Summary: God has given us everything to face this life with the joy of His presence and promises. Living in Joy comes no more naturally than not murmuring or grumbling. God offers us joy it is up to us to live in joy and peace.
Intro: At St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, there is only one door into the sanctuary. Over that door is a hand lettered sign that reads, “Servant’s Entrance.” There isn’t any way in or out of that church except through the servant’s entrance! That’s not a bad reminder of the fact that every believer is called to serve our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Unlike sports teams, the Lord’s team does not have any bench warmers. Every Christian is given a first-string spot on the team, with a vital role to fulfill. A non-serving Christian is a contradiction in terms.
You must understand that the gospel goes beyond Jesus just giving us a happier life. He comes to give us fullness of life.
Salvation is meant to give us security for the future and stability for the present! With security for the future I don‘t fear what God tells me to do. With stability for the present I want to work out the practical aspects of my relationship with God.
God has given us everything we need to face this life with Joy and develop as servants for His glory and others good. However this comes no more naturally than not murmuring or disputing. Paul is teaching us how to find what Joy is.
I. The encouragement to serve
A) Hold fast the word of life – Let go
1) Let go of idols that fill our hands and hearts
2) Let go of ideas that are far from God’s heart
The message of life – The gospel or good news that Jesus comes to make us alive. Cling to this message of life. Cling to Jesus. When I got married I had to let go the idea of any other woman. When I said Yes to Jesus I was saying she is my perfect gift from God. There are no other options she is the one that brings me joy as I serve her and look to her concerns first.
In this verse the present tense calls for them to hold fast to the Word continually, continuing to believe it no matter the circumstance you face. God does not become a liar because discipleship becomes hard.
B) Hold forth the word of life – Limit your focus
Illustration: Dad teaching me to run straight on a tractor. You fix your eyes on a point ahead of you.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (Read)
Looking away from anything that distracts to Jesus. Where we look is where we go.
We can clearly declare what Jesus has done and is doing in our life as we constantly look to Him. (What does this mean)
II. The examples of serving
A) Jesus – The perfect servant
Hebrews 12:2 for the joy set before Him.
B) Paul – The selfless servant
C) Timothy – The sympathetic servant
Timothy had a gift of genuine concern for folks spiritual and physical welfare. Timothy was not seeking his own but desired to follow Christ and help his spiritual father Paul. He was not so caught up in his own concerns that he lost concern for others.
D) Epaphroditus – The empathetic servant
He was burdened. He had a heart for Paul and the mission and ministry of Jesus’ church. He got to the point that he was sick enough to die. This caused great worry in the Philippian church. Ephaphroditus was more concerned about the Philippians than his own health.