Friday, September 3, 2004
Someday I might just be banned from restaurants. I mean, I've been known to give the help a hard time. That's not really what I'm trying to do. I figure sometimes it just gets so humdrum and boring, waiting on people, and too often customers treat you like you're part of the menu, or a vending machine. So, it's fun to inject some laughs into their day. For example, I've been known to walk into a restaurant, and the lady will ask, "Table for two?" I'll say, "Well, yes, but we have a busload of thirty-eight junior high students waiting. Should we bring them in now?" You should see the priceless look on her face. I immediately let her know I'm kidding, though. I always ask for the server's name by telling him or her that, "My mother told me to never talk to strangers." And when I'm ordering one of my favorite hamburger and cheese sandwiches, I have been known to ask, "Is Patty in?" "Patty who?" the waitress asks innocently. "Patty Melt," I tell her, as her eyes disappear to the top of her head.
I'm just trying to lighten up their lives. We also try to encourage them and compliment them. Sometimes I'll tell the server, "Hey, you're a great cook." They look a little unsure about how to react to that. They'll say, "Oh, I didn't cook it. I just serve it." I knew that.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Power Preposition."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 3:5. Here's what Paul says about himself and another great Christian leader of that time, Apollos. "What, after all, is Apollos, and what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord has assigned to each his task." I'm sure there are people who would have said, "Paul got me to Christ. Apollos got me to Christ." Paul said, "No, I didn't. It wasn't from me. It was through me." There's the power preposition. We are only servants through whom, not by whom, not from whom, only through whom you came to believe.
This is like a server in a restaurant. It's not her recipe. It's not her effort. She just delivers what someone else has worked on and made possible. That's what Jesus was saying when he said, "I am the vine, you are the branches." The branch doesn't produce the fruit. It looks like it's producing the fruit, but it comes from the vine, through the branches.
Do you know what this means to you? There are things you can risk doing for the Lord that you thought were too much for you. You can dare to open your mouth about Jesus. You can dare to step up to that leadership role. You could dare to start that Christian group, that prayer fellowship, that Bible study. You could dare to say yes to an assignment from the Lord that you've been saying no to. Why? Because the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, "The one who calls you will do it." Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who works in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure."
God will give you the words. God will give you the insight. God will give you the plan. God will give you the methods - the strength to do it. Any true work for Christ is Christ doing the work through you, not you doing the work for Him. "Through" - that's the preposition that opens up your life to all kinds of powerful new possibilities. It only comes through you. Just be available. There are many meals I would have never eaten in a restaurant if it had been up to the waiter or the waitress to grow the food or prepare the food, but they were able to deliver it. That's what Paul says you and I are. We are servants. That's what your Lord is asking you to do, to deliver to hungry lives what He has prepared for them. Now, you could serve it, couldn't you?