FBC Earlville 3-16-14 10:30 AM Rev. J.B. Stopford, Pastor

INTRODUCTION Two specials today:
“Now this is the verbal part of your employment test,” said the interviewer. “Can you tell me what gross aggrandized annuity means?”
“Certainly,” replied the applicant. “It means I don’t get the job.”

Jill and Marcy hadn’t seen each other in awhile, so they decided to meet for lunch.
The talk naturally got around to their respective love lives. Marcy confided that there really wasn’t anyone special in her life.
Jill, on the other hand, was beaming about the new man she had found.
“He’s perfect. He’s handsome, and last night when we went out to dinner, he said the four little words I’ve been waiting to hear a man say to me!”
“He said ‘Will you marry me’?” Marcy asked.
Jill replied, “No, he said ‘Put your money away’.”

I’ve talked much in the recent sermons about some of the more than 100 verses dealing with “the church” – its mission, prayer, leadership, and growth, Today’s text will help us answer a vital question for each of us: Is what the Bible says about the church practical? Can it change how I look at my neighbor, my spouse, even my fellow member? The Bible says, “YES!” PRAYER

#1 CONSECRATED (vs. 1-2)
* Note that it is addressed to “brothers and sisters”! Sometimes it is necessary in church life to slow down and see God’s viewpoint of family, not just “members” or “non-members”
This is God’s design for each one who says “I love Jesus”
Note: “living sacrifice”; Phillips “don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold”; “transformed”=”metamorphosized” DNA of caterpillar and butterfly are identical, but which one do you want to look like? You’re either a C or a B- which are you now?
“renewing of your mind” = how? ON THE WORD OF GOD!
Here are verses 1 & 2 from the Amplified Version. Do these show my consecration to Christ?
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

#2 CONNECTED (vs. 3-5)
* No power struggles in the Caring Church (v. 3) – no one is exaggerated in importance, but all under God’s Word
Not independent but mutually dependent (vs. 4-5)
What if one person says, “without me, the church dies”
What he/she is really saying is, “I have a need to belong.”
Throughout history someone says that, yet the church is still here! Why? Matt. 16:18. Why adversity? Because the gates of hell are trying to get in, to convince you you are not consecrated nor connected-to get you to forget who you are in Christ!

#3 CAPABLE (vs. 6-8)
* Key word: “grace” (v. 3, v. 6)
A church functions by its gifts NOT by its personalities
Illus.: Changing this light bulb will take 5 people: One who can climb the 14’ ladder, 4 to turn the ladder. NOT ME! Not my gift – but glad there are those who know that is their gift.
Review gifts (vs. 7-8) – YOURS are not MINE!

#4 CONTRIBUTING (vs. 9-13)
* Note key words: “love in action” (v. 9); “one another” (v. 10 [can’t be centered on me!]; serving is to the Lord (v. 11); ministry is for a long period of time, God working in individuals, duh, individually! (v. 12); practice (v. 13). CENTER on v. 11

#5 CERTAIN (vs. 14ff) [I needed a word for “real” that begins with a “C”!]
* In a world of negatives (of which there are many in these verses) – the church in general, and God’s people in particular – are to be the positives in a hurting world. If WE aren’t the positives, then who will be? Who will the world look to if the church isn’t caring?

Thot #1 – Personal: As you know, until April 2011 my 2 brothers and I had seen each other but 5 times since 1968. In 2011, we determined to get together at least once a year. What if my brothers and I continued without talking? We would be a family with no roots, no meaning, no CARING – just “family” in name only.

Thot #2 – Biblical: 3 John, esp. vs. 6, 9-10 Do we want a church where one or more individuals are stealing the center of attention? Or do we want a church that is CARING, where each other is more important to each other?

What’s the answer? THE CROSS! That’s where we began – and that’s where we continue!

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