Summary: How can we make a difference as Christians? Is warming a church pew the best I can do?

OPEN: Several years back the Merv Griffin Show had a guest that was a body builder. During the interview, Merv asked, “Why do you develop those particular muscles?”

The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded.

“What do you use all those muscles for?” Merv asked. Again, the muscular specimen flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions.

“But what do you use those muscles for?” Merv persisted. There was a moment of confused embarrassment as the body builder sat down in bewilderment. He didn’t have an answer (to the question of what are they for?) other than display well-developed frame

APPLY: Over the past two weeks, we’ve addressing the question of the value of our Christianity. In other words: what are we good for?

The 1st sermon in the series was from Ephesians 2:10 where we noted: You’ve been created Christ to make difference.

In the 2nd sermon we found that God has given you the talents to make a difference.

Today’s sermon is asking: HOW do I make a difference? How do I use the muscles (read: talents) God has given me? THAT’S THE QUESTION Jesus addresses for His disciples. They wanted to be important, how to be valuable… but they misunderstood what that meant.

I. They felt that making a difference/ being valuable to Christ was all about WHO they were

If only they could be important.

If only they could have a position of power.

If only they could be specially talented… THEN THEY COULD BE USEFUL TO GOD

Jesus taught them: it isn’t who you are, or how powerful you are… it’s how open you are to servanthood. IN FACT, God deliberately doesn’t choose the powerful to do His will.

ILLUS: One person compiled an unflattering list of the people God used:

"Moses stuttered.

David’s armor didn’t fit.

Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Solomon was too rich.

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

Timothy had ulcers.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus was dead.

John was self-righteous.

Jesus was too poor.

Naomi was a widow.

John Mark - rejected by Paul

Paul was a murderer.

So was Moses.

Jonah ran from God.

Miriam was a gossip & bigot

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out.

Martha was a worrywart.

Samson had long hair.

Noah got drunk.

And did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

So did Peter, Paul… and, well, & lots of folks."

I Corinthians 1:27-29 tells us "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before him."

II. As far God is concerned, being His servant is more important than being superstar

And so, when Jesus chose His disciples - they were not pick of the litter, the cream of crop. They were simply men He knew could be used to establish His kingdom.

BUT THE PROBLEM FOR THEM was they didn’t think Jesus would want them as simple fishermen and laborers. They thought He would want men in positions of power and prominence.

III. What type of people does Jesus want?

People He can count on to “be there”

ILLUS: John Brodie, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and was being used by his football team to hold the ball for the kicker. A sports reporter asked him why a million-dollar player like him should have to hold the ball for field goals and extra points after the touchdown. "Well," said Brodie, "if I didn’t, it would fall over."

Brodie understood that his value to the team was BEING THERE for the team. It was in “holding the ball so it didn’t fall over.” It was in “doing what needed to be done, so team could succeed..” That’s the type of person Jesus is looking for.

IV. So, how do we “hold the ball” for Jesus

Mark 10:42-44 tells us it is by learning to become a servant for others. THAT’S THE IDEA BEHIND THE MINISTRY SHEET (review).

Best way to make ministries work for you is if you look at them as meaning something valuable to God’s Kingdom. For example:

1. Cleaning the building is a form of outreach. People who come through the door notice how well you take care of God’s things. It says your faith is dynamic enough that you care even for the simplest of issues.

2. Work in the Nursery - Changing diapers on new couple’s kids isn’t just about changing diapers. It’s potentially changing eternity for his entire family.

3. A simple thing like regular attendance: Do you realize that when “unchurched Sally” comes into this building and sees it packed with worshippers, that that says something to her?

It says: “Something significant is happening here.”

It says: “Christianity must mean something to these people.”

4. AND WHEN you take the time to get to know people’s names, to introduce yourself to newcomers, to invite them out to eat with you, you continue to add to the atmosphere that has drawn so many to belong here. New members have said things like: "The people are so friendly." "I really felt at home." "I felt welcome.”

V. Now let’s take the idea of servanthood beyond the ministry sheet you have in your hands.

There are other ministries outside our church walls that you can do.

ILLUS: I read one story of a man who approached a 9 yr. old boy named Howard playing “marbles” on the sidewalk. The man challenged the boy to a game and promptly beat him. Then he offered to teach Howard how to play the game better and thus built a relationship with him that led to bringing the boy becoming involved in that man’s Sunday School class.

The boy grew up to be a fairly famous Christian speaker and author Howard Hendricks and he recalled that his Sunday School teacher had brought several kids into the class the same way, so that when Howard was growing up, the class consisted of 13 boys from broken homes and 5 Roman Catholics.

VI. The key to servanthood is “being there” for other people.

ILLUS: Newsweek ran an article some time back about street gangs. In it they told the story of a Pentecostal preacher who was trying to reach out to the slum dwellers for Christ. "When he first moved into this neighborhood, as a refugee from Harvard, Rivers sought out a local drug dealer (to ask him why he was so successful in dragging people into his lifestyle)... and he gave Rivers, a Pentecostal, a lesson in why God was losing to gangs in the battle for the souls of inner city kids. "Selvin explained to us, ’I’m there when Johnny goes out for a loaf of bread for Mama. I’m there, you’re not. I win, you lose, It’s all about being there.’"

Here, at our church, many of you understand that concept of "being there."

* Our Elders are often at the hospital visiting our sick.

* Several of you send out letters to the sick or those who have not been attending for awhile.

* We have a ministry of preparing food platters for funerals, sending flowers to the sick & shut-ins.

* People make phone calls (how are you, missed you, etc.)

Our example is Jesus.

(Phil. 2:5-11)Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

CLOSE: Ephesians 2:10 “For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"

You have been called to be His minister/ His servant to others. Don’t be deceived into being a spiritually muscle bound creation who has no idea what to do with what God has given them. Don’t be deceived into believing that you need to have more power/ prominence/ talents to be used by God.

ILLUS: Years ago in a church prayer meeting, there was a faithful old deacon who always used the same phrase in his public prayers. He would pray: “O Lord, touch the unsaved with Thy finger.”

One night however, after leading in prayer as he often did and repeating that old phrase again (“O Lord, touch the unsaved with Thy finger.”), he abruptly stopped praying. Afterwards, one of the members thinking that maybe the deacon had become ill, took him aside and asked if anything was wrong, was he ill.

“No,” replied the deacon, “I’m not ill. But something seemed to say to me, ‘Thou are the finger.’”