“Everyone is a Servant”



Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Are you involved in a service organization that is focused on helping others? Are you part of a civic club or a local nonprofit that focuses on ministering to those in need? You know, opportunities to do that are everywhere, and serving those who need some assistance through an organized plan or even on your own is a good thing. The world is filled with people who need something. We don't have to go across the country or even around the world to find them. People are in need right where we live. Many need food to eat and clothes to wear. Some need a place to live or help with their bills. And thankfully, there are agencies and resources available to serve and help those who cannot help themselves. In the Bible, we read about people in the early church who took care of those in need. That assistance began with their church members. It then spread to others who needed something. Oh, the early church served those who were poor or less fortunate, and it was a beautiful thing. Today, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will think about what that can look like for us. We will consider the importance of representing the Lord through our generous acts of kindness and love. I hope you will stay tuned for the next few minutes as we talk about the importance of everyone serving in the Kingdom of God.



Two of the most exciting passages found in the Bible are located in the Book of Acts. They describe what was going on in the early church in the city of Jerusalem. And oftentimes I reflect upon those passages and what that church looked like then, and what the church looks like today. We find a summary statement of that early church in Acts chapter 2. I want to begin with verse 42 and read down through verse 47. <They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.> Well, that's a great summary statement of what was going on in that early church among those first believers. We notice they came together to enjoy fellowship. They came to study the Scriptures and to pray. Yes, they ministered to each other spiritually. We notice also, they served one another by meeting those physical needs which came up. If people lacked something then others who had more would chip in and provide for those who were in need. There's a second summary statement very similar to this. In fact, it takes place just a few days, perhaps even later, a couple of months, maybe. It also is found in Acts chapter 4, and in the city of Jerusalem. Notice these words beginning with verse 32, <All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.> Well, once again, we see the attitude and the spirit among those early Christians was great. They took care of one another's needs. They sold land. They sold possessions. They distributed as it was needed to those who were less fortunate. But they spent a great deal of time serving one another, and that was characteristic of those early Christians in those early churches. They ministered to each other both spiritually and physically, and they did what they could to help each other. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be part of a movement or a church like that? Oh, that would be something that would be exciting, to come together on a regular, a daily basis, to eat and to fellowship and to pray and to study and to help one another with the various needs that one would have. Yes, there was a great deal of service that was going on. Now, no doubt there were some challenges that faced these early Christians. Some of them were persecuted. Some were rejected by their families or by the governing authorities. Some even lost their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ, and we would call them martyrs. Well, today's church has some challenges, as well. Maybe not as drastic and severe as these, but some of them perhaps remain the same. But the question I want us to ask for a few moments today is this: How can the church of today go back to some of those very same things that were going on in the early church in the Book of Acts? Well, part of the answer might be found in a letter called 1st Peter. There the apostle wrote to some Christians who were facing severe challenges in their life, as Christians. Some of the men were having their jobs taken away from them because of their loyalty to Christ. Their families were being torn apart and separated. In some instances, other family members would reject them or disown them because of their loyalty to Jesus. But Peter encouraged them to remember who they were in Christ Jesus. He wanted them to focus on making a difference in each other's lives. Let's read part of what Peter wrote to them in chapter 2, beginning with verse 4: <As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (now, skip down to verse 9) You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.> The churches that we just read about a moment ago, in Acts chapter 2 and in chapter 4 and this one to whom Peter wrote, can be described in many different ways. But if we were to provide a summary statement of those early believers, it might be something like this: It was a group of diverse people united into one body, that being the body of Jesus Christ. Well, as we notice, in verses 4 and 5, based upon Jesus being the cornerstone of our faith, as well as their faith then, we find that several things take place as a result of the salvation we have received from Him; and those blessings are found in verses 9 and 10. There, especially in verse 9, we find four terms or four titles that describe who we are, who we became, when we became a child of God. Let's look at them, for example: Number one; we became a chosen people. The Jewish people were God's chosen people, according to Isaiah 43 verse 20. They were what was called an elect race. But when the Gentile believers came in, when they became Christians, then they were added to that chosen race. They became part of that elect number. And so even today, it makes no difference whether we are Jews or Gentiles in Jesus Christ, we are part of that one group of people. We all receive God's favor and blessing. We are chosen by God to be part of His spiritual family. Here is a second thing to notice: We became a holy nation, as Peter wrote. You know, the nation of Israel had been set apart by God to be holy. And, we go back to that covenant agreement God made with the people in Exodus 19 verse 6. He wanted them to be holy, just as He, Himself, was holy. They were separated from the other nations around them, who were not holy. Yes, God had a covenant with those Israelites which He did not have with any other nation. They belonged to God. They were set apart to accomplish His will and His purposes. And obviously, God belonged to them. And even though He loved all people, and continues to love all people, God had a special and a unique relationship with the Israelites. And that is the kind of relationship God has with Christians today. We have entered into a special covenant with Him through His son, Jesus Christ. Well, here is a third point identified here in verses 4 and 5 by Peter, or, excuse me, in verse 9; and that is, we became God's special possession. The Israelites were to be separate and distinct from the unbelievers who were living around them. They were not to have anything to do with the immoral or the unholy lives of those who did not belong to God. Well, likewise, today we are to be representatives of the Lord to those who are not a part of His family, and God calls upon us to share His love with such people. We notice there, in verse 10, that God has called us out of a life of darkness. He has transferred us into the Kingdom of Light. And that was something the Apostle Paul mentioned as well, on several different occasions, especially in Colossians chapter 1 verses 14 and 15. But we are God's own possession. We belong to Him, and likewise He would belong to us. We are His people and He is our God. Obviously, we know these things about being chosen and about being holy, about being special in God's sight. We understand how we are able to receive that blessing and those relationships with God through Jesus, His son. But something else amazing happened when we became a child of God, when these people became a child of God, we became part of a royal priesthood. You know, sometimes that aspect of being part of God's family does not get much attention. We tend to dismiss it as we think about the role of the priest under that old covenant system. For example, those who are part of God's royal priesthood today do not offer animal sacrifices. We do not receive a person's confession for the sin in their life, so that we have the power or authority to forgive that sin. Members of this priesthood do not wear special clothes, nor do we have to follow a specific diet. You know the priest under the old covenant system had to do such things, but they are not required for those who are in God's royal priesthood today. Under the New Covenant, which was brought in by Jesus’ death and resurrection, both men and women can now be a part of God's royal priesthood. As members of it, we offer spiritual sacrifices to God. We offer to Him our worship and our praise. We offer to Him our love and devotion, along with gifts of service and time and money. And we don't need a mediator or a high priest to do all of that for us. We go directly to God, through His son, Jesus Christ. In other words, He is our mediator. He is our high priest. You know, those are some of the differences between being a priest under the old covenant and being part of a royal priesthood in the new covenant, today. On the other hand, there are some similarities between the priests of old and those who are now part of God's royal priesthood. I want to mention a few. First of all, we pray directly to God through Jesus Christ. We find that in a statement recorded in Hebrews chapter 4. Let's begin reading with verse 14: <Therefore, since we have a great high Priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.> Isn't it good to know that we can pray directly to God through Jesus Christ! And Jesus is our mediator. He is our High Priest who is seated at God's right hand. And He takes our prayers, He takes those thoughts and intentions of our heart which we cannot even express, and He communicates those to the Father on our behalf. And as a result of that, we notice that we can approach God's throne with confidence. We know with great certainty that God hears our prayers because Jesus intercedes for us. He is our High Priest and so we go directly to God. We pray to Him and we find the grace, we find the blessing that we need in those times of great need. Here's something else that is similar. We pray for people. James tells us that in chapter 5 verse 16: <Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.> What a privilege it is to pray on behalf of other believers. And all of us need prayer, don't we? We need someone to come alongside of us from time to time and simply pray for us in various ways. And we know that God hears those prayers, as we just noticed. And as righteous people, good and holy people connected to God, pray on our behalf, we are blessed; and those who offer those prayers are blessed as well. Here's another thought: We encourage people. Paul wrote these words and 1st Thessalonians 5 and verse 11: <Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.> I suppose all of us need encouragement. On a regular basis, we need someone to build us up, to offer a word of encouragement, something that will strengthen and empower us to live the kind of life that God has called upon us to live. And that is part of who we are as part of God's royal priesthood, we give and we receive that encouragement, we pray for one another and we receive those prayers. What a blessing. Here's one more thing for us to consider: We serve people. Paul wrote these words in Galatians 5 verse 13: <You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.> Indeed, we are free in Jesus Christ. And that freedom is not to be used to indulge our own interests and desires, but rather the freedom that we have in Jesus allows us to serve other people because He has served us, more than we could ever imagine. And we serve one another not to say look at me, look at who I am and what I am doing, but we serve in a spirit of humility to bless those who need something. You know, these things are part of who we are and what we do as a royal priesthood. It is part of being a chosen people and a holy nation and God's special possession. But in all of these things, we are to remember this: God placed the priests in the lives of His people to be His representative, and God does the same thing with us. Those priests served a very important role. They represented God. They prayed for people. They encouraged people. They blessed people in various ways. And likewise, as Christians today and as part of God's royal priesthood, we do the same thing. We represent God in this world. And that is the essence of what Peter wrote there in verse 9. Let's read it again: <We are to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.> We belong to God's family. We are part of his royal priesthood. We receive every spiritual blessing that God can give to us through His son, Jesus Christ. And it's a privilege to receive those blessings, to be a part of His priesthood, and then, in turn, serve the people whom He puts before us. And as I reflect on all of that, I think about what Jesus did. He set the example. In fact, He taught us to do that very thing. I remember the passage in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus said, in verse 13, “You are the salt of the earth,” in verse 14, “You are the light of the world,” in verse 16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Well, with all of those things in mind today, we ask ourselves the question, what does that look like for us? There are people in our family who need a member of God's royal priesthood to help them. The question is; will we help them? There are people who have a hard time deciding whether or not to follow Jesus, and the question is, will we love them? There are people whom we will encounter this week who need someone to pray for them. The question is will we pray? There will be someone we meet in the next few days who needs something to eat or something to wear, and the question is, will we serve them? There will be people, perhaps on a regular basis, who need someone to represent Jesus Christ as the salt of the earth and as the light of the world; and the question is, will that be me? That's what it was, that's what was going on in the lives of those people in the Book of Acts and in the letter that Peter wrote to those Christians. And as part of God's royal priesthood, we have the privilege to represent the Lord today, in various ways. There are people in a situation which come before us, and we are to be ready to serve in a moment's notice. If we really want to get back to the excitement that was happening in the early church then we will pray about how we can serve others. If we want to see the growth that was taking place then we will minister to those who need our time and our attention. Oh, let us perform our priestly duties as God's royal priesthood, and let us be amazed at the results that He will bring.



When looking for a place to eat, a place to shop, or even a place where you can get your car repaired, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps it is location. Maybe it is price. My guess is, for many people, it is service. We want to be served for that which we are needing. We want good service for those car repairs or for something we buy. We want good service when we go out to eat. The same is true when we look for a place to worship or a church to attend. We want not only our needs to be served and met, but we look for a church that is helping other people. We look for a church that is serving those who are in need, who think beyond themselves and think about those who are less fortunate. That's important, isn't it? As people who belong to God, that's what He wants us to do. I think about a church like this one. This group of believers is committed to serving other people. They are committed to seeing and ministering to those people who are less fortunate. And I appreciate the group of believers who meets here. They have a desire to serve those because Jesus Christ has served them. And that is the way we repay God. That's the way we say thank you to the Lord for what He's done for us; we serve other people. We serve those who are less fortunate whom God puts into our life. Think about how we can be servants. Think about how God can use us to bless the people of this world who need someone to minister to and to serve them.



Thank you for watching today's program on “Key to the Kingdom.” I trust this message reminded us of the importance to serve and to meet the needs of those around us. Our website, keytothekingdom.com, is where you can listen to or watch it again. There are many other messages there which might be of interest, as well. They're easily accessible and can be downloaded without any cost or obligation. You can also request a free Bible study on the website. It, too, is free and it requires no commitment. In order to have even more convenient access to what we offer, a free app can be downloaded onto a smart-phone. It will take you directly to our website where you can also find daily devotional thoughts and short inspirational videos. It is our pleasure to share all of these materials and messages with you, and hopefully they assist you in your efforts to grow spiritually. Thanks again for joining us today, and please tune in again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”