This a sermon transcript preached by Timothy Williams. These were preached many years back, some decades ago. Preacher Timothy Williams is not associated with any church, denomination, or ministry. Blessed are those who love the honey of God’s Word!

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119:103)

This sermons transcript is located at

Sermon Area Basic Introduction

Not Even Death

Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.

Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:7-12)

The sermons normally lasted 45 to 60 but do not grumble that my sermons were long. True by today’s milk toast entertain me Christian standards they are lengthy. But not long when one considers the days are evil and that ignorance floods the church. …making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)

Preach The Word

I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.

What I Mean By Sound Doctrine

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season;
correct, rebuke and encourage
with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2)

Audio Sermon Files


Holy Spirit And Serving
Year 2001

This sermon is about the graceful art of serving. The important word in all of this is grace. Serving by the grace of God is different than just serving. There are a lot of people in the world who serve other people and a lot of parents who serve their children. A lot of people pride themselves on serving the community and doing all kinds of good deeds for others. But the Lord wants us to do good works and deeds only by the grace of God.

Mark 1:29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.

The sermon is over and now it comes down to what is real in our everyday lives. We leave the synagogue, the church, the teachings and then set out to live the Christian life. What we see in scripture is that after Jesus taught they set out to live it.

Mark 1:30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.

All of us have been overcome by sin. We’ve all had those fevers where sin gets a hold of us and we can’t control it. It just consumes our life. So Jesus was told about a woman who had a fever.

Mark 1:31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Most people don’t wait on Jesus or even think to become his servant. They might become good Christians or begin to go to church. They might acknowledge that God has answered some of their prayers or done an act of kindness in their life. They don’t deny that it might be true. What this woman did that so many people fail to do was to get up from the sickness that Jesus healed her from and served him.

Mark 1:31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

We see Jesus’ act of kindness and mercy. We see his concern. He took the time to lift her up, in no fancy fashion, and the fever left. She had the proper heart response that is not seen in other people. In the following scripture the same kind of healing went on, but nowhere is it recorded that these people began to serve Jesus.

Mark 1:32-34 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Scripture does not say that these people began to serve Jesus. Some of them may have become disciples and worshipped Jesus, but there was no mention of that fact. Now why would Jesus bother to mention in his Holy Scripture about Simon Peter’s mother who had a fever? Jesus just simply went to her, reached down with his hand, picked her up, and the fever left. Then she began to wait on him. Yet a whole town comes to the door, some demon possessed, some with terrible diseases and scripture details all that Jesus did but there is no mention of what the people did toward Jesus. Most people do not get up to serve and wait on Jesus even if they are healed from a disease or set free from demon possession. They simply accept the healing and take what Jesus has to offer, but never begin to serve him. Look at the contrast between these two. A woman cured of a simple fever was mentioned in Holy Scripture as waiting upon Jesus, while people who were demon-possessed were never recorded as ever serving Jesus Christ. What does God want us to see? Are we just to look at the healing and miracles? He wants us to look at the heart response of the people that he makes well and then compare that with our own hearts to see what kind of people we are.

God gives different kinds of spiritual gifts to his church. A lot of us fail to realize that serving is a gift. It requires grace. At least the kind of serving that is required in true Christianity requires the power of God to be able to live. This is not about the token Christian life that merely serves the neighbor by taking over a plate of cookies. It might involve that, but this is about a life that is something much more different than the even world offers.

Romans 12:6-7 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;

Certain people in the body have the added touch of the gift of serving. It’s more exaggerated in some people. It says in Corinthians that there will be times when the body comes together everyone prophesies, though not all have the “gift of prophesy.” In the same way, everyone is to serve by the grace of God, but God gives an added measure of the grace of serving to certain individuals. Why is that? For the rest of us to sit back and say, “That’s not my gift” or “I don’t have the grace to serve”? It is supposed to drive us to our knees and make us dependent upon God so that everything we do is by the grace of God. God adds the bonus of the grace of serving to some people so that it might humble the rest of us to seek his face so that we can serve by his grace also. Most people do it the other way around. They’ll say, “It’s not my gift,” but everyone is supposed to serve by the grace of God. We’ve got to realize and feel in our soul that in order for us to serve other people as Jesus has in mind we must have the gift of grace. We must have his power to enable us to do it.

The thing about God’s grace is you can’t pick and choose where you want to serve. You can’t even pick and choose how you want to serve. That’s exactly what the world does. The world will serve, but only in the way that it wants to or the way that builds itself up. This is about coming to Jesus Christ, becoming a slave to him, and then serving in accordance with his will in our lives. So when you receive God’s grace, you cannot choose which way to serve Jesus Christ. You have to begin to understand what God’s will is for your life.

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

He asked about the fact that they caught a large number of fish. He asked Simon Peter, “Do you love me more than all of these outward things?” Jesus wanted to know if Peter loved him more than all the things he gave him. Simon Peter, of course, said, “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.” So Jesus wants to know, “Do you love me more than the peace and grace I give in your life? Am I more important than heaven? Do you love me more than all the things that I can produce outwardly in your life? Do you know my heart and understand what I want? Are you my friend? Do you have my will in mind? I might cast out demons, heal people, and raise the dead, but do you love me more than those things? Do you understand who I am? Do you love and want to serve me?”

John 21:15 “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Live a life of service. Feed my lambs. Take care of the weak and the young. Put forth some action. Don’t just take for yourself the things I produce. Go and begin to live a life of service.

John 21:16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

We so quickly say we love Jesus. How many people have you asked, “Do you love Jesus Christ and are you a Christian?” They quickly respond, “Yes, I do.” But Jesus hit home and tried to speak to Peter’s heart, “Look at your heart Peter. Do you really have me in your heart?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” And Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” Everywhere we turn Jesus tells us to become his servant. “If you love me, take all of the things I give you and begin to live a life of loving service for other people.”

John 21:17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus didn’t turn and say, “Gee, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, Peter. I’m sorry that you’re a little offended by what I said to you.” Jesus applied the acid test. He said, “Peter, if you love me this is what your life will demonstrate. If you don’t love me then you will love all the things I can bring and the outward trappings of Christianity but you won’t have my will in mind. You won’t be my friend.” Jesus said, “If you love me, if you really do honestly love me, then you will feed and take care of my sheep and make sure that you live a life of love.” Then we can talk about the graceful art of serving.

John 21:18-19 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. ”Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

If we say we love Jesus Christ that we truly love Him we will begin to feed and take care of his lambs and live a life of service. But that doesn’t mean you pick and choose when to punch in the time clock, where to live, in what fashion to serve, or how much to give. It means you will be dressed and led where your flesh does not want to go and you will glorify God in your life by dying to yourself. So we’re not talking about a comfortable serving that pleases your flesh. It’s not a Christianity that allows you to choose. “Well, yeah, I’d like to help with the baking social, help in a certain committee, or be on the board.” It’s not about the fun things that everyone volunteers for. He didn’t say, “Peter, you’ll be in all these church committees that will give you satisfaction in your life.” He said “Peter, they will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. You’ll be on the very committee that you don’t want to be on. Peter, if you love me you will follow me and do what I ask you to do. Not what you want to volunteer to do.” In the military you volunteer to go in, but once you’re there you are sold. You go where they tell you to go and do what they tell you to do. They don’t come back to you and ask, “Do you want to volunteer for this?” They don’t ask you in the middle of the battlefield, “Would you care to go up and fight the enemy?” So why do we think that we come to Jesus Christ, surrender everything and then volunteer for the rest of our life for what we want to do? If we love Jesus Christ, if we give ourselves to be his servant, if we belong in his military then we go where he leads us and do what he asks us to do, not because we are forced to or because we gain some benefit, but because we love him. So when it comes to the graceful art of serving, we need to have a pure heart that comes by grace. Who of us can say that we love or serve like this? Who can boast before God that we are like this kind? None of us. We must have the grace of God to serve like Jesus wants us to. Christians’ lives have so little effect on others because people serve the way they want to serve, and when they want to serve. They dress themselves and lead themselves where they do want to go. They do whatever they want to do. They don’t serve by the grace of God by following Jesus Christ each day and doing each hour what he calls them to do. Because they love Jesus Christ, true believers are willing to be dressed and led where they do not want to go.

John 17:3 tells us what eternal life is and where to find joy. All of this may sound very contradictory on the surface, but the truth is if we learn to serve by the grace of God, we will find the joy we have been looking for. If we can reach a place by the grace of God where we can say, “I am willing to be led where I do not want to go. I am willing to serve in ways that I do not want to serve,” we will have greater joy than if we choose to go our own way.

John 17:3-4 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

What gave Jesus his joy? What sustained him? What allowed him to have such a heart that God gave him the Holy Spirit without limit? He only wanted to be able to say one thing: “I completed the work that you gave me to do. I did not choose this work or plan it. I did not pick when I would do it. I just did the work that you gave me to do in your timing and the way you wanted it done.” In the same way, if we are to know God and have eternal life, we can have it by completing the work God has given each of us to do, and knowing that we can complete it only if we have his grace. If it works the humility, brokenness, and dependence upon God that it’s supposed to then we, too, will have eternal life and joy. But as long as we serve in the way we want to, as long as people choose which committees to be on, they won’t know Jesus. Lots of people serve at Christmas time and take collections for the poor. As long as we pick and choose, balance our checkbooks, and do exactly what we want to do when we want to do it, we will never know the eternal life that Jesus came to bring. The following is a very important passage for each of us. It’s one sentence but it says everything about the graceful art of serving.

Colossians 4:17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”

Not just any work or the work that he chose to perform for the Lord, but that which he received from the Lord. Each of us has a work to complete if we will ask God what it is. Ecclesiastes says that the end of a matter is better than the beginning. It is a grand thing when God has given a work to do, no matter what it is, and you’ve completed that work. You can say, “It is finished,” praise God, and press on to the next work. But some of us never finish any of the work that God gives us to do. We never have a feeling of satisfaction and joy that God gives those who lay down their lives like this. So we never persevere and carry on any other work. We must finish the work we have received from God. God will communicate to you what his will is. Don’t say you don’t know what God’s will is and merely guess at it. The heart must be right so we can hear which work God has us to do. We then do it until it’s finished. Then receive the next work and finish it. And the next work and finish it. Before long we have completed the race. This kind of service can only be performed if we love Jesus Christ. You’ll never serve if you expect to get patted on the back and told you did a good job.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When God created the world and knew that you would be born, when he set in order all the things to be done and the events to take place, he had works already planned for you to do. He already had a plan he had directed and set down which outlined the good things you were to do in Christ Jesus. Don’t go around looking for it, or making up things to do for Jesus Christ. In his omnipotent wisdom God had already planned those things in advance. In the book of Acts it days he put each of us in a certain place and at a certain time so that we might seek him. All of that is planned out ahead of time. We have a work prepared in advance to do in Jesus Christ. You are God’s workmanship, which means he lays hold of you, molds, purifies, cleanses, and breaks you to prepare you for good works. The whole breaking and humbling process is not only that you might know God, but that you might perform the works God has called you to do. Very few people are willing to go through all the discipline of God as he works on them, so they are prepared to do any good work. Most people serve and keep their life together, and plan for retirement, but never give any thought to letting God work in their lives so they can become the kind of servant he has in mind. It’s too humbling and too breaking. They just simply don’t want it.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Be very careful, then, how you livenot as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

We are to arise each morning and say, “What is your will for this hour? What is your will for this day? What work have you planned for me to do?” Most people don’t approach God with humility on a daily basis and ask, “God what is your will for today?” The same book of Ephesians says he has work prepared in advance for us to do, not to be foolish, but understand what God’s will is for our lives. Understand how he wants you to serve. If you are to know what God’s will is and to perform his work, more than anything else, you desperately have to have grace.

In Luke 10:38 we meet a woman who did good and noble things, but not God’s will. What she did needed to be done, but it wasn’t in God’s timing. She didn’t know the scripture in Ephesians that says not to be foolish but understand the Lord’s will, but she learned. This wasn’t the work that God had prepared in advance for her to do, but it was a work that needed to be done, eventually.

Luke 10:38-39 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

Now Martha did what was noble. She did what most people do. She opened her home to Jesus Christ, didn’t she? It was a very honorable, holy, and noble act on her part to say to Jesus Christ, “Come into my home and sit down.” She didn’t understand the mind and heart of Jesus yet. She was concerned about the outward things of this world. In verse 39 Mary sat at the feet of Jesus Christ, and just listened.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted . . .

There’s our key word, “distracted.” If we were quiet as we lay on our beds and listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us, we would hear the Holy Spirit say that we are distracted from what Jesus has called us to do.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

It was an obligation. It needed to be done.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

She addressed him with reverence. She called him “Lord.” How many of us in our daily lives pray “Lord,” but in our hearts we are not able to receive from Jesus the work that is important to be done for him? We become distracted by all the things we think are important and must be done. How many of us would say to ourselves, “But I serve the Lord. I fix his meal and make him comfortable. I bring him water. I do the will of the Lord because I serve the Lord.” Yet, we do not realize that the things that distract us are not the most important things to do at the moment.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Notice that one person did the will of God and listened at the feet of Jesus but the other person, though belonging to Jesus and loving him, was distracted by outward things. What was the first thing that was affected? Fellowship. The love just wasn’t there. There was indignation and a wall beginning to separate them by Martha telling Mary to serve and help. Martha wanted to know why Mary got to just sit there. Unless each person seeks God, a judgment sets in that isn’t holy.

Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

If we would come before God in everything grace will transform us and move into our hearts so that in everything one word that rings out. This is “better” for me to do than this. This is more holy, it’s the will of God, and it is proper. We’re not saying that the other things are wicked. It is not wicked to fix a meal for somebody. It is not wicked to open your home to Jesus Christ. We need to hear from God with his grace what is “better” and how it should be done at each moment. We can’t be distracted, worried, and upset by all kinds of other things. We must understand at each moment, each second, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by God’s grace, what is the best thing to be done for Jesus at the moment. Is that how we serve? We think that our distractions are the call of God. We think that our worries and anxieties are the holy call of angels for us to perform and take care of those needs. If you think about most people’s Christian lives and they way they serve, what would you have to declare? That they think anxiety is the call of God and distractions are the will of the Lord. When Jesus comes along with something to be done that is better, they think it comes from the evil one because they have never let Jesus deal with them. We have never let grace lay a hold of us so that when we serve, we do what is best for the moment. In other words, doing God’s will is best because his ways are perfect.

How will we know what’s best or what God’s will is? When you get up in the morning God doesn’t have a schedule set out for you: “Between 8:00 – 8:15 a.m. you do this.” It’s more than that.

Philippians 1:8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Now if this doesn’t drive you to your knees, I don’t know what else will. Here is Paul, a servant of God who was able to say, “God can testify.” He called on God as his witness!

Philippians 1:8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

What is the affection of Christ Jesus? What does it mean to serve with that kind of love in one’s heart? Who can write the sentence, “God can testify that I long for you with the affection of Jesus Christ,” except by his grace? That is, when I serve and love you it is by the grace of God. How will you get this kind of heart without the grace of God?

Philippians 1:9-10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best

Mary chose what was better. How will you discern what is best except by the grace of God? And what will the grace of God work and produce so that I will be able to discern what is best? What’s the key to all of this? Love. The affection of Jesus Christ in my life causes me to discern what is best. The love that God will put in my heart for other people and for Jesus Christ will cause me to know and be able to discern the best thing to do in Jesus Christ. Nothing else! I can’t give you a logical way to serve. I can’t say that it is wrong to fix a meal or right to fix a meal or that it’s always proper just to sit around and read scripture all the time. Only when we have a love that comes from God’s hand and only when God can testify that we long for other people with the affection of Jesus Christ can we then be able to discern what’s best at any given moment. Then love can respond with knowledge and wisdom as to what God’s will is.

Philippians 1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,

Love will understand in every moment of every situation what needs to be done; not law or legalism or trying to live the proper holy Christian life, but love that makes all of those things right.

Philippians 1:10-11 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Do we want to be filled with the fruit of righteousness? I mean overflowing where people can eat of that fruit. Do we want to be able to discern what is best? Do we want to be pure and blameless? Then our love must increase in knowledge and depth of insight. Then we will know how to serve, but not until. Don’t do another thing until you have this goal in your heart first. Don’t serve another person or offer a hand of grace, don’t do anything for anybody else until you have this love. It will drive you to your knees because no man or Bible study course can produce it. No sermon can inspire you to have it. Only the grace of God can give it. In Jesus gives us a warning and tells us why most of us miss the resurrected life.

Luke 21:34 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

Dissipation is just wasting time. The world is an expert at that and TV certainly is a part of that. All the activity the world has for us can weigh us down. Hearts are weighed down with all the distractions and necessities of life. When we are weighed down what is missing in our hearts? The resurrection and the joy that only the Holy Spirit can bring. If we are weighed down, and have many anxieties, and love doesn’t motivate us in all that we do we won’t be prepared for Jesus to return.

Luke 21:34 . . .and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

You’re so busy taking care of the anxieties of life, relaxing, and wasting time that someday Jesus will return and you will realize that you haven’t prayed enough, served enough or lived a life of love. You know not the grace that scripture talks about. It closes in unexpectedly. There will be a lot of people who stand before Jesus Christ and say they served him.

Matthew 7:21-22 Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”

There will be a lot of people who claim, “We served you Jesus.” Most people will be able to say, “I served on this committee and helped this benevolent fund,” or “We took this collection for the poor,” or whatever it is they hold on to. Whether they cast out demons or performed miracles Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” Why? It’s because they were not motivated by love. It wasn’t grace that caused them to serve. They lead themselves around doing what they wanted to do though it was in the name of Jesus Christ but not according to his will. This is about a life of washing one another’s feet. You will only be able to do that by the grace of God.

John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

What do most people focus on as the full extent of God’s love? The cross. But when Jesus said he would show the full extent of his love, what did he do? He washed their feet. This is not to devalue the cross, but it should lead us to realize we are missing something important that the cross should produce. Jesus loved us enough to die for us. But more than that, he loves us enough to serve us. To think that God would serve and wait upon us! It says that in heaven we will all take our places at the table and Jesus Christ will wait on us. It will be a little difficult for me to sit there and ask Jesus Christ, “Would you pass me the salt? Would you run and get that for me?” It’s an amazing thing when God stoops down to serve man.

John 13:2-4 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

Why did Jesus serve? What did this scripture just say? How do you serve? How do you get the affection of Jesus Christ? You have to know something in your heart to live this kind of life. You have to know that you belong to the Father. You have to know his grace in your life. It has to be his power doing it.

John 13:3-4 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

Jesus served by the power and grace of God. There is no other way to live a true Christian life. There is no other way to serve than to know God and to know this kind of grace. It is amazing to watch most Christians who think they know they will heaven and feel they have so much power in Christ Jesus, but they are the last ones to serve others.

John 13:4-5 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

God himself washed their feet. We are made from dust and to dust we will return; yet we find God washed the feet of dust.

John 13:6-7 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

How few people reach the place to understand what Jesus did. If you can’t understand and appreciate Jesus washing your feet you will never understand and appreciate the cross. That’s why the cross and the resurrection are taken so superficially and so easily. Everybody claims it so quickly but they don’t understand that Jesus washes our feet.

John 13:7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

We will understand as we get closer and closer to the cross the heart of God.

John 13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

I love the extremes to which Peter went. When he was in the flesh, he was in the flesh, and there’s no doubt that was where he was. He said, “You will never wash my feet,” but in the next verse he said, “Wash my whole body.” That’s the kind of heart we need. We might scream and yell, “No, Lord,” but in the next breath we say, “OK.”

John 13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

It was a humbling thing that Jesus did to Peter and that’s why he said no. Yet, for most people, Jesus serving them doesn’t produce humility and brokenness. They don’t overflow with thankfulness for what God has done in their lives. He cast out demons and healed them. He resurrected them from the dead, but they never got up to wait on him. We have to let the pride go and humble ourselves before God. We have to say, “OK, Lord, you can wash my feet.” That causes tears to well up in our eyes and our souls to be broken. We become humble before him and then we are in a position to learn how to serve by the grace of God.

John 13:9-10 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

Jesus showed them it’s not the outward action that’s important. Many churches have foot washings. That’s not what he talked about. Peter still didn’t understand what happened. He didn’t understand that this is a life of service and becoming a slave to other people. Jesus came after the resurrection and said, “Do you love me? Feed my Sheep. Do you truly love me? Take care of my lambs.” Then it began to dawn on Peter what Jesus Christ talked about. We let him wash our feet and say, “Ok, Lord, do all of me,” but we don’t understand what he tries to work. “Ok, Lord, if you want to bless me, you want to cleanse me, then do my whole body.” Jesus says, “You do not understand. This is about a life of service and laying down your life for other people, not letting me perform a service for you. I am showing you my heart, Peter. I am showing you what God is about and what eternal life is. I am showing you the good news, not laying down some principle or tradition. I am not giving you some new experience to write in your diary. I am showing you the heart of God and you do not understand it.” How many of us are healed and made well, God works grace, but it never dawns on us to be humble and get up to serve?

John 13:11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

It’s one thing to make mistakes, but it’s another thing to be a betrayer. We all need to grow up from our mistakes. We need to reach a place where we are not as foolish as Peter, and where we learn the heart of God. Let none of us ever be found to be a betrayer of him who serves us and washes our feet. Let us never accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and begin to understand it, and then go out to betray the very gospel that made us clean.

John 13:11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

How many people betray the gospel? They might even claim to be Christians yet not understand that this is the kind of life Jesus spoke about. This is the kind of love and service God wants to produce. This is serving by the grace of God. People are Judases and they don’t even know it. This humbling service is not being lived within the church. This isn’t the kind of affection from Jesus Christ that the church pours out to others. Instead we see a spirit of Judas that is sick and tired of a serving Jesus. He was worn out with this Jesus who wanted to produce humility and serve by dying on the cross. We are worn out with a Jesus who brings humility, seeks to cleanse us, and always rebukes and purifies us. He always lays hold of us to produce good works. We are tired of that kind of Jesus so we set out to betray him even while we say we are Christians. Most people we know are Judases. They know not what it means to serve. Decide today if you will be a Peter or a Judas. We either learn what it is to serve and learn to feed his lambs, or we go out to betray.

John 13:12-17 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

How do we have eternal life and how do we know the resurrected life? How do we know the joy that Jesus came to bring us? It is by our service to one another and the world. Now if this is the basis of being blessed and knowing eternal life, then how many people who claim to be Christians are really not Christians? How many people who claim they have eternal life can demonstrate they do? How many people have this kind of love and set this kind of example so much so that you know they have eternal life? What do most people run to? They run to the cross not realizing that the cross gives us understanding about serving.

Psalms 105:4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

To know how to serve like this and to be able to do it can only happen by the strength of God. You can’t get it from a support group, a prayer group, a book, or a seminar. You can only get it from God. The ability to live this kind of life, to wash people’s feet and find that to be a joy comes solely from him. To lose one’s life and find that to be a grand privilege in Jesus Christ can only be accomplished by the grace of God. It is so sad to see people trying to serve without God’s grace.

John 15:9-14 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

To be a friend of God is to lay down your life for him. To offer a gift to God is to offer our lives. If we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us, then we are to wash one another’s feet, die upon a cross for each other, and serve one another. Do you think you can do that in your own strength and power? If you do you haven’t tried to live much of the Christian life. Jesus did only what he did by the grace of God. Who of us knows how to lay down our lives? Who of us, if we had the wisdom to know the proper steps to lay down our lives, could do it with a pure heart? It’s a service within the church to other people in the world that can only be accomplished by the grace of God. When people walk out of churches and go out to live the Christian life, is the world impressed with their service and love? Do they say that what we do must be from some other higher power? Does it cause them to be in awe of our love? They crucified this kind of love, didn’t they? The world can’t stand this depth of love. This is the love that God has said we must have. We must lay down our lives for one another. Do you seriously believe that you have the grace within yourself to know how to lay down your life? You must plead before God to have it.

John 12:20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

Jews who are still alive today make great pilgrimages to their religious feasts. Men make pilgrimages all the time for their religions or some miraculous sign.

John 12:22-23 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Consider for a moment the logic of this conversation. Andrew and Philip went to Jesus Christ to tell him there were some people who wanted to see him. He turned to them and said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” They must have looked and each other and thought, “What in the world does that have to do with a request to come and see him?” It’s not a logical discussion. They would expect him to say, “I’ll be available in 20 minutes,” or “I’m busy, come back tomorrow.” What did Jesus tell them? What does he tell us? Why is this conversation so illogical? Because if we want to see Jesus this is what we have to see:

John 12:20-23 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

How can you see Jesus? You have to die. Fall to the ground, lose your life, and surrender everything before God. You have to become his servant and then you will see Jesus Christ. You can go to church, you can go with a request or a prayer, and say, “I want to see Jesus. I want to be a Christian.” The answer to that desire is always, “If you want to see Jesus, if you want to belong to him, then you will have to fall to the ground and die.” You might see him physically, he might appear to you, but unless you die you do not really see him.

John 12:25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

So do you want to see Jesus and become a Christian? Do you want to live a life of service? This is what is means. This is eternal life. This is how God will give you the grace that you say you want. Fall to the ground and die. Hate your life. Say, “God, I will not live where I want to live. I will not do what I want to do. I will not sleep when I want to sleep, or eat when I want to eat. I will not do any of those things unless you give me express permission.”

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

You cannot pick and choose how to serve Jesus Christ. You can’t let me tell you how to serve him. You must serve Jesus how he will individually lead in your life. You will know, “This is the work God has given me to do and I will complete this work. This is how he has called me to surrender and die to myself and this is how I will complete it.” For each of us that will be different, but it will nevertheless be the grace of God that does it.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

I can’t decide how I will serve Jesus and then pray him into my work. I can’t move across the country and say, “Jesus, come work over here.” If Jesus is over there and he says, “Hey, Tim, get over here,” that’s where I go. I don’t pick and choose where I want to serve and what I want to do. I may get up with a lot of things in mind that I want to do for the day, but I have to hear God’s voice about what needs to be done. Let us not become distracted and let the anxieties of life and our obligations keep us from what God calls us to do. Don’t let the comfort of your flesh and what you want to do keep you from going where Jesus is because that’s where the joy is.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Jesus won’t honor the one who serves on the church committee or the one who does nice little programs, but the one who follows him and is where Jesus wants him to be. God will honor and give you the joy you want. He will give you the peace you desire. He will give you fellowship with him and eternal life, if you follow him.

John 12:27 Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour” No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

Again, let’s remember some men came to Philip and Andrew and said, “We want to see Jesus.” Yet Jesus said, “My heart is troubled.” Is this the Jesus we want to see? The Christian life is a troublesome life. Paul spoke about his distresses. Is this the kind of Jesus that we really want?

John 12:27-28 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

Jesus said, “This is why I came. Just because my heart is troubled and this isn’t what I want to do should I shrink back? Just because there’s a struggle and a battle involved, should I ask to be delivered?” “No,” he said, “This is the very hour for me to complete what God called me to do. I shall do it.” In the same way, God has a work prepared for you to do. When there’s some trouble involved, will you then say, “God deliver me from the work,” or “No, this is the work God has called me to do and I will finish it”? Of course we shall see Jesus. We shall be like Jesus because we shall say, “I do not want to be delivered from this hour. I do not want to be taken from it even though I am troubled. This is the work he gave me to do. This is why I came here. I have done all this work to get here and I will complete this work.” That is what we will say, right?

John 12:28-30 “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.”

Think about that for a moment. How many of us want to be confirmed in every little step that God calls us to do? We start to face a little bit of trouble and anxiety in our heart and we say, “Oh, God, deliver me. Send down the angels and grant me all the peace that heaven can bestow. Make my path smooth so that I never trip over anything, Oh, God. Make sure that I don’t feel any pain through all of this.” Yet Jesus said, “The voice wasn’t for me. My heart is troubled but my faith is in God. I know the grace that works in me. I know the God whom I love. That voice is for your benefit so you might know the heart of God.” Even though God spoke, what did they say, “Oh, it sounds like thunder, I will rain here in ½ hour,” or “An angel is talking to Jesus Christ.” It didn’t humble them that an angel spoke in their presence so the Jews could hear. Then he even told them that the voice was for their benefit, and they couldn’t take it in. How many people have you explained the gospel to, and told them they need to live this kind of life but they don’t have any idea what you are talking about? They think they understand. They hear the voice and think they know what takes place. One group says, “It thundered,” but nobody asks, “What happened? Please explain it to me.” They all think they have it down. So if you said, “Do you understand this Jesus Christ?” They would say, “Yeah, it thundered,” or “An angel talked to him.” So they walk away all content like they have understood the gospel. When you tell people what the Christian life is about and what it means to follow the Holy Spirit and they say, “Yeah, I understand it,” they don’t have the humility, love, or the understanding that serving comes only by grace. The problem is we don’t lose our lives for Jesus Christ. We serve Jesus as long as it benefits us and makes us feel good. We serve Jesus Christ because it gives our life a little meaning. The church is a nice social club. Being a Christian makes you feel secure. It gives you a little added peace when you know you will have trouble. It’s an insurance policy in case anything goes wrong.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Most people preach themselves. Most people serve because they are Christians. Most people do their good deeds because they are good Christians. Most churches evangelize and do their projects because they preach and promote their church. How many ministries are named after the man? Who do they preach? They preach themselves, not Jesus Christ. We don’t lose our lives in Jesus Christ so that they cannot be found. We find ourselves. But in Jesus it doesn’t work that way.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Let us be the kind of people that have the affection of Jesus Christ. Always hold up Jesus Christ and merely be servants of him by serving other people. Only grace can give us truly pure hearts. Nobody is born with that kind of pure heart. Nobody gets it too easily, but it can be ours. We can honestly serve without any thought of ourselves just because we love Jesus Christ. But it will take some breaking and humbling by God’s hand.

In Acts chapter 20 as Paul’s life ends, notice how he said he served God. Let that be said about each of us.

Acts 20:17-19 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.

I served the Lord with great humility and with tears.” Let the same words be on our lips when we die. When we leave a region, enter a home, or meet people at work, let it be said by the Spirit, “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears.” We need to have tears of crying out to God for his grace to be in our life. Humility that comes from a dependence upon God to give us this kind of heart for other people. Humility that comes because we go to Jesus and say, “Jesus we want to see you,” and he says, “This is what I am about.” Humility that drives us to our knees and says, “Oh, God, work that within me.” A contrite heart because Jesus comes to us and says, “Do you love me? Do you truly love me more than these things?” We must gain a humility that is true, holy, pure, and clean. We need to have a humility that is only brought about by tears. Who of us can serve like this? Who of us can dare hope to be like Jesus or live the Christian life except by the grace of God? Who of us can have the wisdom to know what is proper and best in every circumstance except to have a love that comes from heaven? It will take humility, and require tears. There is no other way to serve. Again, look at our own life and service. Does it drive us to this? Do we have humility and tears? Do all the people who claim to be Christians understand what you say?

When everything is said and done, when this world comes to an end, when all the people who have served Jesus Christ are lined up to be judged, there will be a great shaking and a tremendous turn around. A lot of people hold up ministries and individuals who serve and do grand works. In fact a lot of times if you challenge a church about something that they teach, they will boast to you about all the things they do that are good and noble. The humility, tears, and dependence upon God’s Spirit are missing. Jesus said that everything will be completely flip-flopped.

Luke 13:29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.

The very ones that we think are first and who serve the most but have not the heart of Jesus Christ will be last at the table. Those who are last and honestly consider themselves nothing as Paul said, “I am the least of all of God’s people,” those who serve God with humility and tears, will be first. The widow who puts in everything she has to serve Jesus Christ, though it be half a penny, will be first. The man who gives out of his abundance will be last. You might serve in a tremendous way, but if it is not by the grace of God, if it is not by the leading of his Spirit, if it is not done with great fear and trembling, all the works you have done will put you in a last position in heaven. Outwardly you might be able to boast of far more things done. Outwardly the projects may be larger and the money spent greater. All of the things that are done might be in a larger proportion than somebody else, but if the humility is not there, the surrender to God’s will and obedience to what he wanted done, you will be last. Let us consider carefully what it means to be the servant of all. Let us consider it a joy. Let us have some fear and humility.

Let’s pray.

Father, grant us the heart of Jesus. Work it more and more within our hearts, Father. May our love increase that we might be able to discern what is best. Oh, Lord, open our hearts. Enlarge the harvest of our righteousness. We offer ourselves, Father, as Romans 12 says, a “living sacrifice.” We pray, Oh, God, that you guide, direct, and work this in us, Oh, Lord. May we lay before you and before your throne of grace, before the cross until grace is given us to serve. We pray this is Jesus’ name, Amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional. The original audio tape can be ordered free of charge by contacting Sound Doctrine Ministries.


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