My pastor asked me to preach this coming Sunday as he goes through “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.
So…Here is my message for Sunday!! Let me know what you think. I used a lot of references from his book…so some of it may sound a little familiar if you have read it.
The Purpose of Life #4 (Part 5) (A Saved Heart is a Heart that Wants to Serve) “What I’m ABLE to do, God WANTS me to do!”
Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at God’s purpose for our lives. We have seen our need to sit at the feet of Jesus, our need to worship through Jesus, our need to be a part of the family of Jesus, and our need to become more like Jesus. This week we want to focus on the fourth purpose for our lives: our need to SERVE Jesus.
I would like to do an experiment, if that’s ok? Everyone here raise your right hand. Come on, get them up there. Good. Now, extend your left hand. Good now take your right hand and pinch your left hand. Did you feel anything? You did? You know what that means? It means you’re still alive and if you’re still alive, it means you should be serving Jesus. This is your true ministry.
When most people hear “ministry,” they think of pastors, priests, and professional clergy, but God says every member of his family is a minister.
Matter of fact, the words used for servant and minister are synonyms, or basically they mean the SAME thing. If you are a Christian, you are a minister, and when you are serving, you’re ministering.
You might be thinking, well preacher, the bible says I am not saved by works. While that is true, you weren’t saved BY service, but you are saved FOR service. In God’s kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill. This gives your life great significance and value.
A SAVED HEART IS A HEART THAT WANTS TO SERVE.
This morning we are going to read about some men who were in service to their King and we might even learn what it means to be servant of the King of kings.
Our text this morning comes from the book of 1 Chronicles 27:25-34 (NKJV).
And Azmaveth the son of Adiel was over the king’s treasuries; and Jehonathan the son of Uzziah was over the storehouses in the field, in the cities, in the villages, and in the fortresses. Ezri the son of Chelub was over those who did the work of the field for tilling the ground. And Shimei the Ramathite was over the vineyards, and Zabdi the Shiphmite was over the produce of the vineyards for the supply of wine. Baal-Hanan the Gederite was over the olive trees and the sycamore trees that were in the lowlands, and Joash was over the store of oil. And Shitrai the Sharonite was over the herds that fed in Sharon, and Shaphat the son of Adlai was over the herds that were in the valleys. Obil the Ishmaelite was over the camels, Jehdeiah the Meronothite was over the donkeys, and Jaziz the Hagrite was over the flocks. All these were the officials over King David’s property. Also Jehonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a wise man, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion. After Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, then Abiathar. And the general of the king’s army was Joab.
You’ve heard of these guys right? No? You sure? Huh…you wanna know a secret? Me Neither…
But in this anonymity we find something extraordinary. Let’s take a closer look.
In this section of 1 Chronicles, King David is listing those he had in his service. These were men who had been given specific jobs within the kingdom and they had their own responsibilities. Each person on this list had place of special service, they were each called by name, they served in different capacities and they were placed there by the king.
We could spend a lot of time talking about each person and each responsibility but, this morning I would like to focus on ONE of these men.
1 Chronicles 27:28
“…and Joash was over the store of oil.”
First let’s talk about the man himself. Joash was just an ordinary average joe who had chosen to believe in God and wanted to do what he could. So when the local decree went out that the King of Israel, the King GOD chose, saying he needed some workers Joash’s response was “What I’m ABLE to do, God WANTS me to do!!” So he signed up. There was nothing special about this man. He just wanted to serve. He didn’t know what job the king would give him and it didn’t matter. You see, Joash had seen the King. He knew who David was and he knew who it was served. It could have EASILY been that Joash’s father was on the battlefield when David slew Goliath. The stories of David protecting the sheep from the bear and lion must have traveled far. Joash knew that David was God’s anointed, and Joash wanted to serve. Not because of who David was, but because the same God that David worshipped, Joash also worshipped. God works through different people in different ways, but it is the SAME God who achieves his purpose through them all. Joash knew that by serving the King of Israel, he was serving the King of Kings.
Do you have a heart to serve today? You see it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the pitcher’s mound, the in-field or the out-field as long as your OWN THE FIELD. You may feel like it’s not your job to serve, that maybe serving is for the preachers and the teachers. But let me tell you something, if I have no love for others, no desire to serve others, and if I’m only concerned about my needs, then I should question whether Christ is really in my life. A saved heart is a heart that WANTS to serve.
Joash was willing to do whatever the king needed, and boy did he get an important job. The KJV says that he was over the “cellars of oil.” Oil, which was most likely Olive Oil, was used in a lot of ways.
The oil was used for religious purposes:
When anyone offers a grain offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour. And he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it.
Every grain offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, shall belong to all the sons of Aaron, to one as much as the other. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil.
It was used for Lamp Fuel:
And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.
It was used as Commerce:
And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand kors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty kors of pressed oil. Thus Solomon gave to Hiram year by year.
And it was used as Medicine:
So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
In order for the oil to be kept properly, it must be kept AWAY from heat, air and light. That means in order for Joash to do his job, he had to work in a dark damp cellar. This job wouldn’t make Joash famous. It wouldn’t get Joash the spot-light. Most likely he wasn’t going to be seen. He probably wasn’t going to be popular, for who wants to get close to a man who spends ALL DAY. EVERYDAY down in the cellar. He wouldn’t receive much praise, but if the lights were going to be own in the temple, it was up to Joash to keep it supplied.
Don’t miss this church: Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.
Joash didn’t shy away from the task because it wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do. Most of us wouldn’t have went for a follow-up interview if that’s all the King had to offer. But listen, Joash realized that when God saves you, he saves you for service, not self-centeredness. Joash realized that God equips you with all you need to do his will. This job was what the King NEEDED, and Joash wanted to SERVE.
Today church if you want to ALWAYS be in the will of the Lord, then keep on doing the last thing He told you to do until He tells you to do something different.
What I am ABLE to do, God WANTS me to do.
You might be thinking, being over the cellars of oil couldn’t have been THAT bad. Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes we think of our service to God as an opportunity for us to get noticed. There are lists and lists of men and women throughout the ages who have sacrificed the heart of a servant for a word of recognition. But we don’t have to go to any other scripture to understand what Joash was facing. When you serve the king, there’s always going to be some disadvantages to the cellar.
Joash was unnoticed in the cellar. There was no way Joash could actually get to be a part of the worship service because he was needed in the cellar. Let me ask you a question: do you know how many people work in this church behind the scenes, doing jobs you wouldn’t do so that you can have the best worship experience and you never knew they were there? Do you know how many saints pray over each service and petition the Holy Spirit to visit with us so that your family can get the help they need?
Joash was uncomfortable in the cellar. The cellar wasn’t the most comfortable place to be. It was damp and it was dark. Not all of God’s tasks for us are pleasant, but ALL are needed. It’s bad enough to have to clean your own bathroom at home, but do you realize someone has to clean the bathrooms here at church. Not just the ones that are in the sanctuary but the ones your kids use on Wednesday night, and you know how messy they can be and I can’t tell you the last time I heard someone talk about how COMFORTABLE they were while cleaning a toilet.
Joash was lonely in the cellar. He was misunderstood and misrepresented. He might have been considered weird. Can you imagine how people felt about “the man in the cellar?”
Joash was unappreciated. When people came to the “church” to worship, as they walked out the gate they would shake the priests hand and say, “Another good service preacher,” never knowing the fact that had it not been for Joash, the lights would have went OUT! It’s hard to slaughter a goat when you can’t see anything.
I know what you’re thinking, “SIGN ME UP!!” RIGHT?? I didn’t think so. But here’s the thing, Joash wasn’t looking for greatness, he just wanted to do something great. He wasn’t interested in serving himself, but was interested in serving others. He wasn’t seeking fame and fortune on earth, but by serving the Lord in the cellar, he found fame and fortune in heaven.
If you asked Joash why he wanted to work in obscurity, this is what he would say:
“What you ARE is God’s gift to you; what you DO with yourself is your gift to God.”
What you are ABLE to do, God WANTS you to do!!
If I asked you by whose example are we to live, you would reply, by the example of Jesus, right?
But did you know that the bible says, Christ came not to BE SERVED but to SERVE?
Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about Mary and Martha? Martha was upset because she was doing all the WORK while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha wanted Mary to HELP. Martha was busy SERVING CHRIST and Mary was busy being SERVED by Christ. We learned that Martha opened up her HOME, Mary opened up her HEART. But yet today’s sermon is all about serving? Doing work for the Lord? So which one is it then? Am I to serve like Martha? Or be served like Mary? The answer is BOTH. You see, Martha wasn’t in the WRONG for serving, for that was what she was ABLE to do. Mary wasn’t wrong for BEING SERVED, for that’s what she was ABLE to do. The problem Martha had was in the moment when she complained about Mary not helping, she lost the true meaning of service. REAL SERVANTS don’t complain of unfairness, they don’t have pity-parties, and they don’t resent those who aren’t serving. They just trust God and keep doing what they are ABLE to do.
Joash wasn’t focused on who was or wasn’t helping. Joash was focused on the King.
So what does service look like to you?
Before attempting the extraordinary, try serving in ordinary ways. Each week, churches and other organizations must improvise because volunteers didn’t prepare, didn’t show up, or didn’t even call to say they weren’t coming.
The opportunities to get involved at Bethlehem are endless. You don’t have to know what your spiritual gift is or even what you’re good at to serve. Just find a place to plug in and see if you are a good fit. It’s not about excellence, it’s about effort. We don’t need you to be perfect, we just need you.
The message to the one not serving is this: you can spend the 80 years faithful to a church but never be a servant. A Saved Heart is a heart that wants to serve. What you are ABLE to do, God WANTS you to do!!
The message to the one who is serving in the cellar:
You may be serving in obscurity in some small place, feeling unknown and unappreciated. Listen: God put you where you are for a purpose! He has every hair on your head numbers, and he knows your address. You had better stay put until he chooses to move you. He will let you know if he wants you somewhere else. Your ministry matters to the kingdom of God.
There are more than 750 “Halls of Fame” in America and more than 450 “Who’s Who” publications, but you won’t find many real servants in these places. Notoriety means nothing to real servants because they know the difference between prominence and significance. You have several prominent features on your body that you could live without. It is the hidden parts of your body that are indispensable. The same is true in the body of Christ. The most significant service is often the service that is unseen.
Knowing this, don’t be discouraged when your service is unnoticed or taken for granted. Keep on serving God! “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” Even the smallest service is noticed by God and will be rewarded. Remember the words of Jesus: “If, as my representatives, you give even a cup of cold water to a little child, your will surely be rewarded.”
Conclusion: A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table that held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.
All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor. He was glad he did.
The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.
The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?” She nodded through her tears.
He continued on with, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.”
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister…” He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, “Are you Jesus?” He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: “Are you Jesus?”
Do people mistake you for Jesus? Isn’t that what a Christian’s goal should be? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and serve those around us; those that may be blind to His love, life and grace. If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would.
Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It’s actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.
You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit. Let us live like he lived. Here to serve, not to be served. Let us live like we are worth the price He paid.
A saved heart is a heart that wants to serve!! What you are ABLE to do, God WANTS you to do!!