Prominent Pastors Share their Thoughts on Serving God

In a search for prominent pastors who have written about serving God, I found six valuable messages I’d like to share.  These respected Bible teachers each have a different perspective that together create a more detailed view of what it means to serve God.

John Piper

John Piper, founder of desiringGod.org, in his article “What Does It Mean to Serve God,” tells us our focus on serving God should be in a way that “makes God look valuable and thrilling.”  He makes the point that whatever we do, we are working with the strength that God provides; therefore, any service we provide is a joyous extension of our connection to Him.

Rick Warren

Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and founder of Saddleback Church, in his article titled “We Are Commanded to Serve God,” makes the point that a mature Christian will look for opportunities to serve rather than wait to be served.  Jesus came to serve (Matthew 20:28) and He expects us to follow in his footsteps.  Serving God by serving others is simply part of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.

Prominent Pastors Agree

While each of these prominent pastors has a unique way of looking at service to God, they all agree it is a central focus of any Christian’s life.  Every believer is given by God an opportunity to serve each and every day.  It doesn’t matter who we are or what our current circumstance is; service to God is an essential component of our walk with the Lord.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer, president of Joyce Meyer Ministries, in her article titled “Serving God by Serving Others,” focuses on the need to serve without expectation.  If you are serving others in hopes of receiving a reward of some kind, your heart is in the wrong place.  When we serve others expecting nothing in return – that is when we are truly serving God.

Billy Graham

The late Billy Graham, America’s best known evangelist, often answered questions on his website.  A widower asked Graham how she can be of service when she has no talent, or much money to give, and her health is failing.  His answer was brief and to the point.  He let her know that absolutely anyone can serve God.  At a minimum, we all have the ability to encourage others, offer emotional support, and prayer.  God can use you right where you are.

Charles Stanley

Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and the founder and president of In Touch Ministries, addresses the issue of serving God in his article “Serving with Joy.”  Dr. Stanley teaches us that we glorify God when we willingly and joyfully serve others.  He goes on to ask us to consider how this world would change for the good if all followers of Jesus Christ truly lived their life with a servant’s heart.

Tony Evans

Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, writes in his article “Serving while Suffering,” that God can use us during difficult times.  Dr. Evans teaches that becoming self-absorbed when you’re suffering is self-defeating.  His suggestion is to use your situation to help someone else and that is where you will find your connection to God.  Even in difficult times, God will give you opportunities to serve – be careful not to allow your misery to block your view of  a chance to minister to others.

Conclusion

All of these prominent pastors have spent years studying the Bible and have carefully considered the teaching therein.  We have a great deal to learn from their faithful service to God.  Never stop looking for opportunities to serve God seems to be the clear message delivered by this group.  When we walk with Jesus we walk with the heart of a servant.  Our servant’s spirit is the essence of the light we are called to shine on the world.  We need to stay vigilant and keep our eyes open for the avenues of ministry God provides.

 

Serve the Lord with All Your Heart

Serve the Lord with All Your Heart

Tech Training – Fund Raising – Community Cleanup

Tech Training

St. Agatha Catholic Parish in North Lawndale, a suburb outside of Chicago, had to close their school but found a way to repurpose the facility as a technology training center.  They have developed several programs to help families in their local community, including a program called Tech Girlz, designed to help middle-school girls find their way into jobs in technology.  Learn more about how this church is using their resources to serve God here.

Fund Raising

After a visit to Tanzania in 2006, retired third grade teacher, Debi Mazura’s heart was overwhelmed by the need to help the struggling people she encountered.  Through tireless fund-raising, Debi has raised money to help drill wells, build a church, and pay for schooling and medical attention for dozens of young people.  Learn more about Debi’s efforts to serve God here.

Community Cleanup

Central Christian Church, a large church in Arizona, decided to forgo Sunday service and instead spent that time in service to the community.  They were able to deliver 6000 plus volunteers to about 95 local schools to perform tasks like deep cleaning, painting, assembling furniture, and landscaping.   In addition, since there effort took place around Teacher Appreciation Day, they also delivered over 8,000 gift bags for teachers and staff.  Learn more about how Central Christian Church mobilized their congregation in service to God here.

 

How might you use your talent and resources to Serve God?

 

Volunteer

Volunteer

 

 

 

Free Food – Free Clothes – Free Gas

Free Food

And ingenious 18-year-old Girl Scout in Virginia, Haley Brown, used her artistic talents to conjure up a unique way to help feed those in need.  Haley collected the wooden pallets gathered from food shipments to the local food pantry and turned them into useful works of art.  She made towel racks, planters and other decorative items that were sold to provide additional money for more food for those in need.  You can read more about this thoughtful and talented teenager here.

Free Gas

The price of gas these days is often an overwhelming burden to struggling families.  Ironically, you have to spend money in order to have the ability to go make money.  A large church in Ohio decided to share their abundance with the local community by helping out with this heavy load.  With a few thousand dollars in hand, members of Victory Christian Center, in Liberty Township,  took over a local gas station in a distressed neighborhood and paid for the gas of over a hundred vehicles.  You can read more about this outreach event here.

Free Clothes

At the First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Mississippi a group of adult Sunday School women made a decision to stop talking about God and start doing something in His name.  Together they began collecting used clothing, found an unused garage to set up shop, and began The Father’s Closet supplying free clothes to those in need in their community.  Working together with the United Way and other organizations, these ladies are filling a gap in service and coordinating their effort so that local aid is not duplicated.  Learn about this example of service to God here.

 

How might you use your talent and resources to serve God?

 

Volunteer

Volunteer

 

 

 

You Are God’s Greatest Hope

 

Somewhere around you right now is a person who needs your help.  Somewhere within your sphere of influence, within that group of people who weave their way in and out of your life, there is someone that you have the ability to help.   In that person’s life, another word for help could be YOU.

Help Yourself by Helping Others

Consider the feeling you have after going out of your way to help someone.  For most, there’s an immediate sense of satisfaction, a sense of joy for having the ability to solve someone’s problem. You carry that positive energy with you at least for the next few minutes and it likely lingers for most of the day.  Another word for help might be love.  When we go out of our way to help someone it is usually out of love.  Even when we help a stranger we are likely helping out of love for our neighbors as Jesus commanded.  When we share our love with others we are instantly rewarded by that peaceful feeling that flows through our body; in addition, God promises an even greater reward for those who give out of a pure heart.

 Luke 6:38 (NASB)

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Another Word for Help is Sacrifice

Without question, when we take the time to help someone we are sacrificing some of our time, and in many cases some of our money. The above scripture is suggesting there is a grand reward for that sacrifice; nevertheless, if our goal in helping is to receive a reward we are not helping at all – we are only attempting to serve ourselves – God is not fooled.  When we help others out of love, expecting nothing in return, that is when our help rises to the level of service to God.  These opportunities to help others are not at all hard to find.  God provides you with these opportunities every day.  In fact, in many cases you are God’s greatest hope for service to individuals who happen to be in your life.  In these cases, another word for help might be opportunity.  Look around, watch for God’s nudging, grab hold of opportunity, and give of yourself whenever God’s calling presents itself.

Hebrews 13:16 (NASB)

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Let God Be Your Guide

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The Parables of Jesus

In his book “The Parables of Jesus: Lessons in Life from the Master Teacher,” Dwight Pentecost makes the point that Jesus used parables to instruct believers and to hide these truths from unbelievers who would only be burdened by the knowledge; a concept further developed in the book.  Dr. Pentecost goes on to make the point that the parables are not exclusively for the church; however, one could conclude that these teachings were foundational understanding for the followers of Jesus.  The fact that Jesus singled out these teachings to deliver in this manner seems to suggest they are among the most important messages believers are to absorb and understand.  In any event, Jesus highlighted these teachings in this special way and for that reason alone they deserve careful study.

I found this study to be transformational.  My understanding of the teachings of Jesus grew enormously as a result of reading this work.  Pentecost breaks down each parable by first introducing the setting in which the parable was delivered, followed by the problem addressed by the parable, and then the solution given by the parable.  This simple three step process is presented in easy to understand language while at the same time delivering all the detail needed to fully understand each parable.  Reading this book is truly like sitting at the feet of Jesus as he expounds on what are the most significant aspects of His teaching.

“The Parables of Jesus: Lessons in Life from the Master Teacher,” is in my mind essential reading for any follower of Jesus Christ.  Pentecost gets right to the point without adding any more commentary than is necessary for us to fully absorb that which is most important – the teachings of Jesus.

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Woodlawn

“Woodlawn” is the true story of one of the first high schools in Alabama to become integrated.  This initially caused a lot of friction, especially among the football players who did not want black players on their team.  In an effort to stop the fighting, a local evangelist makes a request to speak to the Woodlawn football team and the coach reluctantly agrees.  After an hour long talk the evangelist, Hank, is able to convert the entire team into followers of Jesus.  At this time in the early seventies, what was known as the Jesus Movement was in full swing and this is a grand example of that movement’s power.  The evangelist, Hank, continues to mentor the team with Bible studies after practice and the black and white players work together to turn in an unexpected winning season.  One black player, Tony Nathan, who is an amazing talent, turns out to be the star and is courted by legendary university of Alabama coach Bear Bryant.  The following season starts with a summer practice that includes the cross-town rival team and all the members of that team end up being converted to followers of Jesus as well.  In the end, the Woodlawn coach is threatened with termination if he continues to pray with his team before games but in the play-off game with the cross-town rivals who are also believers, they recite the Lord’s Prayer with the entire stadium in defiance of the school board.  Tony Nathan goes on to play for the University of Alabama and the Woodlawn High School coach ends up selling insurance; however, before the credits roll it is revealed he later returns to coaching.

This is a story well told.  For believers, this is a joyous celebration of what God can do: The whole team is converted, they then have a winning season, a star player is born, the bitter cross town rivalry is dissolved into respectful sportsman-like play – all because of Jesus. If I didn’t know it to be a true story I would say it’s too contrived – but it’s apparently all true. Keep in mind this is a story about football; so if you’re not a football fan it might not be for you.  Ultimately, this is a story about God working in the lives of a group of young people and how that empowerment changes a community.  Overall, I think most followers of Jesus Christ will find this story inspiring.

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Step Three – Fellowship

Living out your faith in isolation is a bad idea.  An essential part of being a Christian is to have fellowship with other believers.  As we look through some of the scripture on fellowship, it will become clear how important it is to support, encourage, and engage other believers in Christian fellowship.

Fellowship in the Early Church

In the earliest days of the church, after a sermon by the apostle Peter, thousands turned to Christ and were baptized.

Acts 2:41-42 (NASB)

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Essentially, this scripture on fellowship is telling us that Bible study, fellowship, and prayer were central to the development of the early church.

Indeed, the concept of fellowship extends down from God, through His Son Jesus Christ, and by way of the Holy Spirit into all believers.  It is our duty to extend that connection of fellowship to those believers around us, thereby bonding together the body of Christ.  Fellowship with other believers is another step in Serving God.

We can follow the scripture on fellowship and track this progression in these three verses:

1 Corinthians 1:9 (NASB)

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (NASB)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

1 John 1:3 (NASB)

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

As we follow Jesus it’s important for us to stay connected with other believers in the way a scuba diver needs to remain connected to his air supply.  The world we live in is full of distraction and we can easily be pulled in the wrong direction, away from our faith, if we neglect our fellowship with other believers.

The Danger of Going Without Fellowship

Some of the scripture on fellowship is, in fact, a warning to us regarding the danger of hanging out with the wrong people.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NASB)

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

The above passage is not telling us to avoid unbelievers, but not to be “bound together” with them; in other words, don’t let their unbelief cloud your vision of the truth.

1 John 1:6 (NASB)

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

Again, the above scripture on fellowship is telling us that first and foremost our fellowship is with God.  Having regular fellowship with other believers fuels our fellowship with God, and helps us maintain a steady stream of spirit-filled joy.

1 John 1:7 (NASB)

If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Step Four – I Need God

I Need God

Courageous

“Courageous” is the story of five men who come together to make a commitment to be better fathers.  Four of the men are police officers in a small town and one is an immigrant worker who is befriended by the group.  Early in the story, the leader of the group, Mitchell, loses his nine year old daughter in a fatal car accident.  As a result, Mitchell turns to the Bible for comfort and guidance on how to be a better father to his remaining son.  Through his study, Mitchell develops a set of Biblical guidelines for fathers and presents it to the group to ask them to hold him accountable to these standards; instead, they each decide to join Mitchell in his commitment to the Biblical guidelines and hold a formal ceremony to establish the resolution.  The film follows these men through their daily lives as they attempt to live out their new focus on fatherhood.  In the end, Mitchell is asked to share the details of his resolution with his large church congregation and all of the men in the audience stand in support of the strong Biblical standard for fathers.

The Biblical resolution for fathers presented in the film is a powerful document that all fathers should consider carefully.  I get the feeling the resolution was written first and then a story was developed around that concept.  The story telling was a bit too simplistic for me, but nevertheless did a good job dramatizing the importance of fathers in the lives of children and as a stabilizing force in a family.  Single parent families are also considered in this work and overall I believe it is a great starting point for a deeper discussion about parenting in general.  If you watch this film with the understand that nothing terribly unique is going to happen and settle into the deeper message of how important it is for parents to consider God every step of the way, you’ll come away satisfied and inspired.

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I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be Atheist

One of the best books ever written defending the Christian faith is “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.  With meticulous detail, this book makes the clear argument that believing in God is far more reasonable than believing in nothing at all.  Building on a long list of logical step-by-step arguments and evidence, they develop a case that should convince any reasonable mind of the existence of God.  Continuing in this same process they further establish the deity of Jesus and our path to salvation through His death and resurrection.

This is a great book to share with someone who is on the fence about pursuing a relationship with God and is the perfect resource for believers who wish to build up a solid foundation of answers to questions often asked by unbelievers.  This is an encouraging read that will reinvigorate your faith and your ability to share your faith with others.

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Three Stories of Service to God

Every day people are venturing out to share God’s love and finding new ways to serve Him by serving others.  Here are three stories that may inspire you to use your talents and resources to do the same.

Providing Free Transportation

Stephen Bentley, a deacon at the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stockton, is using his talent for repairing bicycles to serve God in his community.  Along with a group of volunteers and a good deal of donated bikes and tools, they have created the HUB – Helping Urban Bicyclists program.  They are providing free bikes and bike repairs to those in need.

 

Community Repair Work

A group of people from the Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan, have combined their talents to help a group of high school students serve God in their community over their spring break.  A local contractor, Bruce Modde, provided the know-how, and youth minister Dave Frank, used his organizational skills to put together a group of adult leaders to assist the students.  Together that took on several community projects, including fixing leaking roofs, installing a deck, and doing some painting.

Read More Here

Feeding Those in Need

Tanya Murphy, in Athens, Tennessee, went through a difficult time in her life; as a result she felt called by God to help others.  She began feeding people out of the back of her truck; others saw what she was doing and offered to help.  Grace and Mercy Ministries grew out of her effort and is now feeding thousands every year.  Partnering with over 50 churches and a lot of volunteers, Tanya has sparked an outpouring of God’s love – serving God through service to others.

 

How might you use your talent and resources to serve God?

 

Volunteer

Volunteer