians chapter six, which by the way is on page 18 of your booklet if you're bringing your booklet. If you don't have one, get one on the way out. If you do have a Bible and wanna look on, in Galatians chapter six, we've been in a series we've been calling Free At Last, in case you're just now catching up. And here's basically what we've been saying as we've worked our way through this little book. Real freedom is not when you get to a point in life where you can do whatever you want to do. Real freedom is when you give your life to doing what God wants you to do.

Now before I get into how Paul advises us how to make sure we don't waste our life, I want you to keep in mind that the guy that wrote these words was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, all through without food or shelter, was robbed more than once, and at the end for all of his work, got his head cut off. And he endured all of it for one reason. He said I don't know about you, but I'll tell you about me, I am not going to waste my life. And so then he gives some tremendous advice to these same believers in Galatia on how to make sure that they would live a life that would be a worthwhile life and not a wasted life. As you get older, you realize two things are true about life.

Number one, it's very fragile, it can be gone like that. And number two, it's quick, it's short, it doesn't last very long. Now knowing those two things are true, why would anybody waste their life? Why would anybody wanna say look, I'm only gonna go around once and I'm not gonna be here very long and it could end at any moment, I wanna make my life really count. You say yeah, that's me, how do I do it? Paul says okay, let me give you three pieces of advice. Number one, don't be deceived, you will reap what you sow. Now Paul begins with an analogy that everybody back in that day would've recognized because unlike our society today, which is an information technological society, their society was an agrarian agricultural society. So Paul begins with these words, "Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows".

Now what Paul does for us is simply give us a truth about the way the world works and the way life works, and we all know that, that's the way life is. What you reap, you sow. What you sow, you reap. It's a universal law that's true in every area of your life. For example, it's true in the material world, we know that. Ask any farmer. You sow a little, you're gonna reap a little. Sow a lot, you're gonna reap a lot. You sow seeds, you'll reap a harvest, you'll grow a harvest. If there's no seed, there'll be no harvest. In other words, for every action there is a reaction. Well that's not just true in the material area of life. We also learn sometimes the hard way that's true in the moral area of life. Because when Paul talked about sowing, he was referring to our conduct to the way that we live, and when he was talking about reaping, he was talking about the consequences, what happens what you reap when you sow a certain kind of lifestyle.

So some of us have learned the hard way if you sow wild oats, you're not gonna reap strawberries. The scripture says if you sow the wind, you're going to reap the whirlwind. You reap what you sow. A great example is the racial problem we have in our country. Back in the beginning of the Republic as we now know, we sadly enough sowed the seeds of slavery. So what have we reaped? Racism. Racial animosity. Racial division. Racial distrust. Racial tension. And we shouldn't be surprised. You know why? Because we reap what we sow. It is true materially, it is true spiritually. That's why Paul begins with a warning you would think he wouldn't have to give. He says don't be deceived.

Now you might think well, everybody kinda knows that. Well, they really don't. 'Cause there are a lot of people who are deceived. 'Cause there are people out all over the world that really think I can lie and get away with it. I can steal and get away with it. I can cheat and get away with it. I can commit adultery and get away with it. I can even kill and I can get away with it. They actually believe I can do whatever I wanna do without any consequences, and there's a simple reason why we oughta know that's not true. There's a simple reason why we oughta know nobody ever gets away with it. Nobody ever has gotten away with it, nobody ever will get away with it. And you say well how do you know that? Because of what Paul says next. He says, "Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked".

That word mocked is the only time that word's ever used in the New Testament is right there in that verse, and it comes from a root word that literally means nose. And what it literally says is it means to thumb your nose at somebody. In other words what Paul is saying is you can't thumb your nose at God. God makes sure that you're gonna reap what you sow. You know the old saying, you can fool all the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time. Paul says that may be true, you can't fool God any of the time. Whatever you sow, you are going to reap. God has put a law into the universe that never ever fails. You know, there are certain laws you can break, right?

So the speed limit is 55. All right, 65. All right, 70. And I've told you this before, I'm making a confession, I break the law every single day. I set my speedometer at 10 miles an hour over and that's what I do, 'cause I've been told, and so far it's worked out, thank you Lord, haven't got a ticket yet, okay? There are certain laws you can break. There are certain laws you can't break. Example, jump off the Empire State Building. You will demonstrate the law of gravity, you ain't gonna break it. There's another law you won't break. You will reap what you sow. What you sow, you will reap. Now, one reason why people don't really believe this law, the one reason why people think they can beat it is because they don't realize that often you reap later than you sow.

See, there are people out there today that they'll do something wrong, and they think well, I got away with it today, maybe I can get away with it tomorrow. Well tomorrow comes and guess what? They get away with it tomorrow. So they get away with it tomorrow and they think well hey, maybe I can get away with it forever. The wisest man who ever lived made this observation. He said, "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people's hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong". In other words, here's what Solomon said. When you do something and you get away with it or you think you get away with it, you think wow, if I can do that and get away with it, maybe I can do this and get away with it. And if I do this and get away with it, maybe I can do this and get away with it.

And look, lemme just be honest. There are all kinds of people out there, you know them and I know them. They're living these lifestyles that are wrong, they're wicked, they're ungodly, and you know they're living wicked ungodly lives, and yet you look at them and they seem to be emotionally and psychologically stable, they're physically healthy, in many cases they're extremely wealthy, and you kind of find yourself scratching your head going wait a minute, what about what my mama always said, what goes around comes around? What about that? Well here's what Paul says. What goes around does come around, it just doesn't always come around immediately. Because when Paul says you reap what you sow, he doesn't give a timeline, he's simply giving a truth. He doesn't tell us when we will reap, he just tells us we will reap.

I love the story, there were two men that lived next door to each other, really good illustration of this text. There were two men that lived next door to each other, they both owned big farms. One guy, he was a Christian, loved the Lord, went to church, faithful, the other guy, secular, atheist, hated church, hated religion, hated the thought of God, and even though they were friends, he was always kinda gigging this Christian and making fun of this Christian and mocking this Christian. Well one day he came to him and he said, "Hey, I've got an idea. You believe in God and I don't. I got an idea, let's test something". He said, "What do you wanna do"? He said, "All right, this spring, let's have an agreement. We're gonna plant the same number of acres. We're gonna plant the same amount of seed. You are gonna pray to God all through the summer, I'm gonna curse God all through the summer, and then let's see in the fall who has the biggest harvest".

Christian said fine. Well, guess what? The harvest came, October comes around, they harvest, they compare notes, guess who had the bigger crop? The atheist. So he's looking at his friend who's a Christian and he starts laughing at him, making fun of him, mocking him. He said, "You are such a fool". He said, "Now, what do you have to say about this God that you believe in"? And the Christian just smiled and said, "Well, the God that I believe in doesn't settle all of his accounts in October". You reap what you sow. You reap later than you sow. There's worse than that, or better. You reap more than you sow. You remember this well-worn saying? I learned this when I was in school. If you sow a thought, you reap an act. You sow an act, you reap a habit. You sow a habit, you reap a character. You sow a character, you reap a destiny. But it all begins with just one little seed of a thought. You sow one thought. If it's the wrong thought, you reap a wrong destiny. If it's the right thought, you can reap a right destiny.

And Paul points out that this law's not just true materially, it's not just true morally, it is true spiritually. So he goes on to say this, "Whoever sows to please their flesh," that is their sinful nature, "from the flesh will reap destruction, but whoever sows to please the Spirit," that is the Holy Spirit, "from the Spirit will reap eternal life". Now you talk about reaping more than you sow, here's what Paul said. So you decide to live life your way. You reject God's way for life, you reject God's will for your life, you reject what God wants for your life, and you refuse to accept His son Jesus Christ into your life. He said that's okay, just understand you won't reap 30 days in jail, you won't reap a $500 fine, you will reap destruction. And that word destruction refers to an eternal separation from God. You reap more than you sow.

However, Paul said, you choose to receive Jesus, you choose to accept God's will for your life, you choose to reproduce a godly life. He said at the end of your life, you don't just get to gold watch, you don't just get a plaque, you get eternal life. You get a life forever with God. That's why every decision you make in your life is so important, and here's why. Every decision is a seed. Every decision is a seed. If you sow the seeds of good decisions, you're gonna reap good things. If you sow the seeds of bad decisions, you're gonna reap bad things. If your finances are in a mess and some of you, your finances are in a mess, you know why? You reap what you sow. You've sown bad financial decisions, so you've reaped bad financial results. By the way, that's true both positively and negatively.

I'm gonna give you a little secret. I've learned the way to get what you need from other people is to give other people what they need. That's the way God works. So for example, would you like to have more friends? Sure, then sow the seed of friendship. Would you like people to be kind to you? Then you sow the seed of kindness in them. You wanna be loved by other people? Then you sow the seed of love in them. Author Stephen Covey summed it up perfectly when he said this, he said, "Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm, to forget to plant in spring or play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest"? He said, "The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow. There is no shortcut".

Teach your kids and teach your grandkids, don't be deceived, you reap what you sow. You don't wanna live a wasted life? Just remember, what you sow, you reap. Then he says the second thing. He says, "Don't be discouraged, you will be rewarded when you serve". Don't be discouraged, you will be rewarded when you serve. Now, Paul gives a great word of encouragement that has to be true because remember, the law of the harvest has never been broken. You cannot break the law of the harvest. So Paul says this, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up".

Now what's Paul talking about? He's talking about sowing the seed of service. He's talking about doing good for other people. And I'll tell you why I love this verse, I'll tell you why I read this verse, I've memorized this verse, this is one of the verses I call on the most in my life, because what Paul is talking about right here really relates to me, because he just identifies the greatest problem in ministry. And I'm really glad that he does and I'm really glad I get to talk about this, 'cause I'm gonna be a little bit, you know, transparent, okay? I'm grateful that God called me to do what I do. I can't believe God called me to do what I do. I can't believe I get paid to do what I do, I love what I do, 'cause I know this is what God has called me to do. But let me tell you something.

If you sit out there and you think man, you got a cushiony job, dude. You get up here and preach 35 or 40 minutes and then you just kinda go play golf all week long. Man, I wish I had your job. You got some room to run upstairs unfurnished. Ministry is exhausting. Ministry is tiring. See, here's what people don't understand when you're a pastor. I don't ever quit being a pastor. If you're a salesman, you can quit being a salesman. And I'm not knocking what anybody else does, I'm just simply telling you, yeah, am I gonna take some vacation time? Absolutely. Have I worked hard to earn it? Absolutely. But can I be honest? I'm not on vacation. If a tragedy hits this church, where do you think I'm gonna be? I'm gonna be here. If there's an emergency and I get a call, I'm gonna take that call, 'cause I'm always a pastor, that never ends. 24/7, no matter where I go, I am the pastor of this church.

And I'm not complaining, I'm just saying that's the price I pay for being in the ministry, and I'm telling you ministry is frustrating. Ministry is tiring, it's emotionally draining. Ministry is discouraging and it's easy to get tired. Adrian Rogers is my mentor. He said to me one time, he said, "Jim". He said, "I never get tired of the work, but I get tired in the work". And I'm just being honest, I do, too. I don't get tired of it, but I get tired in it. I went to my office this morning to write a couple of handwritten thank you notes, some people'd done some nice things for me. I've got a two-page handwritten letter on my desk, Callie says, "You need to respond to this". All right?

Here was the letter, sweet letter, pastor in Ohio writes me a letter. "Dear Dr. Merritt, you mean so much to me, blah blah blah blah blah blah, I've just got a few questions I wonder if you could ask". He had 12 questions. And they're not yes or no. How do you prepare sermons? How do you get all these great illustrations? How do you lead your people to evangelism? How do you do evangelism? How do you lead people that don't wanna be led? I mean, all these kinda questions, right? So I'm in there and I'm thinking you know what? You know, I really want this to wait, but if I wait they're not gonna hear from me for a while, so I'm dictating all of these answers. And again, I'm not griping about it, I'm just saying it never ends.

So yesterday, I found out that there's a man who used to serve with our SBC, our Southern Baptist Convention, his wife has an emergency appendectomy six weeks ago, they discover while doing the appendectomy she has cancer, she goes to MD Anderson, she's got two strands of colon cancer, they're gonna do a stomach wash to see if it's in her stomach, the whole nine yards. She's just a couple years older than I am. So I'm calling him when I found out, "Hey, Bob". "James, why are you calling"? "Hey, I found out about Cheryl," right? "God, I wanna pray for you". On my way in yesterday, two days ago, I'm calling another man that's battling cancer. I'm praying for him, I'm answering emails, I'm making phone calls, it never ends.

The point I'm simply making is this, what I do is tiresome. It is weary, and I have seen so many pastors don't make it, they never make it in the ministry, you know why? Because they quit. They just gave up, and I just wanna tell you this. One of the tests of spiritual maturity, if you'd like to know how spiritually mature you really are, lemme ask you a question. Are you willing to keep walking in the dark even when you can't see any light? Are you willing to continue to stand when you just wanna sit down? Are you willing to stay when you really want to leave? Are you willing to enlist when you really want to quit? And that will only happen if you believe one thing and you've got to keep believing this.

Paul said, "For at the proper time we will reap a harvest". Paul said it's not that you may reap a harvest or you can reap a harvest or you should reap a harvest or you could reap a harvest, he says you will reap a harvest because God has given His own word that you will reap a harvest if you just don't give up. Someone wrote these words, I love this. It's not easy to apologize, to be unselfish, to take advice, to admit error, to be charitable, to keep on trying, to be considerate, to endure failure, to profit by mistakes, to forgive and forget, to make the best of little, to subdue an unruly temper, to shoulder a deserved blame, to recognize the silver lining, to stay the course, but it always pays. Try it. Paul said you will reap at the proper time. Literally says, in its own time. And here's what Paul said, "When the time is right, you'll reap a harvest".

You say okay, can I ask a question? Sure. So when is the time right? That's easy, when God says it is. Your harvest doesn't come on your clock, it comes on God's clock. What matters is not your time but God's timing. And here's the wonderful news. With God, your harvest will never come in early, but it will never come in late, it will always be right on time. That's what I want you to understand. The law of the harvest is not meant to discourage us, it's meant to encourage us. Paul says look, there is a return on the investment of serving, so keep serving, keep doing good, keep working for God because you will reap under one condition. If, and it's a big if, we do not give up. To put it bluntly, Paul says, "You'll reap if you don't throw in the towel and quit".

Now let me tell you something, if I had $100 for every Monday morning I wanted to quit in the last 40 years, I'd be a millionaire. You just don't know. You really, seriously, you just don't have any idea. I mean, think about it. How many of you get anonymous letters? Can I give you a universal, another law that's never broken? I've never gotten an encouraging anonymous letter. So let's get practical, shall we? You can make your marriage work if you don't give up. You can be a good parent and you can do your best to raise good children if you don't give up. You can follow Jesus, you can serve God, you can be a blessing to others until you draw your last breath if you don't give up. I'm a student, I don't know if you know or not, I love to do word studies, you know what I mean?

I like to know where words come from, okay? Like, you know, this'll be interesting to me. I learned the other, I didn't know this, the word hippopotamus comes from two Greek words, I didn't know this till the other day, this is why you pay me to do what I do, you wouldn't know this if I didn't tell you. The word hippo in the Greek language means horse. The word potamus in the Greek language means river. A hippopotamus literally is a river horse. Isn't that exciting? Look excited. Isn't that something? That's awesome! Now but listen, listen. I was reading the other day studying for this sermon. You ever heard the word mediocre? Nobody wants to be mediocre, right? Just run of the mill, average.

Do you know where the word mediocre comes from? This is fascinating to me. The word mediocre was first used to describe mountain climbers or rock climbers who never made it to the top. In other words, the word literally means mediocre, listen to what it says, it means middle of the rock. It was used to describe climbers who started, stopped halfway, didn't finish the climb, never got to the top, and lost the reward of making it all the way to the finish. Mediocre. Paul said don't live a mediocre life. Listen, the biggest danger of serving in ministry is discouragement, but the biggest defeat is quitting. And what Paul said was what we've all heard, what we all know is true, you can finish this. Winners never... And quitters never...

That's what Paul said. Winners never quit, quitters never win. He said listen, don't be discouraged. Don't be discouraged. Wherever you're serving the Lord, don't be discouraged. You will be rewarded when you serve. Then he says one last thing. "Don't be disinterested. You will rejoice where you share". Now here's what Paul does. I love the way he ends this. He gives this beautifully gift-wrapped box containing all this great advice on how to live a life worth living, how to make sure you don't waste your life, and then he ties it up with this beautiful bow. So listen what he says. "Therefore," one of the most important words in the Bible. I always ask the question what's that therefore there for? Always ask that question, right?

All right, therefore. Therefore, he says in light of the fact that you'll reap what you sow, in light of the fact you'll always be rewarded when you serve, in light of that fact, "As we have opportunity, let's do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers". Now that word for opportunity, you wouldn't know this, is the Greek word kairos, and it literally means time. What it literally says is as we have time, do good. Now do you know what time is? If I ever said to you what is time, you would say oh yeah, I know what time is. It's seconds and it's minutes and it's hours and it's days and it's months, weeks, and it's months and it's years. That's not what time is. That's how time goes, that's not what time is. You know what time is? Opportunity. Time is opportunity. That's what life is.

Every day, life gives us opportunities to sow good seeds, to serve other people, to share healing with the hurting, to give help for the fallen, to give hope for the depressed. Time is short, opportunity knocks, and what Paul is saying is every time you hear opportunity knocking on your door, you take it, because there are four things that never come back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, time past, and the neglected opportunity. And what Paul says listen, every day, someway, somehow, God's gonna drop in your life an opportunity to do good for somebody. He says when that opportunity comes, don't miss it, don't blow it, don't ignore it. Not only do you do that good, but you do it so it is good. 'Cause you will finally know you've arrived in life when you finally realize the greatest blessings in life are not the good things that people do for you.

The greatest things in life are the good things you do for other people. I promise you, at the end of your life, you know what will stick out in your mind? It won't be all the good things people did for you, it's what you were able to do for them. I don't think I've ever told this story, but when I was a boy, I was just a little boy, I don't know how old I was, six, seven, eight years old. I heard my mother say to my dad, just kinda off the cuff, "I really wish one day we could go to Hawaii". And then she'd always say, "I know that'll never happen, but I wish one day we could go to Hawaii".

And I remember thinking, you know, as a little boy, I made a promise to myself that you know, in fact I even made it a matter of fact, I said God, if you will let me one day, I'm gonna send my mom and dad to Hawaii. Matter of fact my senior year when I graduated from high school, we were in our house. I don't know why it came up, I was actually going to Florida to college. And we were talking and I don't know why it came up, but I said, "Mom," I said, and I never told her this before, I said, "One day, if God will let me, I'm gonna send you and Dad to Hawaii". And so you know, you have to understand, Mom, my dad drove a gas truck, my mom was a, we called them a beautician back in the day. My dad never made over $100 a week, we took one-week vacation every year, we'd stay at a real cheap motel in Florida, we'd eat breakfast and lunch in and we'd make sure we'd go to McDonald's for dinner. I mean, just that kind of a thing. Just didn't have a lot of money.

So when Teresa and I got married, I mean, but we hadn't been married long and I told her the same thing I'm telling you. I said look, I don't know if we can ever do it or not, but I made a promise, and I said I wanna send Mom and Dad to Hawaii. And she said well you know, I'd love to do that, but she said I don't think that's ever gonna happen. So one day I'm pastoring my second church, little country church there while I was going to seminary, and actually it was after that, I'd actually graduated, I'd moved to Mississippi. Well the guy that used to serve with me, we called them back in the day minister of music, he was a layperson. We called him for two reasons, number one he could halfway sing, number two he was free. So we said yep, you're in.

So but he was a very successful businessman. He called, and I don't know how he knew this, I guess I said it one day, I don't know how, but he called me one day, I was down in Mississippi, he said, "Hey, Pastor," he said, "I wanna ask you if you'll let me do something". I said, "Well sure, what is it"? He said, "I wanna help you send your mom and dad to Hawaii". I said, "What do you mean you wanna help me"? He said, "Well, I'll tell you what". He said there's a cruise that goes, Mom wanted to see every one of the islands. Go one time, we'll see 'em all. He said, "There's a cruise that goes to all of the islands. If you will pay for the cruise part," which was really the cheapest part, "I will pay for the airfare, they'll be in a hotel for four days, I'll pay for the hotel, and you'll just take care of the cruise". I said, "Man we're in," 'cause we just said yeah, we could do it.

So I didn't wanna wait, we were about to go home on vacation and we went home for a week. I'll never forget when I sat my mom down. I never sat Mom and Dad down. I said, "Mom, I gotta tell you something". "What is it"? I said, "I made a promise to you that I was gonna send you to Hawaii". She said, "Yep". I said, "Well Mom, you're going to Hawaii, and thank God that you're going". I wanna tell you to this day, to this day, and I guess that's been, gosh, I don't know, 40 years ago, to this day I can still see the look on Mom's face. She talked about that trip all of her life. In her last days, she was still thanking me. "I never thought I'd get to go to Hawaii".

Now fast forward. Years after I sent her to Hawaii, guess what happened to me and my wife and my kids? A very generous person in our church sent us to Hawaii. Paid for the airfare, the hotel, sent us to Hawaii. I remember walking into the hotel, there was a Waikiki Beach at the Sheraton Hotel, I'm looking out at Diamond Head, and I was kind of excited. But then you know, I told Teresa, I said, "You know what"? I said, "I'm so glad we're here, I never thought I'd be here," but I said, "Can I be honest"? She said, "I know what you're gonna say". The greatest thrill is still knowing that my mom got to see this and my dad got to see this. That was the real blessing, and that's exactly what Paul meant. He said look, do good to everybody, but especially to the family of believers.

Now, do you know who he's talking about when he says the family of believers? Anybody wanna take a guess? Starts with the word C. Church. You know what he was really saying? I want you to listen carefully. God's given all of us gifts, and God's given all of us abilities. Paul said yeah, do good to everyone that you can, but you especially go out of your way to do good to the family of believers. So lemme just say this more bluntly than he did. If you're not using your gifts and your abilities in some way, some fashion to serve the Church, you're living a part of a wasted life. That's why one of our core values is serving. We believe everybody oughta find a place to serve.

By the way, we need people at both of our campuses, we need them to serve in our next generation ministries. We need people to serve in our preschool. We need people to serve with our children. We need people to serve with our middle school. We need people to serve with our high school students. We need people to serve. We need people to serve on our production team, we've got a big need for people that will come help us run sound and help us run lights and help us run cameras, 'cause we couldn't do it without their help. We need people or people serving outside of our church. We need more of you serving in our prison ministry and our mission's ministry and our connection point ministry, in our homeless ministry. Paul said and when you do, you will reap a reward. It guaran-flat-tees it. You will reap a reward.

So lemme just kinda wrap this up, 'cause I don't want you to misunderstand what I'm saying. It is okay to have hobbies. Is is wonderful if God has so blessed you. If you've got a house on the lake, wonderful. If you've got a boat in the lake with that house, that's wonderful. If you get to travel and see the world, that's fantastic, nothing wrong with that, I'm not a killjoy. God's given us all things for us to enjoy. But this is the thing I want you to hear, this is my little, okay, this is my little cute way of putting it, I try to think of one every sermon. Don't make the hobby of your life the lobby of your life. It's okay to have things and do things. Don't center your life on those things. Life is too short.

Jesus himself said, "I didn't leave heaven and come to earth so I could just enjoy all the good things of life. I didn't leave heaven and come to earth so you would serve me. I left heaven and came to earth so I could serve you". Jesus doesn't save us to be served. He saves us to serve. So this is my plea. This is my encouragement, this is my exhortation. This is everything I've got in my heart, 'cause my runway's getting thinner every day, getting shorter every day, and yours will, too.

For God's sakes, don't waste your life. Don't ever quit serving the Lord. Don't ever quit sowing the seeds of goodness. Don't ever quit serving when and where you can. Don't ever quit sharing what you have that others need. That's why I tell people all the time, think about it, think about this. Just in a simple thing like giving an offering to God's work, you will never get to do that again the moment you die. Never! This is your one shot! This is your one chance to say God, I so believe that You honor Your word, I so believe that You keep Your promise, I so believe that I'll reap what I sow, I gladly give You a tithe of my income. 'Cause I know I'll be rewarded. I know it will have blessings far beyond me, and I know it's far better to be a blessing than to be blessed because the greatest blessing you'll have is when you bless somebody else.
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