Serving God

Original Date: 
Sunday, September 15, 2013

20 years ago back in 1993, Bob Cleveringa asked me this question:
If you could snap your fingers and know that you could not fail what would you do?
I was a hog farmer at the time and helping with the Sr. High Youth Ministry at First Ref. Church in Orange City as a sponsor. And Bob was taking all the sponsors through this class on Discovering your spiritual gifts, Understanding God’s Design for your Life.
And the question he asked us was:
If I could snap my fingers and know that I could not fail what would I do?

Without thinking very hard I knew what my answer was. “ A Bull Riding Clown”. I thought, oh I am not going to share that, everyone will think I am just being funny. Nobody will take me seriously. As it got to my turn to share I said with pride, “Bull Riding Clown” everyone laughed and my wife Shantel, just rolled her eyes.
After everyone finished laughing Bob’s next sentence was, “ This is exactly who Jay is.” I thought it is? Wow, one person did not think it was just a joke, because I was being serious. He then asked me “Jay Why did you put that down.” I proceeded to respond, I love people, I love making people laugh and smile, and being a bull riding clown I would be able to do that, I would bring joy to people. But there is even a bigger reason. A Bull riding clown has a much more important job than to just make people laugh. He is there to protect the riders, to jump in when it gets messy to try and help out, and to even put his own life on the line to protect the cowboys that are riding.
Bob than said, “this is exactly how God designed Jay to be with youth. This is why he will do great things in youth ministry as a sponsor.” He then asked me what else I had written down. If I could just snap my fingers, I said:
I would love to Go to seminary or a 4 year college for youth ministry. Be a Youth Director for youth who need one. Help youth that are struggling through life’s problems in High school.
He looked right at me and asked why are you not doing it than. I said I was a hog farmer and that would be to scary to go back to school, I am not good at English and I was told in jr. high I had a teacher that said I should never do public speaking, and Bob, you do it a lot better than I could ever do youth talks. You relate well to youth.
Why do I start off with this illustration this morning. Because we are in this Series called “Beyond Sunday Mornings” Serving God. And the first thing we need to do is Discover how God has Uniquely designed you. He did not create you to just take up space on this earth, he created you for a special purpose only you can fulfill. God’s thumbprint is on each of us from the time we were born. He created us for a special purpose to serve in His Kingdom here on earth.
He calls each of us to serve and use the talents, abilities He has given us, to Glorify Him and build up others here on earth

“How can we discover our specific purposes?”
This morning I would like to address this sermon to those of you who really want discover their spot to serve, but just don’t know how to get started.

Our Scripture reading for today is one of the popular versus about serving.

It is found in 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
We learn some important truths from those two verses.
First, we learn that God has gifted each of us in different ways. That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? We all have different gifts.
The second part is we need to administrate them to serve others. So that God’s grace can be administered in various forms. There is not just one type of ministry or way to do ministry.
Finally, we learn that God supplies what is needed for us to be able to use our gifts to serve.

Why are we scared? God give us His words, God gives us strength to accomplish His good purposes, so that God will be glorified.
What we need to understand this morning is when we step out and trust God and use our gifts, God is going to show up and energize those gifts and do more through us than we ever could have imagined we could do.
God often makes known His strength through our weaknesses.

Hopefully, these truths will help us overcome our fear of not being adequate for the task.

Truth is – we will never be adequate. God is the one who makes us adequate for HIS mission here on earth.

We can’t do it on our own, remember God is the one who gives us strength – God doesn’t want us trying to do it on our own, by our own means, with our own agenda, with our own our own strength.
(Phil. 4:13). Say’s it best. “we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength”

It is our responsibility to be Faithfull to use the gifts God has given each of us. So that we can Glorify Him and serve others.
Let me repeat that. It is our responsibility to be faithful to use the gifts God has given each of us, so that we can Glorify Him and Serve others.
How can we identify our gifts and figure out where to begin to serve?
A few years ago I read Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life
and preached on a series from “Shaped For Serving God in Ministry
The book in chapter 4 emphasized the fact that we are shaped for serving God differently. Only you can be you.

God has designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world. No one else has the exact same mix of factors that make you and me unique.
I have had Identical twins in my youth group. Katie and Carly looked exactly the same. It took me along time to figure out who was who. But they gave me on helpful hint one day. Even though they were identical Katie had a dimple on her cheek when she smiled. So every time I would talk with them would try to find something funny so I could get them to smile, so I knew who I was talking too. My Point Even identical twins have some differences.

That means that no one else on earth will ever be able to play the role that God has planned for you.
So if you and I don’t make our unique contribution to the Body of Christ, then it won’t be made.
There are tons of places in scripture that talk about this, including 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and our Scripture reading for today from 1 Peter 4.

Would not the world be boring if we all were the same? That is why we do not only have physical differences. but also how he has gifted us differently to serve in the body of Christ.
You might be asking how did God uniquely create me?
Doug Fields, Rick Warren at Pastors at Saddleback Church call it finding your SHAPE.
How has God Shaped you. How had he uniquely designed you?

First we have the Letter S your Spiritual gifts. What our your God given Gifts
Spiritual Gifts are special God-empowered abilities for serving that are given only to believers. We don’t earn or deserve them, that’s why they are called gifts.
Neither do we get to chose which gifts we would like to have, God determines all this. And because God loves variety, and he wants us to be special, he gives no single gift to everyone, nor does he give all the gifts to any one person. He wants to teach us to love and depend on each other. The gifts are not given for personal good, but for the good of the entire church body. He does this so that we need to depend on each other, making the church body work together. When we use our gifts together, we all benefit.

The “H” in SHAPE stands for Your Heart. What are you passionate about?

The Bible uses the term “heart” to describe the bundle of our desires and passion. Or hopes and interests, or dreams or ambition. What you love to do and what you care about most.
We all have a different heartbeat. Just like our finger prints are all different our heart has a unique beat to it as well.. We instinctively care about some things and don’t care about other things.

What kinds of ministries burn in your heart? What sturs in you that causes some sleepless nights. What do you feel good about doing? What would you like to make a difference about? What do you get excited about?
These are clues to your heart.
Don’t ignore your interests. Consider how they might be used for God’s glory. There is a reason that you love to do the things you love to do. God had a purpose of giving you these inborn interests.
When you are doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you or challenge you or check up on you. You do it for sheer joy in itself. No reward, no applause or payment. Just because you love serving in what you do. The great thing is you get good at it why? Because you have Passion and passion about something drives you to succeed.

The “A” in SHAPE stands for Your Abilities.What are you good at?
Your abilities are the natural talents you were born with. Some have natural abilities with language, some work with their hands, some are artistic, some are good at athletics, and others like numbers, or music, or debate, or mechanics, or growing things.
Realize that all our abilities come from God. God has given each of us abilities to do certain things well. All of these abilities he gave you are to be used for God’s glory.

So what abilities do you have? We sometimes want to use the excuse I am not good at anything. This is a lie. Studies have shown that the average person possesses 500 to 700 different skills and abilities, which is a number far higher than what you were thinking you had.
How can these abilities be used in ministry in our church here at Hope, or for missions for the Kingdom of God.

The “P” in SHAPE stands for Your Personality. . How are you wired?
Again, let me say that all of us are different and so are our personalities. We don’t realize how truly unique each of us is.
Studies have shown with DNA molecules can unite in an infinite number of ways. Number is 10 to the 2.4 Billion. If you were to write that number out with each zero being one inch wide it you would need a strip of paper that was 37,000 miles long. New York to LA is less than 3,000 miles long. 2,790 on google maps.
So to say you are the only you in this universe, is fairly easy to say.
It is obvious God loves variety. Look around here. Just down your row.

Some of us are introverts you love tasks; others are extroverts who love hanging with people. Some love routine, the structured kind of people. Others love variety and have never used a day planner in there life. Some are thinkers; others are feelers. Some work best alone; others work best in a team. All of us were you uniquely created differently.

We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and give it flavor. There is no “right” or “wrong” temperament for ministry. Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities to serve.

For instance, two people may have the same gift of encouragement, but if one is introverted they might just love to write cards, and the other with the same gift of encouragement who is an extroverted, will probably pick up the phone or stop by. Depending on your personality style that gift will be expressed in different ways.
God uses all types of personalities.

And Lastly, The “E” in SHAPE stands for Your Experiences. What have you been through
What are the lessons you have learned in the school of hard knocks through life?
We have all been shaped by our experiences in life, and those experiences can be used to minister to others.

Think for a moment about the different kinds of experiences you have had: Family, Educational, Vocational, Spiritual, Ministry, experiences that were filled with Joy, or other experiences that caused great Pain.

Your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt or pain.
God never wastes a hurt. God uses our painful experiences.
People are always more encouraged when we share how God’s grace helped us in weakness than when we brag about our strengths.

Don’t waste your experience, Share your experience, Only shared experiences can help others.
“What will you do, of what you have been through?”
God has walked with you through life storms, so you can help walk with others.

This is your SHAPE “No one else can be you”
All of these things, Your Spiritual Gifts, your Heart, your Abilites, your Personality, and your Experiences. By Identifying and understanding these factors you can discover God’s will for your life. This would be how he has SHAPED you.

Rick Warren said it best when he said. Using your Shape is the secret of both fruitfulness and fulfillment in ministry. You will be most effective when you use your spiritual gifts and abilities in the area of your heart’s desire, in a way that best expresses your personality and experiences. The better the fit, the more successful you will be.

How can you get started on this Journey in Discovering God’s Purpose for you?
1.Be in Prayer that God would show you His Specific Purpose for your life.
2. Take a look at the bulletin insert these are places that the church needs people to serve in. This morning I want to draw your attention to the list of places to serve. It is possible you did not know that was an area you could help with, maybe this can spark or start you on the path of serving were God has designed you to serve. We have given you this list to read and look over, what might catch your eye as you look over the list.

  1. Go check out one that caught your eye. The box on the Table in the back of church has some more descriptions and more info about the list in bulletin of the places you could serve. Feel free to grab a card and contact the point person of the ministry.

  2. Not sure where to start, Come Take the Networking class that Kim Smith and I are co-teaching. It starting on October 13th 1:30-3:30 The class is fun, and has some assessment tools that can help you discover where God has uniquely designed you to be. See where a good fit in ministry is for you, So you can start to serve.

God certainly wants to answer the prayer – “Lord, How can I serve?”
John Maxwell, in his book Developing the Leader Within You, summarized this process in this way:
1. Look above you – What does God want? Seek His guidance.
2. Look within you – What are your gifts, talents, and personality?
3. Look behind you – What are your past experiences?
4. Look around you – What are the needs? Here at Hope Church
5. Look ahead of you – What fires you up and inspires you?

Let me offer a word of caution.

This whole idea about finding out what God has designed you to do can turn into an attitude that says, “I can’t serve until I figure it all out,” but that can be a trap or a dead end.

If we are not careful, we can get stuck in the discovery mode and never get around to the serving mode.

Sometimes we just need to get going and then let God steer us.

Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “You can’t steer a parked car.” And how true it is.

Sometimes we just have to try things out to see if it fits us or not.
Finding out that we are not suited for a certain kind of service doesn’t mean we have failed, it just means we need to try something else. You may never know what you would be good at until you try.
Another way to get started is to look around the congregation or community and see what is already being done, or what needs to be done.
If something is already being done by someone, you can volunteer to help them with that ministry.

Most of the time, that person would be happy to share the ministry. Most people and ministries are looking for helpers.
As you look around you might notice things that are being done, but could be done in a better way. Maybe you are the one who can improve the ministry.

When you look around, do you see a problem that needs addressing, or a need that needs filling?
Someone has said, “Find a need and fill it” – that’s the key to ministry.
Over my years in the ministry, I’ve seen people get involved in this way over and over again.
They step forward and work with a ministry that is already in place and seek to enhance it, or they step forward and provide the spark and vision to start a new ministry.

The truth is - God has SHAPED us for Service and He is pleased when we do so!

Life is much more fruitful and fulfilling when we live it for the purposes God intended.
I want to end with a story.
One night a man and his wife were getting ready for bed.
His wife looked out the back window and noticed that the light was on in the tool shed in the back yard. Evidently some thieves had broken in and were trying to steal some of their tools. The man called the police, but when the dispatcher learned the details of the call, he said, “All of our officers are busy and will get there as soon as they can. Lock the doors, it sounds like there is no present danger for your lives.” So, the man hung up the phone and waited about 30 seconds and called the police again. He said, “I’m the guy who called a minute ago about the thieve breaking into my tool shed. You don’t need to come I’ve taken care of everything, I just shot them.” Three minutes later three police cars, an ambulance, and a rescue squad raced up to the house. They caught the thieves, red handed.
One of the officers said the man, “I thought you said you shot the thieves.”
He replied, “I thought you said nobody was available.”

Anyhow, the statement, “Nobody is available” is one that should never be used in the kingdom of God.
God’s intention is that His children are available to serve.
All of us are put here on the earth to make a contribution.
We were not created just to consume resources and take up space.
God has designed us to make a difference with our lives.
Let’s determine to use our gifts, talents, and experience to accomplish God’s purposes.

The next question in the book, 20 years ago Bob Cleveringa asked me after the “If I could snapped my after my Bull Riding Clown answer was this”. At the end of my life, I’d love to be able to look back and know that I’d done something about. Blank_____?
The answer 20 years ago was this, To Impact young people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ And the second part was to Help youth get through High school problems, and for me to be able to be someone they can talk too, alongside their parents.

What is your answer?
I want to close with our Key Scripture reading today from the New Living Translation because when I read it, it sounds more to me as a command to do something, not just something that is optional.

1 Peter 4:10-11 (NLT)
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! AMEN

God’s thumbprint is on each of us from the time we were born.
I pray that God would also show you, what he has uniquely designed you to do here on this earth for His kingdom.