Week 4 Digging Deep: My Shape, God’s Service

I Corinthians 12:4-6 There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit.  There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve. And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift he receives to serve others.

Everything has a shape and every shape has a purpose.  What do shapes represent?

Pie shape – the purpose - eat it!  Can or cylinder – drink or store it.  Diamond – play baseball or tell someone you love them.  Washington monument – reminds us of our heritage.   Puzzle piece – needs a place to fit in.   Loaf of bread - it reminds us of Jesus’s sacrifice and our forgiveness.    Everything has a shape and every shape has a purpose.  

Every person has a shape and every person has a purpose.   In the book of Job, it says “Your hands shaped me and made me” (Job10:8).     Sometimes we don’t like our shape. A lot of us think we are too short for our weight – if we only could get a little taller.  Whatever shape God made you, He shaped you for a purpose.   (Sometime this week approach a stranger and say, ‘You have a perfect shape!’ – let me know what happens!)

Sometimes we don’t like our purpose.  The person running the spotlight back stage would maybe rather be in the spotlight on stage.  The water boy would rather be playing quarterback.  The apprentice carpenter doesn’t want to clean up the job site but wants to be the boss.  The parent in the stands thinks they can be better than the coach on the field.   Sometimes that’s true; but God knows what God is doing.   More than likely God has you right where He needs you. 

What’s your purpose?  It can be lived out in many different ways, but the basic purpose is for us to serve God and serve others.  1 Peter 4:10 says, Each of you should use whatever gift he receives to serve others. 

What does this mean?  God has equipped us to do work in this world.  But our work, what we do, is not just about us.  You’re not a plumber for just your drains; you plumb for others.  You’re not an eye doctor so only you can see; you were made with that skill to help others see.  You’re not a farmer just for you; you farm to feed others. A teacher doesn’t teach just themselves, but others.  A barber doesn’t cut his own hair, but cuts others.  I’m not a pastor for me; I was created and called to serve you.   We are shaped to serve God and others. 

Jesus knew His purpose.  He understood His shape and His shape was to serve.  Look at this verse from Philippians chapter 2:  6Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.  7But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.   You and I were created to become like Christ, we were shaped to serve God by serving others.     How do we know our shape and learn to serve?      

1.  Consider your SHAPE. 

S   Spiritual gifts.   They are our spiritual DNA.  God has placed inside of us tools to accomplish His purpose for us.  When we received Him, and made Him Lord of our lives, He gave us some of the same gifts He had.  To some He gave the gift of compassion, others received the gift of charity, others He made to preach or teach or administrate.  Some have the wisdom to know what words to say in a counseling setting.  I Corinthians 12:4-6 says, There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit.  There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve. And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do.  Your spiritual gift or gifts form the skeleton of your shape.

H  Heart.  Heart is our passion.  It’s what drives us.  It is what we dream about, what we long to do, what we cannot keep from doing.  Mother Theresa’s passion was the lepers and poor of Calcutta. Some have a passion for Bible Study, some for Mission, some for administration, some for worship, etc.  

A  Attitude.  This is positive attitude and says the glass is always 3/4 full.  It is to see the positive and go for it.  There is nothing that keeps these people from seeing God at work in any circumstance; so, there is always hope and joy.  

In the church, the crying baby is not a problem, but a blessing of new life.  The late comer is not a problem but a welcome addition.  The Apostle Paul, stuck in a six-foot prison cell waiting to be beheaded for his faith wrote, “Count it all joy” (Philippians 4).

P Personality.    Your personality will determine your style of servant-hood.   Like Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors of ice cream, God creates different personalities to relate to different people.  The Bible shows us that Peter was confident, optimistic, a fighter. Paul was fiery, opinionated, controversial.  Jeremiah was often sad, heavy hearted. All the disciples had different personalities.  What is your personality?  Are you quieter – more introverted?  There are scores who appreciate your quiet and careful approach.  Are you the cheerleader type?  People love cheerleaders – they will respond to your cheering and follow you.   Your personality will determine who you attract and how you do ministry. Wood workers know it’s easier to work with the grain; so, go with your personality.

E  Experience.   We learn from our experiences – good and bad. This is called Christian maturity. I tell people who come into my office that God will use their problems to help others.  There is no problem or experience that disqualifies us from learning or serving.  Who is the best person to help someone going through a tough marriage?  Someone who’s been there.  Who’s the best witness at the funeral home?  The person who’s lost someone.  God uses our experiences, good and bad. He matures us to serve and mature others.

This is our SHAPE.  Every shape has a purpose – to serve in a unique way.   There is an old Danish proverb that says, “Who you are is God’s gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God.”    So…

2.  Consider your SERVE.   Serve is when we put our SHAPE in motion.  It is our gift to God through others.

S   See the needs of others.   Sometimes we see the problems in our world but don’t know what to do about them.  We must see not just the problem, but the human hurt and seek a solution.  Complaining solves little.  We need to initiate, we need to do something.  William Booth, a Methodist preacher saw the poor and outcast of London and did something; he started the Salvation Army.  I am ever so appreciative of the three women who prayed for me every Tuesday afternoon in the basement of my first church – their prayers made all the difference for me and that church!

E   Everyone is equal.   There are no second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God.    Jesus never passed a person by; He took time, He initiated, He healed, He fed. Lepers, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, Greek scholars, widows were all the same to Him. The world became a better place. We need to serve everyone regardless of color or social status.  Prejudice and judgment must leave us.

R   Risk.  We must take some risks when it comes to helping people.  We need to believe that Christ does show up in the stranger; that there are angels among us.  Hebrews 13:2 says, “Welcome Strangers” for some of you have entertained angels and did not know it.”   Jesus said in Matthew 25, ‘…as you have served those who were naked or in jail or hungry - you served Me.’    Paul took a risk in offering the Gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews) – that’s us.  John Wesley took a risk in sending missionaries to America and got kicked out of the Anglican Church- so we are here.  Service is always a risk, but there is always a reward.

V Value added.   When we serve people, we add value to their lives. When Jesus washed the disciple’s feet He added value to their lives.  When He touched the leper, He added value.  Any touch from God adds value.  When we touch others in Jesus name a difference is made, value is added.  Anytime we serve, we add value to people.  I have watched many people touch others and watched those you touched begin to glow; it’s beautiful.

E   Excellence.  God gave His very best when He sent Jesus Christ.  Jesus gave all He had on the Cross.  Who could improve on any of God’s gifts to us?  Most of us give the very best we can to our children, to our jobs, to our families.  So, our excellent service honors our God of excellence.

We can begin to see we are Shaped for the Service God has called us to.  God is calling all of us to serve in Jesus name. When we do something great happens:

Peggy Smith was 84 years old and her sister, Christine 82.  Both their sight and body functions were greatly diminished so they could no longer attend church.  But their church desperately needed them.  They lived on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland in the 1940’s.  A Spiritual darkness had settled upon their village of Barvas.  The congregation was diminishing, and the youth were mocking the faith – speaking of conversion as if it was the plague.   In October, the church called upon its members to pray.   What could these two elderly people do?  They turned their cottage into an all-night house of prayer.  Twice a week, from 10 PM until 4 AM they asked God to have mercy on their city.  After several months Peggy told Christine that God had spoken these words to her: ‘I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.’

She was so sure of her message she urged her pastor to conduct a revival and to invite well-known evangelist Duncan Campbell to speak.  The pastor did but Duncan declined.  So sure of her hearing God she publicly proclaimed, ‘He is coming and will be here within a fortnight.’  God changed Campbell’s calendar and within two weeks the services began.  Large crowds gathered in the church – 7 pm, 10 pm, midnight, 3 am.  The movement of God upon His people was undeniable.  Hundreds were converted.  Drinking places closed for lack of patrons.  Saloons emptied, and the church grew.  The Isle of Lewis tasted the presence of God all because two old women used served the city by using their gift of prayer.

Clara is a business woman. Ernstena is a pastor’s wife. JoAnne had just started a small relief organization.  They traveled to Cambodia to encourage a missionary friend named Jim-Lo.  He took them to a part of the city where modern sex trade runs rampart; some 15,000 young girls were on sale.  At that time 100,000 women in Cambodia had been sold and forced into prostitution.  JoAnne, Clara, Ernstena, and Jim-Lo looked into the faces of these teen girls, even preteens, and could see a devastating story in each one.  They began to snap pictures until sellers threatened them. They had no idea what to do but pray. 

The seedy avenue became their Upper Room. ‘Lord, what do you want us to do?  It’s overwhelming.’  They wept.  God heard their prayer and gave them the tools.  Upon returning to the United States, Jo Anne wrote an article of their experience, which prompted a reader to donate a good deal of money.  With the gift the women formed the anti-trafficking ministry of World Hope International and provided housing for young girls who were rescued or escaped the brothels and sales stations.  In just three years, 400 children, ranging from age 2 to 15, were rescued.  

When our State Department sponsored an event called, ‘Salute to 21st Century Abolisonists’ they honored World Hope.  They even asked one of the women to offer a prayer.  The prayer that began on a Cambodian street continued in front of some of the most influential government officials in the world.   (Max Lucado, Out Live Your Life)

Each of us has a shape and every shape has a purpose.   When we use them something beautiful happens.  The Bible says this - God used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day - a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home (Ephesians 2:20-22).

The Cross, the baptismal, the loaf, the towel – all shapes reminding us of being served by God and our call to serve others in the name of Christ.  May it be so for each of us.  Amen.


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