Our Call to Serve

    Jan 15, 2020 | by Les Ballard

     “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10, NASB). 

    Scripture tells us that when we accept Christ, we are given at least one spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7).  The purpose of this gift that comes through God’s Holy Spirit is to serve the body of Christ—“for the common good.”  Our Heavenly Father sends His Spirit to believers to indwell and empower us for service (Acts 1:8).  God’s Holy Spirit is our Advocate, our Helper (John 14:15-16). The Greek word for Advocate/Helper is paraklētos, which means, “one called in for support, one summoned as support.[1]  Jesus promised His disciples (and us) that He would not leave us as “orphans” (John 14:18).   Jesus Himself abides in us through His Spirit to continue His ministry.  

    But I don’t feel ready to serve. 

     I am sure that a few of the disciples—if not all of them—didn’t feel ready to serve God after Jesus’ resurrection.  One can only theorize the guilt that the disciples felt after Jesus’ death on the cross.  They must have been apprehensive about what Jesus was facing before the high priest and all the chief priests, the scribes and elders after His arrest.  Consider Peter.  He adamantly avowed that he would never leave Jesus, even if the others did (see Matthew 26:30-33; Mark 14:26-29).  Luke’s Gospel records that Peter was ready to go to prison and die with Jesus (Luke 22:33).  The fact remains, they all left Jesus to face his accusers and death alone.  We see that Peter—and possibly John as well (see Jn. 18:15)—did follow and watch Jesus’ trial from a distance (Matthew 26:58; Mark 14:54; Luke 22:54; John 18:15).  However, in the end, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times (see Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:56-62; John 18:25-27).

     Let us fast forward to the Day of Pentecost.  The disciples[2] returned to Jerusalem from Mt. Olivet after watching Jesus ascend into heaven.  They, along with certain women, including the mother of Jesus and His brothers gathered in fellowship to devote themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14).  It was only after the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of earlier in Acts 1:8 that Peter was able to stand before a crowd and boldly preach the gospel (Acts 2:14-40).  Peter’s transformation from being guilt-ridden to that of an empowered disciple of Christ preaching the gospel is worth noting!  There are four factors that contribute to his dramatic transformation.

     First, Peter encountered the risen Christ along with the other disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:24-29).[3]  Second, he witnessed the ascension of Christ, as did the group that was with him (Acts 1:4-11).  Third, Peter remained in fellowship with the others who followed Jesus (Acts 1:14).  And fourth, Peter, along with the others in the Upper Room, were filled with the Holy Spirit as promised (Acts 2:1-4). 

    Conversion, rebirth and empowerment by God’s Holy Spirit, and maintaining fellowship with other Christians are paramount to living a successful Christian life that is full of joy, serving God through obedience.   

     The importance of that group devoting themselves to fellowship and prayer in the Upper Room cannot be understated.  The men and women received strength, encouragement, and unity through prayer and fellowship.  The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia meaning “that which is shared in common.”  Its use in the New Testament denotes the believers’ common participation, or “fellowship” with one another and with God.  The rich fellowship enjoyed by the early Christians is seen in the early chapters of the book of Acts.  The believers met daily in house-groups for teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer (Acts 2:42, 46).  The dominant characteristic that existed among Christians in the early Church was their love for each other (1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22). 

     So how do we begin serving God?

     This takes us back to the commandment Jesus gave to His disciples before His ascension in Acts 1:8:  “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  This commandment now extends to ALL Christians.  This does not necessarily mean that we travel to faraway lands, but that we are provided opportunities to serve God where we now live.  God is ready to use you where you are now!

     If you have received Christ, God has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell within you.  You are now a new creature in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:17).  We are saved—not by our good works—but by what God has done through Jesus Christ.   We are free from sin to serve God (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 6:7, 16-18, 22; 8:1, 2).

     The local church is still a great place to connect and grow spiritually—and serve. It is in the local church that we as Christians can receive teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer with one another.

     Consider the following:

     When surrounded with like-minded Christians, you will grow spiritually, be encouraged, and have opportunities to serve.

    1. When you grow spiritually around like-minded Christians, you will find joy and fulfillment. There is nothing more emotionally and spiritually energizing than finding meaning for your life—a life that is in Christ.  You do that when you begin putting the needs of others above those of your own.
    2. You can use your skills and talents for the Kingdom of God. Each of us has a gift that God has given to us (read 1 Corinthians 12).  The question is, are we using it? (read Matthew 25:14-30.)
    3. Have the same attitude as Jesus. Our attitude is to be like our Lord’s—having the attitude of a “bond-servant” or “slave” and serve our Lord by serving others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7, NASB). 

     Call to Action

     Pray and ask God to direct you to an area of service that reflects your gifting.  Find someone to pray with you.  For encouragement, Bible verses are listed below that speak about guidance:

     Psalm 25:4-5

    Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
    Teach me Your paths.
    Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
    For You are the God of my salvation;
    For You I wait all the day.

     James 1:5

    But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 

    Psalm 16:7-8

    I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
    Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
    I have set the Lord continually before me;
    Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 

    Proverbs 3:5-6

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    And do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge Him,
    And He will make your paths straight. 

    Psalm 32:8-9

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
    I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
    Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
    Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
    Otherwise they will not come near to you. 

    John 16:13

    13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

    Lastly, if you need help discovering your spiritual gifts, go to the link below and take the spiritual gift analysis.

    Spiritual gift analysis link:  https://smithfieldbaptist.org/serve/spiritual-gift-analysis/


    Notes

    [1]A Souter, A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917), 190.  The term paraklētos also conveys intercessor, advisor and counselor.  William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature: a translation and adaptation of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer's Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Arndt Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 618.

    [2]Peter, John James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and James the son of James.  See Acts 1:12, 13.

    [3]It is noteworthy to observe the Apostle Paul’s account of the appearances of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:  “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also (verses 3-8).

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