15th Sunday aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
September 8, 1996
THE CHRISTIAN INTENTIONALLY AND CONTINUALLY OFFERS HIMSELF TO GOD.
We are living sacrifices offered freely in response to God's love in Christ.
Not like the sacrifice of dead animals as in the Old Testament.
Animal sacrifices had become an offense to God because it had become an empty ritual without heart...outward/mechanical
God does not desire symbolic, sterile offerings without personal involvement.
Present ourselves, (body, mind and spirit), as instruments for rational, moral, and intentional Christian behavior and service.
Making rational decisions concerning the conduct of our lives.
Listening intentional to the morality of God instead of the moral conjectures of men.
Modeling the intentional ministry/service of Christ. (to have a mission with a specific goal and purpose. (Luke 9:51)
Such an intentional life of service is acceptable to God.
Because the motivation is by the mercy of God, shown us in Christ.
That mercy comforts us in our shortcomings face us.
We are honored when we recognize that it is God's Holy Spirit at work in us.
INTENTIONAL SERVICE REQUIRES A CONTINUAL RENEWING OF THE MIND.
The Holy Spirit works through the Word and the Sacraments to discern God's will.
Any confusion about what is right/wrong, moral/immoral is a sign that people have not been connected with the Word/Sacrament.
It is through the Word that we become sensitive/knowledgeable about what is godly or ungodly.
It is through the Word that we become watchful that the world does not squeeze us into its mold.
It takes knowledge to discern sexual perversity from sexual morality.
It takes regular connection with the Word to grow strong in the faith.
It takes regular worship to live in a right relationship with God.
Look at the results for the Church:
A knowledgeable church will not loose its members.
A well-fed congregation will be an active congregation.
A well-nourished congregation will have no trouble finding willing servants.
A knowledgeable church will not suffer from a lack of resources.
The Holy Spirit works through Word/Sacrament to enable us to assess our service honestly:
We neither denigrate ourselves nor think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
We are led to spurn self-righteousness as we seen our sinfulness.
We are led to see ourselves as people precious in God's sight.
We can begin to clearly see others as Christ sees them... precious, family members, in need of support and help.
Humility is comprehended as we see ourselves every more clearly as fellow recipients of the grace of God in Christ.
HAVING OFFERED OUR BODIES & MINDS TO GOD, HE EQUIPS US FOR THE INTENTIONAL USE OF HIS GIFTS IN ACTIVE SERVICE ON HIS BEHALF.
We are obligated to use whatever gifts, talents and treasure we have received from God to the very best of our ability...EXCELLENCE!
Blessings are given for the purpose of using them.
We then begin to experience the fullness of life in Christ as we use them to their fullest.
Every congregation, then, becomes most fully what it can be when His gifts are used to mutually build up the body and ministry of Christ.
Empowered by the Word/Sacrament, we intentionally use our gifts for the good of others.
We need to understand our God-given dependence on one another.
All the members of the body are necessary for full effectiveness.
The withholding of these gifts is an act of spiritual selfishness which denies the tools and resources of ministry that God intends for the congregation.
Each member functions most fully when we function for others instead of our own self-interest.
Intentional giving of time, talents and treasure.
Intentional hearing and studying that we might be equipped for service.
Intentionally offering ourselves for service in Christ's name.
No, Christian service doesn't just happen. It happens when we are well nourished on Word/Sacrament. It happens when we see again, with clarity, the Christ who serves us with such
abandonment of self. It happens when the mercy, grace and forgiveness of God bears its fruit in our lives and we begin to look at the ministry we share together and the people with whom we share that ministry with the expectations and they compassion of our Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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