Summary: Spiritual power, perseverance, purpose, and parenting made Paul the ideal servant to those he was leading. And we are all called to be servants. Link inc. to formatted text and PowerPoint.
The Ideal Servant
Being a servant is a calling. And you have that call. Preachers are called, but you are called as well.
Preachers go ‘calling’. Once a minister went to call on one of the elderly widows of the church. While visiting with her, he noticed a bowl of shelled peanuts on the coffee table. During the conversation he began nibbling on them and soon the bowl was empty. He then apologized to the woman for eating all of her peanuts. She replied, "That’s OK, Preacher, it’s no bother. You see, three weeks ago I had all my teeth pulled. Since that time, I’ve just been sucking the chocolate off the peanuts and putting them back in that bowl."
You just never know what’s going to happen on a call. But you can be sure you have a calling. But will you answer that call and how good of a servant will you be?
Paul and company were the ideal servants because of their:
1. Spiritual power.
v. 1 ‘not in vain’ = ‘not void of power’. God blessed and it was obvious that He was ‘in it.’ There was fruit.
I do not want to be a powerless preacher. I don’t want what I say to be in vain. So it had better be Biblical, and prayed over, and endued w/ power.
How many want to see souls saved here? How many HAVE TO see souls saved? There’s a difference!
Hindrances to power:
• Unconfessed sin—if we carry sin around with us we become an obstacle to God’s blessing, just like Achan was to Israel after Jericho. There was sin in the camp! God won’t use a dirty vessel.
• Prayerlessness—the church has many organizers, but few agonizers; many who pay but few who pray; many resters but few wrestlers; many enterprising, but few interceding. We are playing rather than praying. A worldly Christian will not pray. A praying Christian will not be worldly. Tithes may build a church building, but tears give it life.
Ill.—John McGraw was a young 3rd baseman on the Orioles and had a habit of slowing down guys who were rounding 3rd heading for home. He would put his finger in their belt loop as they passed. He is one of the main reasons that MLB added a 3rd base umpire to the field!
Prayerlessness is a clog in the channel of blessing, and slows us down. We can do more by doing less, and praying more!
2. Spiritual perseverance.
v. 2 Even after we were imprisoned at Philippi, we didn’t quit, Paul said.
Ill.-- The old evangelist Bud Robinson is reported to have prayed the following prayer every day: "O Lord, give me a backbone as big as a saw log & ribs like the sleepers under the church floor. Put iron shoes on my feet & galvanized breeches on my body. Give me a rhinoceros hide for skin & hang up a wagon-load of determination in the gable-end of my soul. Help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I’ve got a tooth--& then gum him until I die".
Yet it doesn’t take much to get some Christians to quit.
Ill.—Missionary Jonathan Goforth gave his life to China. At 70 years old his area was closed and he was forced to leave. He tried to go thru 5 other open doors to other areas, but each were closed in his face. His wife was very ill, he had 2 invalids living with him and caring for them. But he wouldn’t quit. On his 6th attempt he was granted entrance into NW Manchuria and there he baptized nearly 1,000!
Most today would have seen being imprisoned as a closed door, but it wasn’t. It was an attempt of Satan to stop them. All that glitters is not God! Satan is a powerful spirit being, and his forces are all around us. Don’t let circumstances guide your life!
Every day I do things I don’t like to do. Today I got up! I didn’t want to. Then I showered, even tho’ that’s a time constraint. Then I weighed myself. Then I did some yoga, and it hurt. Then I came to work. I didn’t like doing these things. Then I got calls and had to minister to people. I wanted to help some of them, and some I didn’t. I’m being honest. But it was right!
3. Spiritual purpose.
v. 3-6 Our spiritual purpose must be right. Do what is right in the right way for the right reasons. Make sure your motives are pure.
In those days the priests of the pagan temples not only lived corrupt lives, but they were known for being greedy, selfish mercenaries. They would do anything to accomplish their ambitions.