Make Your Mark
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 17:6, Ephesians 2:8 -10
Sunday 22nd March 2015
So far in the series, ‘I Am Exceedingly Fruitful’, we have examined the following messages: ‘I am chosen for Fruitfulness’, ‘The keys to Exceedingly Fruitful life’ and the message last week, ‘Take Your Place’. I have titled today’s message ‘Make Your Mark’.
Our foundation scripture from Ephesians 2:8-10 reads: ‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago’ (NLT). Verse 10 in the Amplified version reads: For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. We have been recreated in Christ to live a good life – a life impacting those around us with the good works that God placed within us. In other words, we’ve been called to be a ‘Mark Maker’. We have been called to be a difference maker, a solution to questions, an answer to questions and to change your world.
The psalmist wrote in Psalm 90:12 ‘Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom’ (NLT). In today’s language, he was requesting from God the ability to recognise the importance of each day, and wisely utilizing each moment with the aim of impacting the lives around him. Our prayers for each day should follow the same pattern and request. Failure to recognise the moments we have and to make the right choices in influencing others, unwittingly results in a life of relational deficiencies and poverty. There is a purpose allotted to each time and we must all use those moments prudently. If you will truly excel this year, you must maximise your time.
Since we have been recreated to emulate the life of Christ, we must then closely examine how Jesus lived and impacted the world. Here is Philippians 2:5-11: ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’. Apostle Paul admonishes us to have the mind of Christ. Some of Christ qualities from this passage could be listed thus: ‘He made Himself of no reputation’, ‘He took on the form of a bondservant’, ‘He came in the likeness of men not in the likeness of God’, ‘He humbled himself’, ‘He became obedient to the point of death’. All these phrases could be summed up in one word: Serving.
Christ came to serve and if our lives will impact others, then we must also live a life of service. In other words, the only way to make a mark with our lives is to serve other people, forfeiting a self-centered agenda, abandoning a desire for material acquisition and greed, and embracing God’s bigger plan and purpose.
Philippians 2:3-4 from the New Living Translation makes reference to this: ‘Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too’. All of creation was designed to be of service to mankind, including many of nature’s derivatives from which many of our modern gadgets were extracted and produced from: vehicles, household furniture, electrical and electronic appliances that we’ve come to appreciate and cannot live without, nowadays. Hence as God’s creation, we were also created and designed to serve others, just like every part of our body was designed to nourish and sustain us.
God placed within each of us various talents, gifts and treasures. You were not created to live an insular life but to live a life beyond yourself. And here is a great way to put this lifestyle to the test: if you have not touched or encouraged someone else within 24 hours, then you may need to re-adjust your priorities. The crux of an exceedingly fruitful life is in serving others. Beyond acquisition, you must commit to a life of donation. You must be thinking of ways to add value to your family, your friendships and relationships, your community and the nation as a whole. Your relevance and significance in life is predicated on every opportunity to serve that you commit to. Servanthood is the highest calling and should be embraced as a lifestyle. Jesus prioritised servanthood by the way he lived. He summed it all well in Matthew 20:28; “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many" (NLT). A quote from Martin Luther King Jr reads: ‘Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” Rick Warren says: “The only way you can serve God is by serving other people.” George H.W Bush also says: “From now on, any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” Daniel served in Babylon, Joseph served in Egypt and Paul served in prison. So you must also live with service in mind, even at your place of employment as this is the passport to and hallmark of greatness.
There is a story recorded in John 13 where Jesus demonstrated what it means to serve. Here are some excerpts from the story in the New Living Translation: ‘Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you’. Here is a key lesson to point out from this passage: In the same way that Jesus laid aside his garment before taking up the role of washing the disciples’ feet, you must also lay aside your personal agenda and embrace God’s purpose for your life.
In Luke 1, we read the story of Zechariah. He was busy serving in the temple before the angel Gabriel visited him to give him the miraculous news of the birth of his son – John the Baptist. He could easily have evaded that responsibility and may have missed out on what God was about to do. We must be acutely aware that our next breakthrough is intricately connected to our disposition towards serving God and others. Abandoning the call to serve can be simply described as selfishness – which is contrary to God’s nature. Our Heavenly Father is a serving God, and we must live likewise. Selfishness is contrary to grace and graciousness. If Christ, our ultimate perfect example lived a life of service, then nothing should be big enough to exempt us from serving others. Our academic qualifications, status, wealth, and achievements, should not hinder us from serving, rather they should spur us to greater acts of kindness. Find a place where you belong and make your mark.
So here is a question to ponder on: What purpose do your serve? God’s purpose or yours? What impact is your life making today? Reach out to someone – call a long seen member, go out of your way to buy groceries for a sick team member – this is what the gospel is all about. Unfortunately, our 21st century society has become one in which it is becoming increasingly unappealing to be of service to others, and this attitude is gradually creeping into the church. We must re-order our priorities and embrace His mission first, before we think of our agenda. Matthew 6:33 reads: ‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need’ (NLT). Serving is built on the premise of sacrifice – you have not really served until you have sacrificed. The bible is a compendium of people who sacrificed in various ways. Even more so, the cross, the icon of our faith is an emblem of sacrifice.
Can I encourage you to begin to live with others in mind? Reach out and touch someone, starting from today. We are only guaranteed every moment we live and each day should count for significance.
Every national leader, just like Jesus did, must be deliberate in spending the duration of their tenure in office serving the people they were voted into office to govern. Sadly, we have resigned the destiny of some of the world’s developing nations into the hands of some selfish and greedy leaders. We must abhor such regimes and ensure that we do not venerate such an attitude with our lackadaisical outlook. More so, we must ensure that we stay clear of such a disposition in church – each leader of a team must be a servant-leader and one willing to make an impact with every opportunity given. Esther exemplified servanthood by approaching the King, without being invited to his presence in order to save a nation facing genocide, a move that could have led to her execution. She summed up her servant-heartedness by saying ‘When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
The story of Elijah and Elisha in the book of 2 Kings, shortly before Elijah was taken into heaven is an interesting account. Each time we read of Elijah, Elisha was always beside him to serve him. This is the precept that God has laid out for service and sacrifice. In the church today, however, we have several ‘Elijahs’, but where are the ‘Elishas’? Every ‘Elijah’ is carrying a special grace from God that needs to be passed on ‘Elishas’. Elisha was described as a man who ‘poured water’ on the hand of Elijah (2 kings 3:11). Can I challenge all the ‘Elishas’ to find their ‘Elijahs’ and serve them?
Philippians 2:9 reads: ‘Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name’. Jesus was exalted to a place of honour after he had served and sacrificed his life – not before. There is a reward and a promotion that follows servanthood. I encourage you to be a blessing to the widows and orphans, strengthen the fatherless, minister to the homeless, challenge and provoke the despaired. We’ve been called to make an impact by our act of service – let’s rise up and take our place. Hebrews 11 records the various accomplishments of the ‘heroes of faith’, many of whom we are familiar with. The chapter ends with these words: ‘All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us’. The heroes of faith – Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth David, Elisha, Paul, Timothy and Jesus – are all waiting on us to serve and make an impact with our lives. The list is not complete without your name. Remember that service makes you relevant and significant. I declare that your name will be included on this list. You will not live in this world with making an impact in Jesus name! (See also Acts 13:36).
Here are five ways to recognise a servant: (a) A servant never asks, ‘What is in it for me?’ (b) A servant serves when no one is watching (c) A servant goes beyond the call of duty (d) A servant serves with joy (e) A servant looks for opportunities to serve.
And lastly, here are five ways to become effective in serving: (a) Live a sacrificial life – Surrendering (b) Have no reputation – empty yourself of the estimation in which you are held (c) Walk in humility – submit to higher purpose and lowliness of mind (d) Recognise that you are here for a purpose bigger than you – be selfless (e) Recognise that you are an answer to questions. May your life indeed be impactful and make an imprint on the sands of time in Jesus name (Amen).
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