I was in there one time cleaning the restroom and of course nobody else was around and you know that still small voice of the Lord. He said, what are you doing? I said, I'm cleaning the bathroom for you. And the Lord in kind of a humorous still small voice said, well you can stop now, I'm not very impressed. I said, well I'm doing it.
He said, your heart's all on them. You're a sinner saved by grace, you don't even deserve to be in this building, much less working in it. Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David McGee. Serving the Lord is an important thing to do, but what's even more important is that we serve with the right attitude. Find out more today as Pastor David continues in Romans 14 with his teaching titled Encouragement.
Here's David. So we're in Romans 14. This is Paul writing to the church at Rome, and he's not been there yet.
It's probably about 5758 AD, something like that when he wrote the book. And one of the things that makes this particular portion of Scripture very valuable is he's given us really practical tips on Christian living. And so in Romans 14, he's continuing with this thought and let's pick it up with, let's reread verse 17. It's such a cool verse in here. Romans chapter 14 verse 17 says, for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
What can happen is we begin to major on the minors and minor on the majors. What I mean by that, this verse is, the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking. And this chapter is talking about, you know, there was factions within the church there at Rome and says, well, it's okay to eat this, but you can't eat that and whatever you do, don't eat this because if you eat that you're totally separated from God and you can't drink this, can't drink that. And they were reducing Christianity, the kingdom of God, to a set of rules and do's and don'ts. Imagine that. That has no bearing on the modern day church at all, does it?
It has every bearing on it. Why? Because so many people, if you go out and you ask somebody that doesn't believe in Jesus why they won't become a Christian, do you know nine times out of 10, they're going to say, well, the rules, I just can't keep the rules.
How sad is that? Gang, when you're talking to an unbeliever and you start talking to them about they can't do this and they can't do that, you need to understand that in their unregenerated, unconverted, unsaved self, they don't have the strength to fight any of those things. And so what we need to do is be concerned about the state of their soul, whether they know Jesus as their Savior, because once Jesus is in the house, everything changes, doesn't it? As pastor, you know, I'm tempted sometimes.
Man, the best thing I can do is just pray that the Holy Spirit gets a hold of somebody's heart, because once that happens, friend changes are coming. They're coming and you can't follow some body around going, don't do that, don't do that. Oh, quit doing that. You're not supposed to do that. You can't do that legally.
I've tried to do that and get busted for that, man. But the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit will do that. Now, let's look at verse 18. It says, for he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Now, I want you to notice this phrase, he who serves Christ. Last week, we spent some time on this peace and joy and righteousness in verse 17, powerful things.
Everybody wants some God's offering them. As we look at serving, let's remember this. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it, but he who serves Christ. See, this is something that's supposed to be going on in our lives is serving God. How do we serve God? Well, I think one of the easiest ways and the best ways is to take a part in the local body, to take a part of what's going on here, if you're here and this is your church. And let's remember that in Colossians chapter three, we're told by Paul in another place.
And he says, and whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Christ. See, we can get into the trap of doing things to be seen, and that is a trap, friend. Because if you're doing it for the appreciation of man, do you understand you're only going to do it for a little while? You're going to run out of steam.
You're going to burn out in a hurry. Why? Because there's going to be a lot of things that you do for the Lord. Nobody else sees. You know, I remember years ago I was walking through the church and somebody was in vacuuming, you know, and they looked at me and said, hey, Pastor David, I'm vacuuming. And I thought, oh, no. Because it looked like to me they were vacuuming for Pastor David.
And I knew that was only going to last a while. See, here's the thing, gang, and as much as I love every one of you with a supernatural love that God has given me, it's this love of God that keeps me motivated. Because sometimes things are very tough as a pastor.
Sometimes things are tough in life. And we need to be motivated by God, remembering that it is Jesus that we serve. Life lesson here, God takes pleasure in our serving with the right heart attitude. God takes pleasure in our serving with the right heart attitude. I got busted early on in ministry having a bad attitude.
I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again. I was hired by a church as kind of an assisting pastor and worship leader. Got to the church as a small fellowship, first staff meeting. Pastor looked at me and he said, you know, we've got to figure out who's going to clean the men's and women's restrooms. And he looked at me and he said, that's going to be your job. I'd come from a musical background, done a lot of stuff, you know, and thought my resume looked pretty good. And when he said I was like, man, and I literally thought, friend, I thought that's not why I'm here.
I'm here to do music. So I did, you know, of course, I had the intelligence not to share that in the staff meeting, but in the restrooms I'm cleaning during the week. And I had a terrible attitude, terrible attitude.
I was in there one time cleaning the restroom. And of course, nobody else is around. And, you know, and that still small voice of the Lord, he said, what are you doing? I said, I'm cleaning the bathroom for you. And the Lord in kind of a humorous, still small voice said, well, you can stop now.
I'm not very impressed. I said, well, I'm doing it. He said, your heart's all wrong. You're a sinner saved by grace.
You don't even deserve to be in this building, much less working in it. And I was grieved. I was cut to the core. And I said, God, I'm so sorry. The Bible says it's better to be a doorman in the house of the Lord than do other stuff. And so I said, God, please forgive me.
And he did. And then that what had been a chore became a joy. I had great times of fellowship in there cleaning the restroom and friend, when you can scrub a potty and worship God, you know that's the Holy Spirit.
Because that just doesn't happen in the in the natural world. Right. And then I remember being in the staff meeting a few months or weeks later or whatever. And the senior pastor looked at somebody else and he goes, you know what? We're going to have you clean the restrooms instead of David. And I was like, man, took my worship time of worshiping the Lord in the restroom.
Why? Because I got a hold of this serving the Lord. It talks about, you know, as we do these things acceptable to God and approved by men. Now, does that mean we need to serve Christ to be acceptable to God? Let me clarify. And this is very, very important. We should serve God because we love him. Period.
Here's what can happen. We are saved by grace, meaning unmerited favor, unearned. You don't deserve to be forgiven, but God in his graciousness is willing to forgive us.
You accept that. And because of that love, it motivates you to begin serving the Lord by serving other people. But what can happen is we can slip into legalism and thinking that we are earning the favor of God. Be careful with that.
Once you head down that slippery path, you're never going to feel like you're doing enough. And you're always going to feel like God is unhappy with you. It's kind of a performance-based oriented Christianity.
Be very careful. So we're supposed to be growing in these things of peace and joy and the righteousness. Give a couple of verses. 2 Peter 3.18. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let's look at this verse in the New Living Translation, 17 and 18. It says, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink or watch, let me throw a couple more, what we eat or drink or watch or listen to, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God and other people will approve of you too. So if you serve God, everybody's going to be happy with you.
No, that's not going to happen. Jesus said, be real careful of everybody's speaking well of you. I don't know about you. I don't have that problem.
Why? Because it does seem like the more you do for God, the more people want to say this and say that. And that's just part of the deal. And Jesus said, we're going to have tribulation. So why should we be surprised?
I mean, you're going to be approved by all men, but many will be appreciative of what you do. You've been listening to Cross the Bridge. We'll return to David's study in Romans in just a moment. But first, I would like to let you know about a new product that we're excited about here at Cross the Bridge. Each year, David McGee spends countless hours coming through the Bible in preparation to teach God's Word. This is clearly seen every week as he proclaims the amazing truths found in the Bible to his home church and through the radio ministry. That's why this month we want you to be blessed by some of our favorite teachings from this year with the Cross the Bridge Best of 2013.
These three powerful teachings will help you to live victoriously in Christ through a better understanding of who Jesus really is. The Best of 2013 is our gift to you this month when you give to Cross the Bridge. Your gift will be used to reach countless people with the gospel while also encouraging other believers to stand firm in the faith. To help us take God's Word to the world, please contact us at 877-458-5508 or visit us online at crossthebridge.com. Friend, do you have a heart for the lost? I invite you to send us the first names of your lost loved ones and we will have hundreds of people praying for them. Just go to crossthebridge.com and click on the prayer button and you'll enter their name and if you put your name and email address in there, I'll send you free resources to equip you to pray and teach you how to reach your lost loved ones.
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The whole book for the whole world. Now let's return to David McGee's verse by verse teaching in the book of Romans. Let's look at verse 19. It says, Therefore, let us pursue the things which make for peace, and the things by which one may edify another.
These are such great verses. Let us pursue the things which make for peace. You know, sometimes we do the exact opposite. If you go out to lunch today and you run across somebody that goes to another church, there is part of us that instantly wants to begin, let's be honest, telling them what's wrong with their church. They want to do the same thing with us.
Isn't that weird? We want to immediately tell them, well, you shouldn't do that. You shouldn't do this. And, oh, we do it like this.
And so obviously it's the right way because that's the way we do it. And you understand in that moment we lose a precious opportunity to share some fellowship with somebody else that knows and loves Jesus? Because we're willing to argue usually about stuff that doesn't matter. And the sad thing is a lot of times unbelievers are watching these exchanges and they think, well, I don't want to join that because I'll just have to argue with everybody. I've got friends and pastor friends and in all kinds of movements and all kinds of denominations. Now, these guys are in different churches. They believe slightly different things. But again, we agree on the main things.
What's that? Jesus and him crucified. See, my Baptist friends, when I talk to them and fellowship with them, I don't say, well, oh, this whole thing about the Holy Spirit, you guys got it all wrong. Let me tell you, let me share these verses with you. When I'm fellowshiping with a Presbyterian, I'm not going, oh, this sprinkle thing, that's just not going to do. You know, I don't do that. Now, they said, well, you know, why do you believe what you believe, man? I will openly share.
Too many times, gang, let's admit something. We're looking for an argument and we break the unity. The unity, let me say it slowly, of the body of Christ, of Jesus himself.
These little arguments. New Living Translation, I'll give you a couple of versions of this verse. It says, so then let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other out. Just feel the Holy Spirit just convicting everybody.
I don't think anybody in here can read that verse and go, oh, yeah, always do that. Really, seriously. I think if we're honest, every one of us can say, you know what? Let's do a better job at that. Building each other up. Of course, you know what we often do is we go, well, if I'm building everybody else up, who's going to build me up?
There's an interesting supernatural spiritual thing that goes on when you go to minister to somebody else that even secular psychiatrists and psychologists are recognizing. Some of them are saying if somebody is depressed and anxious about life, one of the best things they can do is go do something for somebody else. This lady goes to this pastor and says, pastor, I'm so anxious.
I'm so depressed. And at the end of the car, he meets with her and says, OK, we'll meet next week. But between now and next week, I want you to make three batches of cookies and give them away to people who are really hurting. And she said, OK. Next week, he shows up for the meeting.
She doesn't. The following week, he sees her in service and says, hey, you missed our meeting. She said, I'll tell you something, pastor, as I made cookies and took them around the three different groups, I didn't need to meet with you anymore.
God ministered to me. Friend, as you build other people up, you will be built up. And notice, gang, you're not in charge of how many people come to encourage you. You can't control that.
You really can't. What you can control is how many other people you go to encourage and build up. And let me guarantee that as you do, you will be built up. The amplified version says, so let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding, edification and development of one another. Pursuing a path of peace. Can you imagine, friend? If the church worldwide did this, what it would look like? Let's bring it home a little bit. Can you imagine what this church would look like? If we did this. Encouraging one another, building each other up.
We can all do a better. I remember years ago going to a church and walking in and somebody near the doors looked at us and said, what are you doing here? It was a real warm fuzzy. I just felt so welcomed. I've had some weird experiences in churches. Unlike everybody else in here, right? Went to another church.
It's kind of interesting. It went in and this person came out and I guess they were Usher or something. They said, hey, y'all are visitors, aren't you? I said, yeah. And he said, you got your Bibles.
You're pretty serious about this thing, aren't you? I really wanted to say I was hoping he was going to read from it, but I didn't. Because that wouldn't have been building him up.
That wouldn't have been keeping the peace. We have to build each other up. We need that.
I need that. See, sometimes you're going to walk in here. Yeah, my church is awesome.
Praise God. Had a great week. Other weeks, you're going to come in here and you're going to be like, man, you're going to drag yourself in here. And on those weeks, it can make such a difference for somebody just to simply look at you and say, hey, man, I am so glad you're here. It's so good to see you.
That can make the difference. Somebody just, do you understand how easy it is to encourage somebody? A few simple words, a smile. Go out of your way to encourage somebody else, because you know what happens? Again, every time you encourage somebody, there's a spiritual law that happens.
You're encouraged. You simply cannot be an encouraging person and not be encouraged. Is encouragement important?
Absolutely, it's important. First Thessalonians 3, 2 says, and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our coworker for God and our brother in proclaiming the good news of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you and to encourage you in your faith. Encouragement is such an awesome thing. But what we do, there's two kinds of encouragement. There's good encouragement, which we should be doing here. And unfortunately, there's also bad encouragement in there. You know, you get in a group of people, it's probably happened to most people in here, you get in a group of people and all of a sudden this really bad idea becomes a good one. And somebody says, hey, you know, I bet you want such and such and so and so. I dare you.
I double dare you. And there's a encouragement to do a bad thing. And then when it happens and, oh, you know the drill, you end up getting arrested back of the squad car, the whole thing.
And, you know, and then after you're going, what happened? You know, why did I do that? But enough about last month. I'm kidding.
I'm kidding. You got encouraged in a bad way. And, see, at times we are more susceptible to that encouragement in a bad way. We can be doing great and somebody can come up and go, hey, did you hear about such and such and so and so?
Did you know? All of a sudden we're discouraged. Psalm 64, 5 says, they encourage each other to do evil and plan how to set their traps.
Who will ever know us, they ask. So you can encourage somebody to do something bad or you can encourage to do something good. And let's look at this encourage.
What does that word mean? In means to make or put in courage is bravery or strength. Isn't that cool? So when you encourage somebody, you are putting bravery or strength in them simply by a sentence or two. Do you ever need encouragement?
I do. I try to be encouraging the people, even that word courage, the roots of it are build up the heart of. See, this is a beautiful thing that's supposed to happen in the body of Christ. We build each other up. Why? Because the world, friend, is tearing us down.
Why do you believe that? Why are you going to church? Why are you doing this? Why are you reading your Bible?
Why do you have devotions? Why are you trying to do the right thing? So in here we get built up and encouraged. Life lesson here is we should encourage others.
We should encourage others. We're either building up or tearing down. Now, there is a time. Let me be honest. There's a time for tearing down.
OK, if I'm with somebody and they're doing completely the wrong things in the wrong way, I got to sit with them and say, friend, I don't know if you understand the results that you're looking that you're acting for, but this is what you're going to receive at the end of this. And that's a tearing down process. I have to be sure in that is also a building. But if you come to the Lord, give him your life, if you begin to do these things, God bless your life, bless your marriage, bless your family. So there's a building up and a tearing down. Now, if there's always just a building up, if it's always encouraging and never challenging, that's not good.
That is not good. But we do way, way, way too much tearing down. So we need a minister of building up. We need to edify one another, encourage one another, build up one another.
Every one of us can do this. Do you understand there is no supernatural spiritual gift of discouragement? Some people think, oh, I got a gift.
Got me supernatural spiritual gift. That's the gift of discouragement. That's not a gift. To tear people down to discourage them, that's not a gift, friend.
To build them up, to encourage them, that's a gift. Look at verse 20. It says, do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. Again, we kind of need to swing this into a present day application because most of us here probably aren't trying to completely eat Levitically and don't get freaked out at somebody who eats unclean ceremonially.
Let me explain. In the Bible, in the Hebrew scriptures, the Jewish people were told to eat a certain way, not to eat certain things. Now, there's still present day health reasons why a lot of that stuff is a good idea. But I'm not going to sit up here and say, because a lot of the stuff, and it's kind of bizarre, but a lot of the stuff that really tastes good is on the not to eat list, you know? Shellfish, crab, shrimp, all that, not to eat list, okay? So what I did this past week is I set up big protest signs outside these seafood buffets down at the beach, told everybody they was going to hell for what they was eating.
Hope you enjoy that crab. Now we're sitting here going, well, I don't do that. Right, but what are some of the other things?
Got to hit the hot buttons again. There's people out there who say there's no such thing as Christian rock. The drums, they're conjuring up demons. I've had some really bizarre conversations with people about music. If you have certain convictions about music, live by them.
But don't expect everybody else to live according to your convictions. Because you know what? There's probably some ways that they're much more mature in the Lord than you are. Friend, do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?
You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short, simple prayer, simply telling God you're sorry and asking Him to help you to live for Him. Now, God wants you to pray this prayer so much that He died to give you the opportunity and the ability to ask Him to forgive you.
Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned. And I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things.
Please give me the power to live for you all of my days. In Jesus' name, amen. Friend, if you prayed that prayer, according to the Bible, you've been forgiven. You've been born again. Jesus said He would not turn anybody away who comes to Him.
And He came for those people who knew they needed forgiveness, those who were sick, not the righteous. So congratulations, friend, you just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If this was your first time praying that prayer with Pastor David, we would love to hear from you. You can call us toll-free at 877-458-5508 to receive our First Steps package, with helpful resources to help you begin your walk with Christ. Also, if you contact us this month, we will send you the Cross the Bridge Best of 2013 for your gift of any amount. If you've ever wondered how we can walk in the full power of God's Spirit, then this new product is just for you, and we'll send it to you as a way of saying thanks for your donation. You can give any time by calling us toll-free at 877-458-5508.
That's 877-458-5508. Or go online to crossthebridge.com. While there, make sure to sign up for the free email devotional. That's just one more way we can bless you in your walk with Christ. Again, that website is crossthebridge.com. Thank you for listening, and I pray you'll join us next time as we cross the bridge.
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