It’s Your Serve – John 13

The late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s hamburger chain was known for his humble service within the multi-billion dollar empire he founded. When asked what made him so successful; he replied, “my MBA.” But he didn’t mean a graduate degree in business education, he meant “a mop- and-bucket attitude.” In other words, no work task was too insignificant for him to tackle; he simply jumped in and got the job done.

Dave Thomas, was a high-school dropout, he was always ashamed of that and it would have been easy for him as he tasted success to demand every perk and privilege as a way of covering for his own inadequacies, but instead He lived by the creed of the Mop Bucket Attitude.   We too can learn from Dave and especially from Jesus in how to serve others.

HOW TO BE LIKE JESUS

  • Get up from my comfort zone

 So he got up from the table… (vs. 4a)

Jesus was sitting comfortably at the table, but He left his Comfort Zone. He made his body do something it may have not wanted to do.  The same is true for us.  Often we are comfortable in life and we don’t think we should disturb our comfort to come to the earlier service and help with the children. Often we wrongly think, “well when I feel like serving I will.”  Let me tell you something you may never feel like, but it needs to be done.  Some of you need to get out of bed and get here to serve.  Some of ys need to get out of our lazy boys and pitch in.  Get out of your comfort zone. This is what Jesus did.

  • Lay something in my life aside.

took off his robe, (vs. 4b)

To serve other we usually have to lay something aside. Most of us live with a full plate of activity. If I’m going to add a service for the Jesus and His kingdom, I usually have to subtract something I am doing for myself.

Some of us may have to lay aside some of our pride.  Sadly the church is full of people who are standing on their dignity when they ought to be kneeling at the feet of their brothers and sisters.  One who is proud and self-centered has no capacity for love or service.  They think that any service they may provide for the Lord is a waste of their time!  When you are tempted to think of your dignity, your prestige or your rights open your bible to John 13 and see Jesus clothed like a slave washing dirt off of feet.   Jesus knew he was the king of the universe but his heart was not filled with pride or self-importance! Perhaps it was because he knew who he was because he was SECURE in own IDENITY that he could bow to the lowest point of service. It is not great men who will not serve others.  It is insecure men who think that washing feet defines them as something less than others. That person will not serve in lowly tasks because he sees it as a challenge to his identity.

  • Get the tools I need for the job

…wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. (vs. 4c-5a)

Jesus made preparations to meet the need.  Sometimes there are preparations we need to make.  It great when children’s teachers start reading about teaching children and collecting craft material, when small group leaders study their lesson or read about leading a group.  Those in the band practice their instruments.  We offer leadership training here and through our association of churches we have a classes, training and support to leaders.  There are so many ways you can get prepared and learn what you need to learn to help you do the job Jesus is leading you to do.  For many service areas the leader of a team will provide you with what you need, you may just need to show up, watch or follow the instructions.

  • Begin to do what needs to be done

Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. (vs. 5b)

I like that. At some point we have to begin. We can think about it. We can pray about it. We can prepare for it. But at some point we must start doing it.  We started this church in the fall of 2000, by spring 2002 we had purchased this land by 2003 we had started this building and by Feb. 2004 we were here.  We were only four years old.   We get calls from other churches about how we did this, we have given many tours, we have had denominational leaders come visit us, I share the information with pastor after pastor, leader after leader, I did an interview for a guy who included us in a PHD dissertation.   The most frequently asked question goes something like this “How did you build your building. We’ve been planning and saving for years and still haven’t been able to build. What is the secret?”  I say, “The secret is simple, you have to begin. Start building.” At some point you have to start doing it.  Some of you say, one of these days I am going to help out, one of these days I am going to get involved.  One of these days will never come.  Just do it!

  • Don’t protest or resist Jesus’ instructions

No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”  Jesus replied, “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.”  (vs. 8)

Poor Peter thought he had a better idea than Jesus. Jesus wants to wash his feet—Peter doesn’t want him to do it. Then he wants a full bath. It took Peter awhile to learn that none of us have a better idea than Jesus.  We are the same way, we protest thinking our schedule is too full, we say “well I’ve done my time” or Jesus you don’t understand today’s fast paced lifestyle, I have too much to do to help out at church. The best thing we can possibly do is to simply hear him and obey him.

Peter eventually learned to simply obey the Lord rather than offer better idea. That’s something we all have to learn.

  • Remember Jesus’ example

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (vs. 14-15)

 What does it mean to wash the feet of others? It means you humble yourselves—you get down where the need is –and you do something about it. We have so many wonderful examples of that in this church. There is the cleaning crew who make the floors and toilets shine, I heard a comment just this week about how clean the restrooms are!  That’s service that makes it that way.  People comment on how nice the yard looks, service!  How much fun their kids had, service!  How great the music sounded, service! In our culture the need is not to wash feet as it was in Bible times. But there are many, many practical needs all around us. Feet washers see those needs and do something about it.

Is it easy?  No its difficult at times.  Let me give you a secret. When I am tempted to complain or get tired I remember Jesus and what he did.

  • Remember Jesus will bless me

Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.  (vs. 17)

 It’s a whole lot easier to talk about service, think about service, fanaticize about great service, hear sermons about service than to actually do service for others.

But the blessing, the joy, the happiness, is not found in talking about it or hearing about it. It is found in actually doing it.

Think of it like this: imagine that the value of your life, your salvation your gifts, talents and abilities was equal to a $1 million dollar bills, and it’s yours!   Few of us will ever be required to lay down that $1 million dollars in a single moment and then enter into the glory of heaven. Rather we have to give our lives away only $1 or $2 at a time through small acts of service; maybe we might have to lay down $100 all at once, for a special occasion but that’s no big deal when you think about $1 million dollars.

If I convince myself that the cost is too great; the enemy will magnify the little that we are asked to give to others making it seem like a great loss.  We lose sight of all that God has given to us.  Now here’s the truth.

Everything we willingly lay down to serve someone else, God adds it to our account in heaven. Jesus said, “Deposit your treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20 paraphrase).  If we don’t serve then you will find very little of your life has been saved for you in heaven. Jesus made it plain: “Give your life away for me and I’ll keep it safe for you in heaven” (Matthew 16:25 paraphrase).  Did you know God pays interest?  Jesus said 100 times would be returned to him who gives up for the gospel. (Mark 10:30)  One hundred times is 10,000% interest.  Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of interest on your CD’s money market accounts, mutual funds or stocks?

God is recording anything and everything that you give in service.  Every time you give something is recorded in heaven.  Jesus said, even “a cup of cold water given in his name is written down.” (Matt. 10:42)

Give your life in service “one piece at a time,” “moment by moment.” A servant’s heart is willing to share the pieces of their life with other, because they know that their life is not their own.

When you become a willing servant who freely gives his life to the Master, you will discover that Jesus will add to your life with interest– that’s His promise.

Jesus tells us in John 13:17 that when we follow His example living out our lives with a servant’s heart we will receive a blessing. You can never out give God. When you start laying down your life $1 or $2 at a time you will soon discover that He has added interest to your life and the value has increased. You have the blessing of God’s hand upon your life. This isn’t like the “hand of Midas” turning everything you touch into gold it’s better. With God’s hand upon your life everything you touch as a servant takes on eternal value and the temporal becomes eternal.

It really doesn’t get any better than that! When you are willing to surrender your all to God, He takes what many would think of as a sacrifice and holds it safely in heaven for you. That which you think you have lost becomes gain!

I hope and pray that we may all learn to serve like Jesus.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

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You’ve Been Served – John 13

Did you know that Jesus loves you whether you love him or not?  He died for you while you were a sinner.  Jesus knows us as fully as he knew his disciples. He knows intimately of every time and every way that we have denied or deserted him. Yet knowing us and our shortcomings he willingly died for us. Jesus continually displays his love toward us and reaches out to us. He continues to serve us, guide us and encourages us by his Spirit. He serves us as we serve one another. Are we prepared to love one another with the same kind of love Jesus demonstrated for us?

In our passage today Jesus knew that one of his disciples had already decided to betray him. Another would deny him by the next morning. Even this night, they would all desert him. In the next hours they would repeatedly display ignorance, laziness, and lack of trust. It was indeed a sorry lot that gathered in the upper room. Even with good reasons to reject the entire group, Jesus deliberately showed to them the full extent of his love. The actions, words, and feelings that he shared with his disciples conveyed the highest form of love because his disciples did not deserve nor immediately appreciate this love.  Neither do we deserve his love or service.

As Jesus final days on the earth are coming to an end, he shows his closest followers what love is:  service, sacrifice and laying his life down.

This story is one of the most memorable incidents in Bible. It was the night before Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. It was an intense time in Jesus’ life. His public ministry had ended. Jesus now turns his full attention to his disciples.

I want you to imagine this situation with me for a moment. In that culture the most demeaning task around was to wash the guest’s feet. This was job done by lowest slaves.

It was necessary because people wore sandals did most of their travel by foot. They walked along trails that we not only dusty, or muddy when wet but also cluttered with camel and donkey dung!

I’m sure that guests arrived with more than dust on their feet. It was a common courtesy for the host to have his slave wash the guest’s feet as they entered the house.

Jesus had sent Peter & John to prepare for their meal together. The food had been cooked. The table had been set. And I’m sure the disciples thought this matter would be taken care of as well. It wasn’t!

As Jesus and the disciples enter the room they see towel & water basin in the corner. They do not see a slave to wash their feet. Perhaps some of them pause as they enter the room, wondering where the servant was—maybe wondering why Peter and John had not taken care of this important detail.

As they recline at the table, each disciple feels a little uncomfortable.  They may have thought:

“Somebody ought to at least wash Jesus’ feet. But—if I do that, where will that put me on the social pecking order?

“I would be at the Bottom of the heap. If I volunteer I’ll get stuck with that job from now on.”

“Maybe if I just wait, somebody else will do it.”

If you’ve been in church more than week, you know that kind of thinking does occur at times.

“Somebody needs to take care of the nursery, but that’s not my ministry. Somebody needs to clean those bathrooms, who dropped the ball on that?”

I think maybe each disciple was hoping one of others would volunteer.

Each one may have begun to JUSTIFY in own mind why it was not his job to do it.

“I did it last time, its Matthew’s turn he hasn’t done it in long time.”

“Peter and John were supposed to take care of all this-Jesus told them to. One of those guys ought to take care of it.”

“I came to enjoy a time with the Lord—and now we’ve got this problem”

John is thinking—“Look I’m over here leaning next to Jesus, I’m in spiritual intimacy.

Jesus doesn’t want me to leave and help you.”

Peter is thinking—“Don’t these turkeys know the call of God on my life? Don’t they see the leadership giftings in me? I just wish they would remember that I’m the one who answered Jesus’ question: Who do you say that I am?” I got the revelation—‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ I’m moving in the Spirit don’t disturb that. Don’t you remember the prophecy Jesus gave me on that occasion? I wish these people would pay attention to what God’s doing in me. If they had, they would be over here right now washing mine and Jesus’ feet.”

We don’t know all the specifics, I’m taking some liberties–but we do know that nobody rose to the occasion.
Rather than begin with a lecture, He gave them an EXAMPLE.  Verse one says,

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love. (vs. 1)

Historically Christians have displayed a number of different kinds of symbols to mark their identity as believers.  Such emblems as neck chains with crosses have been used for hundreds of years.  In recent years we use bumper stickers, posters, tee shirts, key chains, decorated bibles, jackets, hats and you name it, it has probably been marketed and sold.  I don’t have any problem with these items per say. Whether you wear a button or display a fish on your car is of no consequence.  More important and more definitive than all the pins, stickers is the sign of a true follower of Christ:  ONE WHO SERVES.

In the next post we will examine how we can serve like Jesus.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

 

 

 

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The Language of Tears – John 11

Tears speak more about what our hearts feel than any words could ever express. Those tiny drops of humanity that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks and splash on the floor carry the message that our hearts ache and hurt. Tears are the messengers that sometimes substitute for our crippled words.  They spill out carrying with them our deepest emotions. A tear stain on a cheek speaks more than words ever could. A tear falling on a casket says what a spoken farewell never could.  What gives more support than the tears on the face of a friend as we pour out our troubles to them? What do we do when the words just won’t come out right as all the nouns and verbs and adverbs and adjectives lay deflated at our feet?

Tears are a language that Jesus understands.

The scripture says that Jesus was moved by the heartbreak of their souls and that His Spirit groaned inside him and He was troubled.

I want us to see how Jesus deals with each of our needs in very specific ways.  According to our personalities and needs Jesus meets us differently.  In our passage we see Jesus enter the scene and Martha, the same Martha that we read about in Luke 10 that was too busy to sit down and listen to Jesus rushes out to meet Jesus first.  She is a go-getter she goes out to meet Jesus and has questions, she raises theological issues, she needs to vent, and she needs some answers.   There is no mention of Martha pouring out her soul in His presence. No mention of that happening with Martha but with Mary it was a different story, wasn’t it? For Mary she was more emotional, she was a crier.   Notice what Jesus does.

32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept.

Mary fell at the feet of the One she knew held the future and wept! She poured out her heart to the One who could make the difference and moved Jesus to work in her circumstances.

Tears are a language that Jesus understands!

How many of us are moved by the heartbreak of our children or some disappointment that crushes their little souls?   Won’t we also move to do all within our power to help them and ease the pain?  As parents we do all within our power to make it all right.

Why do we think that Jesus doesn’t care about our troubles or the things that trouble us?

John 11: 35, the shortest verse in the entire bible.  Did you know that?  Many people memorize this one because its so easy to remember, but man is it powerful!  “ JESUS WEPT!”  Those two words let us know that God is concerned about the things that break our hearts! God wants so much to be a part of our everyday lives.  Did you know that? God is moved by the tears of his children

Jesus not only cries with us, he also cries for us.  His heart breaks when we don’t recognize our need for him.  His heart breaks from our unbelief.  His heart breaks when we don’t live the lives we could.  I love the compassion in Jesus in Luke 19:41-42 “ As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it  and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace”

Think of all the tears that must be shed in heaven as Jesus who died on the cross NONE might perish but all have everlasting life with him, sees each and every moment some lost soul dies and is separated from Him for all eternity.  God created us to fellowship with him and live with him. I believe that Jesus has shed many tears for you if you’re here today and you still have not received Jesus . Jesus knows that time, the last time, you’ll reject the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  You aren’t able to see that invisible line in the Spirit but Jesus does and for some of you this could be the last time you hear. Tears are a language that Jesus understands when people reject the truth and won’t come to Him.

You might be here and think that you don’t deserve this kind of love, that you’re unworthy. No one has ever loved me before or I’ve lived such a bad life, surely God only wants to punish me. Jesus loves you just the way you are and he’ll accept you and write your name in His Book of Life if you’ll only respond to Him right now. You may have been abused, mistreated, unloved, made fun of your whole life for the way you look, where you live, the clothes you wear or the things you’ve done but Jesus still died for you that you might have life and have it more abundantly as it says in John 10:10.

You may say “I don’t have any self-esteem because of what’s happened to me,” Jesus doesn’t want you to have self-esteem: he wants you to have self-worth! You were worth so much it took the blood of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one at whose name every knee will bow and every tongue confess, to purchase your salvation.  You’re worth so much Jesus died for you!

Some of you may even at this moment be crying on the inside wondering if all this is really true and your head hangs low in your heart as you wonder. My best has never been good enough and I’m just ashamed of what I am but listen to me, God will reach out a nail scarred hand to lift you up and put peace in your heart and joy down deep in your soul if you’ll only let him. Don’t resist Jesus today. Tears are a language that Jesus understands.

Darrell

http://www.RidgeFellowship.com

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Sick and Waiting – John Ch. 11

Sickness and death do not indicate that God has rejected someone or that they have done something wrong.  Neither we nor our loved ones are exempt from sickness or death. In John chapter 11 close friends of Jesus, that Jesus loved were experiencing sickness and death, yet he did not rush to spare them grief. The presence of pain and suffering in the lives of faithful disciples of Jesus can teach us that as Christians we do not have different experiences in life, rather, we experience life differently with Christ. Our hope in Jesus does not insulate us from life’s difficulties, but it does provide a way through and beyond them. God can use difficult experiences to make us more compassionate servants for him as we console others.

In today’s passage out of John 11, we will see two ladies, Mary and Martha who felt hopeless and angry.  Their brother Lazarus was sick and dying, but Jesus did not go to help.  Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus but did not help them when they expected it. This is an interesting picture of Jesus, someone who doesn’t immediately take us out of our situations. Maybe you’re a little uncomfortable with that image. But there was a reason, which we will see.  Jesus eventually came through for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and He will come through for you.  Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus we too need to know that life and faith will be difficult.  They needed Jesus to help them through difficult times and we will too.

I NEED JESUS BECAUSE…

Sickness And Death Will Be A Part Of My Life

1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha…3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

There are many questions that immediately come to mind when we read through chapter 11 of John.  Why was Lazarus sick? Why did Jesus wait two days after hearing Lazarus was sick? Why did Lazarus have to die? The questions are endless.

And so are the questions we often have as we go through our own type of difficulty and dillema. The “whys” of life can drive us crazy.

Understand that Jesus loved Lazarus. The Bible is very clear on that. Jesus loved him, but Lazarus was sick! You can be a friend of Jesus and still be sick! You can love Jesus and still be sick! That’s pretty clear in the scriptures. The love of God does not exempt one from sickness or sorrow or physical death.

Our sickness could be a number of things: physical, emotional, mental, family problems, and so on. Sickness can be termed as “that which causes any area to be infected with imperfection.” Here on earth human nature is infected with imperfection. 

Even If He Delays Helping He Is In Control So I Should Keep My Faith

5 Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. 7 Finally after two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”

  17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.

Jesus waited two days before he came to help.  John says “finally!” he goes.  When your waiting on God to answer a prayer, for Jesus to help you it seems like forever.  When he does help you may feel like saying “finally!”    It says in verse 17 that “when he arrived Lazarus has been in his tomb for 4 days”

Have you noticed the attitude of Jesus as he heard the news of Lazarus’ sickness? He knew that Lazarus was dying but it didn’t seem to affect Jesus at all. He just kept doing what he needed to do. Jesus wasn’t upset in the least for he already knew what was going to happen when he reached Bethany. He already knew that there were no impossible situations and that his power to bring about a resurrection was not limited by any circumstances.

I think it would help us greatly to realize that our seemingly hard or impossible circumstances are nothing to God. His power transcends our trouble. His power is not limited by our faithlessness or our hopelessness. Jesus has resurrection power and he cannot only bring victory when we haven’t given up hope, but he is just as able to bring us the victory after we have long given up hope.

When it seems that our finances have already died and the stink is beginning to arise; when it seems that our health is completely gone and the doctors have given up on us; when it seems that God has waited too long and the stink of our unbelief, distrust, and hopelessness rises; that’s when Jesus is ready to show His power and glory in us.

When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, the family of Lazarus was long past having hope. Lazarus was already dead, buried and his grave was sealed.  One of worst lies we can believe is “it’s over and there is nothing that God can or will do about it now.” It could come from our own disbelief or from the enemy’s whisper.  If he can get you to give up on God, then the he has accomplished his goal.

That should be our first indication that God isn’t finished with us yet because the devil can’t speak the truth, therefore we should realize that God’s answer is still coming in his own time and in His own way. Just keep on trusting and having faith in God.

Perhaps your prayer seems that it will never be answered. We find ourselves in distress over finances, relationships within the family, and any number of things and it seems that God has turned a deaf ear to your cry. Things have gone from very bad to much worse and now there is no visible way to make things right.

You are wrapped up in doubt and fear. Your faith is blinded; your hands and feet are bound up from working for the Lord.  A stone of unbelief has been rolled across the door to your heart and has now convinced you that your attitude, your heart and your life stinks to God so it’s time to quit and walk away. You are shrouded in a tomb of darkness and your spiritual grave is sealed and your life is over and hopeless.

Why does Jesus let us go so far before he comes? Why must we sometimes get so deep into our trouble and our attitudes begin to stink before he comes to our rescue?  Jesus wants us to know that it’s not in our power to overcome our problems and our own sinful hearts. That power must come through “His Resurrection Power” It will come in his time and in his manner.  But we must remain hopeful, not bitter.  We should be pleasant not stinky.

Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after they’d buried Lazarus. Martha greeted him first, and told him, Lord, if only you had been here YOU could have saved him. And Jesus said: “Lazarus will rise again.” Martha knew enough about Jewish theology to know that one day, all the graves will open and the dead will rise from them. She said: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the dead.”
Martha wouldn’t be comforted, I know about the resurrection — but that’s so far off. Jesus then uttered the basis for all history’s hope and direction – “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!”

What a claim! Jesus claimed to be in charge of everything:  life, death, the afterlife and everything between.

Death is the great equalizer in life. We may all have different lives, come from different backgrounds, experience different joys and sorrows, but the one thing that links all mankind together is death. We are all going to die.

Some of the questions that mankind has tried to answer about death are:
Is death the end? Is there life after death? Why is there death?  Will we live again?

We will see that Jesus answers these questions in our next post.  Plus we will see that Jesus enters our pain and sorrow and shares it with us.  He is no stranger to grief.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

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