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Serving Christ in an Unchristian World - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
March 23, 2023 6:00 am

Serving Christ in an Unchristian World - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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March 23, 2023 6:00 am

Sometimes we get the wrong idea that only preachers and missionaries are called to serve in ministry. But as Skip shares in his message "Serving Christ in an Unchristian World," all believers are to be in ministry, and that includes you.

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No matter what job you have, no matter what season of life you are in, no matter what your background, what your education, one area we all overlap in is this. We are all called to be His servants. Sometimes we get the wrong idea that it's just preachers and missionaries who are called to serve the Lord in ministry. But as Skip shares today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, all believers are to be in ministry and serve the Lord in our unchristian world, and that includes you. Now, we're excited to tell you about a resource that'll help you discern and do God's will. What is God's will for your life? Skip Heitzig has biblical direction. The will of God is not some mystical, impractical, ethereal process that makes you weird. It is not a maze.

It is not a puzzle that you have to put together and figure it out. In fact, sometimes the will of God is so plain and straightforward, the Bible just tells you what the will of God is. Shed the Bible's bright light on your path ahead with Discovering God's Will, an eight-message package from Pastor Skip. You can uncover and understand what the Lord wants to show you about His will.

It's not always easy, but the answers answers are in there. We want to send you these insightful messages as thanks for your gift today to support Connect with Skip Heitzig and help expand this teaching ministry to more major cities in the US in 2023. So request your copy when you give today and begin to let God direct your path for your good and His glory. Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer.

That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're turning to Colossians 1 as we join Skip for today's study. So I never wanted to be a preacher and if you would have suggested to me in high school that I was going to end up being a minister, I would bare minimum have laughed at you. I could have gotten much worse from from there on, but nobody in my high school class would have guessed that. In fact, this week I just decided for fun to look through my high school annual and read some of the sentiments that fellow students wrote to me. And so here's what Robert Fowler said. Good luck, Skip.

You are going to need it. My coach, one of my coaches, Coach Goldmyer said, I hope that you had a good time this year even though you were rowdy at times. Rick Walker said, what do you say to somebody as messed up as you are? Does that give you a little bit of an idea about how I live my high school days? And then typical high school unsaved sentiment at the end, we have a couple of days ahead to do we have a couple of days ahead to do some really heavy drinking. Bob McAdams wrote to me and said, you have been a unique experience in my life. Kathy wrote to me and said, have a neat summer, you make me sick.

That's in my annual. I got to live with that. And then Jan Hollis wrote to me and said, words cannot express how really weird I think you are. Okay, so now imagine the shock of the first high school reunion, ten-year reunion, when I come back and they say, so what do you do? And I say, I'm a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And they were shocked. But I would do nothing else. Frankly, to do anything else for me would be a demotion.

I love what I do. I am what I am by the grace of God. One theologian said God had only one son and he made him a preacher.

And Charles Spurgeon said to his class of ministry students, if God has called you to be a servant, don't stoop to be a king. So I'm going to ask you a question. How many of you here are called to the ministry? Raise your hands. Okay, let's do that again.

Now give me the right answer. How many of you are called to the ministry? Raise your hand.

There you go. All of y'all are called in the ministry. No matter what job you have, no matter what season of life you are in, no matter what your background, what your education, one area we all overlap in is this. We are all called to the ministry. No matter what your background is, we are all called to be his servants. I'm going to have you notice in verse 23 of chapter 1, he uses the word minister.

See that at the end? He said, the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven of which I, Paul, became a minister. And then would you notice down in verse 25, of which I became a minister. Now typically we hear the word minister and we think of a guy in a robe with a collar. Paul did not have that in his head when he wrote that. A minister, the word he uses, meant a servant. And the word is a word that means a humble servant, like a busboy.

Somebody low on the totem pole but is a servant of Christ. So Paul had an audience that basically, unless they were Christians, did not like what they heard. So think of the Romans, the Greeks, the Orthodox Jews, the cultists who were around, all of whom, when Paul gave his message of truth, hated it. Hated it. It finally got him beheaded.

It finally got him beheaded. Do you know that you and I are called to live the Christian life in a society that is not sympathetic with the Christian cause? And our nation is becoming less and less tolerant of people like you and I. I was reading an article this week from the Atlantic Magazine, one little statistic they threw in, from 1937 to 1998, church membership in this country hovered around 70 percent. So I asked 100 people, do you belong and participate in a church? 70 out of 100 would say yes up until 1998. Today church membership is less than 50 percent. Now we hear that. That's not a big deal to us because we think, yeah, well, church is not a big deal.

But they got a little bit deeper. One researcher conducted a survey asking people, of all the different people groups, which one do you dislike the most? A large number of Americans disliked the people group labeled conservative Christian. Conservative Christian.

Moi. And there was a poll conducted of progressive activists, and you know that's going to be dicey and a lot of fun. So they polled progressive activists asking them what they thought about Christianity and especially conservative Christians, and asked the people in the survey to write back their own words, their own thoughts. Here's a few of the sentiments. One person said, kill them all and let their God sort them out.

Very loving and tolerant. Another one wrote and said, a torturous death would be too good for them. And someone else wrote and said, I regard them as subhuman.

It's very Nazi-like rhetoric in reference to this group that you and I are a part of. Well, in the last six verses of chapter one, Paul is describing his ministry. He explains to the church of Colossae his calling. Verse 24, I now rejoice in my sufferings for you to fill up in to fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the church, of which I, Paul, became a servant, a minister, according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you to fulfill the word of God. The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end, I also labor, striving according to his working which works in me mightily. Now, why did Paul need to explain his calling and his service to this church?

Well, let me put it to you this way. If you got a letter from a man you never met who was a prisoner, who is accused of being a troublemaker, how would you respond? That is the position the church of Colossae was in. They got a letter from somebody they never met, Paul, who was in prison in Rome, who was accused by the Roman government of being a troublemaker.

He was on trial for his life, and he needs to explain to them his calling because he wants them to be confident in his authority because he's going to and already has been speaking against a false teaching that has come in. So what I want to do in this last paragraph that I just read is show you five characteristics of being a servant of Christ in an unchristian world. Know that for Paul the apostle, to serve Jesus was the highest possible privilege.

He would not stoop to be a king because he was a servant of the living God. Let me give you those five, and the first one maybe isn't the best place to start, but truth is truth, so let me unleash it. Serving involves suffering. I know you didn't come to church to hear that, but again, truth is truth. Do you notice in verse 24 two words that grab our attention? It's the word suffering and the word affliction. I rejoice in my sufferings for you. Fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the affliction of Christ. The way this is worded, it sounds like Paul says, I'm okay with this.

I kind of figured that I would be getting into this, and this is par for the course. I think Paul understood that following Jesus Christ was not a fairy tale. It's not a live happily ever after kind of a thing. He did not live happily ever after. As I mentioned, he was beheaded eventually for his faith at around age 58. Jesus made us a promise. He said, in this world, you will have suffering, tribulation, tribulation. In this world, you will have tribulation. I wonder how many of us have that underlined in our Bible.

Have any of you found that serving Christ can be difficult, can be painful, can be a place where you are persecuted for your faith in Christ? You know when Paul was first saved? What road was he on, by the way, when he was first saved?

Damascus Road. When Paul was first saved on the Damascus Road, and he's in Damascus, God dispatches a disciple named Ananias to go talk to him. He said, go your way, for he is a chosen vessel of mine, that is Paul, a chosen vessel of mine, to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my sake. Imagine being told that in the prayer room after an altar call. Welcome to a life of suffering for Christ. People will go, no, thank you. I don't want to sign up for that. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul is sort of defending who he is, and he brings up the evidence for who he is by the things he has gone through.

Listen to this list. This is 2 Corinthians 11, beginning in verse 23. I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, faced death again and again. Five times, the Jews gave me 39 lashes. Three times, I was beaten with rods. Once, I was stoned.

Of course, he means rocks thrown at him. Three times, I was shipwrecked. Once, I spent a whole night and day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often, I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food.

Often, I have shivered with cold without enough clothing to keep me warm." Welcome to the ministry, Paul. Paul understood that serving involves suffering. But if and when you suffer, just make sure you're suffering for the right reason. Jesus said, Jesus said, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. He didn't say blessed are those who are persecuted for just being obnoxious, pushy, and weird. There's no blessing in that. Make sure that when you are persecuted, be respectful, be loving, be filled with grace with people who are coming at you and disagree with you, knowing that no matter how loving and presenting you are in that, you're still going to get hammered sometimes.

But I like what one person said. He goes, God is looking for sharpshooters, not machine gunners. Don't make a mess, make a mark.

You know, aim for the heart and be very careful. Be as Jesus said, wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Now, a little clarification about verse 24. You read it and it's a little bit puzzling and some have been confused by it because he says, I rejoice in my suffering for you and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the affliction of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the church.

What is he saying? Is he saying that he is adding to the atonement of Christ? Well, he can't mean that because Jesus on the cross said it is finished.

It's a finished work. He's not adding to the sacrifice. There's no lack in the sacrifice of Christ. The word that he uses here for affliction is a word never used for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, always used for us as humans facing the pressures of life or the persecution that we get for being a Christian.

So here's how it works. We are, as he says here, the body of Christ, right? That's the term the church, the body of Christ. The world is out to strike a blow at the head, but they hit the body.

The head of the church is Christ. They're aiming for the head. They get the body. And the reason they're not getting the head is the head was here, but he's now at the right hand of the Father in glory. And so he's not around to get, you and I, his representatives are. So they aim for the head, but they get the body.

And that's what we feel. But know this, even though they are aiming for the head and they're getting the body, the head feels every blow. When Paul the Apostle, before he was Paul with Saul of Tarsus on that Damascus road, Jesus got his attention, said, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? He felt Paul or Saul's ire against those Christians in Damascus.

The head feels every blow. What Paul is saying is this, I am now taking my turn in the suffering of the afflictions that Jesus himself once took. You know what? If Jesus came back again, they'd crucify him again. And if he came back again and again and again, they would kill him every time. And so he's not around to get, but you and I are. Paul is saying it's my turn to take the affliction.

Paul is not here any longer. Guess who's in turn for the affliction? You and I. It's our turn.

You go, that's horrible. Well, that's not how the early Christians saw it. Do you know that the early church saw suffering for Christ as a badge of honor? All the way back to Acts chapter five, they departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. There's so many stories in like Fox's book of martyrs of Christians who were facing martyrdom, they counted it a privilege. God gave them that special grace.

Cool story, true story. John Wesley, the Methodist revivalist preacher, was riding his horse one day and a thought came to him. He said, man, I haven't been persecuted for like three days.

Something must be wrong. Maybe I've backslidden, maybe there's sin in my life that I need to confess. He jumps off his horse, gets down on his knees in an open field and starts praying, asking God, search my heart, Lord. What have I done to offend you?

Have I backslidden? So as he's praying, somebody recognizes that's that Methodist preacher. Man, I hate him. And so the guy picks up a brick, throws it at Wesley, misses. Wesley jumps up, smiles, sees it as a sign of God's favor and says, thank God, it's all right.

I still have his presence. He understood serving involves suffering. Here's the second characteristic. Serving is a stewardship. Look at verse 25. He uses the term, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God, which was given to me to fulfill the word of God. Now, a steward was somebody who took care of somebody else's property. Usually it was a slave or somebody who was hired and that person took care of the property management, the household, the people involved in the household. Abraham had a steward by the name of Eleazar, who took care of his many flocks, who took care of the 318 paid servants in Abraham's household. Jesus began a parable by saying there was a certain rich man who had a steward, that is an estate manager.

So a stewardship is a commission. Paul is saying, I have been commissioned by God for a task. Therefore, I must be faithful to discharge my duty. Now, I want you to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say. Serving is not optional.

Up to this point, maybe some of you have thought, no, no, no. I'm just, my job in life is to attend things. I will find a seat. I will sit there. I will listen to his words. I will go out and do my thing. Serving Christ is not optional.

It's essential. In fact, do you know it's the reason you're not in heaven today? If the goal in salvation was just to get you to heaven, you know what would happen at every altar call? They'd come forward. They'd receive Christ. They'd fall over dead. We'd go out and bury them.

They're in heaven. The fact that you're still here shows that you're here for some reason. God wants something more out of your life. You were born at a certain time, in a certain place, by certain parents, for a certain purpose. Ephesians 2.10, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has ordained, foreordained, that we should walk in them. You have a sphere of influence. You have a place to serve, a destiny to fulfill.

Only you can do that. God saved you on purpose, for a purpose. Ours is to discover that purpose and walk in it. Not just to discover the purpose, but to be faithful in it.

1 Corinthians 4, verse 2, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. God saved you, basically, to do two things. I'm going to sum up your Christian life in the irreducible minimum.

Two basic things. Number one, discover your gifts and build up the body of Christ. You have gifts in the church. Number two, reach out to unbelievers unsaved people and bring as many to heaven with you as you can. That kind of sums it all up. You and I are called to build up others in the church and reach out to the world around you.

To do that, you've got to be faithful. Any of you ever been to Yellowstone National Park? Okay, it's a great place. Okay, so of all the geysers that are in Yellowstone National Park, which is the most popular geyser? Old Faithful. Interesting, it's not the biggest geyser.

It's not the most powerful geyser. There are others that are much taller, much more powerful, but Old Faithful is seen by over 4 million people every year. You know why? Because it's faithful.

They know that 20 times every day, every 63 to 70 minutes, it's going to go off. It's predictable. It's faithful.

It's always going to do it. Have you ever wanted to be used by the Lord, but you were unsure how or where He could use you? Well, we have a great opportunity for you to partner with this ministry in getting God's word out to listeners like you all over the world. Here's how you can give today to keep these biblical teachings coming to you and others. Visit connectwithskip.com slash donate to give a gift. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate, or call 800-922-1888.

800-922-1888. Thank you for your generosity. Tomorrow Skip wraps up his message, Serving Christ in an Un-Christian World, and shares that while a life of service to Christ is not easy, you'll find it's worth it. One of my favorite Spurgeon sayings is this one.

He said, if you plan to be lazy, there are plenty of places where you will not be wanted, but above all, you are not wanted in the Christian ministry. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. Connection. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-23 05:00:58 / 2023-03-23 05:09:57 / 9

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