If you have been paying attention at all the last two Sundays and allowed God to speak to you it has probably been somewhat challenging. In week one, we talked about private worship and how that meant we were to be living sacrifices. We talked about total commitment to God and how living this way would have profound impact in all areas of your life including your family, your work, your relationships, your habits and even your stewardship.
Last week we came back to look at public worship or how we would live our lives if we were living before the face of God or hand in hand with God each moment of our days. Public worship means saying no to this worlds system and yes to God’s way of living no matter how different or difficult this may be. This will call for some radical steps including how we let media affect our minds, pursuing holiness instead of happiness and intentionally allowing God to renew our minds.
The call to authentic worship is intimidating and challenging. It may cause fear, guilt, and a sense of feeling overwhelmed. You may feel discouraged yet somehow challenged and hungry to see change in your relationship with God. Some of us may even feel resentment and resistance to this message.
All those feelings are understandable. Can I just tell you that I have been thinking about all these people we read about in the Bible like David, Moses and Ruth, Nehemiah, Daniel and Peter and John? There was nothing more that resided in them then resides in you. It is not any harder for you or easier for them and the risk they took was no different than what you and I would face.
Think about the calling of the disciples to follow Jesus. He said come follow Me and James and John left there nets and followed Him. We read that and scan over it like it was something they just had to do. No they really didn’t! There dad was in the boat they were taking care of the nets and they just got up and left it all behind.
What if it wasn’t fishing but some major company today? What if it was some family hardware store that your family had built up and Jesus says follow me and you just walk away? What if it were some local employer like Owens or Licking Memorial Hospital or Longaberger? These are major employers in our area. That is not unlike what these normal guys did.
They walked out on their retirement! They lost their stock options. This message is not for someone else, somewhere, someday at a later date but it is for us right now where we are living today.
What is the driving question of this series? What does God want from me?
He wants people who will follow Him completely. You will never know or experience the Christfollowing life in its power and fullness until you get serious about your faith.
There are two response that I believe Romans 12:1-2 bring us to:
1. Resistance: Some of you that have been hearing the messages the last two weeks have felt real genuine resistance in your heats. In your opinion you are doing just fine where you are and by inaction and not engaging with God’s word you are stating very clearly that you have no intention of getting close to God.
2. Fearful hesitancy: You have tried something like this before and you really are afraid that you will blow it. You really don’t like failure and so you are thinking why even try. At the heart of your inaction is fear.
Let me say something to those two groups of people for a moment. To those who think you are okay where you are and to those who are hesitant and fearful God empowered the writer to address us in verse 3. In verses 4 and 5 we learn that how to work through it and in verse 6 through 8 we come to understand that there is supernatural power available to those who will ask for it.
The verses we are going to talk about today are for both groups of people. The call to total commitment and radical transformation cannot be done alone. It is impossible in fact. Every command in the New Testament is in second person plural.
In the south if you want one person to do something you say, “Will you come with me. . .” but if you want to address more than one or everybody you say, “Will you-all come with me. . .”
Every command in the New Testament is “you-all.” The resources to fulfill this commitment and call go beyond prayer and bible study and even God’s Spirit. We do it in community. God never expected you to do it alone.
“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.
So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Romans 12:3-8
In verses 3 the writer says very clearly that this passage is for everyone. “. . .I give each of you this warning.” How many of you know that means that this word found in Romans 12 is for everyone.
1. Our Person: Who we are?
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Routinely you will encounter people in a church body that will say, think and give the impression that they can’t do what God clearly wants them to do. We just read the words ‘Don’t think you are better than you really are.’ Another translation is: Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should. Let me illustrate exactly what that means for you and me.
It means that saying no to God’s will for our life and suggesting that we know better than God what is best for us is thinking you are better than you really are. I will go one step further and tell you that it is arrogance. When you choke on the will of God it is misbelief about who God is and about who you are. Thinking that it is actually an option not to do the will of God no matter how scary or threatening it might be is nothing more than arrogance on our part.
We are told to get an accurate or honest view of ourselves. Measure yourself by the gifts and faith that God has given you.
The greatest disease in the body of Christ is false humility. When you have the gift for something and see a need and do nothing to step up that is devastating to the work of the church. Not everyone has the same gifts and it is only as we work together and you and I bring our gifts together to work with others that we truly function as we were designed.
“I don’t really know if I have anything to bring to the table.” When you know you have gifts in the very area you can see is lacking.
“I don’t know much about church and how it works so I will just sit it out.” That is robbing God and robbing the church of the effectiveness we are called to have as Christ’s body!
For corporate worship the calling of God is for us to fulfill our divine design. Some of us should move to doing something else because we know that what we are doing is not where we are using our gifts the best. There are others within our body that need to rethink where God wants them to be in ministry. Maybe although we are tired and a little bored we need to stay doing what we are doing and ask Him to help us see it for what it is and its importance. And pray that He will give us a renewal of vision.
Do you know that I can’t do what God calls me to do unless you do what God wants you to do?
Who you are is who God designed you to be! It is not your job, or position, or your degrees or anything else. Psalm 139 clearly tells us that God designed us with a clear purpose.
If you want a good healthy self image come to understand that you are precious and valuable in God’s sight. Quit evaluating yourself by reading Seventeen Magazine or Us Weekly or People Magazines, or looking at people on the television. You will drive yourself crazy because you will never measure up this world’s system and you need to come to understand what really matters. Most of the time I find it sadly amusing and bewildering to watch supposed Christfollwers taking their cues on living from this world and the culture around us. I mean what is that about? You are uniquely made by God.
People will either have false humility and not serve in the body or there will always be some who go to the other extreme and try to serve everywhere. For those folks it is like a roller coaster of emotions. They want to get really involved because they love the strokes and affirmation they get from it. They can’t ever say no and they develop a love/hate relationship with the church. They love it love it love it on the one hand but get burned out and disgruntled and mean spirited and hate it hate it hate it on the other.
You do what you do and really it’s because you want to hear how wonderful you are. It’s church co-dependency! When people tell you how good you are or thank you, you have to agree you are pretty wonderful but privately you stew about how they call you all the time or nobody appreciates all that you do or have done. You go through your little resentment parties. Then somebody calls and you jump on board again! You don’t really understand the body of Christ and who He has called you to be! God doesn’t expect you to do everything. There is one Messiah and He came, He left and He is coming back. We don’t need anymore!
Find out who you are! You are special and valued by Christ enough that He died for you and He has something for you to do with your life within the body of Christ. This is true corporate worship. Corporate worship is when we come together to serve in the body of Christ.
2. Our Place: Where do we belong?
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
Diversity: “each part has a special function”
Unity “we are many parts of one body”
Interdependence “we all belong to each other”
I know that these messages the last few weeks have the potential to cause some fear in some of you. There are times when I look at what God is calling me to do personally or even us as a church and I am afraid initially. What if it doesn’t work or how will we pay for it or where will I find the time?
One of my favorite leadership stories from the Old Testament is found in the story of Moses and Joshua. Moses had been this incredible leader who talked directly with God. He would go up the mountain and a cloud would descend and when he was done the cloud would go back up in the sky. Can you imagine what it would be like to follow Moses in leadership? Joshua inherited the job of leading a bunch of people from a follower who was legendary. And now God says in essence there will be no more manna or cloud and fire show and these people who have had a really bad track record of following me are now yours to lead.
When you go to Joshua 1 what do you read over and over?
Don’t be afraid because I will be with you wherever you go. As I was with Moses I will be with you. I will not fail and abandon you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged!
That is what you read in Joshua 1. Why? Because Joshua was experiencing what you and I will deal with when we launch out in obedience to our calling within the body of Christ. He was afraid and overwhelmed but the calling of God was still there as it is for every one of you in this room who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
When you and I start honestly dealing with being fully surrendered to Christ and we think about our time and our talents and out resources being surrendered to Him we will be scared to death at first. I mean when you really think about some things you would need to get cleared up in your life, some restitutions that would have to be made and how that would all play out you will be afraid. You may have of confess to some other folks and come clean and what keeps you from taking these steps is nothing more than fear.
This is the life of an authentic worshiping Christfollower!
God helps us overcome our fear by using the people around us. Everything about following Christ is about the body. It’s not about ‘Am I going to be a part of the church body or not?’ It is about obedience of disobedience.
It is about being a participant or a spectator. George Barna wrote a book about people he seems to champion who say they don’t need the church anymore. They can just go out in nature and read the Bible on their own. To be honest this opinion is one of the most selfish and arrogant and misled schools of thought I have heard in a long time. Everything in the Bible points to the fact that you need the church with all of its imperfections of which you are a part. You need to be in the body and playing a functional role or else that person sitting next to you today or in your small group or the person you serve with cannot function without you playing your role!
When somebody starts down this trail with me, I will acknowledge that I suppose they can go do their own thing but the church is a body and with out them we can never fulfill our full design.
We are a puzzle and without your piece we will never complete it.
The fact that God called me to come to this church in 2001 is a story in itself. It is a piece of my own puzzle.
Where do you fit in? What role are you going to play? You see this is corporate worship!
You can’t do it alone. I can’t do it alone. Do you have people in the body of Christ that you are doing life with?
I believe in my heart of hearts that God is calling some of us to a new level with Him. Some of you are thinking that you really wish you could believe what I have been talking about but you are quite sure you have nothing to offer or bring to the table.
3. Our Passion: What do we bring to the table?
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:6-8
Whatever gifts you have are a result of God’s grace. (In His grace. . .)
The average Christfollower is not serving from the giftedness or strengths but from whoever cornered them in the foyer after the service.
Do you know your gifts and strengths? Are you putting them into play? Are you using them for God? You will never be fulfilled as a person and a Chrsitfollower until you surrender who God made you for His use.
Here’s the deal. God made you and I and He places us where we are to serve Him.
He is a demanding God but has the right to be because He made us.
He demands that we give Him back the uniqueness He has given us by engaging in His work.
He longs for us to say no to this world even with all of its pleasures and say yes to Him.
He longs for us to be consistent in private and public worship.
You and I will say there is no way I can do this and God will say that’s right.
He developed a plan so that no one would have to do it alone. We are to be a functioning body.
When the body of Christ is working the way the body of Christ was designed to work there is nothing more beautiful or powerful in the entire world.
Let me talk to you from my heart today. . .
You are sitting today in the middle of an incredible story. It is the story of Newark Church of the Nazarene.
The next step is so crucial and critical that everything we have enjoyed and felt good about will be lost without it.
Discipleship and following Christ on purpose with no reservations is where our biggest investment of time, talent and resources has to go in the future.
A parable is told of a community of ducks waddling off to duck church one Sunday to hear their duck preacher. After they waddled into the duck sanctuary, the service began and the duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks wings with which to fly. He pounded the pulpit with his beak and said, With these wings, there is nowhere we ducks can not go! There is no God-given task we ducks cannot accomplish! With these wings we no longer need walk through life. We can soar high in the sky! Shouts of Amen!¨ were quacked throughout the duck congregation. The duck preacher concluded his message by exclaiming, With our wings we can fly through life! WE......CAN.....FLY!!!!¨ More ducks quacked out loud AMENS! in response. Every duck loved the service. In fact all the ducks that were present commented on what a wonderfully convicting message they had heard from their duck preacher.... and then they left the church and waddled all the way home. APPLICATION Too often We waddle away from worship the same way we waddled in.... Unchanged.