This is the manuscript from the message I preached this past weekend at the Kingstowne Location. Romans 12:1-8...Let us get up and serve in the church.
SERVING TOGETHER TO KEEP THE CHURCH MOVING:
We are at a very unique church that is a small part of God’s greater Kingdom. Two I love about NCC, we have great vision. We have a 2020 vision for 20 locations. Our locations are one part of the larger church body. We are unique members in the greater family of NCC.
As we launch more and more locations we need people to step in and serve. It doesn’t allow us to get comfortable or lazy
Second, thing I love about NCC, is the great and amazing people. We have some the most gifted, smartest, creative people here at NCC. As individuals, we are part of the greater family of NCC, we all have unique roles and opportunities to play here at National Community Church.
It takes great people serving together to keep NCC’s vision moving forward.
This weekend all of the Campus Pastors will be preaching from Romans 12 with the theme of SERVING TOGETHER TO KEEP THE CHURCH MOVING!
Going to TC WILLIAMS High School was awesome for me…The made a great movie about my school – Remember the Titans. The school has a great sports program and great history of State Championships in Football, Track and Field, Cross Country and basketball…For those that don’t know TC Williams has an amazing Crew team (Rowing) , actually they are nationally recognized as one of the best Crew team in the nation. Several of my classmates actually have gone on to row on the US National Crew team in the Olympics.
Our most successful teams were our 8 man and 8 woman crew teams…they rocked all kinds of titles from 89-92 and beyond…little known fact my amazing wife Lora actually rowed in High School for a rival school that was not that good, West Springfield.
The athleticism and teamwork that goes into rowing is so important. Actually, to row it is some of the most intensive training and if the team of 8 isn’t working together in synchronicity you are going to have lots of trouble and the boat will go in circle of go totally off course.
Every position in a boat is just as important as the other. No one position is less. It takes the full team working together to keep the boat moving.
Let me excite you a little bit about the finer details of a Crew/Rowing team in an eight man boat and share with why each person has an equally important and necessary roles to play to help the team to succeed.
The "stroke" is the rower closest to the stern of the boat. Everyone else follows the stroke's timing - placing their blades in and out of the water at the same time as stroke. The strokeman can communicate with the coxswain (when in a stern coxed boat) to give feedback on how the boat feels. During a race, it is the stroke's responsibility to establish the crew's rate (number of strokes per minute) and rhythm. (In coxed boats, the coxswain will assist the stroke in establishing the rate). Because of the great responsibilities, the rower in the stroke seat will usually be one of the most technically sound members of the boat.
The next rower ('seven' in an eight) sits directly behind stroke and is typically both fit and skilled: this rower acts as a buffer between the stroke and the rest of the crew. They closely follow the rhythm set by the strokeman and help transmit this rhythm to the rest of the boat, and particularly to the rowers rowing on the same side as seven, since rowers tend to look at the blades on their side of the boat to check their timing. If the strokeman increases or decreases the stroke rate it is essential that seven follows this change so that it is translated to the rest of the crew.
The middle rowers of a crew (numbers 2 and 3 in a four, and 3, 4, 5 and 6 in an eight) are normally the most powerful and heaviest rowers, colloquial known as the Fuel Tank, Engine Room, Power House or Meat Wagon. The boat pitches and yaws less in the middle, and the oarsmen there have less effect on these movements, being closer to the centre of mass and centre of buoyancy. Therefore the rowers in the middle of the boat do not have to be as technically sound or reactive to the movements of the boat, and can focus more on pulling as hard as they can. It is common practice among crews to put the most technically proficient rowers at the bow and stern and the physically strongest and heaviest rowers in the centre.
The rower closest to the bow of the boat, is usually called either "bow" or the "bowman". In coxless boats, the bowman is often responsible for giving calls to the crew. The bow pair of bow and "two", who are the two rowers closest to the boat's bow, are more responsible for the stability (called "set") and the direction of the boat than any other pair of rowers, and are often very technical rowers. The bow of a stern-coxed boat is subject to the greatest amount of pitching, requiring the bow pair to be adaptable and quick in their movements.
Boats that are bow coxed rely on communication between the bowman and the cox - as the cox cannot see boats coming up from behind. Bowmen tend to be the smallest of the rowers in the boat.
In a sense each member on the team has to work together as ONE unified BODY, no one is more important than the other and each has to follow one another.
In much the same way, the Church is called to work together to be completely effective in our purpose to serve those around us. We are called to unity and to each play our own unique and equally important roles in ministry to keep the Church moving forward.
That is the truth that is being taught in Romans 12:1-5.
When Jesus was here on earth, He ministered in a physical body but since He has returned to heaven, He has ministered thru a spiritual body the body of Christ the Church! v. 5 members=body parts! He has no hands but ours!/feet/voice
Let us start reading Romans 12:1-2:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
First thing, we must recognize from these first two passages in Romans 12 of Scripture is this: that we must fully express our surrender to God. Before God wants your service He wants a guarantee that He really has you
1 - Our first obligation in serving together to keep the church moving is to completely surrender to the Lord! That’s why vv. 1-2 are attached to 3-8. God cannot use us in the body of Christ until we make a complete surrender of our selves and our gifts to Him.
What do you have to give? You! Your uniqueness! Your talents! Your Skills and the God given gifts that through the Holy Spirit that every single one of you here this morning has.
Whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible you should always ask what it’s there for. When we come to chapter 12 of Romans, Paul is making a shift from doctrine to practice.
He follows a similar pattern in the books of Ephesians and Colossians when he establishes doctrine in the first part of the letter and then moves to application in the second half.
Paul never fails to give practical applications based on the doctrine discussed. A Christian cannot separate doctrine from duty. Learning must be translated into living.
THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS NOT DESCRIPTIVE, IT IS ABOUT ACTION! ---Love God and Love Others!!!
Theology is never meant to be cold and lifeless. It must always have a practical application. It’s as if he’s saying, “Based on everything that I’ve just said, this is what you now need to put into practice.”
The word worship in Romans 12:1, is the Greek word latreia, which means “divine service” context of Hebrew temple worship – our offering in the Church body.
When we offer ourselves in acts of service to God, it is worship. It is holy and pleasing when we offer all of ourselves, heart, mind and soul to spiritual acts of “divine service.”
What an amazing way to pursue God!
Based on all that God has done, Paul says, “I urge you, brothers…” Even though Paul could have used a command here, he instead makes an appeal. He does a similar thing in Ephesians 4:1: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
This word means to “call near” or “to invite.” Notice that he refers to them as “brothers,” indicating his affection for them as members of God’s family. He’s begging believers, not unbelievers, to do something that has not yet been done.
He makes this plea “in view of God’s mercy.” The original word used here for “mercy” is actually plural and refers to God’s multitude of mercies. He is not merciful just once but again and again. He is consistently and constantly full of mercy. John Calvin once said that we will never worship with a sincere heart or serve God with unbridled zeal until we properly understand how much we are indebted to God’s mercy. God has demonstrated so much mercy to us that we can’t help but respond by fully surrendering our lives to Him.
It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t say, “In light of God’s grace” but instead focuses on mercy. Why is that? God’s grace is demonstrated when we get what we don’t deserve, whereas His mercy is what keeps us from getting what we do deserve. Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
We can’t begin to see the Church moving until we come to a place of COMPLETE SURRENDER.
It will do us no good at all to deal with spiritual gifts to think about what our gifts are, until we have grappled with this issue of complete surrender.
Paul then gives us three ways to fully express our surrender to God:
1. Offer your body. We are urged, in view of the many mercies of God “to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.”
This word “offer” is a technical term that was used to describe the bringing and presenting of an animal for sacrifice on an altar.
To “offer” means, “to present once and for all.” In the Old Testament worship included sacrifice. A live animal was brought to the priest and the owner would lay hands on the beast to symbolically say, “This animal takes my place.” The animal was then killed and the blood was sprinkled upon the altar
This idea of a “living sacrifice” must have been a novel idea to the Jews of that day. This was something they had not heard of before, except perhaps in the case of Abraham offering Isaac upon the altar. T
hey were used to offering dead sacrifices. Once a sacrifice is offered to God, you can’t take it back. When we are called to present our “bodies” to the Lord, we are exhorted to offer our total being to Him, not just bits and pieces.
God does not just want to be a “part” of our lives; He wants us to be completely committed to Him. As someone has said, the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar!
God isn’t interested in beasts today; He’s looking for bodies of believers who will be sold out to Him. He wants us to be living sacrifices, not dead offerings. When an offering is made to God, it was set apart and was completely devoted.
Paul continues by saying that our life offering is to be “holy and pleasing to God.” Sacrifices were to be without blemish or defect.
In like manner, we are to offer to God our best. When we give our best to Him, it will be pleasing, or agreeable to Him. This is then our “spiritual act of worship.”
Worship is not just what we do here on Sunday mornings it is a 24/7 practice.
True worship is the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices to Him and living holy and pleasing lives, every day of the week.
2. Offer your mind. Verse 1 calls for a decisive commitment to fully surrender.
Verse 2 tells us how we can maintain that commitment by renewing our mind and not following the fashion and pattern of the world.
The world’s way of doing things is built on selfishness, not selflessness. The tense of this verse indicates that we must stop conforming, implying that this is something that we are doing. I
f we’re serious about surrendering fully to Christ, we must focus on being transformed, not being conformed to those things the world values. He who controls the mind, owns the person.
The world centers around me, myself and I!!! Our culture more worries about going after the AMERICAN DREAM than GOING AFTER GOD’S DREAM
The word “conformed” is the word that we get our English word “scheme” from.
It’s sometimes translated “fashioned.” Paul is urging us to stop being pushed into the fashion of the world. Sometimes we are so conformed to the world that there is little noticeable difference between Christians and non-Christians.
A conformist is afraid to be different and feels a need to be like everyone else. A Christian is not supposed to be a chameleon!
Some of you are facing some incredible temptations right now. You feel yourself being pulled to conform. Don’t give in! Unfortunately, some of us have internalized the world’s values and fashions so much that we don’t even recognize it anymore.
It’s like walking into this theater when it is completely dark in the middle of the day. When you first go in, everything is really dark. But after a while, you can see normally, that is, until you walk back outside.
Some of you are in a similar situation today. If you spend enough time conforming to the world, you become so accustomed to the darkness that you think it’s now normal.
The word “transformed” refers to an inner change. We get the word “metamorphosis” from this Greek word.
A metamorphosis is not something we can do on our own. If we present ourselves as living sacrifices and reflect upon the mercies of God as evidenced in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will transform our minds.
It is by the renewing of our minds - trading the old pattern of selfishness for the new pattern of Christ’s kingdom values that we are transformed.
I like how the Living Bible translates Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a newness in all you do and think.”
3. Offer your will. Notice the last part of verse 2: “Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Isn’t it great that God allows us to test and approve his will for us? God will not force us into anything. He does not dominate our wills, but allows us to choose His will.
But it’s no use sitting around waiting (KAVA – Waiting does not mean sitting still waiting. It means like a waiter taken an order or in military terms to get our orders to go somewhere. Isaiah 40:41 --- The Holy Spirit helps us to decide our orders as we wait on the Lord) to have the will of God revealed to us. This is an active verb.
We learn His will by doing. When you wonder what God’s will is for your life, the first place to start is by living out Romans 12:1-2.
Until you offer Him your body, your mind, and your will, you won’t understand His good, pleasing, and perfect will. LET’S RECEIVE OUR ORDERS AND DO!
Have you presented yourself to Him in complete surrender? The answer to this question will determine your ability to tap into God’s limitless resources to allow you to serve effectively.
After vv. 1-2 comes 6 verses about spiritual gifts.
This passage of scripture utterly destroys the idea that a Christian can be committed to Christ but not active in church/love the Lord, but not obey Him!
2. Secondly, before you can serve together to keep the church moving you must have a proper estimate of yourself. We must look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves.
LET US READ NEXT 3 VERSES:
ROMANS 12:3-5 - 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
How do you begin evaluating yourself and have proper estimate of who you are?
1. Discern who you are (3). Thinking more highly of ourselves than we should is one of the greatest problems in serving God. The Roman church may have struggled with the problem of self-importance because they were located at the heart of the Roman Empire. That reminds me of the man who was driving down the expressway in rush hour traffic when he received a call from his wife on his cell phone, “Honey, you need to be careful driving home because I just heard on the news that there’s a dork driving in the wrong direction on the same road you’re on.” To which the husband responded, “It’s not just one; there are hundreds of them!”
Have you ever been around an individual who always thinks they’re right? How does it feel to be around someone who boasts and brags about his or her abilities? It’s not a good feeling, is it? Never forget this truth: God uses us simply because He wants to. We’re to avoid thinking too highly of ourselves and we’re to avoid thinking too low of ourselves. We do that by focusing on God’s grace. Everything we are and everything we have is by grace. Let’s skewer our superior attitudes.
2. Celebrate diversity (4). We must also remember that just as the different parts of our bodies have different functions, so too, in the body of Christ, each of us have been given different gifts and roles. We can’t do it alone. If God’s purposes are to be accomplished and His church is to grow, everyone of us is important. Nobody is a nobody in the Body of Christ. While no one can do everything, everyone can do something.
There are so many ways that we are different from each other. That’s how God designed us. A fully devoted follower of Christ understands and celebrates this variety in the Body of Christ. Let me use the acrostic S-H-A-P-E in order to demonstrate this diversity. This is an idea taken from Rick warren’s book Purpose Driven Life.
Spiritual Gifts (what you do)
Heart (where you do it)
Personality (how you do it)
Experiences (our spiritual resume)
I’m shaped differently than you, and you’re put together differently than I am. And that’s a good thing.
3. Recognize our dependency (5). While we’re uniquely designed, we’ve been made to function in community with one another.
Each of us belongs to one another. I might be strong in the area of my gift, but I am weak in the areas where others have been gifted. Thus, I must minister to others out of my strength, and be dependent upon the ministry of the rest of the body in my areas of weakness.
In order to understand our shape for ministry, we must stop thinking individualistically and begin to think corporately. We cannot look at ourselves as an island, independent of all others. We must see ourselves as fully functioning members of the body of Christ, with certain gifts that are necessary to the equipping and ministry of the entire church. There is individuality within the body, because there are many members, all with a different role to play. But there is no room for individualism, for we are inter-dependent.
We must rely on other members of the body just as they must rely on us.
Let us check out a Parallel passage in I Corinthians 12:20-27
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
WE NEED EACH OTHER! WE ARE DEPENDENT ON OTHERS IN OUR CHURCH FAMILY.
Experts tell us that 85% of the success of people in the workplace is directly related to their interpersonal relationships.
Bad attitudes hinder good relationships. Some of the most gifted people in the world struggle to get along with others.
Let’s determine to follow the example of Christ by serving people and by considering others better than we are.
Did you know that you belong to the person sitting next to you?
We’re in the boat together with each of us doing different roles. We are all oarsmen/women.
I am huge personal believer that no gift should be elevated above another and at the same time no gift should ever be minimalized or marginalized.
Don’t Minimize your gift
I have observed that the person who constantly belittles themselves, which is false-humility, a form of pride!
Some people do this because they are fishing for compliments.
Some people minimize their gift to get out of using it!
Some genuinely think they cannot be used.
You may find your gift is not as public as someone on stage, it may be behind the scenes, but don’t minimize the importance of it, or you insult your God who gave it to you!
You may not be a leader of a ministry but be a great follower. The great leaders are the greatest followers.
Little is much when God is in it!
Many times it is those menial or little things that WE THINK aren’t important makes the biggest impact. Perhaps it is serving Cotton Candy to Kids at a Movie Night , or crushing some ice for Snow Cones that can soften someone’s heart or putting a movie screen up so a family can sit down together and enjoy family friendly movie. Our perceived little things make the biggest differences.
And though unappreciated, may encourage someone to check out church for the first time or may keep guest returning until they come to faith!
Humility will keep us from misplacing our gift
I have seen people come along who aren’t willing to serve unless they have the title or they are the leader.
Jesus was the greatest among leaders and he got down with a towel and washed feet. Jesus showed complete humility with his life on Earth, not demand a title or position. Not being born in a palace in Rome but being born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Love Matthew 20:26-28 - 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Stay humble, grow, learn and serve where you are at with the gifts you have been given. Become a 360 degree leader, you can lead from the bottom and the middle.
The question in testing our motivation and humility we need to ask is this: Are we working for the glory of God or the praise of men.
Yes, true humility will keep us from magnifying/minimizing/misplacing our gifts.
YES!!! God has given National Community a couple of precious gifts: Great Vision and Great People!
We can’t accomplish what God wants to do without Great People!!!
We all need to focus clearly on who we are, why God left us here, and what gifts He’s given us, then we need to get together, put it all together, diverse body parts all put together into the body of Christ!
He has no hands but ours! He wants to use us together to keep the church moving in the Great Vision that has been given.
Then, whatever gifts you have, whether public or not, prominent or not, be prepared to use your gifts for the glory of God!
Don’t get puffed up by your own importance and don’t take yourself out of the boat by thinking you don’t matter. We need each other because we belong to each other.
God wants to use you, he has called you to service.
Service doesn’t mean anything unless we are advancing the Kingdom of God.
3. Finally, commit to serving together to keep the Church moving forward by Completely Engage in Service
We need to fully express our surrender to God. Then we must cultivate our gifts to build up the church.
Finally, we’re to completely engage in service.
We see this in verses 6-8: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
This list of seven gifts is only a partial list.
There are many others that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4, and Ephesians 4.
Suffice it to say this morning that a spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to express our faith effectively for the strengthening of someone else’s faith. The Church moves forward when we strengthen one another’s faith
NCC is a vibrant church because so many of you are using your spiritual gifts and it will be even stronger when even more of us put our gifts into action. A church that does not value gift-based ministry will not grow to maturity.
When Mother Teresa visited Australia several years ago, a young man was assigned to be her guide during her stay. He was thrilled at the prospect of being so close to such a godly woman but he became frustrated over time because even though he was constantly near her, he never had the opportunity to talk with her because there were always other people around.
When her tour was over she was scheduled to fly to New Guinea. In desperation, this young man came up with a plan and said to Mother Teresa, “If I pay my own fare to New Guinea, can I sit next to you on the plane so I can talk and learn from you?” Mother Teresa looked at him and asked, “You have enough money to pay airfare to New Guinea?” “Oh, yes,” he replied eagerly. “Then give that money to the poor,” she said. “You’ll learn more from that than I anything I can tell you.”
The lesson here, many of us would rather experience something than do something. We always learn more by doing because our gifts are given to be given.
· Commit to SERVING TOGETHER TO KEEP THE CHURCH MOVING: through fully expressing your surrender to God.
· Commit to SERVING TOGETHER TO KEEP THE CHURCH MOVING: through a proper estimate of yourself.
· Commit to SERVING TOGETHER TO KEEP THE CHURCH MOVING: by completely engaging in service.
When we commit to these things, we’ll tap into the rich reservoir of God’s blessings and we can keep the church moving.
Let us stop looking at church as mentor type one-sided relationship. Church is designed for mutual benefit, we are called not to just receive what others offer but to give back what we have been given.
This my favorite part of the message to share some roles of those that are in our family here at Kingstowne, each person is unique, each one has a different and unique gift.
Dave and Carrie Field –
Greg and Kathy Schumacher –
Traci Howell –
Michael & Phoung Yokitis –
Lora Allen –
Alex and Greg Carver -
Before we close in prayer, I want us to reflect on these three questions and respond…
What is the path to God’s pleasing and perfect will?
Has church for you become about consumption?
What do you commit into church to keep it moving forward?
Let Us Pray!!!