29 Jun 2014

A Heart to Serve
  • Topic: Busy, Christ, CHRISTIAN LIVING, Church, Empty, Glcc, God, Grow, Heart, Jesus, Life, Live, Lord, Mind, Ministry, Paul, People, Point, Relationship, Serve, SERVICE, SPIRITUAL GROWTH, SPIRITUAL LIFE, Thinking


Sermon Transcript

In GLCC, in the direction that we have set, we would like everyone to come to GLCC to Know, Grow and Go, which means that we want people to come through the door of our church to know the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior. And having trusted the Lord, we would like them to grow in the Lord. And as they grow, we desire to see them go forward to serve Christ in whatever ways the Lord directs. So, I thought it was fitting this morning to share with you a few thoughts a simple message about a heart to serve, what does it mean to have a heart to serve? How can I serve the Lord effective? How can I go for my Lord Jesus Christ? What does this mean? How can this be developed in my life? And these are some questions I would like to answer in our message this morning. Just to share with you a news item, two years ago in 2012. Our Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, lamented the behavior of Singaporean of late. He called it the ugly Singaporean behavior. He shared some instances that troubled him that he hoped the nation would begin to consider, to highlight and also hopefully to correct. One instance is the reservation of public roads outside their house with flowerpots and dustbins so that they can park their cars. I wonder if any one of us here are guilty of this, do not have to raise your hand. Second, quarrelling with their neighbors over the washing of common corridors, placing of furniture or noise. You know, your neighbor is too noisy, you know, and they are going to fight and quarrel over it. I hope we are not found guilty of that either. And here is another one he quoted, he said, “objecting to the building of eldercare facilities or studio apartment in their precincts.” That is not bad enough. They even suggested that maybe this could be built in a nearby area away from themselves. So do not build here. You can build over there, you know, over there is fine. And so he said that we see our Prime Minister to be getting less patient, less tolerant, less willing to compromise in order to get along. This is in the year 2012, in his National Day rally. How have we fare since then? In 2013, on National Day, the news reported that there was a baby girl found outside the lift landing in Block 203 of Serangoon Central, and this is very near where I live. This was done the day before, on August 8 at 2pm. That was like a National Day wake-up call, “Hello, you know, have we heeded our Prime Minister? Have we tried to look beyond ourselves?” And a month earlier, the news reported in the same year 2013 last year that a Singaporean policeman was arrested for a gruesome double murder, and the car shop owner Tan Boon Sin, age 67 was found dead in his home while his son 42 years of age was found a kilometer away after being dragged under a car owned by the eldest victim, leaving a trail of blood along a busy road. The suspect, Senior Staff Sergeant, Iskandar bin Rahmat, 34, was arrested by Malaysian police and repatriated to Singapore for investigation. The damage to the reputation of the Police Force. The sense of betrayal by his colleagues was great. And again, we see another instance of worse-than-ugly Singaporean behavior. Now of course, we may not be guilty of putting babies outside lift landings. You know, we may not be guilty of murder, but how about this, this maybe even closer to home. Maybe this is something you thought of too. But this is actually what happened. It was pretty shocking. When I read about it, which was in this year, in January. A woman was so upset that she had problems getting complimentary parking at Lot One shopping mall. I wonder if some of you live around there, that she refused to move when the barriers were lifted, and she held back all the cars behind her for over an hour. When the malls security officers were alerted at 9:10pm, they quickly lifted the barrier for her, promising to look into her complimentary parking privileges. But she refused to move. She says, “Solve this problem, right now. Or I wouldn't go.” So, they called the police. The police came and tried to persuade them, with all these cars waiting behind, waiting to go home. Next day is a workday and what have you, refused to move, only when the police say, “I'm going to arrest you.”, then she moved her car. What is the common threat in all this? Well, it is obvious that we live in a very selfish, self-centered society.

“Me-First” culture, The universe revolves around me, What is in it for me?

In fact, we live in a society where it is normal and common for us to have a “Me-First” attitude, resulting in a “Me-First” culture. This means that when you begin to think of others first, it is rare, it is not natural, it is not something that we can actually expect. Because most people feel that the universe revolves around themselves. The school is there for my children, the hospital is there for my needs, the church is here for me. As a result, to have a heart to serve, is something that does not come by easily. I am not talking about serving here and there, when you feel like it, when you think it's a good idea. Because even in all these activities, we can do so because we feel that there is something in it for me. As a result, we find that we struggle, we struggle to get people to contribute, to serve. And that is why in GLCC, our direction is that we desire to see people not only Know Christ, but to Grow in Christ, and to then Go for Jesus. In other words, without growing in the Lord, you will find that the inherent selfishness, self-centeredness may not be counteracted. It may not be dealt with, such that service for God is a very painful event, because they cannot see any reason to do so. Why should I serve you? Why should I come earlier? Why should I make these sacrifices? That is why we need people to Know, Grow and Go. Because a genuine heart to serve, has to come from God. It is the result of our growth in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Does this mean that if I don’t “GROW” I cannot “GO” and serve?

But again, you know, when some of us may object having been Christians for a while, you know, you may be saying, “You know, Pastor. Does this mean that if I don't grow, I cannot go?” So I got to wait till I grow? And as a halo above my head, and everybody says, I am spiritual, then I say, “Okay, I sign up, I will now go.” Do I wait for that to happen?

But I feel that I do “GROW” when I begin to serve!

And some of you may also object and say, but I feel that I do Grow when I begin to serve. Now that is true. That is true, because we must not think of Know, Grow, Go in a linear progression alone. It is not like this is that and so it's only after you take the second step of growing, then you go. In fact, we can look at it as a circular or spiral progression. When you grow, you ought to go forward to serve. But as you go forward to serve, it will result in people knowing Jesus, and it also results in you growing in the Lord. Why? Because often times when people serve, their push against the limit of their abilities, they realize that they actually don't know as much as they think they do. It is always easier to sit in the audience, and then be an expert in your own mind on any subject that you think about, until you start doing it yourself, then you realize, actually, I don't know it as well, “Lord help me.” In that moment, you begin to grow. So yes, going forward to serve helps you to grow because we realize that we are ignorant, we realize that we are not in control. And so we begin to cast our dependence upon the Lord. And in that instance, we grow. So that is true.

“GO” without “GROW” cannot sustain a heart to serve God fruitfully and consistently

But this is the point I have to make to you this morning, concerning a heart to serve, that if you just keep going without growing, you can't sustain a heart to serve. After a while you get burned out, you can’t continue to be fruitful, because there will be more problems. And after a while, it gets crushing, it gets defeating, it gets discouraging, and soon people begin to stop, people begin to slow down, people begin to choose those comfortable areas to serve in and our ministry, our heart to serve is no longer consistent.

A Heart to Serve (Philippians 2:3-8)

So, what's the point? The point is that we need to have a heart to serve in GLCC. If we are to go forward for our Lord Jesus Christ, why is it important to have a heart to serve? Here is another thought for you.

We all want to be crusaders for what is right but the truth is, most of us crusade for what we want!

Because we all want to be crusaders for what is right in our thinking. But the truth is most of us crusade for what we want. Why would we say that? You know, isn't that a bit too harsh or hard? Think about it. So often, we end up serving in areas that are convenient and comfortable to us. So often when pastor begin to promote a certain activity or event, we all would be happy and excited to rush in because that is the latest fad in GLCC. This is so exciting. I want to be a part of it. It is so much fun and laughter but when pastor move on to the next ministry, and his attention shift, we all tend to shift together with him because we want the excitement, we do not really care about the work. In other words, our heart to serve is not for the Lord, is not for what is really right to do by others. It is based on how it meets my own needs, even in the midst of serving. And so often we serve the people we like, we serve the people we want, when we want to do it, is all on an ad-hoc basis and ministries in the church could not be sustained on such a basis. Let me show you a little video clip of an instance in our church camp to illustrate this point. You see in the church camp, we are divided into two teams to compete, one is Energizer Team which I was a part of. Energizer Team in my opinion ought to win not because I'm part of it but because we are the Never Say Die company. We are alkaline batteries, you know, we ought to win. Ever Ready was the other team. Ever Ready was a bit old style battery, you know, tends to leak and what have you. But you know what, they actually were 3000 points or so ahead of Energizer on the last day. And so, kindly Pastor Jason in his workshop allowed us to try to catch up by 10,000 points if we managed to build the tallest structure: the tallest straw structure with just sticks and straw. And guess what? All the teams went into action. You know, I felt we are sure going to win. Our team brought up the structure and it was the tallest. We were so excited and energized that we thought we're gonna win, we're gonna win, we're gonna win. We are going to score the 10,000 points, because it's the tallest structure and watch what happens after that. (video plays…: showing Energizer Team’s structure toppling down). Well, evidently Energizer, that team that never says die, died that moment. We lost. We look good for a moment; we look like we are going to have the victory. But it did not last. I hope that that is not a picture of our service for God. You know, we are only good on the outside, we only look like we are going to stand tall and strong for Jesus. You know, and we may have stood for a little while, but it does not last. Why? Because there is not a true heart to serve. So this morning, I like to highlight to you that to serve God fruitfully and I believe that if you know the Lord Jesus Christ, and you're growing in him, all of us as believers, we want to do something for God. Now, you may not want to be a pastor or missionary, you may not want to be a Bible teacher, you may not want to be doing some incredible surveys to report or whatever. But every one of us who is a truly born-again believer, who is growing in the Lord, you want to do something for God. And my point is that to do something for God fruitfully and consistently, not just for a moment and then after that we topple over and we give up, not just occasionally when it fits our schedule and it is convenient. We must have a heart to serve. So what does it mean to have a heart to serve?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit (Phil 2:3a)

Let's turn to the scriptures in Philippians chapter two, and look at what Paul has to tell us about this heart to serve. Because over here he describes to us the characteristics or qualities of the heart to serve. He says, first of all, he says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit (Phil 2:3).” What does that mean? Being conceit is the mistaken idea that we deserve special consideration, because there is something inherently special about ourselves. You know, sometimes, believers who grew up in church may be more susceptible to selfish ambition or conceit. You say, Pastor that is shocking for you to say. I tell you why I think so, because from young, we learn we are special to Jesus, right? We even sing that song: We are special to Jesus. People come into church with tissue, they are special to Jesus. After a while we are not only thinking we are special to Jesus, we have to be special to everyone else. Everyone else should treat me special. I tell you why, because I came to church in a pram when my mom carried me in. Why am I special? I tell you why, because I know of more Bible stories than all of you could remember. In fact, before the preacher says anything, I could tell you what he will say next because I heard him from young. So we think we are so special in this way. Maybe you think you are special, although you didn't grow up in church, because you know what? I am special because I look good. I have a new haircut. Or maybe I sound special because look at this new dress I bought, how come nobody paid attention to my dress, you know, and we are all clamoring for attention. We are clamoring to be noticed in church, rather than noticing others and their needs and serving them. And so Paul says if you have a heart to serve, you shouldn't be expecting to be treated in a special way. You should not be getting into selfish ambition or conceit, thinking about what others will say to you, how they say hi to you, how you're going to make the most noise later and so on and so forth: I have a great party. It is sad that most Christians do not understand this truth. And as a result, the longer they are in church, the more they want this special attention. But Paul says, “No, do nothing – It includes coming to church, it includes worshipping the Lord, serving him – from selfish ambition or conceit. So here are some questions for self-reflection, are we in that track?

Is the position you have among your peers more important than serving others?

Now is the position you have among your peers more important than serving others, not just the young people, mind you, who may be very concerned about their looks, their dress, their hairdo, and what have you. And so, they don't want to mess it all up by getting your hands dirty serving. It could even be the older folks among us, who feel that maybe by this time, with this age, having struggled in life, having experienced all this pain, all these burdens, maybe, someone else should do the work? Not me. Why do you call on me? Is your position among your peers more important than serving others?

Is your ego or pride keeping you from stooping to serve?

How about this? Is your ego or pride keeping you from stooping to serve? Do you know what I do outside? Hello, you know, I hire people to do the work you're asking me to do. What kind of thinking are you having? Are you using your brains? You know this, you don't know who I am? And you know, is it your pride, your ego, because of who you are in society, who you think your parents are perhaps, who you think your friends are? The image you are cultivating, keeping you from saying, “I'm not gonna pick up that trash, I'm not going to open the doors, I am going to be served because I am special in Jesus, that is vain conceit.” That is ambition, the desire to be great in others’ eyes, that keeps us from serving the Lord.

But in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Phil 2:3b)

And Paul goes on to tells us this, if we are going to have the heart to serve, the next characteristic is this, we need to be counting others more significant than yourselves. We need to be counting others more significant than yourselves. Now, I want you to notice with me that Paul never says that the person you are serving is more significant. You know, he may socially be of a lower position, economically, he may not be as well off as you are. Maybe intellectually, you know, he is not able to dialogue with you, maybe emotionally, he is a little disturbed. He is not saying that he is better than you. But he is saying, you know what, church, if you want to have a heart to serve, you need to consider that person who have problems in life, who have issues with others relationally better than you, because that opens his heart to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But the moment we come and say, who are you? And what have you got to contribute? You know, you have always been like that, have you changed, you know. And we are critical of others, we begin to evaluate other people's worth, before we decide to serve. It is always going to trip us up, because you are never going to really find someone who is that worthy. And if he is that worthy? He probably does not need you to help him at all. And so Paul is saying, “Let's have a heart that count others more significant than yourselves.” And what does this mean? Let's ask ourselves, if you have a door, and somebody has to walk through, you could make your way quickly through yourself. And when you do so you are doing a me-first act. When you do a me-first act, there is potential for conflict. Because after a while, people will begin to sense and know that this person is always only thinking of himself, is always going to charge ahead, move ahead. He is always busy. He is always wrapped up in his own thoughts. And you know what, it is difficult to relate to him. But you could step back and let others go first. The moment you let others go first, you are sparing a thought for that person. You are counting him more significant than yourself. And when you do that there's potential for relationship. He or she may not remember your name, or even your face. But he will have a sense that in this church is not a me-first culture, is not a ‘come and take care of me, I'm a poor thing.’ But it is a church where people begin to spare a thought for others count others more significant than yourself. Do you charge at the coffee? Or do you charge at the lift? Or do you step back and say, “you know you can go first,” because I am thinking of you and your needs.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:4)

Now in line with that, here is another thought that we need to consider. A third thought about this heart to serve. In Philippians chapter two, verse four, the Scripture says, “Let each one of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Now this is intensely practical. Serving is not just outward activity. If it is just outward activity and getting things done after a while, you can get machines do a better job. After a while, if you put a signboard, it can read better, at least it does not frown at you, or give you funny looks. But you see, when we begin to consider the interests of others, it means that we think of what people need. And we do something about it. And when we say when we act, it is because we understand the needs of the people around us. You know, in our society today, it is very common to receive calls from telemarketers. I am sure many of you have also received those calls. You know you may not feel very rich, but they talk to you like you are a rich man. And you have lots of money to invest and policies you can buy, credit cards you could sign up for. And I remember once I receive a call: because he left an impact upon me. He went like this, you know, he will usually call and he will say, “Hello, is this Mr. Seto?” And warily I would you know, was thinking, “Another one of those, how do I get out of this?” And I will say, “yes, it is.” And then he will introduce, “Hi, I'm from so and so company, I like to share with you about this policy.” And I am honestly solid, tempted to say no, I'm not interested and hang up the phone. But that was kind of rude. So usually, I will hold myself back. And I would say something like, what is this all about? And as usual, he would go into for two or three minutes, this rehearsed speech that goes on and on and on and on and on about this policy, how this will do good for you how to bless your family, secure your future and what have you. And I got to just, you know, try not to fall asleep or interrupt him, waiting for that pause that never seems to come. And when finally, it came, I answered him and I said my old well-rehearsed line, because I don't know why recently have been getting all these calls over this past year, maybe a change in the market or whatever. And I will say to him, “No, thank you. I'm not interested.”. Now this is where it became very interesting. He asked me a question, I did not have the answer to. He asked me, “Why?” Usually, he will say “Okay. Thank you. Bye, bye.” You know, he asked me, “Why?” And I'm like, “Why?” I didn't know how to answer. So I said, “No, thank you. I'm not interested.” I could not think of an answer. Because honestly, I was not really paying attention. Because it is so rehearsed, you know, and I wasn't really engaged. I am just not interested. Does that matter to you? No, but he asked why. And so three times I told him, I'm not interested. But this is really the clincher in this conversation that left an indelible memory and impression upon my mind, which I am sharing with you right now that illustrates a point. He did not ask me why after the third time, and he stopped, he went silent for a while. And he asked me, “You don't like me?”

I am like, I don't know you from Adam. I do not know you well enough to hate you or to like you. This is so weird. This is like so out of hand, you know. And I really did not know how to answer. I was really flabbergasted. I did not say anything. And he asked me the next question like in sorrow and tears, “Did I do anything wrong?” You know, at the end of it, he was not interested in me. Right? He was all about him. It is about the call he wants to make, the sale he wants to clinch. When he did not get through, he was still thinking about himself in such a weird way that I could not connect and relate to him. And you know what, friends, this is what Paul is saying here, “Don't just be thinking of yourself. If you want a heart to serve.” You know, you are having a product to sell to someone. You are having a policy to present to someone, even though you are presenting the precious gospel of Jesus Christ, even though you think that you are there to meet someone's needs that his soul needs. Paul says, “Get to know his needs. Look out for his interests.” Otherwise, you are just doing a job. You are not serving God's people. Look not to your own interests. Think about others, think about what they are dealing with or they're struggling with, whether they really want your help before you take the next step.

Is your schedule of activities more important than serving others?

And so if we are going to be reflexing upon it, we need to ask ourselves is our schedule of activities more important than serving others? So often we say we do not have time, we are not available. You know, are you always not available? I do understand that it could be a busy time in your life. There are seasons in life. The Scripture tells us there are seasons in life, that maybe you have a baby and you are busy. Maybe because you have a new job, you are busy. Maybe there are new financial pressures, you know, the stock market's not doing well, you make a loss, you need to be on the job. We can all understand that. But have you been so busy for the past year, or the past 2 years, the past 5 years, the past 10 years, maybe for the past 20 years, you have just been so busy? And so, it is all about your schedule, is all about what you want to make, so that you can have enough for retirement so that you can have enough for the children. And it is all about my schedule. No wonder, we are not able to pay attention for others interests and needs. No wonder we are so wrapped up in what we need to get that we forget to give. Is because we do not have a heart to serve. So Paul is telling us these are the characteristics that needs to be evident in our life if we as God's people are to be serving others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5a)

But when he goes on to Philippians, chapter two, verse five, I believe that this is the turning point in the passage. Now, we may be familiar with this passage as Christians, because this talks about the mind of Christ. For those of you who are reading theology, this book about the kenosis theory where he emptied Himself. But I want to just highlight a very simple point to you, when Paul says, “Have this mind among yourself, which is yours, in Christ Jesus,” (Phil 2:5a). What did Paul mean? Why is this a turning point? This is a turning point because a heart to serve comes from the mind of Christ. And that mind of Christ is not natural to you, or to me. It is not natural. I share with you all those stories about gruesome murder, leaving babies and lift landing. Those are just extreme examples of a selfish heart. I shared with you examples of people, you know, stopping the car, not careless about what other people are thinking, blocking out all the cars for an hour. That is another example of selfish behavior. You know, by reason of the fall of man into sin, we are self-centered. The only person I really care about when left to myself is me. No matter how hard I try, I am only concerned for myself, and if I am concerned for you is because I have just extended my concern to you for reasons of how you can help me, benefit me. And this can easily happen in the church, that I reach out to you, I serve you so that I can plow back some benefits to my own life. And this is not a heart to serve. This only have a form of surveys, a show of activities.

A heart to serve is supernatural. That’s why we need to keep pointing others to Jesus to go forward in serving God

And Paul is saying at the heart of a heart to serve is the mind of Christ. In other words, a heart to serve is supernatural. Now I am not saying that we cannot be doing something in the church - all of us can. It is not that we can be helping out - all of us can. I am not saying that you could not be good hearted enough, without having to stop and pray and fast in order to do something for someone else. I am sure you can. But in order for it to be fruitful, in order for it to be consistent, in order for this to become the culture of our church, and everybody feels and thinks this way and move forward - genuinely concerned for other’s needs. It is supernatural. It is the love of God poured out in our hearts, changing our lives. That is why Paul says have this mind in you, because it does not come by us naturally. We are naturally only consumed with our own thoughts, our own needs, and we want to find others of so that we can keep what is mine. But Paul says we have got to stop that if we want to have a heart to serve. It is not all about what you think, you may be right. But you are not the world, you are not the universe. You may mean well, but you know what, if you get a little hurt, you know, it is not about you. It is not about your interests, you know. Maybe you feel a little cheated, but it is again, not about you. So have this mind in you which is in Christ Jesus, and he can be yours. That is why we need to keep pointing others to go to Jesus, to go forward in serving God. If we are not looking to Jesus, our surveys can easily become man-centered, can easily become flesh-driven, selfish, and ungodly at its core. Because it does not come by naturally. How did Jesus have this mind? And what Paul tells us here is amazing. In fact, what Paul tells us here puts us at the same level of opportunity with Jesus when it concerns the mind of Christ when it concerns a heart to serve.

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Phil 2:6-7)

Maybe you thought it was easier for Jesus to have a heart to serve, to have such a mind. But the Scripture tells us that he “though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Which means he did not hold on to his rights. He did not hold on to his schedule. He did not hold on to his ego and to his pride. He did not hold on to his glories and comfort, but he emptied Himself. He levelled all that. He put it out of his mind in order to take the form of a servant and be born in the likeness of men. In other words, if Jesus had to make such a choice to empty himself, so must we, if we are going to have a heart to serve. Truly serving God cannot be a CCA. It cannot be a co-curricular activity like in school. It cannot be something you dream of when you retire. It cannot be something you do when it is convenient. It cannot be something that you commit yourself to when everything else has settled down. Because you know what? Life has a way of getting busier and busier and busier, and it never ends. If one kid is a lot of work, wait till you have two right? If two kids are a lot of work, wait till you have three. And you can wait till you retire wait till you have grandchildren. And soon you have to look after your children's children as well. If work is busy now, it gets busier the next time. If you want to change a job in order to slow down, you'll find that most people allow you to change job and go into their company because they want you to pick up not slow down. Life will never get slower and easier, if we don't make a choice. If we don't empty ourselves, if we don't say to ourselves, “You know what. Enough is enough. I'm not going to just live for myself and chase the dreams of this world. I'm going to make a decision to serve my God, the way he directs. I'm going to surrender all. And I'm going to empty myself on my own ambition and desires and say, “God, what do you want me to do?” Maybe a little contribution, but I start there.” Emptying yourself is the first step to developing the mind of Christ, to take on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)

Paul goes on to tell us in verse eight, “And he was found in the human form, he humbled himself.” He did not end with the decision to empty himself. He had to take the next step. And the next step, and the Scripture tells us that, “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Friends, have you thought about it? It was not convenient for Jesus to go to the cross. I assure you; it was not something he cannot wait to experience. How do I know that? Because at the Garden of Gethsemane, he knelt and he said, “Lord, not my will, but yours be done.” And before that, he said, “If it be possible, let this cup be passed from me.” He was not like going, yay, I cannot wait to go to the cross. It was painful. It was difficult. It was not convenient. But how did he accomplish it? Because he first emptied Himself. And secondly, he was obedient to the will of God. If we don't first die to ourselves, we cannot pick up our cross and follow Jesus. And everything we do, whether in church or in the home, you know, will be for me, me-first culture. But when I take on the mind of Christ, when I realize it is supernatural, it doesn't recite in me. I say, “Lord, I want to follow you.” Then God says, “Empty yourself, die to self today, so that you can serve your family. Die to self today so that you can rebuild that broken relationship. Die to self today so that you can obey me and build better relationships to help another person in the church.” You need to make those decisions. It does not come naturally. It does not come accidentally. Because it is not natural to us. It is a supernatural work of God. That selfish, prideful men like you and I, can actually spare a genuine thought for others. That is the heart to serve. That is the mind of Christ. Several years ago, I had the opportunity with the other pastors and workers to visit the IDMC conference, the Intentional Disciple-Making Conference (IDMC). And I was just very blessed to see thousands of people gathered at the church to learn about discipleship which left an impact upon our life and ministry, which translated into GLCC's burden and passion for discipleship as well. I want to share with you what impacted me most about this conference. It was not the large numbers and crowds, although that was very exciting. It was not the good sessions, workshops and talks, although they were delivered by very experienced men in the ministry, especially the lead pastor who was a man who truly walk with God and have great insights in the scripture, made sacrifices to serve God's people. But what I saw was the result of his intentional disciple-making efforts in his church. What I saw and I wanted to give thanks for and share with you this morning is what I saw in the volunteers: all these men and ladies who were dressed in this red Polo T-shirts. When we came and drove up in the car, there were all these men under the hot sun, wearing this T-shirt, directing traffic. And they were going up, you know, in a very friendly way to try to direct them to the right place to park. You know, this is not easy to have all these people serving. In fact I was told that about 400 volunteers every year, would take leave from their work in order to do this ministry. You know, I was just thinking, you know, at that time about GLCC and I was wondering, will we be able to get anybody to stand out in the sun? And if we tell them can you take leave to direct traffic under the sun? I wonder how the response would be. I'm not sure, I'm not certain, maybe I'm wrong. But you know, in our church, maybe, you know, we'll have one or two, but have a whole team? Who would do that? Pastor, why are you asking me to do? I have to take precious leave, not spend time with my family, not go on mission trip, to direct traffic? You can’t put a sign there? Of course, can put a sign there, but the sign cannot smile, the sign cannot shake hand, the sign cannot communicate a life of sacrifice, a heart to serve. You know, we find convenient methods to get things done, forgetting that we are a body and not an organization. And I walk into the church building and are all these people just standing there. You know, “this way please” smiling, finding out if you approach them for a problem immediately, they direct you to the receptionist. And they have this counter and that counter, so many counters, you know, and to help everyone get into the proper places. You know, I'm just thinking, in the future, when we're going to Punggol, will we have people to mend the counters? Will we have people to usher the folks? Or will we have people come up and say, “I'm sorry, I'm a people person. I talk to people, I’m not a signpost. And so please don't ask me to just stand there the whole day and say, go this way.” You know, and I walk into the lift in the conference. And this is amazing. Now a little compassionate, I was a little late. So most people are up in the conference already. So the lift has already gone up and down, you know, several times. But I was surprised again, when I walk into the place, there was this young teenager who was there to press the lift button for us. Now, some of you who are very productivity, efficiency minded is like, “Cannot press the lift button yourself ah?” I know, I know, I can press I can press myself, but I was impressed with the fact that this young teenager is not only there. He's not like, “Why am I doing this? Who set me up? Why did my parents forced me to stand in this way.” No, he wasn't like that at all. I was so impressed that he was there smiling, sunshine on his face, “Hello!”, probably for the 100th time, you know, “which level please?”, instead of standing down there, “press yourself.” You know, I was so blessed by all this because it tells me that these people are happy to serve the Lord, whatever it involves. And together as a body, they communicated a love, they communicated a passion that will not come by if we are just concerned about efficiency and productivity. You know, I'm sure we can have some electronic gadgets, we can invest money, we can put out signposts and get the job done. But all this would not reveal the heartbeat of the church, that has a passion for the Savior, who left the glories of heaven in order to come down and be obedient to the cross. And was willing to give up his life in order to give us hope, in order to give us life. Are we as a church willing to have this heart to serve? So that by everything we do, we are pointing others to the same hope and life that is in Christ, that pressing a lift button can be a joyous service. You don't have to be playing the electric guitar, don’t have to be hitting the drums, don’t have to be so cool up there with your hairdo and all. But yet, there is such life, such joy found even in a teenager, found in a traffic controller, found in an usher. All that points us to the Savior.

Serving God and others doesn’t happen by accident. It only happens after you make a conscious choice to embrace a heart to serve.

And so we need to realize this, that by what Paul was saying, serving God and others doesn't happen by accident. Of course, opportunities to serve can take us by surprise. But you know something? If you listen carefully to the testimonies of men and women who serve God, you will realize that until we made a decision in our heart to say, “Lord, I do not wish to live just for myself. I do not want to just think about myself. I want to embrace a heart to serve. I want to have the mind of Christ. I want to think of others before myself, I want to make my life available for you.” Only when we make a conscious decision, to embrace the heart to serve, to take on the mind of Christ, to empty ourselves, to obey what God directs us to do, then will those opportunities arise. Then you will find out, “I didn’t know there was such an exciting ministry here. How come I didn't know that?” And you are surprised you found out they've been going on for the past five years, but you didn't notice. Because you haven’t embrace a heart to serve, then you realize, “Oh, there's such great needs here.” How come I didn't step forward earlier to help them? Well could it be because you did not embrace a heart to serve? You didn't come with the intention to give. You came with a mindset to get. But the moment that reverses, because of the mind of Christ, producing in us a heart to serve, you're going to find that God is going to use you and me in ways we have not thought of possible before. It may not be dramatic ways, but it will be contributing to God's kingdom. And so when we want to serve God, we need to have the mind of Christ. But we have another problem. Even though we have the mind of Christ and a heart to serve, oftentimes, we hear of Christians who say, “I'm just too busy.” What can we do if we are too busy? Here I will give you a simple formula to help you if you are too busy. It's very simple. It says, “Power”. Power means your time, your energies, your talents, your abilities, all put together is your power to serve. Now, every one of us carry loads in our life. Those are our responsibilities. Those are our burdens. Those are our commitments. We have load upon our lives. And so when you deduct some load off your power, you will immediately create margins in your life. It could be margins of time, it could be margins of energies, margins in your schedule, that allow you to embrace a heart to serve. You see, it's actually not that complicated. Maybe I can put it this way.

Is there an activity I need to stop?

Is there an activity I need to stop? Maybe you have too many activities, and you're overcommitted everywhere else. You know, maybe fear keeps you running the rat race. And actually, you have earned enough. Or actually God will provide in the future. But you will never know that until you stop and say, “God, I'm not going to just keep running. I'm going to cut some load off my life.” You know, I can stop a little. I hear stories of mothers who will get up early at 5, 6am in the morning to rush down to the wet market to buy the freshest fish, freshest meat, freshest vegetable to boil soup for the family. You know, that is so commendable. I wish I could have a drink of that soup. But if you're doing that every day, could you imagine how hectic your life is? No wonder you're too busy to serve. Even a housemaker, even a homemaker, can get so busy. What more a working adult like yourself, what more a student who is attending the gifted program if you don't cut down your margin? Maybe you don't have to go to the wet market every morning? That immediately gives you time in the morning to do something else for God. Maybe the same is true for your evenings, your weekends, is there an activity I need to stop?

Is there a relationship I need to slow down?

How about that? Is there a relationship I need to slow down? Maybe you really want to serve the Lord, you want to do something for God, but you are just engaging in so many relationships, have you thought about it? The more intimate relationships you have with your friends, the more commitments. I mean, if they call you and you don't go out, the next time they may not call you again. Right? Bojio (means no invite)? Is that correct? Never call me? Why like that? Left me out then bui song already right means not happy with you. Not happy with you, bo peng you already means no more friends already.  And so maybe you have all this relationships, all your kakis (it means 'friends' in Singlish), the moment call, must drop everything and run, whether eat prata, watch movie or whatever must do together. So we are, all you know, men you know. We're all brothers. We're all sisters, you know, and so on and so forth. Relationships, they take time too. Maybe you have ambition, too many close relationships. I'm not saying that we get antisocial, right. But if you find yourself unable to serve God, because you don't have enough time, don’t have enough energy, maybe there's a relationship you need to slow down. Maybe you know there is something that you need to do to limit the time you spend together. Even in a dating relationship. You can do 101 things together and stare at each other's eyes for the next 24 hours. Maybe stare for one hour, give yourself a break. You know, tell her you love her and then move on a little, you know, it may not be the end of the world. She may love you even more for it. So is there a relationship I need to slow down?

Are there things in my life that need to be less of a priority?

Are there things in my life that need to be a less of a priority? You know when everything is important, your life is very stressful. Everything demands your time, though there's a world to save and there are all these diseases to cure, there is this stock market you must ride on, if you miss this, you will die. Every time you go everywhere, sure die, sure die, sure die. If you don't do something, of course that's a way to get you to act. Right? Maybe you wouldn't die. Maybe you will live better if you slow down. So power minus load creates margin. So if you are in that position, you have a heart to serve. You want to live for God, but you just find your life to busy. Perhaps all you need to do is cut some load off your power in your life and that will create margin for you to embrace the mind of Christ and to step out to serve.

To serve God fruitfully and consistently (not just occasionally) we must have a heart to serve!

And hopefully, we will begin to see in GLCC, not ad-hoc ministries, not occasional ministries, not chasing the latest fashion. But each one of us begin to serve God fruitfully, begin to serve God consistently, not just occasionally. But in order to do that, it's not just doing things in the church, it is having a heart to serve. Because every opportunity to serve someone reveals your heart. And I pray that the revelation of the heart is not a selfish, self-centered heart, but that of Jesus Christ, who loved us, and gave himself for us.


Let us pray, shall we, our Heavenly Father, we give thanks to you for this morning. We thank You for Your Word, which is like a light, and the lamb to our feet, and our path. Lord, you know that in Singapore here, and I believe in many other cosmopolitan cities, life is just so busy. And it's so easy to develop a consumer attitude, that everywhere we go, we want to be entertained, we want to be taken care of, we want to get and grab instead of giving. Lord, we may feel good for a while. But after a while, our life begins to lose its purpose and direction. Because you didn't create us to live for ourselves. You made us to live for you, to reveal your glory to others when we serve them. And I pray that GLCC, our people will have a heart to serve, will not think of serving as just doing something, serving in our area of expertise alone. But even if we just do that, there is a difference, because it's done for you. It has the mind of Christ. Lord, we recognize that this doesn't come naturally. So we pray for you to do a deeper work in our lives, a work that will change our hearts and first change the way we conduct our lives. Father, we pray, allow this church to be different because of Jesus. Allow our lives to be different, our marriages, our families, our relationships, and activities, commitments to be different. Because we have the mind of Christ, we live to honor you and serve others and may that heart to serve be evident in this church, in our lives. We give thanks and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.