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Perspectives on serving from a place of love…

February 5, 2012

This morning I had the privilege of sharing at Kings Fellowship as part of the small group fayre.

And here are my notes from, an images the talk… the audio is available from the Kings website here.

Enjoy…


While we’re getting settled – I’m going to take a couple of moments to plug our next Connections event on 19th Feb, two weeks from today…

The Connection Event is a meal held immediately after church – we provide a soup and sandwich lunch, with options for wee ones.  The event is for those of you who would like to get to know more about Kings Fellowship, where we’ve come from, where we’re going. It’s an opportunity to meet with and get to know some of the Elders and Ministry team from the church. If this sounds of interest to you please sign up either today or next Sunday so we can organize catering.  We would really love the opportunity to get to know you.

There is such a thing as a free meal!

Later this morning we are going to have the privilege of praying for and blessing the small groups in Kings Fellowship.

But before we get to that I’d like take a few minutes to carry on something Thom started here on 15th January – where he talked about clarifying and redefining some commonly used words in the Christian Vocabulary.

The word I’m going to look into this morning is “Service”, – the definitions we will look at are from my own personal experience. It’s going to be more of a testimony of what not to do than a preach. Ok?

Over the past couple of months I have been re-reading Johns Gospel in some detail –

In it I’ve become profoundly aware that John doesn’t refer to himself the way we would… we would say “I”,”Me”,”my”… while he would say “the disciple Jesus loved” or something similar.  In other Gospels we can see that John had been an ego-centric youth…

wanting power and a position of authority… but now writing his gospel as an old man his perspective was shifted off himself to a place where Jesus was at the centre. So references to himself were worded with the person of Jesus at the center stage…

– and John has been bringing me to a place of repentance…  do you remember how repentance was defined in Thom’s talk in January?…  a change of mind, and thinking, effecting your heart.

Repentance – Metanoia – change your mind, and your thinking, effecting your heart.

The change for me is that I’m working through gaining a different perspective on the christian life

And it is from the place of still being in the middle of change that I’m sharing with you this morning. ok?

And where we’re going to start looking at this topic is in John ch21

Ok lets look at… John 21…

Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee (James and John), and two other disciples.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

I like Peter – he was a man of action, a natural leader… he was the one that the others were looking to to see what to do next…

Peter had been a fisherman, and so this being a strength he could fall back into… and with nothing else to do he declares… “I’m going fishing” and the other disciples agree and follow him.

BTW -This isn’t a photograph of me – it’s a postcard from NI before I started Fly Fishing that a friend received from His mum… and he thought it was me!

Back to the story…

But they caught nothing, they had worked hard all night – and with all their skill, expertise, leadership and plan… nothing… there was no fruit for the work they were doing.

Peter must have felt pretty flat… enthusiasm used up, no more of himself to give.

Then he [Jesus] said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

When I’m fishing and not catching fish – I know it can be difficult to receive advice from someone else, standing on the shore… But the disciples do take the advice – they hear Jesus and obey… and as a result they were fruitful.

When Peter recognized Jesus, he didn’t hang around and wait for the boat to get to shore he put on this coat and was over the side swimming for it.

I feel I know this scene, I recognize those times when I’ve jumped into doing something, been frustrated at the lack of progress/fruit, felt discouraged/broken and then at what seems to be the last moment Jesus sorts it out…

In the past I’ve thrown myself into things, burning with energy and ideas, running on adrenaline… but like a fire deprived of fuel or oxygen will splutter out so was I.  I have found myself serving – but running on empty, weary and broken – and that’s not Gods plan… but it is the plan of “I”, “Me”, “My”, ego-centric selfish thinking.

Folks, If you find yourself doing something, some area of service that is sucking the life right out of you – STOP.  Listen to what the spirit is saying to you…

Doing stuff that is eating you up is not what God wants, it’s not what we want for you here at Kings.

I would encourage you to try out areas of service, to see where there’s fruit in your life being nurtured and growing – but when it’s time to move on – do so… no-one here wants you burned out.

This is a pretty good summary of how I personally have approached service in a church setting… and the ego-centred thinking that I’ve had when I’ve seen a need goes something like this…

I ask the questions…

  • What have I experience of in the past, what was fruitful?…
  • is there an opportunity I can do it again, can I apply it here?…
  • throw myself into doing that thing again…
  • frustration that fruit wasn’t forthcoming…
  • and finally dependent on Jesus to rescue me again.

And that is how I’ve defined service in the past – see a need, fill a need!

This is ego-centric thinking – What can I/me do, how can my ego be fed in this…

But this view of service is one of the definitions that my readings in John have been leading me to a place of repentance…

changing my thinking…

changing my heart.

In September Heather & I attended an ILSOM conference in Edinburgh… after a couple of days I was starting to feel twitchy and frustrated… most of the other delegates seemed to be having a great time with God… I was unhappy, distracted…

A realization came to mind – that this was probably the first conference I had attended where I wasn’t serving as part of the team in close to 30 years…  I’d been part of ministry teams, runing PA or AV, Worship, setup/teardown, stewarding, sharing… but at ILSOM… nothing… and it was weird, and disconcerting. I didn’t know what to do.

Then in a moment of waiting on him I had a picture of myself flying in an idyllic  blue sky…

and in this picture I felt I could accelerate past the speed of sound and swoop and whoosh in the sky in freedom. Then another thought came to mind that maybe I could go up and see the edge of space… I’ve always fancied being a spaceman.  So whoosh up I went, higher and higher… but the sky grew no darker, and no matter how fast I traveled it still remained this perfect blue.

Then I heard a little voice – a voice that said – there is no ‘edge’ to my love for you.

there is no ‘edge’ to my love for you

God revealed his love for me (and for you) in that picture – his love has no boundaries, and we are free to move and be in this space… in his love.

And it is in this place of Love that God wants all of us to operate from…

Lets move towards the end of John 21… We’ve had Peters plan – let’s do what I know.. now we see Jesus plan…

Jesus asks Peter the same question three times… “Do you love me”

As Peter responds, increasingly passionately to Jesus – Jesus commissions him to lead the disciples… to lead the church.

And at the end of the exchange Jesus simply says “Follow me.”

The root of true service is being in Love with Jesus,

immersed – overwhelmed – in him

and as a result following him where He takes us.

Earlier in John 15:9 jesus says…

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

In the past I would have read this passage and read it as ‘obey the commandments in order to prove that you love Jesus’… but on that way lies legalism, and we can never succeed there… and it’s not what Jesus is saying…

What I believe he is saying is this When you remain in His love, when we love Him as he loved the father, an outcome of that love is that this commandments will be obeyed. We don’t even have to think about it.

Our primary focus is to be on loving Jesus.  When Jesus is the centre, the core… Everything else flows from that place. That’s why our joy will overflow…

John 15 verse 12 continues…

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.  This is my command: Love each other.”

There is no better example than the life of Jesus to sum up Love, and the expression of Love that we call Service.

This is what service means to me now –

Being IN His Love… everything else comes to resolution.

we obey his commands…

we love each other…

we serve each other… not as a slave, but as Jesus friend…

knowing everything that the Father has revealed…

Producing lasting fruit…

Equipped by the father.

Jesus said that he could only do what he saw the father doing – and so it should be with us…  Our call is also to see what the Father is doing and respond to that…

To be poured out…

and that might seem a little scary, we may feel unprepared/unqualified for what we see God doing, but we need to follow him and trust in his Love.

So…

Service needs to be centered on Loving Jesus… “Do you love me”

Who we serve is defined by Jesus… “Love eachother”

What we do is lead by Jesus… “Follow me.”

The fruit belongs to Him.

I Stand here as a work in progress – one of those that Jesus loves.

And I hope that this morning you can hear my heart that service comes solely from being centered on the Love of Jesus, and not from our attempts to do stuff from our own strengths.

Here at Kings our vision statement is simple.

“Following Christ, bringing others with us”

and that is our vision for service too… We love Jesus, knowing his boundless love…

and we follow him where he leads…

and he brings us into love and service to others.

In a few moments I’m going to call each of the leaders of the service groups forward, and when everyones up here I’m going to ask them a couple of questions… and then pray for them.

During this time I would like you to be seeking God’s Love, the love of the Father and the Son.  Listening to Him, responding to Him.

And once the leaders have moved off around the room if you feel that God is asking you to follow one of these leaders, or if you have something encouraging to share about the area they lead please go to them and share what is in your heart.

Also In your notes there is a list of service groups and if you are lead to respond to any of these groups please complete the form and leave it at the back on your way out this morning, and we’ll follow that up with you.

ok? Will you do that?

<read out the List of leaders, and areas…>

Ok – that’s everyone up here now.  I’ve a couple of questions for you leaders… ok?

Jesus asked of Peter, “Do you love me?” – and so I am asking you “Do you love Jesus, Do you love the Son as the Son loves the Father, and the Father the son?”

Jesus commanded us to Love each other – so I am asking you “Do you love these people?”

Jesus request to Peter was simply “Follow me” – “Do you receive and respond to His request to Follow Him?”

Ok… these leaders have just publicly declared their love for God, their Love for you and their heart to follow Jesus.

I’m going to release them to take up station around the room – and we’re going to give you an opportunity until the kids come back in to go to those that God has been talking to you about, to share you’re heart with them.

Thank you, and bless you.

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