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One Body… Many Parts

Offering Ourselves

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(5/5) Today we are on our fifth week of our series "One Body… Many Parts" and we’ve been studying the subject of spiritual gifts. We’ve slowed down to look at some of these gifts to help figure out, how God has hardwired each of us to serve in a ministry to the Body of Christ. In an effort to get an all encompassing look at the Word of God in regards to the spiritual gifts, we’re going to read from Romans chapter 12. So, if you’ve got a Bible, or can find a Bible near you, we’ve got four gifts… four particular gifts that we are going to look at this morning. We’re going to see the gift of encouragement, the gift of giving, the gift of leadership, and of mercy. So, I’ll read along with you from Romans 12 and then we’ll see how we can apply this to our church and our everyday lives.

Romans 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer 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.

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 measure of faith God has given you. 4 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 who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 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. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 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.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. NIV

Well, as we begin, we must start with Jesus, because everything in the Word of God connects to Jesus. And so we begin with Jesus through whom all things were made. He is the God who made the world, who made us and loves us; and though we have sinned against him, Jesus came on a rescue mission to save us from ourselves. So our eternal God, Jesus Christ, entered into human history… He lived the life we couldn’t… died the death we should’ve… but then something really extraordinary happened. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, conquering our enemies of sin and death, and ascended back into Heaven.

And Ephesians chapter 4:8 says: "When he ascended on high, he… gave gifts to men." He sent gifts to the men and women on the earth and he did that through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God was poured out and today the Holy Spirit is at work on the earth, making people Christians, giving us hearts that love Jesus, giving us minds that believe in Jesus, and giving us the ability to do ministry…. to love and give and serve like Jesus. So each and every born again believer is filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted for full time ministry.

It’s just like the Lord Jesus tells us, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… whoever wants to be first must be your slave..." (Matthew 20:26).

So each one of us have been called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices; following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. You see your life is ministry. God gives you, through the course of your life, opportunities to help others. And so what that means, is that each of you have at least one spiritual gift, one ministry skill, one supernatural ability to do the ministry of Jesus on the earth. So some of you are teachers… some of you are encouragers… some of you have the gift of mercy… but together we’re doing the ministry of Jesus by the enablement, by the power of the Holy Spirit… So together we’re serving just like Jesus did and that’s exactly what the Bible means when it refers to the Church as the body of Christ. That you and I… that we are the hands and feet of Jesus… that we are speaking and serving on behalf of Jesus… that we are here in Emmitsburg today, so that more people would meet Jesus. And that’s our mission. That’s why we’re here… to be connecting God and community… by offering ourselves…

1. As an Act of Worship.

And so, as we’ve been looking at the various gifts that were given to us and how the Holy Spirit has brought those gifts; the apostle Paul reminds us that our application and employment of our gift is our spiritual act of worship. So in one sense, when we gather together… when we sing songs as a church… that’s worship… but also, as we go and live our lives… as we sit in our office, do our job, raise our kids, mow our grass, pay our bills, wash our dishes, and brush our teeth… that too is all worship. It’s worship if it’s done in Christ. It’s worship if it’s done in relationship. It’s worship if it’s done out of love and gratitude to Jesus… then all of our life is an act of worship and ministry to the body of Christ.

So in verse one and following, the Holy Spirit tells us, "I urge you to offer yourselves… to be transformed… to test and approve what God’s will is… by the renewing of your minds!"

First we incorporate that by choosing to walk away from a life of sin that is separate from Jesus… and walking toward a life of holiness that’s with Jesus.

And secondly for this to occur, we need to read our Bible a lot… we need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us… so that we have a renewed mind that can distinguish between what God wants us to do and what God doesn’t want us to do.

And third, to do ministry and live our lives effectively, in verse three, we must first soberly assess who we are… think of ourselves with sober judgment. Where am I strong? Where am I weak? Where am I gifted… and where am I not?

You see, there are different gifts and different measures of faith. That means that some of you will lead, dozens or hundreds or thousands of people. Some of you will teach, one-on-one, in groups, or even in auditoriums. There a different levels of spiritual gifts, according to the measure of faith that God has given us. So rather than being arrogant… rather than thinking too highly of ourselves… the Holy Spirit says, think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. And then going ahead and do it well… enjoy!

"Just as each of us has one body with many members," we need to get plugged into the church. Just like the physical body has hands and feet and ears, so does the church... Each one of us has a part to play… a unique contribution to make… and He says, "Just as these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to the others." So we rely upon each other. We work together. We’re a family. We’re community. We’re a body. And we all have different gifts, according to the grace given us that we share with God's people…

2. In Service to the Lord.

So here’s how you do it. With sincerity… with love… honoring others… and always keeping your "spiritual fervor". Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Sharing with God's people… (Romans 12:12-13).

"If it is encouraging – let him encourage". Some of you have this gift… the gift of encouragement… some of the nicest people in the world have the gift of encouragement. Everybody loves the person with the gift of encouragement. These are the people who are super nice, they’re positive, they love you and they’re there for you. They’re the ones who’re going to call you, e-mail you, send you a note with a smiley face. They’re your biggest fan… your cheerleader… they’ll encourage you to keep going and not give up.

Then "…if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously;"

Now the gift of giving we know this is a spiritual gift… we know this is a supernatural thing… because people just don’t give their money away, right? This takes a miracle for people to say, "I’ve got some extra money and I need to give it away." But this is what the people with the gift of giving do. You see they realize that their money, their possessions, their insight, wisdom, talent, time, treasure, whatever it is they’ve got… that it belongs to Jesus… and that Jesus has given it to them to share. Those with this gift give regularly… they give cheerfully... and they give sacrificially.

"…if it is leadership, let him govern diligently"

This is someone who has a clear, compelling, driving vision of what God needs to have done… what things need to be changed... what people need to be reached... what lives need to be affected… and they can articulate that in such a way that they engage others… that other people want to follow that vision.

A great old preacher, E.V. Hill once said, "Any guy who thinks he’s a leader that doesn’t have people following him is just a dude out for a walk." Right? I love that…

To be a leader means that there are people behind you… people are following you…

And the last one; "…if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

Now for me, this gift is very confusing, because I have a strong sense of justice, and when I think mercy, I think of nice people that are always letting others off the hook. You know, mercy is easy to give to the abuse victim, the rape victim, the person who’s dad beat them, the person who has cancer… its really easy to have mercy. But what about the perpetrator of the crime? The person who comes in and says, "I raped this woman." Or "I beat my children." Mercy? You see, when I hear that, I don’t think mercy, I think Old Testament. That’s what I’m thinking. But you know that’s not a Jesus place. That’s where I naturally go, but I bring those thoughts under the blood of Jesus. I’m just being honest. But those with the gift of mercy not only have compassion on the victim, but they have compassion on the criminal, because at the front of their minds they’re always…

3. In view of his mercy

But how many of you are like me and you have a strong sense of justice?

You see that’s why the Lord began, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy…" (Romans 12:1).

Here’s what He is saying, "Remember the cross... remember we’re all sinners… we’ve all fallen short of glory of God. We’re all the bad guy… we’re all wearing the black hat… we’ve all done wrong… and the wages of sin is death!" That what it is saying… we should be tortured and sent to hell, every single one of us, and yet Jesus Christ went to the cross… Jesus Christ substituted himself in our place for our sins… the wrath of the Father was poured out on Jesus Christ. He suffered and died in our place, in my place, for our sins, for my sins. And God forgives me and what do I receive? Mercy... Mercy...

So those with the gift of mercy see the criminal… the perpetrator of evil… the person responsible for causing so much pain and grief… and they don’t excuse them. They don’t diminish what they’ve done. They don’t ignore the harm that they’ve caused… but they understand the Gospel and the cross of Jesus Christ. They understand the doctrine of propitiation and they acknowledge the wrong… the sin… the violation… and that the perpetrator deserves punishment in eternal hell forever but Jesus Christ has taken their place.

You see justice has been accomplished through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. And its here that we need to hold up a mirror… you see, after Jesus paid the debt of justice He gave you and I mercy… He’s forgiven us… and He tells us to go and sin no more.

In view of his mercy… we’re not weak, we’re strong. In view of His mercy we’re not cowards, we’re warriors. We’re not those who ignore or dismiss sin, but we understand that it’s been atoned for by the cross of Jesus, who substituted himself in the place of each one of us. And so it’s at the cross that justice and mercy meet.

I’ll try and wrap this all up for you. Here’s what I am talking about in an exceedingly practical, and personal way, we’ve been talking about Jesus. And here’s what we’ve learned about Jesus. That he is here to encourage us today. If you’ve walked away from God, you’ve wandered for a while, you’ve been in sin or disobedience, Jesus is here to encourage you back to come back to him and the church. Jesus is here to encourage you. If you’re suffering, it’s been a hard season, you’re discouraged. Jesus is here to encourage you.

Jesus is also a giver. He has given you forgiveness of sin. He’s given you redemption. He’s given you salvation. He’s given you himself and in so doing he has given us mercy… I mean, Jesus has offered mercy. Nobody’s offering mercy in the world, not friends, only Jesus. Nobody is offering mercy but Jesus. Everybody wants vengeance and justice and retribution and yet Jesus… Jesus died and suffered because he loves us and he met the demands of justice and he’s all about justice. But then he’s given us mercy because he’s paid our debt of justice… he’s paid our debt of justice.

Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Are you following Jesus? Have you received mercy from Jesus? Have you acknowledged that you’re a sinner? That he’s God and that his mercy is your only hope?

So at this point, I always want to give you a chance to respond. By giving yourself to Jesus. By praying that God would reveal to you your gift for the ministry… how you’re supposed to plug into this church… what is the vital role that you will serve, wherever it is that God would put you. I want you to experience the same joy as many of us do in serving Jesus and being a part of this great thing that he is doing here at Christ’s Community Church in Emmitsburg.

I love you all very much. And things are going so well here. But I really want to see everyone plugged in and vitally involved. I want each of you to be intricately connected to Jesus, to this church, and to be a vital part of this body of Jesus Christ; so we can see more people meet Jesus, more people to get mercy, and more people to have their lives changed by the one who has changed us forever.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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