Fully Alive (1/18/15)

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Sermons, Urban Promise | 0 comments

Marcus Bell

Marcus Bell

The sermon on January 18 was given by Marcus Bell, who is the director of the Spirit Camp after school program at Urban Promise. (Camden, NJ).  Marcus shared his experience and challenged us to gain a fuller life by giving and serving.  His  scripture was on James 1:26-27.

Click the “Play” button to begin listening to the sermon, then scroll down to follow along…

 (Note:  The scripture was read by Pastor Jim)


James 1:26-27

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.


When do you feel most alive???

When do you feel  the most alive?  When do you feel like you’re connected to where you’re supposed to be?  What are you doing when life seems to be at it’s best???

For some of us, it may be things like:

  • Watching TV
  • Working in your garden
  • Fishing

But God has invested in us by supplying us with a certain number of hours and a certain level of gifts and resources.  How are you spending them?  Are you spending them on God’s behalf or are you spending them for your own selfish ideas?

For Marcus,  the best and most fulfilling time of his day is between 3 and 6PM.  That’s when he’s  with “his kids.”  Teaching middle schoolers and helping them to grow into men and women who will return the “favor” is the most fulfilling thing he does.


Mark 8:34-37

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.    If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.    And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?     Is anything worth more than your soul?   NLT

Do I have to die to make this verse true?  No.  The challenge isn’t so much the physical state, but our mind needs to change; to walk away from selfish things.  To not think about ME.  We’re too inward focused.

Did you know that there is now a device on the market known as a Selfie Stick?” You can clip your phone on to it, extend the arm, and then take a picture of yourself.

selfie-StickCompanies are making money selling a product that people use to take a picture of themselves.  Maybe it can be  a useful  thing, but isn’t this a commentary on how focused we have become on “Self?” 

Jesus’ words that we can only gain true meaningful life by “giving away” Self, clash with our own mindset that we must set goals, be focused on the task, and find satisfaction in what we can accomplish for ourselves.  Our goals must be in sync with God’s will, otherwise they become hindrances.  Our satisfaction comes when we serve and  give to others.

Romans 12:2 says:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

God calls us to a new way of thinking.  Our minds need to change and we need to look for ways to serve others first; instead of looking for opportunities to feed our own desires.  At the end  of life, when we stand before our Creator, He will ask us “how did you spend the time I gave you in order to serve others”?  He won’t ask us about the time we spent on ourselves.

God created us so that we could serve Him.  The only time we’re fully alive is when we’re serving God by helping others.  When we stand before God, what excuses might we have:

  • I was busy earning a living
  • I was busy preparing for retirement
  • I was sick
  • I was never much of a speaker

All of these excuses will ring totally hollow in the Light of God.  God will tell us, “I created you to serve. What part of that didn’t you understand?”


Why are you doing this?  You’re wasting your time!

To serve, we need to be called.  The world will challenge our motives.  We can’t just think that we’re doing something just to be “doing good.”  We can’t earn salvation… by God’s grace we  know His voice and He calls us into service.

God calls us to serve.  It might be to write a letter, say a kind word, or even to teach a group of teenagers in Camden.  In John 10:7, Jesus told us that He is the gate for the sheep.  In verses 3-4 He said:

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.   When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

If we are led by the Spirit, we will know His voice and we’ll recognize His call.  Don’t take the call  to service lightly.  It is only when we take advantage of these opportunities to serve- to “give ourselves away”- that we can be truly alive.



Grace Kier (PUMC Missions Chair) & Marcus Bell (Urban Promise)

Grace Kier (PUMC Missions Chair) & Marcus Bell (Urban Promise)

Marcus Bell (Urban Promise) checks out our missions bulletin board

Marcus Bell (Urban Promise) checks out our missions bulletin board









 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment…


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