Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
9 May 2021
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
Special Celebration re. opening up after Covid – July 31st 2021 – more info. soon!
Paivi Rasanen is an MP in Finland who is in danger of being imprisoned following tweeting Scripture verses from Romans. Vowing to fight the charges she said “I will go to the court with a peaceful and brave mind, trusting that Finland is a constitutional state where the freedoms of speech and religion, which both are guaranteed in international agreements and in our constitution are respected. A conviction based on the Christian faith is more than [a superficial] opinion. The early Christians did not renounce their faith in lions’ caves, why should I then renounce my faith in a court room. I will not step back from my conviction nor from my writings. I do not apologise for the writings of the apostle Paul either. I am ready to defend my freedom of speech and religion as far as is necessary.”
(Paivi Rasanen trained as a doctor before becoming an MP in 1995. From 2011 to 2015 she served as minister of the interior, serving within the Finnish government – As reported by Premier Christian News).
Reading: Romans 1:1-17
Text: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1).
If we look at everything first and foremost from God’s perspective we will be amazed at the awesome ways of God. We must approach Him with deep humility, acknowledging He is the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, who will most assuredly bring about His plans and purposes. All who oppose Him, even if all of humankind and the devil himself will find they are on a very unstable foundation, that they are building on sand, and eventually it will all crumble and come to nothing.
God who knows the end from the beginning sees all things from His eternal vantage point and plans and purposes accordingly. Part of that glorious plan was to turn Saul of Tarsus into Paul a servant of Christ Jesus. Saul of Tarsus was greatly humbled on the road to Damascus,
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”. “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.Acts 9:3-7
From then on the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit was taking place in his life turning him from Saul, the proud Pharisee, to Paul, the humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, being conformed more and more into the image of his Master,
For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the first-born among many brothers and sisters.Rom. 8:29
He was pleased also to become more and more a servant like his Lord and teach others that same attitude of a servant,
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!Philippians 2:5-8
(1) His Master, Jesus, who loved him
Paul became increasingly aware and assured that Jesus, His Lord and Master, loved him with a deep and faithful love and had died in his place. He rejoiced in the fact that, he, the old Saul of Tarsus no longer lived, as he died daily, taking up his cross to follow Jesus.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.Gal 2:20
Is it not so much easier working for such a Master, one who loved him and even laid down His life for him?
(2) Total Devotion
The word for servant is used much in the OT and helps us understand its meaning:
“The phrase connotes total devotion, suggesting that the servant is completely at the disposal of his or her Lord … the connotations of humility, devotion, and obedience are never absent from the OT phrase and are surely primary here also.”
“The Jewish worshipper quite naturally thought of himself as God’s slave (Ps. 19:11, 13; 27:9; 31:16 etc.) … The phrase is not so much honorific as indicative of dedication.”
And total devotion is what Jesus expects of His disciples, His servants,
Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Won’t he rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”Luke 17:7-10
The word used here for servant (‘doulos’) was used by Paul a number of times (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1) and again to emphasise “the ideal attitude of a disciple” (Darrell Bock). It is clear that Jesus expects the servant to serve his master first and foremost! Note, however, the reversal that takes place in the heavenly banquet,
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when He comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for Him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress himself to serve, will make them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if He comes in the middle of the night or towards daybreak. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.Luke 12:35-40
Note also the obedience expected of the servant in Matthew 8:9.
(3) Total humility
Such is the road to greatness in the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus as the ultimate example,
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of Him. “What is it you want?” He asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”Matthew 20:20-28
“We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
The difference between the ways of the Kingdom of God and the ways of this world are probably at their greatest when briefly considering this short phrase in Romans 1:1: “Paul a servant of Christ Jesus.” The greatest in the kingdom must be the servant of all, just as Jesus was and is and always will be whilst also being the King of kings, and Lord of lords. So let us follow Him more closely by serving one another and the people of this world, in and through Jesus our Lord and Master, Amen
Questions for Discussion
- What’s the difference working for Jesus and working for some worldly boss?
- Is it hard to be a servant of Jesus?
- Why don’t we serve others more?
- How can we serve the people of our community?
- “I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master” (John Newton). Discuss!
- Share an example of when you humbled yourself and served someone you struggled with?
- Does walking humbly and serving others work?
Quote for Week
“The only way you can serve God is by serving other people”
Verse of the week
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”John 12:26
Lord Jesus Christ, we praise You for Your example of being a servant and ministering to others, even to the point of laying down your life as a sacrifice for all. Help us to follow You closely, and to love and serve one another and the people in our communities in Your Name, Amen.