The Service Resolution

Take your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Corinthians 15.

I am not an Indianapolis Colts fan. Not by a long shot. I grew up in New England, and have been a New England Patriots fan since I knew what football was.

But, there are several people from the Colts I’ve had a lot of respect for, and probably none more so than Tony Dungy.

When Dungy was coaching, he had a unique coaching philosophy. Most coaches had a big thick playbook. Dungy winnowed the Colts playbook down to the bare essentials. Most coaches are all about teaching their players to think - Dungy was actually about the opposite. He wanted to teach his players to act by habit without thinking.

Here is how Dungy explained his philosophy:

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things, They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

I’m not here to talk about football this morning. I’m here to talk about our life and our church. About your Christianity. But I have to say - if you as a church just did the basic stuff every week, ordinary things, if you did them out of habit - our church would be extraordinary and it would make an extraordinary difference in your life.

This month we are starting off with a little series called “Resolutions: Four Habits to take on in 2017.” I want you to know that there are some things that we as Christians should do without thinking. They should be as natural as walking. As taking out the trash.

These things are habits - you should do them without thinking. They are priorities - meaning when other stuff comes into conflict with them - they should win.

These things don’t save you. Only the grace of God does that. They aren’t legalistic things. They are things the Bible makes a big deal about.

Last week, I talked about the habit of faithful church attendance. Today, I want to take that further and add another thing I think should be a habit.

That is:

Habitual, prioritized ministry service.

I think that every Christian should be faithfully serving in a ministry and that that ministry should be a very big priority to them.

That might sound strange to you. You might think that ministry is just for “ministers”; for pastors and missionaries and evangelists. If you think that way - you are very far off from what we see in the scripture. Ministry is for every Christian.

Christianity is not a spectator sport. It’s not something you just take in passively every Sunday morning at 10:30. No! God wants you off of the sideline and onto the field. God wants everyone to be involved. Everyone has a purpose. Every member is a minister.

Now, let’s go to the Bible and we’ll see this. My text this morning is going to be a familiar one. We even used it as our church theme a couple of years ago. The text is 1 Corinthians 15:58 which says:

”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Habitual, prioritized ministry service. That’s what this verse is calling for.

What I want to do this morning is simply go through this one verse and break it down, and look at the case it makes for habitual, prioritized ministry service.

We are just going to ask this verse some questions - we are going to interrogate it - and see what answers it gives us. Just the basic questions “Who, what, when, how and why” - So that will be our outline this morning.

Let’s get started with the:

Who: (- The church) Who is supposed to be doing habitual, prioritized ministry involvement. Let’s look at that verse again:

”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

This verse was written to a church. Not to the leadership of the church. Not to the ministers. But to the church people. It was written to be read during a church service like this one. Basically it was a sermon.

So, the “beloved brethren” that it’s referring to is the members of that church. They were to be ”always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

Church, I cannot stress this enough. I know I mentioned it last week but I’m going to mention it again and again. God wants everyone in the church to be ministering. God has a ministry for you.

Look, last week we looked at Romans 12 where it talks about how we are all members and have to minister to the other members. Let’s look at a different passage this morning. Turn back to 1 Corinthians 12 and lets read verses 20-23:

”[1Co 12:20-23 KJV] 20 But now [are they] many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.”

You, as a saved and called out member of a church, are a body part. Each body part has a purpose. Each has a job. All of them are necessary. Thats what these verses are teaching.

We could look at other passages too. The Bible very clearly teaches that everyone who is saved is given a spiritual gift for ministry. You can read about that in Romans 12:6-8, Here in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, and in 1 Peter 4:11.

If you’ve been saved - then has left you here for a reason. You have work to do. That’s for everyone.

So the next question - after “who” is “what?”

What: - Look at our verse again:

”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Notice it says we are to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord”. The what of Habitual, prioritized ministry service is “the work of the Lord.”

So, the natural question is “what is the work of the Lord?”

The bible gives us a couple of answers for that question:

First, the “work of the Lord” is evangelism. Jesus said in Luke 19:10

”For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The heart of our Lord and the heart of Christ is to see souls saved. God is after sinners. That’s why, when He chose His disciples, He said “I will make you fishers of men if you follow me.”

That’s why He said in Luke 5:32:

”I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

That is why, they last thing Jesus did before He ascended into heaven was to give Christians a commission:

”Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

The work of the Lord is the work of saving the lost, of calling sinners to repentance, of teaching all nations the gospel. It’s what we call “evangelism.”

Church - I’ve got to say it again - that’s not just the work of the pastor or the deacons or the evangelist. The whole church is supposed to be involved in this.

The second thing I think is “the work of the Lord” is the work of building churches. Jesus said

”And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

When we see the early church in Acts, they were going around the world starting churches and building churches.

When I say “building churches” I’m not talking about the buildings. I’m talking about building up people. About edifying the church.

So what is the “work of the Lord for you?”

It is whatever God has gifted you to do to advance his work of evangelism and edification.

Ok, the next question to ask about habitual, prioritized ministry service is...

When: When are you supposed to do this “work of the Lord?”

Well, what does our text say?

”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

So, when are we supposed to be doing “the work of the Lord” church?


I don’t know what that means, but I know what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean “occasionally.” It doesn’t mean “when I feel like it.” It doesn’t mean “when I have nothing better going on.”

This is why I said this should be habitual. It should be something we are doing by default. Something we should be doing all the time.


Habitual, prioritized ministry service.

So, we’ve asked Who, what and when. Let’s ask...

How: How are we supposed to be serving? Look at the text again:

”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

There are two ways this text teaches us we should be serving.

First, we should be serving...

Steadfastly It says be ye stedfast, unmovable.

Those words are synonyms. They basically both mean “unmovable.”

Whenever you see two words that mean the same thing like that - that’s done for emphasis. God is trying to make a point.

The point is, not only does God want us to be involved in ministry, he wants us to be tenacious about it. He wants us to keep at it even when many other people would easily quit.

Look folks, there will people who will go out running when it’s 0 degrees outside (I’m one of them.) They are so stedfast in their commitment to marathon training they’ll go out and run when most sane people won’t even check the mail. There are people who are so committed to a sport that they’ll wake up at 4am to practice, then practice again when they get home from work. Nothing stops them.

God wants us to be stedfast in the ministry. Nothing stops us. We’re like the Energizer bunny you know - you can’t stop the copper top. We just keep trudging through. We are unmovable. Stedfast.

Do you know, I can’t remember a single lesson I learned in Sunday School. Not a single one. I mean, I must have heard 1000s of them. I can’t remember one. But do you know what I do remember? I remember Scott Hasset, my 5th and 6th grade teacher, always had a lesson prepared. Always had a game for us. He worked long hours on his job - yet he was unmovable. He was stedfast. That made a much bigger impact on me than anything Scott Hasset ever said to a 10 year old kid.

Find out what God wants you to do in his work and be stedfast at it. Hang onto with some tenacity. Like a dog that’s got ahold of a steak, you determine that it’s your ministry and you are going to hang onto it.

But there is a second thing this verse teaches us about how we are supposed to be ministering. It says

“Always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

We should be stedfast, but we should also be abounding.

Do you know what “abounding” means? It means “more than enough.” Enough is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, abounding is Thanksgiving dinner. Enough is a two door 1993 Plymouth Sundance, abounding is a new Cadillac. Enough is doing the bare minimum, abounding is throwing your heart into it and doing it for the Lord.

God doesn’t just want you to find a ministry and be stedfast in it, He wants you to abound in it. To give your very best.

Listen, if God has you cleaning the toilets- it that’s your ministry - be the best at it you possibly can be. If God has you teaching 2 year old Sunday School, be the best 2 year old Sunday School Teacher ever (actually, be the best teacher of two year olds in Sunday School ever - we don’t need two year old sunday school teachers.)

Don’t just do it - abound in it.

And do you know what I think would have a huge impact on your witness for Christ - take that same attitude toward your job. Don’t just be a fork truck driver - be the best fork truck driver you can be. Don’t just be a bank teller - be the best you can be. View it as a ministry and abound in it.

So we’ve talked about Who, What, When, and how. Let’s look at one more thing about habitual, prioritized ministry service:

Why: Why in the world would you give up your time and commit not only to coming to church - but to involving yourself in the ministry?

I mean, you have better things to do. You have ball games. You could sleep in. You could take more vacations. You could get together with your friends. So why?

I think this passage gives us three reasons why we should be abounding and stedfast in serving God. Why we should make service a habit.

Look at the verse one more time:

”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

This verse starts with an important word. It says “Therefore.” I had a teacher in school that used to say “Anytime you see the word therefore, you need to stop and find out what the therefore is there for.” That’s good advice.

So if you look up to the passage before this, it gives us a couple reasons why we should be always abounding. Look at verses 51-57:

”[1Co 15:50-57 KJV] 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? 56 The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. 57 But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These verses give us two reasons to be involved in habitual, prioritized ministry service. The first is:

Because we will someday answer to God (and we don’t know when.) It says in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we are going to be in the presence of Jesus. Other passages teach us that we will give an account for how we’ve lived our lives.

Don’t you want to be doing something worthwhile when your master comes back? Don’t you want to have something to show to Him?

That’s a motivation.

The second motivation for being involved in service is also found in these verses and it is...

Because God has given us the victory. Verse 57 says God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If God has given us victory, doesn’t it make sense to do His work? Isn’t that reasonable service?

But I think the biggest reason why we should be committed to habitual, prioritized ministry service is found at the end of our text verse where it says

”forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

The last reason why you should make this a resolution, why you should make serving God a priority and a habit in your life is...

Because it really matters. Can I give you my testimony and we’ll close. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with politics. My first paying job was as an intern for the Dan Quayle campaign. I helped manage a database of voters and got to ride around with a bunch of Ivy League campaign workers all the time. I would even get calls when I was at school and the school secretary would come in.

But I knew in my heart that God wanted me to serve Him and I knew politics wasn’t for me. But I wanted it sooo bad.

One day at the office I was working with one of the most respected politicians in our state. He was the retired Mayor of New Hampshire’s biggest city. He’d run for governor. He also happened to be a very godly man and a Christian. One day we were licking stamps or something and he said to me that I would do far more good for the world as a preacher than I would as a politician.

That helped me. Then I heard a preacher say this one sentence in a sermon and it pushed me over the edge - he said “Do you want to spend the rest of your life making the world a better place to go to hell from?”

Look, I’m not trying to turn you into a preacher. I’m just trying to tell you that this stuff is of eternal consequence. This stuff isn’t in vain. It matters.

And let me close by saying this - it’s fulfilling. When you see the kids you taught in Sunday School grow up and bring their kids to church - that’s fulfilling. When you see someone kneel on the carpet you cleaned the day before and trust Christ as their savior - that’s fulfilling. When you pull someone back from the get the point.

So I want to close by saying “Just find a way to serve God and get in on His work, and don’t let go of it.”

Let’s stand for invitation and prayer.