Finding God's Direction for Serving
Sermon Summary
This message is the first of a two part message on finding God’s direction for serving. The text for the sermon is Romans chapter 12. In this chapter we find at least 21 directives for serving God which are simple and yet very profound! The very first thing the writer of Romans tells us in verse one is this: “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.” So the foundation of this message is God’s mercy. Everything a servant of God does should be done in view of and because of God’s mercy which has been freely given, but which was not free for God. It cost Him so much to offer us His mercy, grace and forgiveness. It cost Him the death of His one and only Son! In view of this we should serve God with gratitude, not in order to gain our salvation, but because we have been saved. Part one of this message looks at 9 of the 21 directives for serving God in view of His mercy!

Community Group discussion Guide

1. Please discuss the following statement: Serving God should be motivated by gratitude rather than obligation.

2. What difference does it make in a persons attitude whether they serve God with gratitude or obligation?
Psa 100:1  A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Psa 100:2  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Psa 100:3  Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psa 100:4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psa 100:5  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

3. Here is a list of the 9 directives shared on Sunday. Discuss the one or ones that had the most impact on you personally. Following is the five verses these 9 directives come from.
Serve with Gratitude!
Serve with your Life!
Serve with your Best!
Serve with Worship!
Serve with what you Don’t Do!
Serve with your Mind!
Serve with Humility!
Serve with Faith!
Serve with Others!
Rom 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.
Rom 12:2  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.
Rom 12:3  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.
Rom 12:4  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
Rom 12:5  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.


Full Sermon Notes
Finding God’s Direction for Serving
Romans 12
Pre-work for sermon (this will give you some idea as to how God helps me dissect and dig into each passage)
Essence of the text in a sentence: Because of God's mercy we should become living sacrifices serving God in love with our God-given abilities so we can overcome evil with good!
Essence of the sermon in a sentence: Finding God's direction for serving!
Object of the sermon in a sentence: I want my hearers to pursue God's directives for serving Him!
Probing Question: What are God's directives for serving Him?
Unifying word: Directives
Transitional sentence: Let's examine God's  directives for serving Him!

Beginning of Message...

"Holy Spirit You are welcome here!" Today is the rap up of our series "Show Me The Way!" But truth be told, every sermon that is ever preached from this platform should in some way be an attempt to discover God's direction for our lives! When we welcome the Holy Spirit to be our teacher we will look past the human vessel He is using and we will hear the still small but oh so important voice of God! Let's pray and ask The Holy Spirit to teach us what serving God is really all about!

Let's pray...

Father God, I desire to be Your servant in what I say and what I do! I want all of my life to reflect my service to You! I know I fall so short of being all that You created me to be and of being like Christ in the way I live, but with Your precious Holy Spirit as my guide, I know I can learn, and grow, and do so much better. Not to earn Your love, I don't have to do that, but because of Your love and I want to do that! Every day I want to do that as I serve You and the people You love. What a privilege to be a servant of The Almighty God! I desire to be hidden behind the cross  so that Your glory is all people see! In Jesus Name I pray and I believe, Amen!!

Today we're going to look at Romans 12. It is an amazing chapter in God's Word. It's about in the middle of The New Testament.
We're going to take this chapter verse by verse and discover God's directives for serving Him! This message will be continued next week so don't let the next thing I say to you scare you. There's a list! It's really long, it's twenty-one things, (two part sermon)! It's a long list but  not a complicated list. Sometimes we act like God is playing a guessing game with us on how we are to serve Him, but He's not! He's made it really plain and simple. So without further a due let's jump right in.  

Directive #1
Serve with Gratitude!

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy...

Ok, we'll stop right there for a moment. This is one of the most important statements in all of the Bible. It is one of the most important principles when it comes to a Christ follower's life! It is the motive for everything a disciple of Christ does. It should serve as the underlying motivation for any Christian Church. In view of God's mercy! In view of, because of, as a result of, considering, owing to, thanks to, due to, through and by the mercy of God we live. If not for the mercy and breathtaking grace of God where would we be? Hopeless, purposeless, directionless, just plain lost! So everything we do should be done in view of God's mercy! Our service to God is only possible because of His mercy! Listen...

Ephesians 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.

And God has saved us for a reason! First of all because He loves us and wants to restore us to a right relationship with Him and He wants to fellowship with Him. But there's a reason He doesn't take us immediately to heaven when we accept His mercy and His grace. It has to do with serving Him in order to share His love with others...

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Wow! Because of His great love, made alive with Jesus when I was dead in my transgressions, chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people of God. And all because of the mercy of God!!
In fact our church purpose statement is based on the mercy of God in what Jesus did on the cross...

To see the One who gave His life for us exalted and the ones He gave His life for transformed!

Directive #2
Serve with your Life!

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices...

Now you might be thinking, "I'm so confused. Last week you told me my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, take care of it, and this week your telling me I'm supposed to offer my body as a sacrifice? What's that all about?"
First of all this verse says offer your bodies as "living sacrifices."

Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice in death in order that we might give sacrifices in life!
He died for us so we could live for Him! When you get up in the morning, in view of His mercy, immediately thank God for another day to live for and to serve Him. Thank Him for the privilege of being a living sacrifice. Now, there's only one problem with a living sacrifice. It has a bad habit of crawling off the alter! Do you struggle with that? I do! I have found that I must daily yield my life as a living sacrifice for Him. In fact this whole concept is found in the very words of Jesus in Luke's gospel, Luke 9:22-25...

Luke 9:22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Directive #3
Serve with your Best!

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...

Holy and pleasing to God. We should desire to give God our very best, nothing less! If we're honest, God many times gets our leftovers, our seconds, our scraps. Now I'm not talking about trying to earn God's mercy and grace and love. I'm talking about desiring to be Holy and pleasing to God because of His graciousness to us!! Have you ever had someone offer you something for free, but you gave them something anyway, just because you wanted to show them kindness for being willing to give it to you for free? You didn't have to pay for it, it was a gift, but you wanted to give them something to show your gratitude!  

There's a beautiful example of this in the Old Testament...

2 Samuel 24:18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”
19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad.
20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.

21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood.
23 O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the LORD your God accept you.”
24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.

Directive #4
Serve with Worship!

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.

King James says this is your reasonable service! It's serves to reason that in view of God's mercy, we would offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, and to be sure, living life this way, is worship. We gather to worship together on Sundays and this we should do, but a true follower of Jesus wants to live a life of worship every day of every week! The Psalmist prayed these words…

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Directive #5
Serve with what you Don’t Do!

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...

A servant of God dances to the beat of a different drummer. We are motivated by a different standard, a different set of rules. We make the choice to avoid things that don't help us achieve our God-given mission. We now know the truth about the ways of the world and its deception! We choose a different pattern. A pattern of life.

1 Peter 4:1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

They are puzzled and can't figure us out, but we know the end result of those behaviors. We don't want that kind of drama and pain in our lives anymore. Oh to be sure, being a living sacrifice and serving God is not always easy and can sometimes be painful and even costly, but the end result is always worth it. Not so with the ways of the world.

Directive #6
Serve with your Mind

Romans 12:2 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.

We actually allow The Holy Spirit of God to begin redirecting our thoughts and minds.

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

When you set your hearts and minds on the things of God you will begin to discover the good, pleasing and perfect will of God! Serving God according to His will allows you to accomplish the absolute most and best in your life!

Directive #7
Serve with Humility!

Romans 12:3 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...

Unfortunately the church is not immune to the sin of pride! It's strange and weird how God can bless us and do amazing things in our lives and all of a sudden pride creeps in and we act like we did it, we figured it out, it was our idea, it was our brilliance, it was because we are so strong and so spiritual! Sometimes I think God just shakes His head and says, "Really! Wow! That just happened!" God doesn't want servants with false humility, but He sure doesn't need servants who have lost their view of God's mercy in their lives. In fact God gives us direction for dealing with the pride thing in James 3:13-4:3

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

A true servant of God will serve in humility! One who claims to be serving God but is harboring bitter envy, and selfish ambition is allowing Satan to have a foothold in their life and will bring great trouble to the family of God. Especially when they think they're doing what their doing for God. But here's the truth. If God's in it, let God handle it!

James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

This is so important, it is reiterated in another way later in our text Romans chapter 12. Bottom line, a servant of God must serve in humility if God is going to work through him or her and be able to use them to their fullest capacity! And this leads us to directive #8...

Directive #8
Serve with Faith!

Romans 12:3b...in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

A true servant of God can be humble and trust God to direct their steps. Why? Because they have faith that God will be faithful to do what's right. This doesn't mean we don't share our thoughts or our opinion, but once we do, we place it in God's hands and continue to serve God with gratitude while He works out the details.

I was a youth pastor at a church years ago and felt God wanted me to take the high school junior and senior boys on a canoe trip so I could share some things with them as they were getting ready to head off to collage. I talked to the pastor about my plans and he said he didn't think I should do such a major trip for such a small part of the youth group! It would take too much of the resources. I really felt it was God's will, but I humbly submitted to the leadership God had placed in my life and planned other things with the whole youth group.

A little over a year later, God led me to go to seminary in New Orleans. I hadn't been gone three months before that church called me and asked me to speak at a campout with the high school junior and senior guys. Most of the guys who had graduated came back for this campout.   

God worked things out. Now what if I had insisted on that canoe trip. There would have been hard feelings between me and the pastor and only God knows why it wasn't supposed to be a canoe trip in a Tennessee river, but a campout beside a small creek in Mississippi. But the message got to those guys!

The pastor and I are still great friends!!
One more thing about the faith of a servant.

We serve and walk by the faith God has given us. Paul says "in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." What? Does this mean some have more faith than others? Well, yes. This doesn't mean those with more faith are more spiritual than others or one person's faith is better than the other persons. Let me put it into perspective. We all walk by faith. It may be that the people God has called to be vision casters have a greater measure of faith so they can lead and inspire followers to see the big possibilities. However, God has called others and given them the task of working out the details. In order for them to do their job they have to question how will this get done? What will it take? How long, how much, how many, etc. So one person has a measure of faith that says God said do it so we can, and the other person with a greater measure of practicality says, "yes, but here's what it's gonna take to make that happen."

Both should stay humble and realize it's only by the grace and mercy of God that any of us are allowed the privilege of serving and doing great things for our great and awesome God. Paul put it like this to young Timothy...

1 Timothy 3:13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

A servant's standing with God and  assurance in God is not based on how much faith they have but who they place their faith in! Now I hate to disappoint you, but we only have time for one more thing on our list! We'll cover the other twelve next week.  

Directive #9
Serve with Others!

Romans 12:4 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.

Folks, serving God is a team thing! God believes in teams. The Holy Trinity of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus built a team of twelve. God has included us on His team in order to reconcile the world to Himself. Without teamwork, the church ceases to be the church and simply becomes an organization.  

Lawrence O. Richards and Clyde Heldtke state the following in their book A Theology of Church Leadership...

“The Body builds itself up in love. Speaking truth in love, we grow up into Jesus. And each part, prepared for its own unique work of service, has its own contribution to the up-building work. It is extremely significant to see that internally this body is dependent for growth on the contribution of each part. The church is not an association in which the role of the many is to support financially the activity of the few!”

In other words, a servant of God understands that he or she serves as the part of a team and without the team we simply will not be able to serve God in the most effective way! Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of a large church in Hiwiaii put it this way...

“In order to accomplish what God has intended for us as individuals and as a whole, we must do church as a team. A 99 percent involvement is still 1 percent shy! We need all of us functioning in our gifts, with respect and love for each other. That's what the local church body is all about. No one is unimportant. Everyone is part off sharing the gospel, not just the pastor. We do church as a team!”

And in closing, God's Word says...

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let's pray!!