6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler reveals that when we minisnter to others we need to tell them the truth because we love them.

Here at Thornydale Family Church our mission is to develop mature disciples who follow, serve and proclaim Jesus as Messiah. Just prior to Easter, we spent seven weeks getting to know Jesus better through His “I am” sayings found in John’s gospel account. And the primary thing that we learned during those seven weeks was how to do be more effective in the first of the three actions that are set forth in our mission statement – following Jesus.

This morning, we’re going to begin a new series from the life of Jesus that will help all of us to be more effective in the second action in our mission statement – serving Jesus. Or another way to put it would be that we are going to focus on how to be more effective in our ministry. I almost hesitate to use that word because in some people’s minds, ministry is something that vocational missionaries, like Thomas and Laura Requadt, do. Now there is no doubt that what they do is indeed ministry and I’m looking forward to hearing more about that ministry later this morning. For others, ministry is viewed as something that I do as the paid staff member here at TFC or something that the elders are called to do.

But the Bible is really clear that every Christ follower is called to be a disciple and that every disciple is called to be a minister. The purpose of the church, and particularly the leadership of the church, is to equip every one of us to engage in ministry. Most of us are probably familiar with what Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus regarding that principle:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry...

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)

If you’ve committed your life to Jesus and chosen to follow Him then you are, by definition, a saint. And if you are a saint, then Jesus has called you, as His follower, to engage in the work of ministry.

Unfortunately, far too often, when we think of ministry, we only view it as something that we do within the four walls of this building, or as something we do as part of some church program. But the truth is that most ministry takes place far from where we gather this morning.

Our ministry takes place wherever God puts us – in our homes, our neighborhoods, our community, and in our jobs among other places. I know I’ve shared this before, but if we could really get a grasp on that fact, I’m convinced that it would completely transform the way we view our lives – especially our jobs.

We live in a culture that’s characterized by the title to the 1981 classic by the rock group Loverboy – “Working for the Weekend”. We even try to bring God into that thought process by proclaiming “Thank God it’s Friday” because that means that our weekend is about to start. But if we really understood that our work is part of our ministry for Jesus, then wouldn’t we say on Sunday night “Thank God it’s Sunday”, because that means we get to get back to that aspect of our ministry on Monday morning?

Obviously there is no better way for us to learn how to be more effective in our ministry, both personally and as a body, than by studying how our Master, Jesus, ministered in the lives of others. So for the next several weeks, we’ll look at some of the occasions where Jesus ministered to people and see what we can learn and can apply in our own ministry to others.

We’ll begin this morning with the account of the rich young ruler. We’ll read that account as it is presented to us in Matthew’s gospel account. So turn with me to Matthew 19 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 16:

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

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