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Chapter 2: Jesus' Book of Success

rhythm guitar

BIRDIE –
“Nobody wants to play rhythm guitar behind Jesus. Everybody wants to be the lead singer in the band.” The Oak Ridge Boys made this song famous in 1983 and it is one of my most favorite sayings.

REBECCA –
That phrase says it all – very few people desire to be in the background doing the work with no glory.

BIRDIE –
Yet, in the Jesus Book of Success: Top Ten list of the qualifications of a successful person, servanthood ranks #1.

REBECCA –
Mark 9:35, “ And he (Jesus) sat down and called the twelve. And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘If anyone would be FIRST, he must be last and servant of all.’”

Wow! That’s just what all of us wanted to hear! Apparently, to be successful in God’s eyes, we better understand what it means to “play rhythm guitar behind Jesus.”

 

BIRDIE –
Rhythm guitarists are referred to as the unspoken heroes of the band because they bridge the gap between the percussion and other instruments and they solidify the chord progression which forms the backbone of the melody.

That’s a spot on description of servanthood: An unsung hero who holds a team together and whose service becomes the backbone of any task.

REBECCA –
I imagine that only a few of you have ever heard of Joanna and Susanna. Admittedly they sound like twin sisters who head up the preschool program at the local church.

BIRDIE –
Though they are talked about in the Bible their names don’t often come up in sermons and speeches, but these two little-known ladies “played rhythm guitar behind Jesus.”

REBECCA–
Joanna and Susanna are specifically named as having traveled with Jesus and his male disciples.

BIRDIE –
Don’t believe it?

Luke 8:1-3, “Soon afterwards, He (Jesus) began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others....”

REBECCA –
Fast forward to the crucifixion – by this time most of the 12 were in hiding. But Luke 23:49-55 says that Joanna, Susanna and the band of women stood by Jesus until Joseph of Arimathea carried his crucified body to Joseph’s personal tomb.

BIRDIE –
POINT 1: A SERVANT OF GOD STRENGTHENS AND ENCOURAGES OTHERS.

Joanna and Susanna followed in life and in death.
You may not have thought much about the word “follow,” but it means to “come after or to travel behind.”

Someone who is behind you literally has your back.
Someone who is behind you can see your needs and respond quickly to them.
Someone who is behind you can pick you up if you stumble.

REBECCA –
Joanna and Susanna traveled with Jesus and his disciples to help.
Maybe they cooked and mended.
Perhaps they organized or monitored the crowds.
Perchance they brought Jesus a cup of cool water after a long walk or time of teaching.

jesus water

BIRDIE –
The work of a servant, after all, can be summed up in that final point that most of us find at the conclusion of our job descriptions: AND WHATEVER ELSE IS NEEDED!

REBECCA –
They didn’t care if their names were recorded with The Twelve. It didn’t matter if they got to write any books or heal any invalids. They were happy to be there to strengthen and encourage those who would write the books and heal the invalids!

BIRDIE –
They weren’t there to be FIRST. They were there to be LAST.

REBECCA –
POINT 2: A SERVANT OF GOD POINTS PEOPLE TO GOD NOT SELF.

Joanna and Susanna knew where to look for Jesus and pointed others there.

Luke 23:54-56, “It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.”

BIRDIE –
Again, they followed. This time they followed because they knew somebody had to know how to find Jesus!

REBECCA –
Think about it! If those women had not stayed and watched where Jesus’ crucified body was taken, none of those close to Jesus would have even known where to look on that glorious first Easter.

first easter

BIRDIE –
A real servant is as comfortable out of the spotlight as in it, because a servant is ultimately trying to light the way to Jesus.

REBECCA –
My daddy used to quote Harry S. Truman saying: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

truman quote

BIRDIE –
That’s servanthood.
If we, like Joanna and Susanna, can show someone where to find Jesus, who cares who gets the credit? That’s like having the defensive tackle complain that the quarterback got all the credit after just winning the Super Bowl.
Who cares who gets the credit? The WHOLE TEAM WON!

REBECCA –
POINT 3: A SERANT OF GOD GIVES SACRIFICIALLY.

Joanna and Susanna gave out of their own means.
Luke 8:3b “...and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”

BIRDIE –
I don’t know about you, but I just never really thought about Jesus as needing donors to the ministry! But he did!

REBECCA –
Imagine Jesus walking up to a marketplace merchant to order a falafel and Joanna steps up saying, “I’ll get His!”

BIRDIE –
Funny as it sounds, that’s pretty much what we all do whenever we give out of our own private means to support the cause of Christ.

REBECCA –
Servanthood = Sacrifice.
Always.

BIRDIE –
Money. Time. Talent. Labor.
No concern for thanks, recognition or pay back. A servant appreciates it, but doesn’t need it.

REBECCA –
What ever happened to selfless service? Doing something for nothing?

BIRDIE –
When feeling really good about what you did, well, that was enough?

REBECCA –
From the greatest leader to the timid saint, having a SERVANT HEART supersedes both position and personality in Jesus’ Book of Success.

BIRDIE –
If a survey of Bible-thumping Christians were taken, it’s doubtful that anyone would know the names of Joanna and Susanna.
But that was okay with them because they knew - Jesus does.

REBECCA –
And my friend, that’ll preach!

oakridge boys link

###

Let's be honest (Applying Truth to Real Life)

1. What attempts did you make this week to strengthen an / or encourage someone?

2. What specific goal will you set to start TOMORROW to strengthen or encourage someone?

3. If you know how to find Jesus, who specifically have you helped to find him?

4. What do you consider to be your greatest obstacle to having a servant heart?

5. How can that obstacle be removed?

6. What sacrifices do you make for the ministry of Jesus?

7. In the Jesus Book of Success, what advice would Jesus personally give to you regarding being a Servant?

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Chapter 3: A Promise
Chapter 1: A Road Trip to God's Will


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