NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 25) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.
Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.
To declare our need to spend our lives actively serving God, and to urge us to do so.
These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.
• … servants of the word … (Luke 1.2 CEB)
• … Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1.38 CEB)
• He has granted that we would be rescued … so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1.73-75 CEB)
• You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. … You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 4.8; 16.13 CEB)
• … do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act … (Luke 6.35 CEB)
• That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. (Luke 12.47 CEB)
• … when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.” (Luke 17.10 CEB)
• … the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. (Luke 22.26 CEB)
Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.
1. Think employment and job roles. Which ones strike you as “servant-type” jobs?
2. What is the biggest hurdle to your seeing yourself as truly a “servant of God?”
These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.
1. Find and count every occurrence of some form of the word “serve” in Luke’s Gospel.
2. Read Luke 6.35 above. Reflect on it. Then read its context (vs.27-38). Thoughts?
These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.
1. How does the word “servant” hit you? Positive or negative? Respectable or humble?
2. Would it truly be best to live tomorrow like it was literally your last day to live?
3. “The good is the enemy of the best.” Is this true? Does this sound like Jesus?
4. We’re saved by God’s mercy thru Christ on his cross. What role do our works play?
5. Which matters most in the long run in serving God: “big things” or “little” ones?”
These ideas/suggestions are for use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.
1. Discipline and exercise yourself in a “I expect nothing in return” attitude and air.
2. Habitually give words and actions of appreciation to any you see “doing good.”
Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.
Aggression, American Sniper, Chris Kyle, cinema, distortion, film, miscommunication, myth, nationalism, patriotism & war: Why I Refuse to See ‘American Sniper’ [essential reading]
“When you have experienced firsthand the multitude of ways war wreaks havoc on families, you have little tolerance for the mythmaking that war always seems to invoke. Not to mention the patriotic, almost nationalistic fervor that accompanies a flag-draped coffin.”
Alexander the Great, Amphipolis, archaeology & Greece: Amphipolis Excavation: Discoveries in Alexander the Great-Era Tomb Dazzle the World
“… since August 2014 … the Ministry of Culture has been gradually releasing to the public the incredible archaeological finds that have been uncovered in what is the largest tomb ever found in Greece. … It has been popularly speculated that the Amphipolis Tomb was built for one of Alexander’s generals or family members—perhaps his mother, Olympias, or his wife, Roxanne. After Alexander’s death, his generals fought over control of the Macedonian Empire, which stretched from the Balkans to what’s now Pakistan and northwest India. Alexander’s mother, wife, son and half-brother were murdered during this time—most near Amphipolis. It’s still not clear for whom the magnificent tomb was built and why the five individuals were buried in the tomb.”
Disabilities & Social Security: Social Security’s Christmas Present: Benefit Cuts for Millions of Disabled Workers
“The fact that benefits need to be cut or taxes raised, or both, to keep Social Security solvent does not justify treating the disabled like second class citizens.”
God, free will & the hardening of hearts: God Hardens Hearts – What Does That Mean?
“God justly responds to people’s wickedness by strengthening their resolve against him. In every instance where Scripture speaks of God hardening someone, it’s an act of judgment in response to decisions these people had already made. God simply ensures that these rebels will do what their own evil hearts desire and not alter course for ulterior motives. But it’s altogether unwarranted to suppose that God unilaterally hardens people’s hearts against himself in the first place—all the while pretending to offer them the hope of salvation! When God decides to harden someone’s heart, we can be assured that God wishes it didn’t have to be that way.”
Leisure, technology, time & work: Speed Kills: Has Technology Destroyed Leisure
“… the fact that we welcome progress, increased convenience and the sheer excitement of speed in different forms—are so deeply entangled with detrimental effects (the stress and feelings of disaffection that come with living a mediated life, the actual physical danger of speed in some cases) that the phenomenon is interesting to analyze but difficult to address.”
“… we … work together for the truth.” (3 John 8)
Americanism, exceptionalism, idolatry, nationalism & the U.S.: Huckabee and the Heresy of Americanism [required reading]
“Americanism is a heresy; in certain respects it is simply idolatrous. Jesus, not James Madison, brought in the ‘new order of the ages.’”
Church attendance & church statistics: Stop Taking Attendance
“In every church that I have ever visited or served there has been an emphasis on the number of people that attend the morning worship services. After years in the ministry, I have come to the conclusion that the church needs to stop taking attendance — immediately.”
Free will & God: God Does Not Always Get What He Wants
“… God does not always get what he wants for he gave people free will. God created us with the capacity to receive and reflect his love back to him and to each other as well as toward the animal kingdom and the earth. But because we’re talking about love, God couldn’t pre-program us to cooperate with God’s plan. We have the capacity to thwart God’s will, within limits. And when we do, it breaks God’s heart.”
“‘[They told me] if you prevent Mohammed from coming to the camp, we will cut off your head,’ his father …”
“… the government conducts an annual study called the that tracks how people spend their days.”
Benevolence, charity, generosity, money, poor, poverty & Texas: * Boom Meets Bust in Texas: Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In [required reading]; * Let Them Eat Cash
* “One-third of Texas’ $48 billion in tax revenue last year came directly or indirectly from the oil and gas industry … but very little of it is spent on social services and programs to assist the poor, although some helps finance public schools and universities. So, despite the boom, Texas has some of the highest rates of poverty in the nation and ranks first in the percentage of residents without health insurance.”
* “… he was worried that people might spend the handout on drugs or alcohol. This pessimism (and paternalism) is common and understandable. But evidence from other countries suggests we should be more optimistic.”
Church & complaining: How Complaining Keeps the Church from God’s Mission
“If you want to be a part of a church that makes a difference, if you want your small group to make a difference, refrain from wasting your energy on easy targets. It’s not worth your time. Stop ranting on social media about all kinds of things that are wrong from your point of view. We all have concerns. We all know that life is not as it is supposed to be. Instead focus your energy on what you do have influence. Spend your energy on serving your family today. Invest in a co-worker who needs a listening ear. Pray for your neighbor. You can change the world if you focus on your circle of influence.”
Discipleship: Four Marks of Biblical Discipleship
“The question isn’t merely about the mission; it’s about how disciple-making should be defined. Is disciple-making broad or narrow?”
Efficiency, productivity & work: 5 Unusual Ways to Start Working Smarter, Not Harder
“… it’s easy to fall into a pattern of “always working,” rather than working smart …”
Intercession & public prayer: Using “We” in Public Prayers [essential reading]
“… we need to be very careful about how we use the word ‘we.’ … five groups, for whom the ‘we’ in the congregation/church/service might not apply: (1.) Our troops: what if foreigners are present? (2.) Our country: same. (3.) Our young people (or our older people): what of visitors? or those who have no children? (4.) Our children’s children: same (5.) Our environment, our world: is the world ours? or God’s?”
“The most important thing we’ve done right is we’ve never given up on our relationship … no matter how hard things got.”
Application, Bible interpretation, preaching & teaching: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s
“Every word of the Bible was written at a certain time and in a certain context. Even the most recent of those times and the nearest of those contexts is at a great distance from us in time and space. Thus, when we read the Bible, we have to determine how those words apply to us today in our very different times and very different contexts. It is not always a simple task. We have all seen situations—and many of us have caused situations—where we have been sloppy in going from the text to today.”
Church, ministry & U.S. trends: MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider
“The next 20 years are going to be a challenge for convictional Christians and churches in many places. … 1. The Word “Christian” Will Become Less Used and More Clear. … 2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones. … 3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics. … 4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.”
Fulfillment, leadership, satisfaction & work: Why You Hate Work
“The way we’re working isn’t working.”
“I had to develop the ability to say no more than I get to say yes. … I have to live with sometimes being unpopular. … I have to move forward sometimes in uncertainty. … I had to get comfortable challenging mediocrity. … I had to lower my pride and admit I can often be wrong. … I had to come to a reality that I couldn’t be everywhere or do everything. … I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to put on my calendar is rest.”
“… Talk more than you listen. …”
Temptation & testing: A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?
“Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives. But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?”