Service Before Greatness
God will give you all the recognition you can stand - only if you obey Him and specialize in meeting a need.
Alright thank you very much, and hello again dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your friend Dr. Cook and I’m glad to be back with you. I look forward to these times when we can share from the Word of God. Does me good, I know. I hope that it brings some blessing and encouragement to many of you, as well. Thanks for being there. We’re looking at Mark chapter 9, come now to verse 33, “He came to Capernaum and being in the house He asked them”.
Small thought here; somebody opened their home to the Lord Jesus. Wouldn’t you’ve liked to have been that someone, being in the house, you just assume that somebody said, “Come in, Lord”. There He was. To open your home to the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean today? Means number one, to have regular times of fellowship with Him in prayer. Number two, to have fellowship with Him in the presence of your family, so that your children, your wife, your husband, your children know that you are at home with the Lord Jesus and it’s not a formal, stilted, strained kind of religiosity that you put on once in a while. Three, to open your home to the Lord Jesus means that you welcome into your home those number one, who know Him, and number two who have need of Him and you allow Him through the faithful, indwelling Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts. Just an idea there.
Somebody opened his or her home to the Lord Jesus, “Being in the house”, it said. He asked the disciples, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves, by the way”? Now, He knew already, but He asked them. God asks you questions, not so that He can find out, but so that you can find out. God wants you and me to know the depths of our own need. He wants us to realize the falsity of our own motivation. He wants us to realize the shallowness of our own thinking, and so, He asks us questions. You remember He said to the disciples, facing the hungry crowd, “Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?” This He said to prove Him, for He Himself knew what He would do. John chapter 6 has the story.
You want to look it up for yourself, you may. God asks us questions and faces us with problems, so not that He may discover anything, He knows it already, but that we may discover number one, how much we need Him, and number two, how great is His capacity to supply our needs. Remember that? So, He asked them something, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves, by the way?”, but they held their peace. They were quiet, they didn’t answer. “For by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest”. Peter said, I’m a spokesman. John said, I’m the businessperson and I know how to run the business. Judas said, I’m the treasurer, I know the value of money. I should be the greatest, and so on, up and down the line, you can just hear them. What’s the answer? He said sat down and called the 12 and said unto them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all”. This is the rule, the way up is down, the way to greatness is to be humble and to serve.
We have to relearn that all the time, don’t we? Well, let’s keep on learning it until it becomes part of our very nature. Greatness comes through service. You’re only secure as long as your needed, and you’re only needed as long as you’re meeting somebody else’s need. Greatness comes through service. Business has learned that. Instead of saying, what do you want, they say, may I serve you, may I help you, and marketing has learned that. You fellows and gals that are in marketing, you know that. Instead of saying we got one million widgets, get out there and sell them, you go and ask people what they need and then you manufacture what they need and offer it to them, as the, as the answer to their need. That’s marketing, isn’t it? Insurance has learned that. Instead of saying you’re ought to buy insurance, they say, now how can we help you to be secure when the years have gone by? Helping people, serving people, business has learned it. Have you and have I? Jesus said, “If any man desire to be first, same shall be last of all and servant of all”. Now, last of all means you’ll let other people have a chance at sunshine before you. It’s hard to do, isn’t it? Hard to see somebody else sitting on the platform getting introduced while you’re in the back row, and you know that you’ve been breaking your back to make the thing go and make the program successful, and nobody’s patting you on the back and nobody’s introducing you as our dear brother so-and-so, to whom we owe the success of this occasion. Nobody said a word. You’re back there stewing about it, aren’t you? Hey, I’ve have been there. I know how it feels.
He says, “Last of all”. Let somebody else have the sunshine, let somebody else it on the platform, let somebody else lead the parade, let somebody else be chairman of the committee. You don’t have to be first. You don’t have to lead the parade; all you have to be is faithful. “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life”, says are living Lord. All you have to be is obedient, do what He tells you. John 2:5, “Whatsoever He sayeth unto you, do it”. It’s hard, it’s a hard truth to swallow because it’s so important to us to be recognized, isn’t it?
General Motors, a number of years ago now, did a survey among their people, as to what factors, job factors that is, they thought were important. Management thought that money would be first on the list but, it was farther down, fifth or sixth I guess, somewhere on the list. You know was first on that particular list years ago, recognition for a job well-done. Recognition for a job well-done, that’s what people want. It’s part of our nature, it’s what we need. Jesus said, listen let somebody else enjoy the sunshine, last of all.
What does it mean to be last? Well it means to be last, you’re thought of last, you’re mentioned last, you go in a procession last, but I’ll tell you something, often times you turn out to be the most important person in the bunch, because you’re last. And then He said, ”Servant of all”, and that is a, that’s a strong word. As a matter fact, it’s our word slave, I think. I got my Greek New Testament it with me. Let me look it up to be sure that I’m telling you the truth. Mark, I’ve had this Greek New Testament since I was in seminary and it’s just about torn up, I’m going to have to get a new one I guess, but I’m, I am familiar with it and I know where things are in it, and so I keep on using it.
He said, “Last of all and servant of all. If any man desire first to be, he shall be last, and of all the deacon”. Deacono, servant. Now, Paul uses the word dulas, ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake, that’s our word slave. This is our word deacon, deaconos, what does a deacon do? Well, you go over to Acts 6, and see with the deacons did do. You want to? What did they do? “There arose a murmuring”, it said, “among the widows because”, it said, “they were neglected and the 12 called the multitude’, said, “It is not reasonable that we should leave the Word of God and serve table, so look ye out seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom”, and so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philipp, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, and they set them before the apostles and prayed and laid their hands on them”, and so on. Those were the deacons. So what are the deacons to do? Well in this case they supervised the meeting of a physical need. These people weren’t being fed, widows neglected in the daily ministration. They were altogether is a large group and some people were being neglected and so these folk were meeting, the deacons that is, were meeting a physical need at that point. Meeting a need at the point of need, that is the deaconos, servant.
Then it says, “Seven men of honest report”. If you’re going to be a real servant you have to the transparent, honest report means your reputation is good, honest report means that you are the real article, that people believe you when you say good morning, and then people of not only of honest report, but full of the Holy Ghost. A person who is filled with the Spirit of God so that his every action is impelled by the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit of God, and then people full of wisdom it said. Common sense, there is no substitute for common sense. Some people are so spiritual that they’re no earthly good. You can’t depend on them to make a decent and sensible decision because they’re so busy being spiritual. You know folk like that, I’m sure. If you’re going to serve your fellow man, you have some sense as well, and then faith.
“Stephen a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost”. Faith is a direct wire to heaven. Faith is the quality of believing God. Faith is the quality of risking any given situation on the Will of God and the work of God. That is a little profile of what those New Testament deacons were. He says, “If you want to be great, you be like that”. Well, that’s a big order isn’t it, but not too big for anyone who is willing to yield himself or herself to the blessed Spirit of God, to guide and to lead and to use your life. Last of all, let the other people have the sunshine, servant of all.
Now anything I tell you I’ve been there. I recall time back in the, whenever it was 40s I guess, when on a hot, humid, summers day, I was sitting in an office complaining to God. It was so humid in that basement office that all desk drawers had swollen and were stuck. I couldn’t even get the drawers in my desk open to get at things. There wasn’t any dehumidifier down there, and it was hot, and then I began thinking about the fact that other people had a lot easier than I, and other people are getting a lot more recognition than I, in the work could that we were then doing, and I began complaining about it all to God. As I prayed it was as though that gentle nail pierced hand was placed upon my shoulder, I shall always remember the experience, and I stopped talking and began to listen and God said, listen you just do what I told you to do. You just go on doing what I told you to do, I’ll take care of the others, and oh my heart was set at peace and comforted and the rancor went out of my being, and I realized that what really was important was to obey God. You don’t have to worry about the sunshine, beloved. God will give you all you can stand, if you just obey Him and if you just specialize in meeting a need where it is in evidence, it may be a physical need is it was in those early days of the deacons, may be a spiritual need, it may be the need of a job, whatever it is, help to meet the needs of others for Jesus’ sake, and you will be achieving greatness I promise.
Dear Father today, may we know the touch of greatness because we know the taste of service, in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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