Finding God's Direction for serving part 3
Sermon Summary
This message is the last installment on finding God’s direction for serving. This sermon also closes the series titled “Show Me The Way!” In this message the final seven of twenty two directives for serving are highlighted. The points are: Serve God with generosity, Serve God with no discrimination, Serve God with empathy, Serve God with harmony, Serve God with forgiveness, Serve God with discernment, Serve God with Vision. Serving God is a way of life and these directives help us live that life in a way that brings honor and glory to God and adds great meaning and purpose to our lives!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. In what ways has this series been helpful to you in your personal life as a servant of God?

2. When thinking of the concept of generosity, what other areas beside financial should be taken into consideration? Use the following passage to help...
Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me  
something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these  
brothers of mine, you did for me.’

3. Serving God with no discrimination, but with harmony, forgiveness and discernment are related to one another. How so?
Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to one hope when you were called —
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

4. Our service to God should come with great vision of what God is accomplishing and will accomplish through our lives as we live for Him! Read the first two verses of Romans 12 and then discuss!
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.
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.


Full Sermon Notes
I love the first line of that song…"Though I have nothing, my life is an offering, I lay me down."

A servant of God may not have much to offer in terms of worldly goods, but they can offer their lives as living sacrifices! And then it says "Steady my heart, Lord in suffering and sorrow, I lay me down!" This week we have been once again reminded that this life is sometimes beset with suffering and sorrow. In this world there are evil things and evil people who seek to destroy the life God gives. It's up to those who are servants of God to bring the truth of God's love, His strength, His peace, and His purpose to a world desperate for Him! How do we do this?
After we pray we're going to find some answers! Let's pray…  

"Sweet Lord Jesus, we need You so desperately! This old world is so hard and tries so hard to pull us down, discourage, and even destroy us! But I know You will never be unfaithful to Your servants. You will never leave us or forsake us not matter what we may go through in this life. And even with the hard times, life is precious and we thank You for it! We want to spend it serving You by serving others and in doing so we know we will bring hope and life to those who have lost all hope. Our hope is not a hope so some day hope, but a know so one day hope! Thank You for that blessed hope and we dedicate our very lives to You! Hide me be behind Your cross and Your glory this morning as I serve as Your mouthpiece to share Your Word of truth!
In Jesus Name I pray and I believe!! Amen!

We've been in a series entitled "Show Me the Way!" Today we wrap up the whole series and the final message of the series within the series on finding God's direction for serving. In these last few messages we've been looking at Romans 12. In this passage we've discovered 15 directives for serving God. Today we'll look at the last seven. I'm going to simply list the ones we've already looked at, as we read our text and then we'll start with the ones for today. Get ready, get set, let's go…

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.

Remember the first four directives found in this verse?

Directive #1 Serve with Gratitude

Directive #2 Serve with Your Life

Directive #3 Serve with Your Best

Directive #4 Serve with Worship

We find two more in verse two...

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.

Directive #5 Serve with What You Don’t Do

Directive #6 Serve with Your Mind

In other words, put your heart, soul and mind into serving God and not the world! Next verse...

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, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Directive #7 Serve with Humility

Directive #8 Serve with Faith

Now remember, we're just reviewing. For details on these you can go to Northshorechurch.net and listen to the message, watch the message or read the full sermon notes. Verse 4 and 5...

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.

Directive #9 Serve with Others

Serving God is a team effort. We serve together as the family of God! Verse 6-8...

Romans 12:6 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.

Directive #10 Serve with Your Gifts

We all have been gifted to serve in some way! Use your gifts to serve! Verse 9...

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Directive #11 Serve with Love

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Directive #12 Serve with Devotion

Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Directive #13 & #14 Serve with Zeal and Spiritual Fervor

Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Directive #15 Serve with Joy, Patience, and Faithfulness in Prayer

And here's a beautiful thing…When your desires, your zeal and your fervor in life are directed towards God and then directed by God, your priorities and your heart will change. When you serve with joy, patience, and faithfulness, you will begin to see things in a different light and as a result you will be able to follow our first directive for today...

Directive #16 Serve with Generosity

Romans 12:13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Now someone might be thinking, "Ok, I knew it! He's a preacher and he just couldn't resist. Now he's going to go for my money and he wants me to be generous!" If that's what you're thinking, first of all you don't know me! Secondly, you don't understand what a beautiful thing it is to live a life of generosity!

One of Jesus' most famous teachings was quoted by Paul when he met with the elders of the church of Ephesus...

Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Notice Paul said "by this kind of hard work we must help the weak." Sometimes generosity has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with being generous with our time, our talents, and our willingness to just be there for someone who's hurting! One of the biggest mistakes churches make is they get so busy running the organization and operation they no longer have time to be generous in serving those who are in need! What a tragedy and travesty! When a church gets so focused on keeping the saints happy that they forget or ignore the cries of the lost sinner, they've missed Jesus!

Yes, missed Jesus! Two things. First, Jesus' main goal was this...

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Second, Jesus takes our generosity to others, personally! Jesus put it this way...

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me  
something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these  
brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Oh, and did you notice Paul said we are to be generous and hospitable?

Romans 12:13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

What is the definition of hospitality?

The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Guest, visitors, or strangers! This leads us to the directive 17...

Directive #17 Serve with No Discrimination

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Yes, we are even to serve our enemies. What more powerful testimony of God's love than to serve in love someone who doesn't love you? Jesus said this...

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Oh, and by the way, our text says something else about serving without discriminating in the second part of Romans 12:16...

Romans 12:16...Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.

Discrimination was a serious thing in God's Word way before it became a serious thing in the laws of America. Listen to what James said about it...  

James 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.
2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.
3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”
4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Directive #18 Serve with Empathy

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

 The ability to identify with or understand another's situation or feelings:

A servant of God is going to be motivated by the things of God! God rejoices when one of His children rejoices. When a brother or sister rejoices, don't be jealous of their blessings, genuinely rejoice with them and be thankful for them! It's what a servant of God does. And on the other hand, when a person mourns, mourn with them!

I don't know about you, but some of the most powerful times in my life have been when a brother or sister in Christ helped me carry the burden of a loss by just being there. Knowing someone really cares even when they can't do anything to change your circumstances is just powerful. Knowing they would if they could, means something.
Knowing they are just there, makes a difference. It's called the ministry of presence! Sometimes you won't have the words to say, there are no words for some things. But the fact you showed up, counts!

Directive #19 Serve with Harmony

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another...

I touched on this in one of the other messages, but it is so important, it bears to be repeated here. What is the defining characteristic of followers of Christ?

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We don't have to agree on everything, but we must agree to disagree. I'm not talking about compromising your God-given convictions and principles. But let me tell you this…most of the issues I've seen in churches down through the years have not been issues of great theological importance, it's been matters of personal taste!

Paul was in prison for his faith when he wrote this important instruction to the church at Ephesus...

Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to one hope when you were called —
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Now you might say, "But I was wronged and I can prove it!" Some times that happens. We are imperfect humans serving a perfect God together as the family of God. God knew we would make mistakes. That's why He gave the following directive for a servant of God...  

Directive #20 Serve God with Forgiveness

Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Verse 20 is a direct quote of Proverbs 25:21-22. The burning coals on the head may be a reference to an ancient Egyptian ritual where someone who had done something wrong would show their sorrow by "carrying on his head a dish containing burning coals on a layer of ashes." Broadman Commentary.

The natural inclination when you've been wronged is to take revenge and do unto them what they've done to you or worse! That's the natural human way, but a servant of God is to surrender their desire for revenge to God. In fact God says He will avenge and repay. Why let God handle revenge?

He's the only one who truly knows another person's heart. He's the only one who knows the why! He's the only one who is truly just! He is not subject to the whims of human emotion!  

The natural instinct when you've been wronged is to distance yourself from the person who wronged you and never talk to them again! That's natural. The super-natural, God thing, is to sincerely pray for the person who has wronged you and if you find out they are hungry and thirsty, to feed them and give them something to drink.

I'm not talking about putting yourself in an abusive situation, or a dangerous situation. I'm not telling you you've got to be okay with the wrong that was done to you! Forgiveness is not saying it's okay what you did to me, but it is saying I'm not going to hate you or wish bad things on you because you did me wrong.

Some dictionaries actually have a hard time with the concept of forgiveness. They will say things like…"The act of forgiving, To pardon"
Now I'm going to do something you might find surprising for a Pastor. I'm going to quote the psychology department of The Univeristy of California at Berkly...

“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” Source: Greatergood.berkeley.edu

That's a good definition! And I like the part that says "whether they actually deserve your forgiveness!" I know I don't deserve the forgiveness Jesus gave me and still gives me when I mess up! How can I receive His forgiveness and not be willing to give forgiveness? God's Word makes it clear...

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Directive #21 Serve with Discernment

Did you see this one? It was kind of hidden in the verses on forgiveness...

Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

As a servant of God, and as a child of God, I have rights. I have freedoms. I have privileges. But as a servant of God I must exercise discernment! The Corinthian Church had problems with discernment so Paul gave them specific instructions. Check it out...

1 Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.
24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Do you think about the impact on others before you say something or do something? I'm not talking being worried about what everybody else thinks about you from a personal pride standpoint, but what they think about you as a servant of God! You see, you and I are representatives of God and that means something. Think about it!

Directive #22 Serve with Vision

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Our vision should be one of victory over evil and to win the victory in a good, Godly way. Your vision should be a victorious one, because as you serve God you begin winning the battles against temptations, bad habits, bitterness, and any number of destructive behaviors!

Your vision should also be a vision of the good you will begin to do, not because you have to in order to be saved, but because you have received an amazing gift of grace and mercy and you now have the privilege and honor of living a new life for the One who gave His life on the Cross for you. Your vision is to become a living sacrifice every day of your life with the words you say and the things you do. It is a life of freedom! It is a life no longer bound by the chains of sin and wickedness! This new life can change your marriage, your parenting, your work, your life as a student, your everything!

So I'll close with the first verse of our text...

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.