Made A Servant
God can make you a blessing to people far more than you think you can be.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friend. How in the world are you? You doing all right? Well, I hope things are going well at your house. If perchance you’ve struck a day when things aren’t going too well and we all have those days, now and then just look up and say, “Lord Jesus, I’m yours. See me through.” The key word for the Christian is “through;” “Yea though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil.” “When thou passest through waters, they shall not overflow thee.”
God brings us through. He doesn’t drop you in the middle of things. I often tell my friends, “God hasn’t brought you this far to dump you now,” so trust Him. Look up. If you’ve struck a rough day and some of you have, I’m sure, just look up and say, “Lord, see me through,” and He will. Jesus never fails. Well, we are looking at Romans 16. And Paul says, “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, a servant of the church at Cenchreae.” This word “servant” is our word “deacon.” Now, I’m not going to get into a big hassle with you, dear friends, as to whether women should be allowed to be deacons in the church.
There’s enough argument about that as it is. I’ll only point out to you that if you read your Greek New Testament, the word that is translated “servant” here is the Greek word “diakonos” which is the same word that is used for deacons elsewhere. You figure it out for yourself. In any case, what is important is that this lady was a servant in the sense of rendering needed service to the church at the time when it’s needed. This is the Cook definition, you may say, of a deacon. The deacons originated in the book of Acts. Do you remember the story when the number of disciples was multiplied and there arose a murmuring, it’s said, of the Grecians against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. All they got was leftovers.
And so the apostle said, “Well, now we’re not going to leave the ministry of the Word of God to do something else. Let’s look for seven men that are full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom and of good report, people with good reputation and good sense, and filled with the Spirit of God that by the way is the qualification for leadership anywhere in God’s work – good reputation, good common sense and full of the Holy Ghost. And so he says, “We’ll give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.” And so they chose these deacons among whom of course was Stephen and Phillip and Prochorus and Nicanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nicholas and so on.
Alright. These men took care of the need that was there at the time and they did it as a ministry of the Holy Spirit of God. That’s what a deacon is supposed to do, to meet the need where it exists in the church at the time in the power of the Holy Ghost. Good idea? Well then, Phoebe had been doing that. It said, “She has been a helper of many and of myself also.” “She has been a helper of many and of myself also,” Paul says. What does it mean to be a servant of the church? Had you ever thought about that?
As I say, I want to lay aside now any argument about whether women can serve in official positions in the church. You work that out for yourself. Some denominations say yes and some say no and some say maybe and still others just sweep it under the rug of forgetfulness. So I’m not going to argue it, if that’s alright with you. I am going to assume that God has something for every believer to do in the local church. The Bible teaches me that and I think it’s without question. God has something special for every believer to do within the context of the local church.
If you agree with that presupposition, then let’s think about it. He said, “She has been a servant of the church. She has been a succourer, that means “an effective helper” giving help when it was needed. If you give succor to somebody, that means you help them where they need it at the time, right then. “She has been a helper, an effective helper,” it says, “of many and of myself also.” She had been of help to Paul. Now, how do you do this? Well, I think, first of all, you have to be honest about what God has gifted you with.
If God has not given you a solo voice, then you better not insist on helping the church by singing solos. You may just help to empty it. If God has not gifted you at public speaking, then maybe you better not think too seriously about making a lot of speeches. If God has, however, gifted you at something like, let us say, bookkeeping, then you better accept when somebody nominates you for treasurer or financial secretary because that can very well be your ministry as unto the Lord. No, you’re not singing. No, you’re not preaching. No, I have never in the world found people lining up at the door to thank the financial secretary for keeping the records.
That’s something that people never think to do and yet it’s a lot of work, isn’t it? You, ladies and gentlemen, who fill posts like that in a local church, you know how much work it is to keep track of everything. But people don’t thank you. They thank the preacher, they may thank the soloist, but they never thank the treasurer or the financial secretary. Strange how we neglect that. But if that’s your gift, then you better do it as unto the Lord, hadn’t you? Perhaps you’re gifted in mechanical matters. Well, then, you can serve the church by helping to keep it in good shape.
Do you know about preventive maintenance? Many of you do, I’m confident. When I first came to the college, I asked the gentleman who was then in charge of buildings and grounds. He had come out of the New York subway system, I believe, and in that job he was what we call a troubleshooter, that is when something broke down, whether it was a subway car or some piece of machinery or whatever it was, they sent for him. So his orientation was a troubleshooter kind of a job. Well, shortly after I came to the college, I noticed that we were in need of a little different point of view, maybe on our maintenance, and so I asked him one day, I said, “Brother, what’s your philosophy of maintenance?”
He thought for a moment and turned to me and smiled his engaging smile, he says, “Buddy, I just try to keep up with what breaks.” Well, we were understaffed and underpaid and overworked and I could understand that that was exactly what was being done because it had to be. However, you don’t have to keep on with what’s being done just because it’s being done, have you found that out? No, you don’t. Change isn’t wrong if God is in it. You don’t have to keep on with what’s being done just because that’s the way we always did it.
Somebody has said, “There are two reasons for doing nothing in any local church. One is we never tried it before and the other is we tried it before.” But anyway, what we did was to introduce what we call preventive maintenance. Now our building is an old resort hotel and every room in the original building has a connecting bath so you can understand how much plumbing there is in a building that is 4 stories high and 780 ft long in its main building and then a 7 story wing attached to that.
You can understand that there may be quite a bit of plumbing in a building like that, every room with connecting bath? Okay. So we started preventive maintenance. Go through and check the plumbing before it springs a leak. Go through and check the wiring before it blows a fuse or starts a fire. Go through and check other functions of the building. Preventive maintenance. That’s why we go around and paint everything routinely. There’s a whole system of repainting the trim on various buildings or whole buildings themselves where they’re made of wooden siding, every so often. Preventive maintenance.
Well, I got into that simply to emphasize the fact that some of you can do that for God’s house. It’s amazing how many things are just let go in God’s house where you wouldn’t put up with it in your own, isn’t it true? So if your gift is mechanical, maybe you ought to give some thought to serving the church in the line of preventive maintenance and equipment repair and all of that. Serving the church. Did you know that some people have the gift of serving the church in intercessory prayer?
I wonder if you’ve ever thought about that. Some of my listeners are shut-ins. You’re in a retirement facility and you can’t even get a conveyance to take you to town when you want it. You have to wait until 10 o’clock on three weeks from Tuesday or something like that and people don’t come to see you very often, and all of the folk with whom you grew up are already in the glory and life is a lonesome business and you think, “Well, there’s not so much that I can do. Brother Cook is running on about serving the church. What does he expect me to do?”
Well, now, wait a minute, as Big John used to say, dear heart. Didn’t you love the love in his voice? I know we’re talking to some of the Family Radio people that miss him just like I do. When he said “Dear heart,” you know he meant it. But anyhow, wait just a minute, will you? Did you know that you can serve the church through intercessory prayer? Take an hour every week just to pray for your pastor.
Pray for him, pray all around him, pray for his study, and pray for his preaching, and pray for his calling, and pray for his home and his family and his children, pray for his physical health, pray a wall of protection around him so he isn’t harassed with temptations, pray for his acceptance by people in the community, pray that he might be encouraged to develop his ministry beyond routine sermonizing. Some ministers could do so much better if they’d write and publish or if they’d get on the radio or if they’d initiate other programs that God could give them. Pray for your pastor. You’re serving the church when you do that. Take an hour every week and just pray for him.
Pray for the Sunday School teachers and pray for those who are taught in Sunday School and pray for the people who do some calling in homes and pray for the impact of the church on the general community and pray for your own relationship with the church. God can make you a blessing to people far more than you think you can be even though you’re shut-in much of the time in a retirement relationship. God can use you, beloved. Serve the church. Well, we’ve gone around some of these things.
Can you write? Can you sing? Can you fix things? Can you repair things? Can you pray? Can you encourage? You can serve the church by being an encourager and a helper. Well we’d get at this some more when we get a chance. I want to serve in God’s community. Don’t you? Let’s ask God to make us servants of the church.
Dear Father, today, we just give ourselves to Thee and we pray that we may be helpers in Thy work. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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