The Church Exists to Serve Me

Disrupting The Idea That the Church Exists To Serve Me

Dan Franklin
Sep 12, 2021    47m
Join us in today's message as we disrupt the first stronghold: the church exists to serve me. The truth is, in fact, the opposite: I exist to serve the church. Every Christian is given a spiritual gift for the purpose of serving the body of Christ. Video recorded at Upland, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:00] What an awesome Sunday. It is always just, there's so many things we get to do together as a church family that are a privilege. When we get to do baptisms, man, it is just off the charts. When we get to celebrate as Phil talked about, celebrate the new life that Jesus has brought, not right in that moment, but we get to see that symbol of it, that death to the old, to being raised up to the new, it's one of our favorite things to get to do. And we love Fall kickoff, this is a Sunday we've been looking forward to for a long time for a lot of reasons. We love getting to do the baptisms. We're going to have another special sort of church family event that we're going to do right at the end of the service. Obviously, we got food going on afterwards, and we're going to be able to gather around that. And also the Fall kickoff is typically where we start off whatever series we're going to be going through in the Fall. And that's the case this morning. We're starting off a series called Strongholds, and I'll explain what that means. But here's what I want you to imagine. I want you to imagine something with me right now. Imagine that you're in the military and you're out on the battlefield. It's you and five other soldiers who are with you. And you're surveying the scene and trying to figure out where you should go and where you should attack. And as you get your binoculars out and survey the scene, you realize, all right, there's kind of four options for where we can go.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:35] Option number one, you look over and you see five soldiers just sort of out on their own. So you think, all right, six of us, five of them, that's an option. The next thing you see when you look out is you just see a shack, not very well protected, but a little bit of cover. And in this shack are three soldiers. So kind of lock that away. You look next and you see a tank. And the tank has its entire crew around it. And then finally, you look over and you see a fortress heavily guarded by a thousand men, heavily armed. The fortress is surrounded by walls that are impenetrable. Bullets are going to do nothing to it. Explosions are going to have almost no impact on it. And you see the fortress heavily guarded. And the fellow soldiers all turn to you and they say, Where should we attack? Now, here's the deal. I don't know the answer to that question. Where are we going to attack? But I do know the answer to the question, Where are we not going to attack?

Dan Franklin: [00:02:47] Six of you may be able to take down the five soldiers on their own. You may be able to take care of the three who are in the shack. You may even be able to take care of the people in the tank, especially if you've seen Saving Private Ryan and you're going to use those sticky bombs or something like that. But where you're not going is to the fortress because even if you have the element of surprise, even if you have grenades that you can use, even if you have state of the art weapons, you are not taking down that fortress. Somebody between services said, would if they were marines? No, you wouldn't. That is a suicide mission. And one of the ways that you might describe that fortress is as a stronghold. It's so secure, it's so well established, it's so strong, it's so impenetrable, it's so immovable that you don't even think about going up against it. You don't even think about taking it down. A stronghold is something that's so well established that it's not going anywhere. Now, there's a passage in the New Testament where the Apostle Paul talks about strongholds. And as we get our minds around what this illustration is meant to be for us, we'll look at that passage together. It's in 2 Corinthians. It'll be up here on the screen. 2 Corinthians 10 verses 3, 4, and 5. The Apostle Paul writes, for though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:26] So, okay, not just a random opening illustration from the military. Paul says, We are in a war. There is God. There is Satan. There are demons. There is real warfare going on. There's a real war. But he says the war is not a war in the way that we normally think about it. He goes on in verse 4 and says, the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. They're not swords and spears or guns. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. To demolish strongholds? Not just to take down a soldier, not just to take down a shack, not just to take down a tank. To demolish strongholds? God is in the business of taking down strongholds with His divine power. That's pretty profound. That's a pretty big deal because a stronghold is typically something that you think of and you say it's not going anywhere. Why even try? Divine power to demolish strongholds. And in verse 5, he gives us a clue about what those strongholds are. He says, We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. And we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Paul is not saying we get all of our big physical weapons out and we look to take down liberal strongholds. But he says we're very much taking down strongholds and it gives us at least two clues in verse 5 about what those strongholds are. The first clue is the word arguments, and the second clue is the word false.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:19] Says we're dealing in the realm of ideas here. The things, the strongholds that we need to take down, they're not physical strongholds. They're arguments. They're beliefs. They're pretensions. They're thoughts. They're ideas that we've come to embrace and sometimes in a culture, an idea becomes so embedded, so second nature, so well established, so well guarded that you don't even question it, and you certainly don't even think about trying to convince somebody to abandon it. The Apostle Paul says we are part of the battle and the battle surrounds the area of ideas, the area of beliefs. When he says we take every thought captive, that's not just a nice verse for us guys and saying, all right, we're going to try not to indulge our lust. He is saying there are ideas out there that will lead us astray, lead us into confusion, lead us into disaster if we believe them. And we want to take every thought and make it captive to obedience to Jesus. A bunch of months ago, we got together as a pastoral team, which we do every year, and prayerfully we had approached, What does God really want us to focus on this year? What are the areas where we're meant to just zero in on our attention for where our church family is at and where our culture is at and what we need to talk about?

Dan Franklin: [00:07:47] And one of just the two things that we really landed on in saying, this is an all church goal, this is something that we're meant to focus on. So we said we want to make sure to do everything in our power to help the people who are part of Life Bible Fellowship Church to cultivate a Christian worldview. Then when we look at our suffering and our sickness, when we look at our money and our jobs, when we look at our marriages and our children and our school and all of the different things that we face, that the lenses through which we look to understand those things reflect what God has revealed to us. We want to take every thought captive. We want to demolish strongholds that are thwarting us. We want to have a Christian worldview. And the fact is, even most of us that are pretty involved in church and pretty devoted Christians still have the areas of our lives where, whether we know it or not, we have bought into a false idea. We have bought into a false way of looking at the world or looking at our suffering or looking at our money or even looking at our connection with church.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:02] Now, each week during the series, which is going to be a long series, it's going to pretty much last us all the way till Christmas just to prepare you all. And it could probably last five years and we could still be talking about this because what we're going to do is each week, we are going to talk about a stronghold in our culture. We're going to say, here's an idea, here's a belief that has just become second nature to us. We don't even question yet it. And yet it flies in the face of what God has revealed to us in the Scripture. We're going to look to reorient ourselves, and we're going to look to through the divine power of God demolish these strongholds in our lives so that we're fully obedient to Jesus. It's Fall kickoff. We're thinking about the nature of the church. And so the first stronghold that we're going to talk about for the rest of today is one that relates to the church. And when I say church, think of the people of God, the people who belong to Jesus Christ through His shed blood on the cross who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who are adopted by God the Father. We're not talking about a building. We're not talking about those of us who are church leaders.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:11] We're saying the church, the people of God. Today, we're going to be talking about how we relate to the church and the stronghold that we're going to look to expose is this: the church exists to serve me. Now, whether or not we say this, most of us, even most of us who are committed believers at some level kind of believe this. In the same way that Home Depot exists to serve me, the church exists to serve me. And I show up and I expect a sermon that is somehow dealing with the problems that I feel are deepest in my life right now. And I expect my kids to be well taken care of by children's ministry and by Exit 83 and that they'll have friends, that they all have social events and that they all have things that speak directly to where they're at. I expect music that moves my heart and moves me to a place where I really feel the sense of worship. I expect friendships where I feel connected to other people. I expect programs that will speak to my needs and address my needs. We kind of feel like a customer with a menu when we approach church usually. And I'm speaking to those of us who are involved, not those of us that show up twice a year, but those of us who are saying, I'm really a part of things going on here.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:31] And maybe, maybe if the church does all of these things, then I'll end up doing my part and give some of my money and occasionally volunteer for something. And that will be the transaction fee that we interact with, with the church. We got to realize that this is not just something quickly dismissed. This is a stronghold in our culture. The whole idea of consumerism, the whole idea of a customer mentality is embedded in most of us, even those of us who would consider ourselves to be committed Christians. It's so embedded that we don't even think about the fact that we say things like, Well, when I go on Sunday, I feel like I should be comfortable. But when I go on Sunday, I didn't really like it this last Sunday. I kind of felt judged. Quick question. If we are interacting with the God of the universe and with His eternal Word, speaking to us in a fallen world, do you think that there's going to be some times where you're made uncomfortable? Don't you just kind of think like law of averages, that's going to happen sometimes? And don't you think if we're living in a fallen world still carrying around our sinful flesh and dealing with all of this, that there are some times that we're going to interact with God's eternal Word and you might feel judged? If you are a part of this church and you never hear anything that makes you feel judged, you're either not listening or we're not doing our job. When you're reading God's Word, there's all kinds of times where you feel judged, and you should feel judged. God, through His Spirit, convicts us.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:11] I'm just trying to give a picture of how deeply embedded this idea is that the church exists to serve me. And if I'm not feeling fed, if I'm not feeling comfortable, if I'm not really feeling it, if I don't really feel connected, I'll find somewhere that will meet those needs. What we're going to see in a brief passage of Scripture that we're going to go through is that while this exists as a stronghold, the idea that the church exists to serve me, the biblical truth is very different. The biblical truth is that believers, all believers, are gifted to serve the church. And once again, when I say that, don't think, all right, he's saying that we exist to serve him. I am not the church. I'm a member of the church. The leaders aren't the church. The building isn't the church. The organization isn't even the church. The people are the church. And what we need to do is we need to reframe how we think about our relationship with the church. Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to tell you where we're going to go, but first I'm going to read the passage of Scripture that we're going to go through. It's 1 Peter 4 verses 10 and 11. So if you have a Bible and you're going to follow along, I will eventually put the verses up here on the screen, but I'm going to read them for us now as we start. 1 Peter 4 verses 10 and 11. And then I'll tell you the things that Peter is going to challenge us to rethink. Let me read it for us now. 1 Peter 4 verses 10 and 11.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:34] He says, Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very Words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so 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 forever and ever. Amen? Amen. This is God's Word. Two short verses. But in these two verses, Peter is going to encourage us to rethink three things. He's going to tell us we need to rethink our identity. He's going to tell us we need to rethink our activities. And then he's going to tell us we need to even rethink our purpose. And we start in verse 10 with him telling us, it's time to rethink your identity. Now, walk through this verse slowly, but we're really going to focus on one word later on in it. Verse 10, he says, each of you. Each of you is every Christian. He's not speaking to every human being on the planet. He's saying, if you are a believer in Jesus, each of you should use whatever gift you have received. Now he's making an assumption here that's well established by the Apostle Paul and by others in the Scripture, that if you are a believer in Jesus, you have a spiritual gift or several spiritual gifts.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:10] Sometimes it's murky. The point is you don't just have the talents and abilities that you are born with. You have been specifically gifted by the Holy Spirit when you became a Christian, specifically gifted with some way to serve the church family. And the reason we know that that's the purpose is that he says it. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others. It's similar to what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, verse 7, when he says, now to each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. The Spirit isn't manifested in your life just to pump you up. He's given for the common good. And in the similar way, Peter says, use these gifts to serve others. To serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. And how beautiful that the way that he describes even the spiritual gifts that were given, whether that's teaching, whether that's helps, whether that's administration, whether that's something upfront or behind the scenes, whatever it is, he says, those are God's grace. You know what God's grace is? God's grace is all that He gives us, that we don't deserve, all of His goodness that He pours out that we haven't earned.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:37] If you're a believer in Jesus right now, don't skip over the fact that that means you have been adopted finally and completely into the family of God. You're a son, you're a daughter. You're never going to be abandoned. You're not going anywhere. That is the grace of God. And if you're a Christian, consider the fact that despite the fact that you're not done sinning, all of your sins, past, present, and future have been fully forgiven because Jesus' death on the cross was enough to pay for all of your sins. That's God's grace. Let me give another quick question. Are you breathing right now? That's God's grace. Some of you are dealing with chronic illnesses and injuries and all of that. Even then, the fact that you are still moving about on this Earth is God's grace. And Peter says, We're stewards of God's grace and its various forms. He's poured out all of His grace to us. But in particular, he says, we're stewards of God's grace of these spiritual gifts, these abilities that He's given us through the Holy Spirit to build up one another. And you may have guessed it, but the word that we're going to focus on is the word stewards.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:57] Not customers of the church, but stewards. We don't necessarily use this word a whole lot. So let me try to paint a picture of this. A steward is somebody that is given charge of something that they don't own. So you're entrusted with something. You're not the owner. You're not ultimately in charge of it. But you're put in charge of it by the person who does own it. So think about it. It might be a little bit like some of you have pets and you go out of town on a vacation and you have somebody come in housesit for you, take care of the pets and to take care of the house while you're away. That person is basically a steward of your home. They don't own the home. They can't make every decision. But they're in charge while you're away and they're entrusted to take care of it. And so you might say to them, if they're going to housesit for you, you might say, Hey, anything in the fridge? Anything in the pantry? Fair game. Go ahead and eat it, anything you want. There's a pool in the back. Go ahead and use that. Fair game any time you want to use that. If you want to have a couple of friends over and watch something on our theater system, go ahead and do that. All of that is fine while you're living in the home. But if you came back from your vacation and the whole house was littered with beer cans from a massive party that they had, you might scratch your head. Or if you came back and the entire house was painted a different color, you might scratch your head. And if you came back and you said, Hey, where are the dogs? And they said, those dogs were loud, we got rid of them. You'd scratch your head. You say, Wait, wait a minute. We told you, you could use the pool, we told you, you could use the TV. We said it was okay to eat the food. But this is not your house. You don't get to decide to trash the place, you don't get to decide to paint the place, and you certainly don't get to decide to get rid of our pets. You are not the owner. You are a steward.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:52] And I don't even want to say just a steward, because that's a big trust when you entrust somebody with that. But you don't get the final say. You are not even the owner of your spiritual gifts. They've been entrusted to you. And according to what Peter says here, they don't belong to you. You know who they belong to? And I know you guys are thinking God is the right answer. Not actually the right answer on this. They belong to the church. Use them to serve one another. They are given to you, not just so that you can be pumped up, that people say thank you or that people say you are really good at that. When you use your spiritual gifts, they're given so that they would benefit the church. Now, one of the things, Karina and I have been here at this church for about 10 years now. And one of the things we've talked about from the very beginning is that, wow, this church family is very generous. People have been very, you know, we were sick with COVID a couple of weeks ago. You all were so generous with your prayers, generous with words of encouragement as we, like many other people, were going through that. People have been generous with their money, just randomly giving us gifts that we say, Gosh, thanks so much for this. So imagine that happens.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:08] Imagine that there's a Sunday, and afterwards on a Sunday, somebody corners me and they said, Hey, I've got a gift card for you. I got this Cold Stone gift card. I want you to take your family out for ice cream and enjoy Cold Stone on us. And I say, thank you so much. And I look at the gift card and I kind of calculate in my head how much it's for. And I realize, you know, it's me and Karina and our three sons. And I think, all right, on this gift card with how much money is on it, we can all go out to ice cream twice. Whole family going out twice. But then I think, But if I just went by myself, we're probably talking about 10 trips. I mean I like my family. They're all right. But 10 trips versus two trips to go get Cold Stone ice cream. So I look at the gift card. I put it into my wallet. I don't tell anybody about it. And I enjoy 10 trips to Cold Stone to enjoy that ice cream. Just in case anybody is confused, not based on a true story. So. Now, if I did this, here's the deal. You wouldn't simply say, Dan, that's selfish. What you would be totally legitimate in saying, is, Dan, that's stealing. And I can say to the person who gave me the gift card, Hey, if you didn't want me to use the gift card however I was going to use a gift card, why did you give it to me? And they would have said, You know why I gave it to you. Because I told you why I gave it to you. I gave it to you as the one with the trust to use it for the good of your family. Your spiritual gifts are not yours, whether they're upfront, whether they're behind the scenes, whether they're ones that are named in Romans and 1 Corinthians or ones that aren't even named, but just ways that God has gifted you, your gifts belong to the church. And when you're not using those gifts, you're not just being selfish, you're stealing.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:12] Because they belong to the church and they're meant to be used. They're God's grace in its various forms. Quick, quick note before we move on to verse 11. I just want to say this. The command in this passage is not to figure out your spiritual gift. It's to use your spiritual gift. Sometimes what your spiritual gift is, it's going to be really clear. Some of you have taken spiritual gifts tests once. Some of you have taken them lots of times. You've been a Christian, it's like once a year. You're like new spiritual gifts test. And you love it because you love all the personality tests and the enneagram and what Disney Princess am I? And you know, you like all of that stuff. So you've been involved in the church for decades and you've taken six to 12 spiritual gifts tests. I want you just to look at the verse up here on the screen. If you're listening to this sermon and you're like, What do I do next? I've been involved in the church a long time and I'm still not serving. The answer to the question is not take another test. Those tests can be very helpful if you're saying, I am devoted to serving and so I'm going to try to figure out where I fit. But if you're not devoted to serving, those tests are not going to do you any good. You're going to say, I learned an interesting thing about myself and you're going to move on. If you're not serving, you know what you should do according to this passage? You should serve. And if you get it wrong and you're like, Wow, I signed up to be a greeter and I was awful at it, that's okay.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:44] You checked one off the list. You're like, not greeter. All right, fine. Then you get involved in children's ministry and you're like, all right, well, I'm kind of good at this, but I seem to be better at this. And then you become more and more clear on what you're meant to do. The biblical commands are not figure out precisely what you are and then start serving. The commands are starts serving. And my suggestion to you as one of your pastors is start serving. God is not going to deny putting you in the right spot when you with a good heart are looking to pursue where you fit into this church family. Now, Peter alluded to the various forms, and this is where we're going to go next. So let's say you listen to this and you're like, all right, I hear it, I get it, I understand this. I do need to be serving. My gifts don't belong to me. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to move. I'm ready to start serving. I'm going to hit the ground running. Peter wants to tell us first, you need to rethink how you approach your activities with your gifts. And he talks about that in the first half of verse 11. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very Words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides. Now, I'm a pretty simple guy. I like simplicity. 1 Corinthians 12, a whole bunch of spiritual gifts are named there. Romans 12, whole bunch of spiritual gifts are named there. Ephesians 4, whole bunch of spiritual gifts are named. If later on you want to look up and study more about these passages, I like all those. I'm not trying to rag on those. I like Peter here though. Very simple.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:26] He says, Some of you have gifts and you speak. Some of you have gifts and you serve. And of course, there's crossover. Even if you have a serving gift that's behind the scenes, sometimes you're going to use your voice and you're going to speak as part of how you're serving other people. And if you're more of an upfront person that mostly you're speaking gift is what's going to be used, there are still going to be times that you do behind-the-scenes things that nobody says. But broadly speaking, Peter really simplifies it. He says, some of you have gifts of speaking and you're going to be up here leading worship, and you're going to be up in front of people teaching God's Word, and you're going to be up in front of the kids doing storytelling, or you're going to be at Exit 83 leading a group or upfront teaching. You're going to be using your speaking gifts. And for some of you, what I just described sounds like your worst nightmare. You're like, Please God, I'll do anything for you. I will die for you. Don't make me get up in front of people and talk. It's just not your gift. But you're gifted in helps and mercy and administration, and you're going to be involved with the setup team and you're going to be involved with the prayer team. You're going to be involved with all kinds of things that are behind the scenes that most people don't know, but that are pivotal to making things work within the family of God. So there's going to be speaking gifts, there's going to be serving gifts. Even if you don't know exactly what your gift is, most of you can probably say, I think I'm in this area. I think I'm either in speaking or in serving.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:52] And then what Peter says is, he says, when you use those gifts, the purpose is not to muster up all of the energy or all of the guilt or sense of obligation or sense of superiority that you have. The idea is to do these things with God's guidance in God's power. Look again at verse 11 at the beginning of it. He says, If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very Words of God. If God has given you a speaking gift, the purpose of that speaking gift is not that you would get all eyes on you. And it's also not so that you would have a platform to get all of your rants out of your system. Serving with children's ministry, and you get an opportunity to talk to those kids and you're like, I'm just going to take this opportunity to talk about everything that's wrong with kids these days. That's not your job. Your job is to speak the very Words of God to them, to make what comes out of your mouth the message that God has revealed to us. By the way, as a quick application on this, there are some of you who are part of this church that you get frustrated with, probably with me, but also with others who are upfront and sort of with how we handle things officially as a church. And there are some of you that think that we need to be speaking more on political matters. And there's also probably some of you that think we need to be speaking less on political matters.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:26] So let me say this here is how we approach this as a church. Our goal is not to speak out on every political matter. And our goal is also not to avoid any political matter. We have never once looked at something and said, Well, we can't talk about that because that's political or we should talk about that because that's political. Our goal is to say what God says. That's our goal. And so some of you, if you look at the scope of political issues, you might say, Well, you guys speak up about abortion. Once a year, Sanctity of Life Sunday, and there are other times that we're champion of Sure Pregnancy Center and we're talking about the evil of abortion in our culture. You get into that political issue. Yeah, we do. The reason we get into that political issue is because God has spoken on that subject. God has spoken on the preciousness of every human life created in His image. God has spoken about the evil of killing for the sake of convenience, and God has spoken about the fact that even unborn children in the womb bear God's image. So you know what? We talk about that because God has talked about that. Now, there's a whole bunch of other political issues. You know what God has not said much about? Low taxes, gun control, school choice, all these sorts of things. Now here's the deal. If you are cultivating a Christian worldview, part of what flows out of that is that you begin to look at all of these subjects differently. So I'm not trying to say there's no guidance from God's Word on how we should approach these. But what I'm saying is if God has said something, we want to get up and say it. If God hasn't said something, we want to be very cautious about it.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:15] I'll tell you, in case you're wondering, I have a lot of rants chambered. Like we could last on at least a couple of decades of just Dan rants. You can ask my wife. Sometimes she gets to hear a lot of them. I got a lot of rants. It's not that I'm not opinionated. We could coast on that for a long time, and you would hear a whole bunch about what Dan Franklin thinks. You know what we think is more important? That you hear what God thinks. Who in the world cares if you agree with me on taxes or on gun control or on schools? We want God's Word. So if you speak, not just me, if you speak, if you're speaking in front of the kids, if you're speaking in front of the students, if you're speaking in front of your life group, if you speak, discipline yourself to speak the very Words of God. And we're not even done because he says if you serve. Anyone who's serving should do so with the strength that God provides. You know what this means? This means you don't just get out there and say, I have such a strong sense of obligation or guilt or responsibility that I will coast off that and be the best servant I can possibly be. That is a recipe for you ending up tired and resentful that you're not getting all the things that you think you deserve for all the things that you're doing behind the scenes.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:46] We have a lot of people at this church that have served in really profound ways. A lot of you know that a little bit over a week ago, we lost our brother, Ron Weisman. I say we lost him. We lost him. Jesus hasn't. He is with the Lord, which is much better by far. But we're sad because of his death. Ron was a guy that I met pretty soon after I came on staff here. So I've known him for about 10 years. And actually, Ron is probably somebody that my entire life, I'll look at it as an example of God doing a new work in later in life. Now I'm only in my 40s, but I already sometimes feel like, hey, I am who I am. This is what you got. This is all I am. Ron later in life really saw God do a new work in him in softening his heart in some really profound and beautiful ways. And if you knew Ron, the thing that marked him was serving. And this was a guy who was a little older, not as old as some of you in here. No offense. But he was older, did not have good health, and yet seemed to serve tirelessly.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:03] Heavily involved in our local outreach. Really indispensable. It's one of the things that we're praying about. He was so involved in our local outreach. Ron worked what appeared to be tirelessly. I don't know all the mechanisms of how this all worked with Ron, but I know that there is no way Ron was doing all he was doing in his own strength because his own strength was not that much. This was a man who was being supplied with strength by the Giver, by the one who has the credit card to the account of all strength that never runs out. And by the way, I'll tell you another thing. Ron is with the Lord right now, and there is no way that Ron is speaking to Jesus and saying, I wish I would have taken it a little more easy down there. Ron allowed himself to be used profoundly for the Kingdom, and he's an example of serving in the power that God supplies. Brothers and sisters, we are not just told, all right, just get out there and exhaust yourself serving. We are told pour over God's Word because if you're going to say what God has said, you need to know what God has said. And frankly, even if you're not going to speak, you need to know God's promises so that you don't lose heart. You need to know that He's the supplier of strength. You need to know that He is the one and only God. You need to know that He is a good rewarder of all who patiently seek Him. Know God's Word. Pray over what you're going to do. If you feel exhausted, go to God with all of your exhaustion and cast your burdens on Him.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:39] Frankly, even now, as we're all seeking the Lord and as we're getting into the Fall, for some of you now, there may be new things that God wants you to do to begin to pull more on His strength. For some of you, God may be moving and saying, I'm glad you're reading the Scripture. I'm glad you're praying. It's time to start journaling because you need to just dwell in God's presence. Whether it's time in the morning when you're by yourself to put on some worship music and just worship because you just need to dwell in God's presence. You don't have what it takes to do what God is calling you to do. But God has the endless supply of strength, and He will supply those who go to Him. So Peter says, Hey, we need to rethink our identity. We're not customers. We're stewards. And we need to rethink our activity, not in our own strength with our own ideas, but in God's strength with God's ideas. And finally, in the second half of verse 11, Peter is going to say we need to even rethink our purpose. I'll read all of verse 11, but we'll focus on the last part. He says, if anyone, if anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very Words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so 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 forever and ever. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:01] The reason for serving is not your own self-fulfillment. It's not your own self-actualization. And it's not to get a bunch of people thanking you or praising you for how incredibly gifted you are. The purpose of you using your gifts is so that all eyes get on Jesus. You know, sometimes we talk about spiritual gifts and we put some in a certain category and we say, all right, these ones, speaking in tongues, miracles, these are signed gifts because they're a signal to who God is. I'm not trying to say anything bad about those gifts, but all gifts are sign gifts. All of our spiritual gifts are meant to point towards the Giver. And whether you have a showy gift or behind-the-scenes gift, what Jesus says in John 13:35 is that people will know that we're His disciples by our love for one another. And our love for one another is shown when we are used up with God's strength so that our brothers and sisters can benefit from the gifts that we've been given. You do not exist for yourself. And sometimes that feels like a gut punch. Like, oh, I got to be all about God and not about myself. But let me just say we already kind of know this. We are ready. We are constantly giving ourselves over to things that are bigger than ourselves. I'll give you a quick example. I don't know if any of you heard, but there's a recall election that's going to be happening. Oh, so some of you did hear. Okay. I wasn't sure. It was kind of under wraps. They were trying to be quiet about it. You know, it's complicated.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:41] So it's obviously we've got Governor Newsom who's potentially being recalled from governor. We have lots and lots of candidates. But sort of the main one being pitted against him is Larry Elder. So we got a bunch of people saying of Governor Newsom, hey, all eyes on him. We need him to stay in place. We need him to stay in office. He's the one who's going to get us through COVID. He's the one who's going to get us through all of this. All eyes on him. And we have a bunch of other people saying, all eyes on Larry Elder. He's going to be the one that's finally going to get us out of this mess and correct all of these things that have gone wrong. All eyes on him. All eyes on him. People giving themselves over not to getting famous for themselves but to saying, all eyes on him. In fact, if you were campaigning for Governor Newsom and you were given all the convincing reasons for him not to be recalled and somebody came up to you and said, Well, like, you're really articulate and I think that you're really good at this and I'm really impressed with you. When it comes time for election, I'm writing your name down. So I need to know how to spell it. I need to make sure I get it right. You would say, No, no, no, no, no. Forget my name. Forget who I am. Pretend you didn't even meet me. All eyes on him. All eyes on him. We already know this. We already do this.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:56] And we're saying with our spiritual gifts is all eyes on the only one who can actually rescue us. All eyes on the only one who holds forgiveness of sins in His hands, who has all comfort, all joy, all hope, all reward, all promises. All eyes on Him. Every gift we use is meant to say, all eyes on Him. Not just so that God gets the glory, but because that is the greatest way to benefit the people that are meant to benefit from the gifts that we've been given. Our purpose is not to exalt ourselves, but to direct all attention towards Jesus. We're going to be taking on a lot of strongholds in these weeks coming up. There's probably going to be weeks where you're going to be feeling jarred, where you're going to feel like, wow, what he just said is sort of the equivalent of saying the earth is flat, which, by the way, it isn't. There's going to be times where we are jarred by God's Word because things have become strongholds. They've become so embedded that we can't believe they could possibly be wrong. Let's buckle up for God to do a good thing, and let's start with realizing that we are stewards of the gifts that God has given us so that He would benefit the world through us, bring people to Jesus through us, and that He would receive all the glory. And instead of giving you all a final illustration of how that might work, we have a living illustration that we get to celebrate now.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:27] So I'm going to invite the Boumas to come and join me on stage right now. We have the privilege this morning of commissioning a family who's going to be going overseas to serve long term. We've got Curt and Jody coming up as mom and dad. We've got Cole and Case and Rhett and Luke, their sons coming up to join them. And many of you know this, but in a very short time, this family is going to be heading to Kenya to join with the Kiprops and serving in Hope Matters International. Curt is a medical doctor, and Jody also has a background in medicine. And so they're going to be serving over there primarily in that capacity. And we as a church get to be senders. We get to partner with them as they go to the front lines. And there's obviously tons of things that we could pray for them. And in a moment, we are going to pray for them. As we look at this family, you know what? We do want to pray for safety. Maybe it shows our weakness, but we're like, we want them to be okay in their travels and over there in a place that daily life is just more dangerous than daily life for us in the suburbs. We want to pray for them for strong connections and friendships for all of them because they have an amazing support system here and they need brothers and sisters in Christ who are going to walk with them, all of them, Curt and Jody and all of the kids. And we want to, most of all, pray for the work of the gospel to be furthered, that more people will know and love Jesus because of what happens through this family following the voice of God and heading over on this trip. So here's what we're going to do. One of the amazing things about God is that He can hear us all, even if we're all talking at the same time. And so we're going to put that to the test. We're all going to pray at once, and I'm not talking silent prayer. I'm talking out loud prayer. You don't need a stand. You don't need to gather with others. Just where you are in your seat. I want you to lift your voice in prayer for the Bouma family as they prepare for this.

Dan Franklin: [00:44:31] And after we've done this all, lifted our voices all together for God to hear, I'll close that time in prayer. So right now where you're seated, where you are, lift your voice in prayer for this family. Father, we revel in your power. We revel in your power, even to hear hundreds of voices all at once and to sort through our prayers and to listen. We revel in your power that we experienced through the baptisms earlier to make the old new and to make the dead alive. And, Father, we want all that we do to glorify the name of Jesus and to spread His message to people who desperately need to hear it. And we thank you for Curt and for Jody. We thank you for Rhett and for Cole, for Case and for Luke. We thank you for the unity that this family has in doing something that many of us would really need to be talked into. Father, we pray for your divine guidance in keeping them safe for everything before them. We pray for your provision and that you provide for them, not only financially, but that you provide for them friendships and brothers and sisters who will walk with them and draw them closer to you. And Father, we pray that the name of Jesus will be exalted in more homes and more lives and more cities and more communities and more villages and in more places all around the world because of the work going on with Hope Matters International. Father, we thank you that you have rescued us and we pray that you lead all of us in all that we do to continue your work here and around the world. We pray this in the great name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
Read More
Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848