logo Living Water Christian Fellowship logo
Home Recent Sermon Multimedia Sermons News & Events Our Vision Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

“DARING TO COMMIT” - Daring Faith: Key To Miracles - Part 5

Rom.12:1-8 - April 2, 2017

(adapted with permission from Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, May 2-3, 2015)

“Daring to Commit” is part five of Daring Faith: the Key to Miracles. Your life is shaped by your commitments: we become whatever we’re committed to. If you don’t commit yourself to anything, you become nothing in life. You’re shaped by your commitments.

     Great people are just ordinary people who’ve made a great commitment to a cause greater than themselves. Nobody is naturally great. We’re just normal ordinary people. People become great men or women of God when they commit themselves to something greater than themselves. You need a cause bigger than you to live for. If the only thing you’re living for is you, that’s not a big enough reason to get out of bed. Instead you need something bigger than yourself to live for which draws you out of yourself and that makes you bigger than yourself which brings out greatness in your life. We become whatever we’re committed to.

     The problem is, a lot of people are afraid of making commitments. Loyalty isn’t what it used to be in our nation. For many people it’s kind of like going down a buffet line: we hesitate to make a commitment because there might be something better a bit later on. And so you stand in front of the salad area at the first of the buffet and think, I really don’t want to fill up my plate; there might be something better. Then you go a little bit further down to the casseroles or whatever and you go, there might be something better. You get down to the meats and you think, I’ll wait for the desserts. You get down to the end but (darn it) there’s no Nanaimo bars! And because you haven’t committed, when you arrive at the end, you don’t have anything on your plate because you were afraid to commit.

     You cannot live a life without making some kind of commitments. Buying a house or a car, having a job, getting married – all require making commitments. So commitments define our lives. And the key is to make good ones. To make fewer bad commitments and to make more good commitments.

     The Bible says this about commitments. Romans 6:13 at the top of your outline: “Give yourselves completely to God [That’s a commitment. Give yourself completely to God…] —every part of you—for you have been brought back to life, and you want to be tools in the hands of God, used for his good purposes.” That’s the highest commitment you can make in life. To give yourself completely to God to be used for the purposes that he made you, that he created you.

     Romans 12:1 says something similar: “Since God has shown us great mercy [And he has], offer your lives as a living sacrifice [Circle the words “offer” and “sacrifice.”].Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.” Usually at church when you mention the word “offering” people immediately think about money, but this is talking about your life: offer your life as a sacrifice to God.

     What we’re looking at today is how your five deepest needs in your life are met by five great commitments. There are five purposes for life: these appear in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Those say: “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself… Go make disciples, baptize and teach them to do everything I’ve commanded you.” Here are five verbs and five things God wants us to do with our lives. He wants us to know him, to love him, to grow in him, to serve him, and to share him with others. In other words: membership, maturity, ministry, mission, and magnification. Or, put another way: worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and evangelism. It doesn’t really matter the words you use; the fact is, God has five purposes for your life. But they’re meaningless unless you commit to each of them.

     You cannot fulfill God’s purpose for your life by yourself. It’s not a ‘solo’ project! We were made for each other, we were wired for community, made for relationships. Genesis 2:18 “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Whether you’re single or married, you need relationships in your life. You need a spiritual family. Some things you can only do with others. We’re going to talk about those five commitments this morning.

     The first commitment is the one that causes your faith to be strengthened.

1) TO STRENGTHEN MY FAITH...I MUST UNITE WITH OTHERS IN WORSHIP. Worship is for God, but it brings benefits to you, two benefits in particular: it renews your faith and it restores your joy. Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”

     How many times have you gotten up on a Sunday morning and said, “I am so tired.I really don’t have any energy to go to church, to go to worship.” And yet you went to worship and afterwards you were more energized. Worship renews your strength.

     You’re not going to get your strength renewed watching golf on tv: that’s just going to make you lazier and lazier. In worship you get renewed, your strength gets recharged.

     It’s sort of like a boxer in the ring getting beaten to a pulp. The bell rings; he comes back over in the corner and the coach comes over and says, “You’re doing a good job.” He throws some water on him, pats him on the back, slaps him on the face and says, “Now get back out there.” Worship does that for us; it’s like spiritual jumper cables renewing our strength. It’s not me, your pastor: it’s the Word of God; it’s music and worship – that’s what renews our strength.

     Psalm 100:2 Worship the Lord with gladness! Come before him, singing with joy!” Psalm 122:1 says “I was glad when they said unto me let’s go into the house of the Lord.” Not I was mad, not I was sad, like – “Oh brother!” We can be GLAD when we go to church; not I was mad, not I was sad, bored, guilty, not “I felt like I had to go out of duty.” I was glad when they said to me, let’s go to the house of the Lord. Worship the Lord with gladness!

     The first life commitment gives us spiritual strength. Our commitment to be in worship regularly with other people energizes us, restores our strength, renews our joy.

     The second commitment helps us discover our identity and purpose in life.

2) TO DISCOVER MY IDENTITY & PURPOSE. . . i must connect with others in fellowship. We only learn who we are in relationship. We only learn our true identity in community. You’ll never learn who you really are by yourself: you only learn it in relationships.

     The Bible says specifically we need to be connected to God’s family, connected to the body of Christ, the church. Romans 12:4-5 “We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning [Circle “meaning”] from Christ’s Body as a whole, not the other way around. Each of us finds our meaning and function [That’s your purpose in life] as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?”

     My ear only functions, only fulfills its purpose by being connected to the body. If my ear was cut off and was laying on the ground over there, what’s the value of a cut-off ear? None; it can’t hear anything. (Unless maybe someone comes along proclaiming, “Friends, Romans, countrymen – lend me your ears!”)

     The purpose that God made you for can only be discovered connected to the body, the body of Christ. If you’re not connected to the church, then you’re not going to know your purpose. You’re not going to know your role, your function, your value and your meaning in life. Your value, your use, your purpose, your identity comes in relationship to God’s body, to God’s family - the church.

     It’s all about relationships. That’s why when you’re in conflict with somebody, your life sucks. Everything else could be going well, but if suddenly you have a conflict with somebody and they criticize you or betray or reject you, your life stinks. Nobody enjoys conflict, because we get our identity and our purpose in our relationships. That makes conflict so miserable and painful.

     And it’s why God, once we accept Christ into our lives, wants us to become peacemakers, reconcilers, and people who foster harmony rather than conflict in the world. The Bible calls it “the ministry of reconciliation.” Your job if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ is to make relationships better, not make them worse. To create peace and harmony and love, not conflict. Ephesians 2:16 “Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross.[Who’s he talking about? He’s talking about all the races, all the ethnic groups, the people who are different from you, all of the different languages. He says Christ brought all of us together, every background, every nation, every tribe, through his death on the cross.] The Cross got us to embrace… [The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Nobody’s better than anybody else at the cross. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, what language you speak; we’re all equally loved by God, equally valued by God, equally important to God, have equal dignity before God. The Cross got us to embrace…] and that was the end of the hostility.” God invented the church as an agent for reconciliation in the world. God invented the church to be the one place where there’s no distinction between how you look, how much money you make, which side of the tracks you live on.

     When you get to heaven everybody is not going to look like you. And if you don’t like diversity here, you’re going to hate heaven: because in heaven the Bible says there’ll be representation from every race, every language, tribe, nation, skin colour… God invented that.

     The second commitment in life then is, I’ll not only worship God, I’ll build fellowship among other people. Because we need each other for fellowship. That’s where we find our identity and our purpose.

     The third life commitment is about developing your potential.

3) TO DEVELOP MY POTENTIAL... I MUST LEARN FROM OTHERS TO GROW There are some things you will never learn on your own: you only learn them in community, from others.

     That’s why small groups are so important. You can learn a few things from a sermon, from the “talking head” approach: but there are some things you can’t learn unless you’re in relationship in a small group of some kind. For instance, you can only learn forgiveness in relationships. You can only learn loyalty in relationships. You can only learn love in relationships. You can’t learn that on your own – you can’t learn it without people. You can’t learn kindness, faithfulness, graciousness, unselfishness without others. In fact the most important things you need to learn in life require that you be in relationship to other people. You can’t do it on your own. And if I want to build my potential, I must learn from others to grow. And where’s the best place to do that? In the family of God; in the body of Christ, the church. Ephesians 4:16 “Christ’s Body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow”. Circle that word “grow” – you help each other grow. I help you grow; you help me grow. The people on the row you’re sitting on right now, they need you. You need them. You need other people. There are many things in life you just can’t learn unless you’re in relationship with other people. God wired us to need each other.

     There’s a book that came out a while back called If I’m So Successful Why Do I Feel Like a Fake? The book’s about what psychologists call the Imposter Phenomenon. What’s that? A lot of very successful people in life have wealth, power, good looks, fame and so on, yet inside they feel empty, hollow, unfulfilled. Hence the title of the book: If I’m So Successful Why Do I Feel Like a Fake? Answer: Success was never meant to fully satisfy you; success is not enough in life. You were designed by God for much more.

     You’re taught from a little kid if you get successful you’re going to be happy. No, not necessarily – you were made for more: you’re certainly not going to be fulfilled because it’s not enough to fulfill you. You were made for more than success: you were made for significance. And significance comes from giving my life away to something greater than myself.

     Here’s the fourth commitment.

4) TO EXPERIENCE SIGNIFICANCE...I MUST SERVE WITH OTHERS IN MINISTRY. Ministry is just a word for doing good to other people. I must serve with others in ministry.

     Significance does not come from status. A lot of people think if I just have a certain hood ornament on my car then I’m significant. Or if I wear a certain kind of logo on my shirt or my dress then I’m significant. Some suppose those brands make them significant, that “I’m better because I’m wearing this brand.” No you’re not.

     Significance does not come from your salary: a lot of people make more than you do. Significance does not come from sex – some folks flit from one sexual partner to the next thinking their next hook-up’s going to make their life complete; it does not. Your soul was designed to hanker for much more than mere fleshly pleasure.

     Significance comes from service. God wired people in such a way that we only feel significant about our lives when we give it away. You can’t be selfish and significant at the same time. Significance comes when you stop thinking about yourself and you start thinking about other people and you give your life away. 1Peter 4:10 “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve… [yourself? No, that’s not what it says!] “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others.”

     The talents you’ve got, they’re not for your benefit: your talents were given to you to benefit the people sitting next to you. And their talents were not given for their benefit. So we need each other. Gifts are given to be shared. Ministry is the path of meaning, and service is the path of significance. You’re not going to find it any other way. You’re never going to feel good about you until you start giving your life away. Jesus said in Mark 8:35, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it.But if you give your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find TRUE life.

     God says we’re supposed to serve with others. You’re not meant to serve God on your own, by yourself. You’re meant to serve God on a team – in a family, in a small group, in a church; you’re meant to serve God in relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Two people are always better than one, because they get more done by working together.If one falls down, the other can help him up.But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help.If two lie down together, they can share the same blanket, and stay warm, but a person alone will not be warm.An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves.And a rope that is woven of three braids is hard to break.”

     From that passage we can learn three things.

When we work together…

A) we maximize our impact. V9 We get more done.

B) we minimize our failure.V10 “If one falls down the other just picks him up.” When we work together, when we serve together, when we minister together, we minimize our failures.

C) we mobilize our resources. We pool them, putting them all together. V11 If you’re sleeping outside together you can share the blanket and stay warm. We can pool our resources and mobilize them together.

     Jesus taught that there’s no such thing as an insignificant ministry; He said even if you give a little kid a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name, that is significant ministry (Mt 10:42). You will be rewarded for it in eternity. It doesn’t have to be flashy; it just has to be service. So the person who’s passing out bulletins and the person who’s watching and training kids and the person who’s speaking right now, it’s all significant. And not any is more significant than the other. Because it all has to be done. And the musicians and the bookkeeper and the hospitality people, all of it matters. There’s no insignificant ministry.

     Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” One day you’re going to stand before him in heaven. And God’s going to say to you, “You know what? Good job! Because when I was hungry you fed me. And when I was thirsty you gave me something to drink. And when I was sick you visited me. When I was in prison you visited me. And when I was naked you gave me clothes.” And you’re going to stammer, “Lord, when did I do that? When did I feed you, clothe you, help you, serve you and all that?” And Jesus will say, “When you did it to the least of these you did it to Me. Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my sisters and brothers, you did it unto Me.”

     The fifth (and last) life commitment is the one that makes the eternal difference, one you’ll be rewarded for over and over and over in eternity.

5) TO MAKE AN ETERNAL DIFFERENCE...I must join with others on mission. God has a life mission for your life and you can only do it in the context with others. A life message and a life mission. God put you here to have a message to the world and a mission in the world – that’s evangelism. And you do that in context with others.

     Before Jesus ascended back to heaven he gave His parting words, the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19f: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to do everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you."

     God has a purpose for all of history and God has a purpose for your life. Why would God give you a purpose for your life totally unconnected to his purpose for history? He wouldn’t. That wouldn’t be logical. So somehow the purpose for your life connects to His purpose for history. What’s that? God’s purpose for history is to build a forever family. It’s the whole reason there’s a universe. God wanted a family. On earth, that family’s called the church. It’s also called the kingdom of God. And when everybody has come into that family that God knows is going to say yes, has made the choice to love Him back, then this period of history will be over. We go into phase two which is eternity. So somehow God says, “I want your purpose in life to be a part of My big purpose which is taking the good news to everybody else.”

     The church of Jesus Christ exists for the Great Commission. It’s all about not just loving Christ and his family: it’s also about sharing Christ, taking the good news. And it’s the best news in the world: past forgiven, purpose for living, home in heaven – it’s the best news in the world!

     Now, in review – back to the thought we started out with today: are you ready to let your life be shaped by these five commitments? God’s waiting for you to translate these five commitments into offering up your time, treasure, and talent. If you say, “God, I totally give you my life” – that means I’ve given Him my past, my present, my future, my money, my time, my talent. It means that it all belongs to him. Will I trust God in these five big issues of my life? If you commit to Him – give yourself completely to Him – how is that giving going to express itself? What form will it take? Can you get past token giving to total giving?

     In the Bible Paul worked with a group of Christians in a part of Greece called Macedonia, where Alexander the Great came from. The Macedonians were going through a very strong famine. There was a drought and the place was incredibly poor and they barely had enough food to feed themselves. It was a very very poor, poverty-stricken church in Macedonia. Yet the people in the church of Macedonia heard about the tough times that the church of Jerusalem was going through. The Judean Christians were suffering through a famine. And on the top of that they were having persecution. So the people who were in abject poverty themselves in Macedonia took up a generous offering and sent it to Jerusalem.

     The Apostle Paul brags on the Macedonian Christians. Out of their deep poverty welled up great generosity. They gave more than they could afford. They were poor themselves – destitute – yet they took up an offering to help poor people in another place. How were they able to do this? 2Corinthians 8:5 “They gave beyond their ability...far more than they could afford. [Because they were not giving by reason but by revelation.And what explains this generosity in the middle of all their poverty…] What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God. [Recall Romans 6:13, the very first verse we read today] The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives.”

     In other words if you settle the first issue, “Does my life really belong to God?”, the second issue is really easy: “Do I trust God?”

     We only become great by surrendering ourselves to something greater than we are, to a power greater than ourselves. If you haven’t done that, you need to do that today.

     So today settle for yourself these five life commitments so you can really get on board with what God’s doing, how He wants to re-shape your life for eternal significance. First, I commit the rest of my life to uniting with others in worship, in order to strengthen my faith and restore my joy. Then I commit to connecting with others for fellowship, to being in a small group, to become an agent of reconciliation in the world and treating everyone with respect and dignity. As a disciple I commit to learning from others in order to grow and become what God wants me to be. I commit to serving others in ministry, using whatever talents God’s given me not for myself, but for the benefit of others. And I want to make an eternal difference in terms of Good News, to join with others on the mission. I want to contribute my part, like the little boy who gave his lunch to feed the five thousand, and make a difference in eternity. Let’s pray.