Growing While Isolated, pt2 (selected texts)

Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.

The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.

Click here: Growing, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Growing, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.

Selected Texts, Growing While Isolated: pt2

  • So last week we looked at 3 disciplines, we as Christians need to grow in! And this morning we’ll look at 2 more. See, if we’re not growing, we are stagnating. Your desires to worship, pray, study God’s Word, serving, will all fade. This is something none of us can afford!
  • So let’s quickly recap last week’s 3, then jump into 2 more disciplines for Christian growth that we need to pursue…

 

  1. Worship:
  • Our worship of the one true God is to be taken seriously, as God stresses that we “shall have no other gods before” Him. God is a jealous God, and He requires us beings to honour, glorify, and worship Him in the way He commands.
  • Our primary aim should be to worship the living God for who He is and not just for what He does. And so we must draw near with a sense of reverence and adoration as God is not restricted to the church building, but rules in our hearts! The same goes for the second discipline…

 

  1. Prayer:
  • Prayer should be seen as a duty! But also as a means! Prayer is effective and it has real power. And so God uses prayer to bring about His intended purposes. Prayer cannot force God to do anything, but He uses prayer as His own instruments to bring about His will.
  • Therefore, we need to trust that prayer works! But it’s not enough to pray because we ought to pray. Beyond the duty of praying, we should be delighted to be engaged with God as we pray… just as much as with the third discipline.

 

  1. Bible Study:
  • Our approach to God’s Word is critical for our spiritual growth. We need to understand that Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Therefore, we must first affirm the importance of God’s Word in order to value its impact on our lives.
  • We also need to practically approach God’s Word if we want to grow. And this can be done through additional resources such as a Study Bible, a Bible concordance, or even a commentary when you’re reading through a specific book.
  • Last week I also emphasized that we should approach Bible study in humility and eagerness. In humility in order to learn and to grow. And with eagerness to be moulded by the Word and to be encouraged by it.

 

  • Now, today we look at 2 more disciplines for Christian growth: namely,
  1. Service:
  • Explanation – Essential service is something we’ve been hearing a lot lately. And we don’t tend to look at serving as a means of grace. Service is not an optional aspect of the Christian life. All believers are called to
    be servants of God. It may not be professional or paid service, but each of us is to serve in some way.
  • However, this isn’t necessarily how we see it. One might look at Christian service and say, ‘it’s the pastor’s job, he gets paid to do it – so he better serve me!’ another might say, ‘well, I’m not a member of a church, therefore I don’t need to serve.’

 

  • God saves us not to be free from service, but to serve specifically! We have been purchased for service, Paul says we all have been “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20), and so we belong to the one who has
    paid for us.
  • But this doesn’t mean we’ve outgrown our dislike for serving. Service is not high on the list of things we enjoy. And we might look at serving as beneath us.

 

  • Illustration – The truth is, every believer is called to the ministry of serving. Everyone is called to do their part, and so this brings three truths of servanthood to mind.
  • The first truth is that we are unprofitable servants, and the second is that we are productive servants. The third focuses on our faithfulness as servants. So for the first, let’s turn to our first passage for today to explain exactly what unprofitable means here…

 

  • Text – Luke 17:5-10
  • Application – The disciples come to Jesus and ask Him to increase their faith, and look at how He answers them! He told them a story
    about servants coming in after completing their tasks in the field. Does their master give them an additional reward or does he acknowledge their good work as the duty they were commanded to complete?
  • See the description in the ESV titles this as ‘unworthy servants’. Jesus does not imply that our service of Him and His people are of no value, He was teaching the apostles about servanthood. And the lesson is that we don’t get a “bonus points” for what we’re supposed to do.

 

  • We don’t serve God for blessings or rewards, we do it out of reverence and love. If you serve God for reward, then we have to go back to the first discipline, because then you are worshipping an idol god and not the true God.
  • If we serve out of an effort to earn our way into the kingdom of God, we’re deceiving ourselves. The motivation for Christian service is love for God and we should be motivated to serve Him out of joy for what He has done for us, not out of obligation or as a means to gain heaven.
  • And sure, maybe you’re think of Mathew 16:27; that Christ “will reward each according to his works.” Well, as a caution, “according to” does not mean that our works earn a reward. But God, in His grace, will reward us according to our service—even though our works don’t deserve it.

 

  • Text – Luke 19:12-27
  • Application – In this parable, Jesus is calling His people to invest in the furthering of His kingdom. He has gifted us with the necessary resources we need to do this, with sort of an expectation.
  • The expectation is that would have continued the work. We would’ve invest in His kingdom, and that invest through service has grown. And so productive servanthood means to use the gifts God has given us, despite being in lockdown.
  • We can’t say to ourselves, “Let’s sleep in” because Jesus will not accept that. This parable teaches that one of the worst things we can do, is waste the gifts that God has given us. The gifts given for Christ’s sake, for His glory and honour.

 

  • Text – Colossians 3:22-24
  • Application – Have you ever heard the saying, ‘when the cat’s away, the mice will play’? Don’t we all have this tendency to shy away from faithfully doing our work when we’re no longer being watched by others?
  • See, in the ancient world, a bondservant could be someone who was given the responsibility to manage a household. And that person was put in charge of the possessions of the owner. The main requirement for this position: faithfulness!
  • The way we serve God and His church should not be determined by how others look at us. That’s why our service is to be unto the Lord, not to entertain those who may be looking at us whose approval we want.
  • And that’s one of the greatest weaknesses in the church today, we look to see whose approval we may gain. We end up seeking human opinion, trying to please man instead of God.

 

  • Conclusion – Our servanthood shouldn’t need any supervision. We shouldn’t need anyone constantly watching us to insure that we are working. Our goal should be to please Christ and not to perform for man’s applause.
  • People-pleasers cannot be true servants of Christ, this is why we have three truths of Christian service before us today. So how can you grow in service? 1) Serve the Lord with no intention for receiving some blessing. 2) Serve the Lord with the gifts He has given you, this means putting an effort into it. 3) Serve the Lord to please Him alone.

 

  • Bridge – Practically, you can serve Him and the church by praying for each member. In addition, by picking up your phone and hearing their needs, if you can help. Also through simply fellowshipping through phone calls, I know that we all long to be with one another, but what effort are we making right now?
  • Let’s get into this practice, so that when we’re allowed to visit one another and gather together at church, serving won’t be strange – it’ll be natural and comfortable. Having said this, let’s move to our final point…

 

  1. Stewardship:
  • Explanation – We’ve looked at Bible study, prayer, worship, and service. But stewardship is also an important part of Christian growth. And specifically, stewardship refers to our offerings. Now, the Bible’s first recorded offering was by Cain and Abel.
  • Text – Genesis 4:3-5

 

  • Illustration – Why do you think Abel’s offering was more pleasing than Cain’s? Hebrews 11:4 provides us with the answer: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts…
  • Abel’s approach through faith pleased God! Cain didn’t share the same desire or attitude. He came out of expectation, he came because he felt it was a duty. Yet, Abel offered to God the sacrifice of praise by making his offering in faith.

 

  • Explanation – And so, In the OT, the biblical concept of our offering is instituted as law. Leviticus 27:30, “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s. It is holy to the LORD.
  • It isn’t a manmade idea, the basic principle was that every person was to return one tenth of his increase to the Lord on an annual basis. This meant that everybody have the same percentage but not the same amount.

 

  • Illustration – If a man raised livestock and ten calves were born to him during the year, he was required to return one calf to God. The same
    principle applied for those who grew wheat. If a farmer’s produce was one hundred batches of wheat, he had to give ten to God.

 

  • Therefore, the Old Testament system of tithing can be understood as a taxation system that provided for the needs of those working for the Temple in the sacrificial system – the priests and Levites.
  • But in the NT, nowhere do we see a percentage of income a person should set aside, and so many in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

 

  • Application – But the New Testament does talk about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able, and sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the body of Christ. But giving is to be done willingly and according to the giver’s decision in regards to amount.
  • I believe that every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of giving their offering. Here’s why, 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

  • Conclusion – Therefore, our giving should be done with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. Giving is meant to encourage faith, as we pray and ask for wisdom from the Lord as to how much we should give, and in what manner.
  • And if can encourage you, all our leaders at CBC faithfully participate in the giving of their offerings. Furthermore, every year my wife and I look at our personal finances, and we’ve cheerfully with conviction, given more than 10%. And the reason for this is for the benefit of the Church body.
  • Bridge – So if you were to ask me how much you should give? Dear friend, this is a matter for you and your family to pray about. For some, 10% isn’t affordable, for others – it isn’t much of a sacrifice.
  • And so, Christian growth takes place when we faithfully commit to giving our offering cheerfully, even though it is a sacrifice. More so, not being gathered with the church, doesn’t mean our offerings stop – they should continue. Just as our prayer, Bible Study, serving, and worship should continue.

 

Application:

  • Now friends, I know these last two weeks we taken a different approach in order to look these 5 disciplines, but I believe that it was necessary in order to remind us that we should work out our salvation, especially during this lockdown!