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Always Abounding


[these are the notes from the message given at the Quarterly Member's Meeting on August 25th, 2023]

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

What is your life all about? What is your driving focus and your central purpose? And perhaps more telling a question, what would others say that you are all about? Many Christians would want to say, "I live for the Lord", "my life is all about Him". But it is imperative that we don't just say that, but that it is actually true of us.

The fact is, if you know God at all, if you've been walking with Him for any length of time, the answer of what ought to be true is clear enough. We ought to live for the glory of God and for the advance of His kingdom in this world. This ought to be the dominant theme of our life. Above personal ambition, above the pleasures of life, above work and school, even above family – we should pursue the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom. As Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33). And yet, as we seek His kingdom and live for His glory, we will find that this great aim is not a side gig that leads us away from work, away from family, and even away from pleasure. No, instead it subsumes these things and lifts them into this great overarching aim. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31).

So, what am I getting at? I want to challenge you to really and truly in all of life seek first His kingdom. To sharpen your focus to live every day and in every corner of your life for the glory of God. Or in the words of Paul to the Corinthians to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. I love that phrase always abounding. It sounds pretty active doesn't it? It sounds pretty busy. Well, that's because it is. God did not destine us for a life of ease. To be a servant of King Jesus is not to join a casual club or a special-interest society. No, it is to enlist in the military. It is to say, "sir, yes sir", to whatever He has for you. To live the Christian life well should be strenuous. It should fill up your time with things to do, things to work at, for the advance of His kingdom.

Are you committed to this kind of always abounding in the work of the Lord kind of life? If you are a Christian, then you should be. I mean, you enlisted after all. What is it that you could do to serve the Lord more? Before looking far afield I would start with the two places that are so prominent biblically and so clearly applicable: the home and the church.

First, we need to see that God has tasked each of us with certain roles in the home. Husbands and wives are both given a role to serve the Lord in. (See Ephesians 5:22-33). Wives, how are you doing at glorifying God in your marriages? Husbands, how are you serving the Lord in your home? Are we abounding in the work of the Lord in our marriages – through encouragement, love and care and service, and through godly leadership and submission? How about as parents? Fathers we are tasked with bringing up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). And mothers are called to help in this as well. So how are we doing in these things? The home is an excellent place to start serving the Lord. To focus our attention on this great work that God has for us.

But next I would look to the church. Here you are at a church member's meeting. I'm going to assume that you love the church, that you believe in the church, and that you care about the church. So perhaps I am preaching to the choir here; but listen all the same. Ask yourself, could your life be described as a life that is always abounding in the work of the Lord? One great indicator of that is your involvement in the local church. The church is where the action is. This is where we are told to practice our one anothers, this is the institution to which the great commission was given, this is the body of Christ here on earth. And yet so many view the church with a take it or leave it kind of attitude. But biblically there is no justification for this. The church is God's great plan for this world.

And so, I ask again, are you always abounding in the work of the Lord? Are you steadfast in kingdom work? It is easy to grow slack, to grow complacent and to become passive in our Christian life. It is easy to drift towards self-focus and a life of ease and comfort. But God calls us to so much more. He calls us to serve Him with our entire lives. Do not fear that you will miss out on the things of this world. Do not try to save your life here and now. Remember the call of discipleship that Jesus gives us: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it (Mark 8:34-35).

And don't miss the promise in that call. Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. It is good to serve the Lord. You can't outgive God. Whatever sacrifice you lay on the altar God will resurrect one hundredfold more. Jesus said so. "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30). And this is the very promise that Paul points us to in our passage. He calls us to abound in the work of the Lord, but he doesn't leave it there. How does the passage finish? knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Not in vain. What a glorious thought. Not one act of service to God will be wasted. That bulletin folded, that chair set up, that phone-call to encourage, that meal provided, that sermon prepared, that song practiced, none of it will be in vain. It will never be in vain, it will never be wasted. You see in the end we cannot out-give God. You can't serve Him too much. You can't be too kingdom focused. The glory of Christ can never be too central to your life. He is the life. In Him is fullness of joy. In Him is abundant life, and life everlasting.

So as we march on in our 3rd year as Redeemer Baptist Church – may we be re-focused, and revived to serve the Lord. May we really go for it. Let's serve the Lord. My beloved brothers and sisters: Let us be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2024