Summary: When it comes to serving God and influencing others, you can keep yourself New in Box (NIB) or you can put yourself in Gods hands. Our value is inseparable from our purposes to serve, influence, and impact.
Acts 6:3-15, 7:51-53,58, 8:1-4
Series: Vertigo: Discovering Your Direction through Service:
1.The Way Up is Down
3.A Little Does a Lot
Written by Steve Miller, as part of the NRHC Carolina Network (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I. Vertigo Lead-In: God wants to change our orientation
The Bible says Gods ways are not our ways. Thats going to make it kind of hard to find our direction in this world. But Gods answer for us is not that we cant know where God wants us, its just that we have to change our perspective to match His.
God wants to turn us upside-down and inside out.
-When we want to get ahead in leadership, He says first get down in service.
-When we want to move ahead with influence, He says first stand firm on character.
-When we want to have global impact, He says first focus on your place of service.
Over the last few weeks weve been exploring how we as fully devoted Christ-followers can overcome a serious problem that seems to have become epidemic in the American church: Spiritual Vertigo. This is when we get our sense of direction and equilibrium all out of whack.
And when its time for us to make ourselves available to God through service, even if we have the RIGHT ATTITUDE, THE RIGHT CHARACTER, AND THE RIGHT FIT, there is one last adjustment that must be made if we are going to find our direction through service, and that is to get inside out.
If all we ever do is just sit here and talk about serving others, we will never have the influence Jesus calls us to have. We must get INSIDE OUT.
II. Illustration: Toys "NIB" (New in Box...Ebay term): Our value comes from use
Do any of you have collectibles at home? A big thing to collect and trade online, and at flea markets, is toys. Do you have anything that is still in the box? "New in box" or NIB is supposed to be the most valuable, right?
If its still in its original packaging, never been played with, in mint condition, it would bring a much bigger price than the same toy that has been roughly played with, the wheels off, the head missing, the fabric completely filthy. Something like that, you wouldnt even put it in a yard sale.
But which of the two is really the most valuable? The one that is NIB or the one that has been loved on, played with, taken on vacation, lost and found more than a dozen times?
III. Key Point:
When it comes to serving God and influencing others, you can keep yourself NIB or you can put yourself in Gods hands.
Our value is inseparable from our purpose. If were not actively fulfilling our purposes to serve, influence, and impact, then we make as much sense as "action" figures that never leave their packaging. Looks good, but never used, never enjoyed, no lasting memories.
T.S. In this last week, were going to see that many of us are stuck in our boxes, just like a collectors toy. More importantly, well see through the life and legacy of Stephen that theres more value in a life that fulfills its purpose than in just being clean and NIB. Stephen got out of the box and was used. As a result he left a lasting legacy and experienced unsurpassed personal reward.
IV. Out of the Box--Story of Stephen
A. Stephen is called to serve
1.) I want to take you back to the story in Acts where seven men were chosen to serve, namely Stephen (ref. 6:3-5) His job was to "wait tables" while the Apostles could devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
2.) We sometimes call these guys "deacons." That word is not used here, but the word deacon can mean, "to wait tables." In other words, deacons are literally the people who serve.
B. His influence grew
1.) What we find, however, is Stephen allowed himself to be used by God as a servant first, and then his influence grew.
2.) Read 6.7-8
3.) It all begins with willingness to humble ourselves and serve. It is often through the experience of doing that we find where exactly we should be.
C. He made a great impact
1.) Stephen found that he was gifted and used by God in other ways. He began impacting the crowds with wonders and signs.
i. Read 6.9-15
2.) Stephen began preaching the Gospel.
i. Chapter seven is essentially a Gospel presentation that starts with Abraham and ends with Christ.
ii. Stephen preached hard at these who couldnt cope with the new thing that God was doing, through the risen Messiah and Holy Spirit.
iii. Read 7.51-53
T.S. It all begins with first being willing to humble ourselves and serve.