Summary: In the family of God, the heart of commitment follows the footsteps of Jesus.
Involved or Committed?
Romans 15:4-13 (New International Version)
4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs 9so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.”
10Again, it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples.”
12And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”
13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
INTRODUCTION: How do you get in a pool?
Ever noticed that people enter a pool in different ways? Some will put their toe in the water, and slowly wade in while doing those abdominal exercises of sucking their stomach’s in because of the cool water.
The elegant will do a swan dive, leaving no splash upon their entry.
Then there are those who will do a cannon ball, figuring if I am going to get wet, everybody else should feel the splash.
So how do you enter a pool? And do you notice the difference in the level of commitment? Those who just put a toe in the water and feel its temperature are merely getting involved, if the water is too cold I can go sit in the sun. But if I jump in the water, once I jump, I am committed. There is no turning back, I am going to get wet.
When it comes to my role in the church, God doesn’t merely want me to put my toe in the water, but dive in with a cannon ball that touches everyone with the love of God. Such commitment is not based on my hard work, but on God’s incredible gift of Jesus. In the family of God, the heart of commitment follows in the footsteps of Jesus. Why is this so important?
A Gallup survey discovered a group of 12% of Americans that are happier, have stronger families, are more tolerant of people of different races and religions, and are more community minded than others. What was the common characteristic of this 12% group? They are highly spiritually committed. They don’t put their toe in the water, they cannon ball into the pool. Today let’s look at 3 building blocks in Building the Heart of Commitment to Christ and the Bride of Christ.
BUILDING BLOCK 1: Fill up on God’s Word received and applied to daily living. Paul shares the power of God’s Word in Romans 15:4, Everything written long ago was written to teach us so that we would have confidence through the endurance and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. -- (GOD’S WORD)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together, raises the question about what happens to a person after he has meditated upon the Bible in the morning, and then goes to work. Bonhoeffer asks, "Has it transported him for a moment into a spiritual ecstasy that vanishes when everyday life returns, or has it lodged the Word of God so securely and deeply in his heart that it holds and fortifies him, impelling him to active love, to obedience, to good works? Only the day can decide." That is the crucial test -- whether or not the Word of God remains lodged in our hearts when we go to our desk, or to the Internet, or sit around the negotiating table, or enter the classroom or explore a new personal relationship.
When I fill up on God’s Word, and I receive it and apply it to daily life then the result is hope. That’s why Paul offers this word of blessing in Romans 15:13, “… May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” -- (The Message)
Johnny Appleseed, born in 1774, traveled through the frontier planting apple trees. What is not as well known is that he also was a great student of the Bible who shared his enthusiasm for the Bible with others. As he traveled he often would be welcomed to stay the night in the home of a kindly settler. During his stay, he would observe the personal needs of the host family. Many of these people living on the harsh, bleak frontier were lonely, frustrated and worried. Before Johnny left the home in the morning he would rip out a page in his Bible and leave it with the family. Not any old page would do but one that he thought would fit the condition of this particular family, a passage that would exude hope. He filled up on God’s Word, so that He could receive, give and apply God’s Word to fill up others.