John Mark Caton: As you're being seated there, I want to invite you to reach and grab your copy of God's word and turn back with me, whether it's there in your Bibles or there in one of the chairs in front of you. You can grab a Bible or your smart device to Mark chapter 12. This is a series that I started last week entitled All Of Me, and we are keying in on one verse, Mark 12:30 where Jesus said, "You are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength." Each one of those, in and of themselves, are a command.
John Mark Caton: Now, the beautiful thing about the command, and if you missed the first message, which was last week, where I really set that verse in context, I want to encourage you to go back and find it online, when we looked at that first command, which is, "You are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart." Today, we come to the second aspect of it, which is, "You are to love the Lord your God with all of your strength."
John Mark Caton: Now, my belief is, and I shared a little bit of this last week, is that there are many people that when we come to a verse like this, that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength, that somehow, we think that is an unachievable goal. That there is no way that I could do it. Perhaps we think because of my checkered past, because of what I've done, because of the years I've wasted, because of the mistakes that I've made, that I could never love the Lord my God with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my mind and all of my strength.
John Mark Caton: Or perhaps, there are those in here, when we come to a verse like this, and I really believe this, that there are some that think, "Yeah, I probably could some day, if I began to work today really, really, really, really, really hard, that some day, I'll get to a place in my spiritual walk and my spiritual journey that then some day, I will be able to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my mind, and all of my strength."
John Mark Caton: I want you to know if you were in one of those two categories and you think, "I can never get there because of what I've done, or I can really only get there if I begin today journeying as hard as I can to someday be able to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength." I want you to know both of those are wrong because if you look back, and this is why we would encourage you to go back to my message last week, if you put this passage in context, Jesus is being asked a question by one of the teachers of the law.
John Mark Caton: Let me tell you what, he was, that teacher of the law was about as far away from loving God as you could possibly imagine if we define loving God the way we want to, because he comes to Jesus challenging him, trying to trip him up. He asks Jesus the question. He doesn't ask him in an honest way. He asks Jesus a question to try to trip him up. He says, "Teacher." Sarcastically to Jesus, "Tell us which of all the commandments is the greatest?"
John Mark Caton: Now the commandments that that teacher was talking about, or that teacher of the law was talking about, of all the commandments, they at that day had a, by that time the Pharisees and the teachers of law had codified 613 commands from the Old Testament. 613, and they had them all memorized and most of those commands were, "Thou shalt not's." Don't do this. Don't do this, don't do this. Don't do this.
John Mark Caton: Some of them were "Thou shalt's", alright? Do this. In other words, most of them were negative. Some of them were positive and really he was asking Jesus, "Not of your laws, which of the 613 laws that we have come up with is the most important in quality."
John Mark Caton: Jesus responds to him with this verse, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. All the teacher of the law says is that's a good answer. Do you know what Jesus said to him? "You are not far away." Everybody say, I'm not far away.
Audience: I'm not far away.
John Mark Caton: See, So when you come to verse 30, Jesus is telling everyone in this room, we're not far away. Some of you are closer than you think. Today when I talk about this idea and this aspect of loving God with all of our strength, here is a beauty. A lot of times we are afraid of the word command. We don't like the ten commandments. Everybody thinks back and we remember the movie, right?
John Mark Caton: But here's the beauty. When you come to Mark 12:30, Jesus puts this in the form of a command. Really, there are four commands. If you look at the way the verse is broken down, it says, love the Lord your God with all of your heart. Love the Lord your God with all of your soul. Love the Lord your God with all of your mind, and love the Lord your God with all of your strength.
John Mark Caton: There's really four commands there. Now, I want you to tap in on this for everyone in here who is afraid of commands. Here's the reality. God never commands us to do something we don't have the ability to do. I'm going to say that again because I want it to sink in. God never commands us to do something that we don't have the ability to do.
John Mark Caton: So here's the beauty. That's why Jesus looked right back at that teacher of the law and said, "You're not far." Why? Because, what Jesus was saying is God has already placed in your heart the ability to love God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. See, if God commands it, we can do it. Everybody say, I can do it.
Audience: I can do it.
John Mark Caton: I mean, you can do this, and I'm not far. See, when God commands me to do something, that means he's already given me the ability to do it. Everybody in here. Everybody in here, and I want to say that over and over. Everybody, regardless of where you are, what you've done in your past, regardless of the mistakes that you've made, or regardless of how far you put yourself mentally in the back of the line, as far as those who are spiritually mature, you and I can both fulfill this command because God never commands me to do anything He hadn't already given me the ability to do.
John Mark Caton: What if God came in and said, "John Mark, I command you to jump up and touch the rafters." Let me just be honest. Y'all be honest. Y'all, how many of you think I can do it? One person in the back. Thank you young man. You're awesome. You're my favoritest. How many of you think I probably don't have the ability? For all the encouragement I give you all, that's what I get. Why don't you think I have it? I have the ability. I don't have the ability to do it. So would that be fair for God to command me to jump up and touch the rafters, or jump over the moon? No, that wouldn't be fair. Why? Because God hasn't given me that ability.
John Mark Caton: But, God through his son tells me to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Why does God command me to do that? Because, He's already given me the ability.
John Mark Caton: So, let's write down this passage and let me show it to you a little bit. Let's just walk through it. He says, "Love the Lord your God," and let me just stop there, that there is a personal application that is here that you can see, but there's even that which is unseen. See, in the original language, there is another you as in you that is not here. Jesus starts in the original language with the word you. It should be translated. "You." Alright? Everybody say me? Alright? Jesus said, "You." talking about you. He says, "You love the Lord your God." Alright? How do you want to love the Lord your God?
John Mark Caton: Well, let's start with the action. The action is love. It's the Greek word agape. Agape, right here in context because the way it's set in the senates here, it's agape oh. Now listen, agape love has absolutely nothing to do with our emotions or our feelings. Now, some of the guys in this room go, "Thank God." Right? Because, here's the reality, and I'm going to talk to men right now. When we think about loving God, a lot of times we think love always comes with a bunch of emotion, and tears, and feelings, and how many of you and be honest, how many of you ever been in worship and you've seen someone, man, they're just getting after it. How many of you know what I'm talking about? Alright? And, they're just seemed to be passionate and you're sitting there going, "I must not love God as much as they love God." How many of you have ever thought that? Be honest, in your mind. You've ever thought, "Man, I just don't have those kinds of feelings."
John Mark Caton: Well, here's the beauty. This word has nothing to do with your feelings. Hey, the truth is, I'm telling you guys here, there are some guys that, and I know them and they're ... I'm not like this, but there are some guys that, man, you're pretty touchy feely. You're emotive. You'll cry, you can connect, you hurt. I mean, God has just shaped you that way, and he's created you that way. There are other guys who are on the total opposite end of the spectrum. You wonder if they have any emotion at all. Ladies, don't point at your husband right now, that you wonder, man, do you feel anything? How many of you know what I'm talking about? Alright? These guys are called engineers. Right?
John Mark Caton: Then there are those who are somewhere in the middle. I'm in the middle. If you see me from time to time, I can preach on certain subjects and I can mow through, and I can be disconnected. But you've been around enough that when I touch on a sensitive issue or two, and I know someone in our congregations is hurting when it moves me.
John Mark Caton: But, here's the beauty of this word, love, agape. It has nothing to do with how you feel or your emotions. If you feel a lot, you can still agape. If you feel very little, you can still agape. If you feel somewhere in between, you can still agape, why? Because, here's what agape love is.
John Mark Caton: It is a willful, well thought out decision to act. It is a willful, well thought out decision to act. You say, where is it used in context? The best place I can use it in context that everybody already knows the verse. I don't have to put it up on the screen. Is John 3:16, "For God so," What's the word?
John Mark Caton: Loved. It's the word agape. So, what does it say? For God so loved the world, that He felt, He get goosebumps, that He had tears in his eyes? No. It says, for God so loved the world that He willfully and decisively chose to act by sending his son. Let me ask you a question. If sending his son had anything to do with God's feelings, how many of you think He would have done it? No. You ask me to sacrifice my kids, I'm going to ... I'm just going to tell you right now, I don't feel like it, right? But, it's a willful well thought out decision to act.
John Mark Caton: Guys, you and I can make a decision to act. That's why Jesus says in the next command, you can do it. Alright? So, all we have to do if we're going to love God with all our heart, remember what Jesus told that teacher the law. You're closer than you're thinking. You're not far away. Everybody say, I'm not far away.
John Mark Caton: So, now let's read it through. He says, "You." Remember there's a you there that's not in there. "You love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Now, notice Jesus didn't just fold them all together. He didn't say, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. He repeated the phrase "with all your", "with all your" why? Because, essentially He's given us four separate commands that we can do each and every one.
John Mark Caton: Last week we looked at loving God with all of our heart. This week we're looking at loving God with all of your strength. If you have your paper insert there that I always like to give you to take notes, circle that word all. Notice that Jesus repeated that phrase "all", that word "all" four times. It is a Greek word, holos. It is the Greek word that we get our English word holistic from. Anybody ever heard of holistic medicine or anything. That's the word right there. Jesus used it four times. That we are to love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind and with all of our strength. And, the reality, since it's a command, I can do it.
John Mark Caton: So, now let's read on. He says, listen, I want you to love the Lord your God with all your strength. That word, strength, has to do with a power that has already been given to us that we can exercise to a full capability. In other words, I already have within my strength, within my power, the ability to act in love decisively, willfully, take an action to love God with my entire being.
John Mark Caton: Fulfilling this verse is not the crowning achievement of a few very spiritual saints. I'm going to say this again. Fulfilling this verse is not the crowning achievement of very few very spiritual saints. This verse is attainable and achievable by anyone and everyone in this room if we're just willing to take the next step. Why? Because the strength that is talked about here is a strength that God has already given you to act.
John Mark Caton: Let me give you a couple of thoughts on serving God with our strength. Now, so here's what we know. When we come back, we talked about loving God with our heart. That was worship. We talked a little bit about that last week. We're going to be talking in the next couple of weeks worshiping God and loving God with all of your mind. What does it mean to love him with all of your mind? What does it mean to love him with all your soul, but today we're talking about strength. The strength of Jesus was using and talking about here was active strength, really had to do with serving. So, let me give you a couple of thoughts on serving God with all of your your strength.
John Mark Caton: Number one, write this down. Your past failures do not keep you from serving God today. Write that down. Your past failures do not keep you from serving God today. I want you to know if you go back to Mark 12:30, Jesus didn't say in there, if you are perfect, love God with all of your strength.
John Mark Caton: Man, let me tell you what, if perfection was the bar, none of us could ever do it, right? I want you to know if perfection was the bar to becoming a pastor, newsflash, you wouldn't have a pastor. If perfection was the bar to becoming a deacon at Cottonwood, we wouldn't have any deacons. If perfection was the bar to becoming a life group teacher, or a home group leader, or something like that, you wouldn't have one. Why? Perfection has never been the bar. If perfection was a bar that we could achieve, God would have never sent his son, right? How many of you understand?
John Mark Caton: So, look at what Luke said in Luke 22. Notice what it says. He says this, "Simon, Simon," this Jesus, he's talking to Peter, "Simon, Simon. Satan has asked that he would test you as a farmer sifts through his wheat. I have prayed for you ahead of time that you will not lose your faith. Instead, you will help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me." What was Jesus saying?
John Mark Caton: Before Peter ever made the mistake to deny Him, not once, not twice, but three times, Jesus was already praying for Peter. He says, "Peter, my prayer is that after you have flopped, you wouldn't quit." That's the first thought in serving God with all of our strength, is your past failures don't keep you from serving God with all of your strength.
John Mark Caton: I love this, that Jesus is standing there looking in Peter's eyes. Now what do we know about Peter? Now Peter is proud, he's arrogant, he's brash, he's boisterous, he's got a humongous ego, and Jesus is looking at him, and He's saying, you're about to fall flat on your face and all of these guys in the room are going to know it.
John Mark Caton: Jesus says, "My prayer is not that you wouldn't fall, but my prayer is that after you fall, you wouldn't lose your faith." Some of you need that message right now. Some of you need to hear that right now because you have fallen flat on your face, and Jesus' prayer for Peter, I believe is the same prayer for you and for me is that now that you are flat on your face, Jesus prays that you would get up, that you wouldn't stay down, that you wouldn't lose your faith.
John Mark Caton: Follow that up, and then Jesus prayed, and after you flopped and then you've gotten up, that you would strengthen your brothers. What is he saying? He's saying, ma'am, part of who you are, are the mistakes you've made in your past. For you and me to understand how to serve God with all of our strength, we have to take our experiences, and even our bad experiences, and use those to encourage others. That's why when you walk out to the ministry fair in a few minutes, you're going to see ministries like divorce care, and grief share, and celebrate recovery. Why do we have those ministries? Because people have been through there and guess what? They are using their flops to help others get through a struggle.
John Mark Caton: See, God uses our flops and mistakes in the past to enable us to make other brothers and sisters stronger along the way. Look at Romans 12:1. Here's what Paul says. He says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices." Everybody say, God's Mercies.
Audience: God's mercies.
John Mark Caton: Man, why do I offer myself as your pastor day by day, week by week? Because of God's mercy. I stand before you as a man who has received God's mercy after falling flat on his face, time and time, and time, and time again, but God still has a plan for my life.
John Mark Caton: Well, as I go all the way back to August of 1989, that was when the change happened in my life. I was a wreck. I was a mess. I was headed in the wrong direction. I'd made many mistakes, but God, because of his mercy, had a new plan. In view of God's mercy, I offered my body as a sacrifice for God. Man, if you look through the pages of scripture, it is littered with people who served God in powerful ways, who had checkered past.
John Mark Caton: Go look at Abraham when God called him and said, listen, I'm going to bless you and you're going to be a blessing, and I'm going to give you an offspring and a seed, and you're going to be a great nation. You're going to be a great people and you're going to bless the entire world, and Abraham rolls out, and what does Abraham almost immediately do? Take matters into his own hands. Takes a concubine and has a child by her. So, God gave up on him, right? No. God's mercy showed up and still had a plan.
John Mark Caton: Anybody remember the lady named Rahab? Anybody remember her line of work? It wasn't a good one, but in view of God's mercy, she offered her. How many of you remember a guy named David? He was a perfect example of how someone should fully follow God, right? Anybody remember a Bathsheba and her now dead husband?
John Mark Caton: Man, if you look through the new testament, old, it is filled with people who were used by God, who had a checkered past, but they still had the ability to love God with all of their strength and so do you.
John Mark Caton: Here's thought number two. You're ready? Don't judge or look down on someone else's service to others. Don't judge or look down on someone else's service. What can happen, and this sadly, I will tell you after 20 some odd years as a pastor, I've seen this happen over and over and over again in the church, in our church. Boy, just go look at our missions page and look at all the missionaries we've supported and all the ministries we're involved. Look at everything that is going on. Hey, Scott told me this this week. Alright? If you want to know how much we serve and what we do all here at the church, in the process, part of what we had to do when we were going to build the chapel is it put all of our buildings under under a microscope. They got to go back and look at everything.
John Mark Caton: So, what was okay back in 2001 when we relocated here or whatever, when we came here for where our trash cans are, our trash dumpsters are, guess what? Today they got to be different. We need cast stone on them. We need a bunch of other stuff. I think we need bells and whistles, and we need to gold plate those things.
John Mark Caton: But, in the process, we're sitting there, yes, we had to have architecture and contractor discussions on what we're going to do to upgrade our garbage facilities here at the church, and you thought we were just building the chapel. One of the things that they found out, they said, "Why do you have to garbage cans here? Can't you just do one?" We looked around and said, "That's a great question." We bring our facility staff and say, "Why do we have two, and not just one?" They go, "Well, because we do so much ministry in this church that we fill both of them up every day and they empty them every night." How many of you would say, "That's a lot of trash."
John Mark Caton: Okay, now here is the point, and you're going to see it in the ministry fair. There are times I've seen people that God has just connected them with a certain ministry. They are passionate about worship, or they are passionate about children, or they are passionate about students, or they are passionate about prison ministry, or they're passionate about divorce care. They are passionate about evangelism. They're passionate, and they get involved in a ministry and what happens? They get so passionate, they're loving God with all of their heart, all of their mind, all of their soul, and all the strength in that ministry that then they think this, everybody been here? Why isn't everybody doing what I'm doing? How many of you know what I'm talking about?
John Mark Caton: Then they will guilt you because you're not as passionate about the ministry that God has called them to. That's where we always want to be careful. When you start, and you're not far away, everybody say, I'm not far away. When you start serving God with all of your strength and God puts you in the right place, don't begin to judge everybody else because they don't serve in the same place you do.
John Mark Caton: Look at what Paul said in Romans chapter 14. He says, who are we to judge someone else's servant? So who's servants are? We're God's servants. To their own master's, servants will stand or fall. In other words, what does it mean? It's not my job to judge someone else's service to God. My job is to make sure that I love God with all of my strength, that I am doing what God has asked me to do. Then I can trust that someone else who is also God's servant, they will have to give an account. What did Peter say in 1 Peter 5? He said, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another." In other words, when you go up and you sign up for a ministry, let me put it to you this way, you are choosing to put on an apron of humility. Everybody say, an apron of humility.
John Mark Caton: In other words, I am going to serve others. You say, is there an example of this? The upper room. Jesus knelt down, and He did what? He washed the disciples' feet. He served others.
John Mark Caton: Here's the next thought I want you to understand. Serving God with all of my strength means that God gets all the credit for everything I do, means serving God with all of my strength, I mean, God's gets all the credit for every thing I do.
John Mark Caton: When God chooses to use me in a powerful way, the last thing I want to be doing is patting myself on the back. So, those are three opening thoughts on this. So, now let me give you five and we're going to roll out of here. All right? Let me give you five thoughts and these all we're going to see in scripture, five biblical thoughts on loving God with all your strength and everybody say, we're not far away.
Audience: We're not far away.
John Mark Caton: We can all do this. Number one, serving God is why you were saved. Write it down. Serving God is why you were saved. God saved you so you would serve. In Ephesians 2:8-9, we're going to put it up on the screen, says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. This not of yourselves, it is the gift from God." Everybody say Amen.
John Mark Caton: Aren't you grateful that God loved us, loved you and me so much that he didn't say, "John Mark, I'm going to put you on this earth. I want you to be more good than you are bad, and at the end of the day we're going to weigh it up and see how you do." I would be rather concerned, but instead God says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. That not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one should boast, but he created us and he saved us for good works." Continue to read verse 10, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works." God saved us so that we would serve.
John Mark Caton: Look at Romans 7:4. Let's put it up on the screen. He says, "So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another." He says this, "To him who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God." Everybody say, bear fruit for God.
Audience: Bear fruit for God.
John Mark Caton: You were saved, I was saved so that I would bear fruit for God. Let me ask you a question. How much fruit can other people see in your life? How much fruit can other people see in your life? There are some people, and I want you to know that when it comes to loving God with all of your strength, we're talking about external fruit. There are a lot of people in the Christian walk and in the Christian circles who say, "You know, I'm just growing so much on the inside. My mind is just filled with God's word. You just can't see it all, but it's in there. I am bearing so much mental fruit you, just can't see, and in my attitude, in my heart, there's so much fruit inside me. I'm just filled with fruit."
John Mark Caton: I want you to know, you might get by with that when you're talking about loving God with all your mind. You might get by with that loving God with all your heart, but you are not getting by with that loving God with all your strength. Why? Because strength is bearing fruit externally. All right? What do I do? Look at the analogy he gives. In order that we might bear fruit for God.
John Mark Caton: Let me ask you a question. If you came every Sunday for the next 24 Sundays and we, one of the things that we have to do before we got a CO is we got to have things dry up and we got to plant trees in certain places. Let's say that we went out there and planted a tree, and all of a sudden it went through the winter, there was nothing. It was just the same size. It was just sticks, and no leash, no fruit, no nothing. Then next year, and next year, and next year, and next year, and next year, and next year, next year, nothing. How many of you at a certain point would say that's a dead tree? Oh my goodness.
John Mark Caton: It's the same way with loving God with all of our strength. If next year, or next year, or next year, or next year, next year, next year, next year, next week, and next day, we never see any fruit, you might be dead spiritually. If you're dead physically, that's a bigger problem. Alright? So, here's the idea. God saved you so that you would serve.
John Mark Caton: Here's thought number two, catch onto this. Serving others is serving God. Serving others is serving God. When I serve others. There are folks in here that are life group teachers, and home Group teachers. There are people that just opened the door. There are people that pick up things. There are people that open the door for worship and hand you a creed guide. Guess what they're doing? They're serving God, and when they are ... Excuse me. How are they serving God? By serving others?
John Mark Caton: What is Paul saying? Colossians 3:23, put it up on the screen. He says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord." Then jump down. He says, "It is the Lord Christ you are serving." In other words, when you are serving somebody else, whether it's in children's ministry, or parking ministry, or greeters, or hosting, or you're a life group teacher, you're serving somewhere, whatever it is. When you are serving others, you are in fact serving God.
John Mark Caton: What did Jesus say in Matthew 25:40? Put it up on the screen here. He says, The King will reply, "Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me." Serving God is serving others.
John Mark Caton: Now, here's number three. You're ready? Serving God guarantees my life won't be wasted. Serving God is the only way I can guarantee that my life won't be wasted. Man, and I hope today that I can bring some folks perhaps if you're struggling with this idea, back into focus. You've heard me say this and this is one of my sensitive emotional areas. You've heard me say this over and over again. It just breaks my heart and we had it again. When we hear of people who are taking their life or almost taking their life.
John Mark Caton: Let me tell you, part of the reason for that is I believe that we are raising a generation or a couple of generations who all they focus on is self, and because all they think about, "Man, if I'm not popular, if I'm not this, or if I'm not that." and guess what? They're looking at music stars, and Hollywood stars, and people who they're killing themselves, and from an earthly perspective, they've got all the money you could possibly want. They've got fame most of us will never have, but what do they do? They consider their selves, their lives wasted and they end it. Why? Because they've totally forgotten this principle that serving God is the only way to guarantee your life's not wasted.
John Mark Caton: Man, let me tell you what, if all I do is spend my life serving me, serving me, getting stuff, collecting stuff, at the end of the day, I'm going to know that my life was wasted.
John Mark Caton: What did the Apostle Paul say in 1 Corinthians 15? Put it up on the screen. He says, "Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm in your faith." He says, "Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to what?" Everybody say, the work of the Lord. What do we give ourselves to? The work of the Lord. How do we do the work of the Lord? With our strength, with our dune mas, with our power that can be seen externally. Why would I do that? Because you know that your labor in the Lord will not be in vain.
John Mark Caton: Here's what I know. Probably my next purchase, I will either sell, trash, throwaway, or destroy. Always going to be that way. The next pair of pants, the next shoes, the next shirt. A lot of what I do is just going to be wasted. The only guarantee I have on this earth is this; as a believer who has been saved to serve, when I have my energy focused on working for God, it will not be in vain. It won't be wasted.
John Mark Caton: Here's the beauty. Since it won't be wasted, here's what I know. Serving God is earning me at the same time, rewards in all of eternity. See, that's why it's not going to be wasted. When I serve God here, and serve God here, and serve God here, and serve God here, I may not get rich here, but there will come a day when I take my last breath on this earth, and I will journey into the gates of heaven. When I journey into the gates of Heaven, and I'm just going to put it in a very basic way, I'm going to get a high five from Jesus and a bonus check from God. Now that part's not in scripture, so don't go look for that. Where is that about the high five with Jesus, and a bonus check from God? It's not said exactly that way, but even that, what that's saying?
John Mark Caton: When I work in the Lord, I please God and I earn for myself what? Rewards in heaven. Look at it in John 12:26, and I could give you 100. Jesus said this, "Whoever serves me must follow me." That's a part of, I'm saved to serve, and, "Where I am, my servant will also be." Then notice what he says, "My father will honor the one who serves me." What's God going to do for the one who serves Jesus? He's going to honor us.
John Mark Caton: Look at Matthew 25:21. Notice what it says, "The master replied," You remember the story? There was a wealthy landowner that was about to go on a journey, called his servants in. Gave them some money, and them some money, and them some money and said, "I'm going to go away. You invested, take care of it." What happened? The one who had a certain mount, doubled it, one had another amount, double it, the one had another mount, buried it and wasted it. The reality, and that's why I'm not even giving the numbers in the story. It doesn't matter about the one who had the most, and one who had the middle, and one had the least. The point was, what did we do? What did they do with what the master gave him when he left?
John Mark Caton: So, he came back. Two of the three had done well, one of them buried it. Notice what it says in Matthew 25. His master replied, "Well done good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge in many things. Come and share into your master's happiness." That's the beauty of it. Listen, I know that when I serve God because I'm serving God by serving others, that God takes notice. I'm ultimately serving Jesus, and when I serve Jesus, I will get a reward.
John Mark Caton: Here's number five. Are you ready? It's just a string straight down, all the way down. Serving God with all my strength is the ultimate path to true greatness. It's the ultimate path to true greatness. See, the reality of it is in the world scheme of things, everybody thinks of an organizational chart kind of like a pyramid, and everybody wants to be that person on top where everybody serves them. I want you to know the beauty of God's kingdom is it's flipped over. That we want to be at the bottom of the heap. Why? Because, the more we serve others more honored by God.
John Mark Caton: Look what Paul said in 1 Timothy 1. He said, "I thank Christ Jesus, Our Lord who has given me ..." Everybody say the word strength. Now notice what he says, "... has given me strength." Every person in here has already been given by God all the strength you need to love him with all your strength.
John Mark Caton: Guys, that means that if you don't get the part about loving God with all your heart, you can love him with all your strength. Guys, if you don't think you can love God with all your mind, you can still love him with all your strength. I love what Paul says, who has given me. It's already been done. It's in there, "That he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service." Notice again, strength and service connected.
John Mark Caton: Here's your opportunity to love God with all your heart, and here's the beauty, you're not far away. You say, "Why pastor?" Because the ministry fair is right out there. Let me pray and then you can go.
John Mark Caton: Father, thank you so much for this day. Thank you for our church, our congregation, our worship team, our tech team, all the volunteers who have served so well today. Let us honor you. Let us love you with all of our strength. In Jesus name we pray, Amen and Amen.