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Principles of Services



A certain dog had always boasted of his ability as a runner. Then one day a rabbit that he was chasing got away. This brought a lot of ridicule from the other dogs because of his previous boasting. His explanation: “You must remember that the rabbit was running for his life, while I was only running for my dinner.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



On August 11, 1978, Double Eagle II, a large helium balloon, and her crew of three eased into an almost windless sky above the potato fields of Maine. Their destination was Paris, France. The aerodynamics of ballooning are somewhat complex, but one thing is certain. In order for the balloon to stay aloft as the journey progressed, ballast (that which is used to add weight)had to be expelled. As they approached continental Europe six days later, one of the crew wrote, “We have been expending ballast wisely, but as we neared land, not cheaply…over went such gear as tape recorders, radios, film magazines, sleeping bag, lawn chairs, most of our water, food, and the cooler it was in.”

Following Christ is the wisest choice a man can make, but it does not come cheap. Just as for these balloonists many important things had to be abandoned because they weighed them down, so for the believer.

P.S. The balloonists’ mission was accomplished. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



For many days an old farmer had been plowing with an ox and a mule together and working them pretty hard. The ox said to the mule, “Let’s play sick today and rest a little while.” But the old mule said, “No, we need to get the work done, for the season is short.”

But the ox played sick, and the farmer brought him fresh hay and corn and made him comfortable. When the mule came in from plowing, the ox asked how he made out. “We didn’t get as much done, but we made it all right,” answered the mule. Then the ox asked, “What did the old man say about me?” “Nothing,” said the mule.

The next day the ox, thinking he had a good thing going, played sick again. When the mule came in again very tired, the ox asked, “How did it go?” The mule said, “All right, I guess, but we didn’t get much done.” Then the ox also asked, “What did the old man say about me?” “Nothing to me,” was the reply, “but he did stop and have a long talk with the butcher.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



John Audubon, the well-known naturalist and artist, practiced great self-mastery in order to learn more about birds. Counting his physical comforts as nothing, he would rise at midnight night after night and go into the swamps to study certain nighthawks. He would crouch motionless in the dark and fog, hoping to discover just one more additional fact about a single species.

During one summer, Audubon repeatedly visited the bayous near New Orleans to observe a shy water bird. He would stand almost to his neck in the stagnant waters, scarcely breathing, while poisonous water-moccasin snakes swam past his face. It was not comfortable or pleasant, but he beamed with enthusiasm and is reported to have said, “But what of that? I have the picture of the birds.” He endured all these things just for a picture of a bird!

If a man could be so disciplined for a temporal and physical reward, how much more committed should the child of God be for the imperishable prize before him? ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Many men of the world have understood the necessity for commitment if they are to accomplish great things. For example, when Spanish explorer Cortez landed at Vera Cruz in 1519 to begin his conquest of Mexico with a small force of seven hundred men, legend has it that he purposely set fire to his fleet of eleven ships. Presumably, his men on the shore watched their only means of retreat sink to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. There was now only one direct to move—forward into the Mexican interior to meet whatever might come their way.

As part of our commitment as Christ’s disciples, we must purposefully destroy all avenues of retreat. We must resolve that whatever price is required for being his follower, we will pay it. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



In the 1976 Summer Olympics, Shun Fujimoto competed in the team gymnastics competition for Japan. In a quest for the gold medal, Fujimoto suffered a broken right knee in the floor exercise. But his injury did not stop him, for during the next week he competed in his strongest event, the rings. His routine was excellent, but he astounded everyone by squarely dismounting with a triple somersault twist on a broken right kneel. When asked concerning his feat, he said, “Yes, the pain shot through me like a knife. It brought tears to my eyes. But now I have a gold medal and the pain is gone.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Henry Thoreau, that rugged New England individualist of the nineteenth century, once went to jail rather than pay his poll tax to a state that supported slavery. Thoreau’s good friend Ralph Waldo Emerson hurred to visit him in jail and, peering through the bars, exclaimed: “Why, Henry, what are you doing in there?”

The uncowed Thoreau replied, “Nay, Ralph, the question is, what are you doing out there?” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



The story is told that when James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the Captain of the ship that had carried him there sought to turn him back by saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” Calvert’s reply well demonstrates the cost of commitment: “We died before we came here.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A mission society is reported to have written to David Livingstone: “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to send other men to join you.” Livingstone replied: “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Robert Chapman of Barnstaple, a great friend of the late George Muller of Bristol, was once asked, “Would you not advise young Christians to do something for the Lord?” “No,” was the reply, “I should advise them to do everything for the Lord.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Communist Commitment

”If you ask me what is the distinguishing mark of the Communist, what is it that Communists most outstandingly have in common, I would not say, as some might expect, their ability to hate…, I would say beyond any shadow of doubt it is their idealism, their zeal, dedication, devotion to their cause and willingness to sacrifice.”—Douglas Hyde, former head of the Communist Party of Great Britain, before his conversion to Catholicism. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Cost of Commitment

A hen and a pig approached a church and read the advertised sermon topic: “What can we do to help the poor?” Immediately the hen suggested they feed them bacon and eggs. The pig thought for a moment and said, “There is only one thing wrong with feeding bacon and eggs to the poor. For you it requires only a contribution, but for me it requires total commitment!” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Cost of Commitment

And elderly Christian man in Communist-controlled Budapest remarked when asked about the effects of persecution and discrimination on the lives of Christians: “it is like the deep, fast-flowing Danube River. The banks of the river were artificially narrowed throughout the city of Budapest. As a result the river’s fast waters dug deeper and deeper into the river bottom.”

Believers under restrictions and persecution have limited freedom and few political options, but their narrowed lives have found great depth by going deeper in Christ. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



“ Serve Him in sincerity and truth” (Joshua 24:14). Sincerity and truth are the weights that keep the soul in balance.

Sincerity is the ring of the coin which tells out its genuineness; the straight line of rectitude, and the test of fidelity.

The term rendered “ sincerity” is translated “ perfect” in Gen.17:1; “ without blemish” in Lev.1:3; “ full” in Lev.25:30; “ upright” in Psalm 37:18; “ undefiled” in Psalm 119:1’ “ sound” in Psalm 119:80; and “whole” in Proverbs 1:12. We should serve the Lord with—

Sincerity of purpose (Col.3:24).

Perfectness of walk (1. Thess.1:9).

Unblemishedness of life (Acts 26:7).

Thoroughness ( Romans 12:1).

Uprightness of heart (Romans 12:2).

Undefiled conduct (Luke 1:74).

Soundness of motive (Romans 7:6).

Wholeness of being (Hebrews 12:28).

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings


1. As Christians work together in a local congregation, the right
   attitudes are necessary...
   a. All the talent in the world cannot make up for wrong attitudes
   b. With the right attitudes, our efforts in service to the Lord are
      enhanced and live up to their full potential
2. In what areas should we be concerned about our attitudes?
   a. Our attitude toward God
   b. Our attitude toward ourselves as individuals
   c. Our attitude toward our brethren
   d. Our attitude toward the work we do together as a church
   -- In a least these four areas, we must be sure to maintain the
      proper attitudes
[And what are the proper attitudes?  Let's begin with our...]
   A. LOVE...
      1. We must have the right kind of love toward God
      2. Jesus defined that kind of love in Mt 22:37
      -- Do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind?
      1. Faith is a strong conviction and trust in things one does not
         see - He 11:1
      2. Without faith, it is impossible to please God - He 11:6
      -- Do we have the kind of faith which pleases God?  If not, cf.
         Ro 10:17
      1. Every Christian should have "the attitude of gratitude" - cf.
         Co 3:17; Ep 5:20
      2. God's righteous indignation is toward those who have become
         unthankful - cf. Ro 1:18-21
      -- An attitude of thankfulness for the blessings we have will
         help allay the bitterness that often destroys the spirit in
         any congregation
[If our relationship with God is right, it increases the likelihood
that our relationship with others will be smooth as well (Pro 16:7).
What also helps are the proper...]
      1. A humble estimation of one's self is very important - Ro 12:3,
      2. Humility includes a willingness to serve, even to do "menial"
         tasks - Jn 13:6-17
      3. "Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I'll
         show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."
         (Lawrence D. Bell) - cf. Mt 25:21
      -- Are we humble enough to serve your fellow brother?
      1. To be teachable is to be wise - Pro 15:31,32
      2. Teachability includes:
         a. An eagerness to learn and grow
         b. The ability to learn from correction, to profit from advice
            and criticism
      3. The old as well as the young need a teachable attitude:
         "Education is too good to limit to the young." (Elton
      -- How teachable are we, when it comes to opportunities to study
         God's word?
      1. This includes a willingness to admit our mistakes - Ja 5:16
      2. And a willingness to correct them
      -- Everyone makes a mistakes; a congregation that functions well
         and grows is one filled with people who learn from their 
[The attitudes of humility, teachability, and honesty will certainly
prepare us to be useful to the Lord.  They will also have a bearing on
our relationship with others in the congregation.  Let's now focus our
attention on...]
   A. LOVE...
      1. Jesus taught us the necessity of loving our brethren - Jn 13:
      2. We have been born again that we might love one another 
         fervently - 1 Pe 1:22-23
      -- If we truly love one another, how can we not work together?
      1. This involves a willingness to work together, as God intended
         - 1 Co 12:21
      2. We need to be able not only to work, but to work together!
      3. "It marks a big step in a man's development when he comes to
         realize that other men can be called on to help him do a 
         better job than he can do alone." (Andrew Carnegie)
      -- Where there is cooperation, a good way of doing things will be
         more productive than a better way of doing things where
         cooperation does not exist!
      1. We need to appreciate what others are doing - e.g., 1 Co 1:14;
         1 Th 5:12,13
      2. True appreciation for others will eliminate destructive
         criticism, gossip, divisiveness
      -- Expressing appreciation is like grease on the gears of a
         machine...it makes others do their work much better!
      1. We are to submit to one another - Ep 5:21
      2. And we are to submit to those in positions of leadership
         (e.g., elders) - He 13:17
      -- Too many chiefs, not enough Indians...that is a common problem
         in many organizations!
      1. Peace among brethren is something that we should purse - Ro 
      2. It is part of walking worthy of our calling - Ep 4:1-3
      -- The true children of God are those who are peacemakers, and
         sow their deeds of righteousness in the atmosphere of peace 
         - cf. Mt 5:9; Ja 3:17-18
      1. Christians are to be hospitable - Ro 12:13
      2. This includes both hospitality to strangers and to brethren 
         - cf. He 13:2; 1 Pe 4:9
      -- A factor in the rapid spread of the church in the first
         century was the hospitality extended by the Christians - cf.
         3 Jn 5-8
      1. We see this expressed by those in the church at Jerusalem
         - Ac 2:44-47
      2. It continued with the saints in Antioch - Ac 11:27-30
      1. Especially necessary in dealing with the spiritual weak - Ga
      2. But also in dealing with those who oppose us - 2 Ti 2:24-26
      1. All of these attitudes overlap, and are very important - Ep 4:
      2. They help smooth out the bumps and obstacles that Satan will
         put in our way in his effort to destroy the local church
[Finally, let's survey some of the necessary...]
      1. Paul certainly possessed this attitude - 1 Ti 1:12; 1 Co 15:
      2. Do we appreciate what an honor it is to offer service in
         kingdom of our Lord?
      1. Remember, God loves a cheerful giver - 2 Co 9:7
      2. Nothing is so easy but that it becomes difficult if done with
      3. Nothing is so hard that it cannot be made easier with 
      1. Like those in Nehemiah's day, we need a "mind to work" - Neh
      2. If we are to serve men "heartily", how much more the Lord - Co
      3. Some people are like blisters...they never show up until the
         work is almost done
      4. The slothful person is just as harmful as the destructive
         person - Pro 18:9
      1. Initiative has been defined as the willingness to do what is
         right without having to be prodded
      2. We should not have to be reminded constantly of our 
         responsibilities - cf. 1 Ti 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6
      3. When you see something that needs to be done, don't criticize,
         energize! (i.e., do it yourself!)
      1. We are to do things without murmuring and grumbling - Ph 2:14
      2. The chronic complainer and the negative thinker are 
         obstructions to the work of a congregation
      1. We must have the attitude of Christ, not just to do, but to
         finish the work of God - Jn 4:34
      2. We need "finishative" as well as "initiative" - cf. He 6:12
      3. Then we can say with Paul:  "I have fought the good fight, I
         have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - 2 Ti 4:7
1. Ideal attitudes make for ideal working conditions among the members
   of a local church...
   a. Attitude improvement can be compared to the woodcutter sharpening
      his ax - Ecc 10:10
   b. If we want the work of the congregation to go smooth, hone our
2. Certainly the attitudes described this lesson will help the cause of
   Christ in any  congregation...
   a. They will improve our relation with God, ourselves, our brethren,
      and our work
   b. They will make us "useful to the Master, prepared for every good
      work" - 2 Ti 2:21
Are we developing the right kind of attitudes that prepare us for the
work of the Lord?
Note:  The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by Gary Henry.  The URL for his web site containing many
excellent articles and sermon outlines is:  http://www.brasstacks.org


--《Executable Outlines