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Summary: Third sermon in a 6 sermon series entitled "I’m in!" dealing with what it means to be an active member of a local congregation. Ideas borrowed from Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky.

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Serve the Lord with Gladness!

Romans 12:1-8

CHCC: January 18, 2009

INTRODUCTION:

We’re starting out the New Year with a sermon series called “I’m In!” Ronnie Morgan preached the first 2 sermons about being IN for weekly Worship and Bible Study. It makes sense that being IN means being THERE … along with the rest of the group …

We have already learned, from Ronnie’s messages that being “IN” involves a weekly participation with others in worship and in private and corporate study of God’s word. Today we will go a step further by talking about what it means to serve God in the church.

You can’t find a better passage about serving God than Romans chapter 12. This is where we find the Apostle Paul turning a corner in a very theologically-centered book. In Romans 1 – 11 the Paul wrote about how we are Justified through our faith, NOT through our own good WORKS.

Then in Chapter 12, Paul turns a corner and talks about how we do our good WORKS … not to try to earn God’s approval ... but out of GRATITUDE to God for the Grace and Mercy He has already given us.

Look at the way Romans 12 starts …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. Romans 12:1

1. Sacrifice: The Heart of Worship

We are MOTIVATED to serve in view of God’s mercy. Because Jesus sacrificed HIS life for us, we want to give OUR lives for Him. This is more than just doing a good deed a day … it means giving ourselves completely.

We give ourselves as living sacrifices. Of course, the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep trying to crawl down off the altar! But the point is this: Service is more than “something we do.” It is WHO WE ARE. And service is more than “what we do” it is “HOW WE DO IT”

Psalm 100:2 declares, SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS! Our service must flow out of a HEART of gratitude … or it is worthless in God’s eyes. Friends, we can’t effectively serve God while we’re moaning and groaning and complaining.

Years back when I was a Youth Minister, we did a lot of Youth Musicals. Some of them had funny skits that took a kind of “tongue-in-cheek” look at how churches worked. They had that kind of “ha-ha … ouch!” effect. I remember one featured a church that had this slogan: “Our love is built on the foundation of guilt.”

When it comes to offering your life as a living sacrifice, guilt motivation won’t cut it! We may serve out of guilt or duty for a while … but that kind of motivation wears thin in the long haul!

Another ineffective motivation is serving God so we “look good” to the other folks around us. When we are really serving God with gladness, we always draw attention to God --- not to ourselves.

Last week we attended our niece’s wedding. Our little 2 year-old granddaughter Lydia was the Flower Girl and our 5-year-old grandson David was Ring-Bearer. Susan was talking to David after the wedding about what a great job he did coming up that aisle. She told him, “Charis said you were an important part of her wedding.” David replied, “I know! I was the MAIN part!”

When Susan told David’s mom about the conversation, Kaysha asked, “Well, I hope you explained to him that he was NOT really the main part!” Susan said, “No, I don’t have to explain things like that --- I’m the Grandma!” (Besides, to his Grandma and Grandpa, David and Lydia WERE the main part!)

I’m sure that later on Kaysha explained to David that the wedding was for the bride and groom and not all about HIM. But how many of us fall into that same misunderstanding of thinking WE are the “main part” of the church?

The “it’s all about me” attitude may be kind of cute in a five year old … but not so much for a grown-up Christian! We need to remember we are never the MAIN part of any service we give in the church. It’s all about the GROOM and His BRIDE (Jesus and His Church).

Romans 12:2 tells us: 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.

2. The Mind of Service

Serving the Lord with Gladness means having the right HEART … and having the MIND of a servant. And I must say that the Mind of Service is the OPPOSITE of most people’s way of thinking these days.

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