Step Up To The Plate Batter Up

Sermon Summary

This message raps up the Step Up To The Plate Series with a look at Romans 12. When a batter steps up to the plate he or she picks up a bat. When a follower of Christ steps up to the plate they take up a cross. This message looks at eleven reasons we take up the cross when we make the decision to live a life of serving God! These are very practical concepts that will help us understand how the cross impacts our ability to step up to the plate spiritually and get a hit!

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. Discuss this statement. "A true follower of Christ doesn't just wear the cross, he or she bears the cross!"

2. With that in mind, take a look at the list of reasons to "take up the cross" and discuss the ones that were most meaningful or convicting to you. Here's the list...

To Remember God's mercy. To be a living sacrifice holy and acceptable. As an act of spiritual worship. To no longer conform to the pattern of this world. To be transformed by renewing our mind. To test and approve what God's will is. To experience God's grace. To stay humble. Recall the cost of membership. It's a family thing. To inspire us to serve.

Full Sermon Notes

Batter Up

"The things of this world I've counted as loss. I lay it all down to take up this cross!"

That's what it looks like for a follower of Christ to step up to the plate! It's being willing to take up the cross daily and die to ourselves and live for God's desires, and by His design. 
Let's pray and ask God to help us heed the call when God says…"Batter Up!"  Prayer.

Today we end the series Step Up To The Plate with a very practical call to action. Batter Up! We just sang a song that spoke of laying down the things of this world to take up a cross. Let's read what Jesus said about this.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

And we find in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus also said this was a daily activity! What does it mean to lose our life for Jesus? Some folks immediately think of persecution and becoming a martyr for the cause of Christ. Certainly this has happened and is even happening in parts of our world today. But that's not the only thing Jesus was talking about in these verses. He was talking about a person who is willing to lay down their personal pursuits to pursue the things of God. But many are more concerned with their own goals, desires, comforts and pleasures, than with fulfilling the purpose for which God placed them in this world! A person who is more concerned with saving their own pursuits and passions will someday realize they may have gained success in the world's eyes but lost what really mattered the most, their soul.

I've met more than one successful person who would gladly give up their success if they could get back what they gave up to gain the world!! Folks, I'm not saying that all things in the world are bad, or that accomplishing great things in your chosen field is wrong. Jesus wasn't saying that either. What He was saying is this: if those things become your god, little g, it will cost you your very soul! However, when we are willing to sacrifice our will and surrender to His will, we may discover that He will still allow us to be successful in the world, but it will not be success at the expense of what really matters in life! It will not be success at the expense of our relationship with God, with our family, or our friends. It will not be success at the expense of loosing our heart to serve others.

Let me remind you of some other verses we read in our last series on the Sermon on the Mount…

Matthew 6:31-33 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Now just what does it look like to take up our cross daily, follow Jesus and seek first His kingdom? I hope you're at least curious to know the answer to this because that's what we're going to discover this morning. Our text is found in Romans 12. It's powerful and deep.
When a baseball player steps up to the plate he picks up a baseball bat, when a follower of Jesus steps up to the plate to serve God he or she takes up a cross! And what do we do with that Cross? My prayer is for us to leave here today willing to step up to the plate, Cross in hand,  and know what to do with that Cross. Let's begin...

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.

What a powerful verse. In this verse we discover our first four reasons for taking up a Cross when stepping up to the plate to serve Go. The first reason is…

To Remember God's Mercy

Paul said "in view of God's mercy!" Peter put it this way...

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth
into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

The forgiveness we find at the mercy seat of God which is found at the foot of the cross is amazing! But we also take up our cross in order...

To Be a Living Sacrifice Holy and Acceptable  

The cross is our reminder that by serving God with our very lives we become living sacrifices, and our sacrifice is holy and acceptable because we are covered in the righteousness of Christ!

1 Cor 1:30 It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

And the beautiful thing is that by taking up our cross and stepping up to the plate to serve God we are actually involved in worship! We take up our cross...

As an Act of Spiritual Worship

So now you know that worship is not just singing on Sunday morning in a worship service, it is worshiping God with your service as you live your life throughout the week! But let's read on, there's so many more reasons to take up our cross and step up to the plate...

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.

Another powerful verse. In this verse we discover three more reasons for taking up a Cross...

To No Longer Conform to this World's Pattern

We talked about this a little bit in one of other messages in this series. The cross we carry reminds us that we don't live that way any more. We have a new Lord and we don't conform to what the world says we have to do to be cool. Nope, we know those things are deceptive lies designed to destroy our lives. We take up our cross and crucify those old ways in order…

To Be Transformed by Renewing our Mind

What a blessing to no longer live in the lies of the world, but to be transformed by God's truth. If you want to talk about the key to mental health, this is it! Renew your mind daily with the truth of God's Word! Listen...

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

And that leads right to the next reason for taking up our cross and stepping up to the plate...

To Test and Approve What God's Will Is

I don't know about you, but I want to test things to make sure I'm doing the right thing and once I find something to be God's will for me, then I certainly want to give my approval to God's will in my life. But remember, that's a key reason we take up the cross. We crucify our will and surrender to His will. I promise you, His will is better by far!! Paul then says...

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.

This verse also gives us critically important reasons to take up the Cross.

To Experience God's Grace

We've already talked about the mercy and forgiveness we find at the Cross. Don't forget the undeserved favor of God. Favor, now that's a precious word when it comes to our relationship with God. He gives us His favor. He gives us His blessings in order that we might step up to the plate and serve well! We would be arrogant and foolish to think that our success was all our own doing!

We take up the cross...

To Stay Humble

I don't deserve this favor or all the blessings, but I'm so thankful. When I cling to the cross I'm reminded of the word's of a song the Lord put in my heart some years ago. It goes like this...

"I'm so blessed, I'm so blessed, I don't deserve it Lord, but I've been blessed. Been given all that I need, been given more than I need, Lord, help me find some way, to share my blessings today, 'cause I've been blessed!"
When I realize that I don't deserve my blessings and didn't earn my blessings, I'm humbled by all my blessings.

There's an old hymn titled, "Count Your Many Blessings." The lyrics of that song are also very powerful. Listen...

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Talk about a good way to fight discouragement and depression! Count your may blessings, see what God has done! Okay, back to our text. I love the last part of Romans 12:3…

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

God has given each of us a measure of faith, the ability to have faith. When I count my many blessings, my faith grows, because I'm reminded of all that God has already done for me. Let's read on and we'll discover even more reasons to take up our cross and step up to the plate...

Romans 12:4-5 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Have you ever thought about the huge price Jesus paid so you could be adopted into the family of God and become a member of the Body of Christ? The Cross helps us...

Recall the Cost of Membership

Ephesians 1:3-8 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Predestine means that God had already chosen to love you and me before we were even born! He chose to make a way for you and me to be adopted into His family, to become a part of the Body of Christ. He knew the price would be costly. He knew that not everyone would want to be a part of His family, but the offer was made through the blood of His Son. John 1:11-13

John 1:11-13 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

It had to be beyond heart breaking for Jesus to know that some of His own family and countrymen had rejected Him. However, to all who received Him, those who believed in Him, he gave the right to become children of God. Adopted by God! He chose you! He chose me! What a privilege! What an honor! What a blessing! But we must never forget, and the cross reminds us...

It's a Family Thing

Romans 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Sometimes, well, all the time actually, we need to be reminded that we are part of a family. Sometimes we act and live as if we don't need the family. I'm amazed at how quickly people become selfish and forget that God desires for His family to have unity. He desires for us to put our own selfish feelings aside for the good of the family. As members of the Body of Christ we belong to each other!

Paul urged the members of the church at Ephesus to work together in unity to accomplish God's work. Listen...

Colossians 3:9-15 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Now we're going to rap up today's message and the series with the last verses of Romans 12. In these verses we find our final reason for taking up the Cross and stepping up to the plate to serve our Lord. The Cross reminds us how Jesus served others and ultimately sacrificed His life so that we might live! So we take up the cross...

To Inspire Us To Serve

If you've accepted the calling of God on your life and have received all that is yours through the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross, then that very Cross should motivate you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and step up to the plate, take up your cross daily and serve God by serving others. You might say, but I don't really know how to serve God. Paul is going to give you some extremely practical ways.

But I want to tell you this before I read these final verses. Your staff has been working for close to a year to revamp our Northshorientation process of introducing new members to Northshore Church and letting them know how they can get involved and how they can be trained to serve. I'm so excited about this. We are still working out the details, but it's gonna be great! We will offer to new believers and those who want to become better trained the opportunity to spend 32 weeks on Sunday mornings in an intensive Bible Basics study. You'll be able to come to that in the first service and still worship in the second service. There will also be a leadership track for those who understand the basics and want to become leaders, teachers, and mentors. Stay tuned!

However, don't think you have to wait to get involved. There's things we need help with right now and then once you have the training we can move you into other positions your are gifted for and will then be trained to do. If you want to step up to the plate and serve here at Northshore Church, put your name and number on one of those cards in the seat back and drop it in the plate today. We'll get back with you. We couldn't do what we do without people who step up to the plate to serve every week. I'll give you one ministry example and then we'll read the last verses.

Here's what it takes to staff our ShoreKIDS ministry… We have to have…
Coordinators over Preschool, Elementary, Club456, and Welcome Team
Classroom and Area Coaches over Nursery, 2's, 3's, 4's, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Tech, and Drama/Talent.
Small Group Leaders consistently serving every Sunday in each classroom and area.
Substitutes available for every position needed
Two Craft teams - Elementary and Preschool visit once per week for several hours to make Sunday classrooms organized and fun
Team Members visit on Thursdays or throughout the weekend to prep our Leader Lounge that serves breakfast and coffee to all our volunteers on Sunday mornings.
Tech and Drama rehearse with their teams on Saturdays to make certain that worship is ready.  
They perform three different worship services in the children's area per 9:00 and 10:30 gatherings for a total of SIX worship services led each sunday.Tech and Drama Coaches come up during the week to prep scripts, stage, sound, and the environment decor for the ShoreKIDS worship center.
We have 133 volunteers including regulars and subs.  It takes 108 volunteers to make every Sunday happen in the back, and we still need more regular volunteers to help ease the load on the consistent leaders we have now.  Our goal is to have 140 consistent leaders in ShoreKIDS by the end of 2017 to help spread out responsibility along with a sub pool of 40 people to call on when in need.

A big thank you to those who step up to the plate each and every week for our children and grandchildren!! Amen? Absolutely! So now we finish our series with Paul's description of stepping up to the plate to serve God...

Romans 12:6-21 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. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 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.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
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.
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.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let's pray.