Know Where Your Strength Lies

02/14/21 – Romans 12:1-9

12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
12:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Sometimes when we’re lost in the woods it can be hard to find blessings to thank God for. The enemy uses the cares of this world to blind us. We have to open our eyes and hearts. Just pick anything and start counting your blessings and they will build up fast. God has given us each new day, the people we love, the food on our table and the very planet we live on. Beyond that, He has given us His Son and through Him the promise of eternity.

17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

God is not far off and high above. He is with us and around us every day and He cares what happens to us.

The flipside is; often when things are going well, we can get our focus too much on the things around us and forget where they came from. We can’t think that we’re right with God just because things are going the way we want. Any good thing we have has come from God, but we may not always know what is good and what is bad. If we judge by the standards of this world, we will often be wrong. We can’t have our confidence in anything of this world.

3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Basically, what Paul is saying is; if anyone can save himself he did it. He grew up in a Godly nation. He was raised by God fearing parents. He lived out his religion to the best of his own power and followed the commandments perfectly as far as he understood them, but watch what he says next…

3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. Paul took part in the stoning on Stephen and was probably present during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, but God used him. It doesn’t matter where you are. God knows you’re not perfect. What matters is who you’re following and where He will lead you. When you follow Jesus, God will use your circumstances and those around you to mold you into the person He knows you can become.

Often we try to judge others in order to make ourselves feel better. If someone else appears to be doing worse, it can make us feel better about our own shortcomings. We have to be honest with ourselves and know that we’re no better than the worst sinner we know. Only God’s grace stands between us and Hell. As they say, the first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one. We all have a sin problem, and there is only one way to solve it.

2 Corinthians
4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 4:9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

We can’t lose faith when we fail. In our own strength, we are frail and weak. We are here to learn how to lean on God’s wisdom and strength. When we’re in the midst of a struggle and we can remember to trust in The Lord, He will give us His peace. Nothing that happens here is permanent. Everything is for our instruction and training.

Part of the comfort of God’s peace is that we are to know that we aren’t alone. Everyone that is saved is part of the same body of Christ. When you’re saved, the Holy Spirit moves into your heart. This isn’t a private thing. There is only one spirit that we all share.

1 Corinthians
12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

We are all sharing the same spirit, but we don’t all have the same work to do or lessons to learn. We all have our own special place God is calling us to be and works He has called us to do.

Just as we can’t judge someone else’s sin, we can’t judge someone else’s works either. We don’t know how important any given job is in God’s plan. Every thing has a part. Many people look down on garbage collectors. In the 1980s there was a garbage strike in New York. I remember seeing pictures on TV of mountains of garbage lining the streets. In just 17 days so much trash piled up that it was declared a public health emergency and the city was forced to reach an agreement to end the strike. New York learned then that every job is important and deserves respect. Whether we look down on someone else or if we don’t think much about what we have to offer God, either way we’re wrong. Little is much with the Lord.

4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

If we’re looking to the head of the body, that is Jesus Christ, then we can be content in the work He has given us and appreciate the work of our brothers and sisters around us.

Whatever gift you’ve been given, it is from God and is to be used for His purposes. No matter what your gift is, it won’t prosper unless you use it according to God’s will.

15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

We are to be using God’s gifts according to His will, in the spirit of His love. He has given to us freely and abundantly and that’s how we are to share it with others. ?
A ministry can be any job that needs to be done. We are all ministers to serve God by serving the people we can reach and showing them His love.

10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

We are to follow Jesus’ example in our service. He didn’t come here reluctantly and drag around doing His work. He didn’t do what He did to be seen of men. Often, Jesus did witness to multitudes, but when He witnessed to the Samaritan woman at the well, everything was over by the time His disciples got there. He did everything with energy because He knew His time was limited and He knew who He was really working for. We should know those things too.

Whatever you do during each day, keep your eyes open as to how God would want you to use it. Everything that happens to you is for a reason. Some of you may be surprised to hear it, but by nature I am a very impatient person. God has taken me through some hard lessons to get to where I am now, and I still get new lessons every day. However, I learned a long time ago to stop getting too wound up if I get stuck in traffic or something else like that happens. It could be saving me from an accident down the road.

You’ve probably heard this interesting example in recent news. A lot of people up north were stranded on the roadway by snow. Along with them was a group of doctors transporting COVID vaccine. Since the vaccine has to be stored below a certain temperature, it was in danger of going bad. Rather than let it go to waste, the doctors gave the shots out to their fellow motorists that were stranded. For most of those people, they wouldn’t have had a chance for the vaccine for several months. Only God knows how many lives were saved by this.

When you’re stuck in any situation, stop and look for God. If your car dies in the middle of nowhere, maybe God has something to say to you and that’s the only way He can get you to be quiet enough to listen. Whatever we’re doing, God wants us to keep our focus on Him and His will and not to be doing things to serve ourselves or to be seen by other people.

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

We’ve all heard that God knows our secret sins. He also knows our secret obedience. Some say the definition of character is what you do when no one is looking. God knows your true character no matter how good or bad the world thinks you are.

This means we are to make sure our love and our works are pure. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we’re doing things for people because we hope to make some gain from it, then we’re acting out of selfish motives. Check your own motives and desires. Sit down with God and His word. He will help you see the parts of you H e wants to change. It won’t happen overnight, but God will clean us from the inside out. That begins when you surrender your life to God through Jesus and it ends when it’s your time to go home. God wants to work in you and through you for the rest of your life. It is a process that happens every day and every hour of the day.

3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

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