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Count Me In!

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On Sunday, May 21, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series called "Count Me In!"  This week, we looked at Romans 12:1-8, and answered the question What should our relationship with the church be?

We're building a new building and will be inviting people into our home.  It's important for us to figure out what that home should be like.

Community is what the church is.  It's our main thing.

Romans 12:1-2.  "Therefore..."  This is the culmination of what Paul has written in Romans up to that point, and a high-level summary of what our life as a Christian is supposed to be about, how we are to live in light of God's work in us.

We're God's property!  But we should be involved in that, and it's continually repeated.

True worship is thoroughly thought-through and reasonable obedience to what God wants for our lives, and it's based on what God has done in our lives.

"Stop allowing yourselves to be conformed, continue to let yourselves be transformed."

"Pattern of this world" is the cultural forces that press on us from all sides.  Don't let these be the things that shape our lives.

How?  By the renewal of our minds, which is primarily God's activity.  But we're not passive observers.  We must yield to the working.

The result:  We'll know God's will!  In the world and in our own lives.  We'll be transformed.

Now, epic question:  Where does Paul begin after that?  What is his lead priority?

He begins with the church! and how we should function together.

"I say to every one of you" is emphatic in the Greek, and is Paul's way of saying, "If you miss everything else, don't miss this!"

We need to think rightly about ourselves.  We belong to one another.  Each of us should do our thing!

Why the church first?

The church is the hope of the world.

Not family, government, or anything else.

If we are operating effectively and fully within our church, then all other activities and priorities are elevated and benefitted.

We're not talking about church activity, but church life.

Almost everyone has a church they're devoted to, but it's not always a Christian church. 

Step in and give yourself among God's people.

You can give too much time to church activity, but not to the church community.

To the degree we hold ourselves back, God's activity is limited in us.

What is our relationship in church like?  Like a chair to a table?  Like red paint to white paint when mixed?

No, our relationships in church are like an arm to a shoulder - Ineffective without the other, yet distinct.


What were your reactions to this sermon?  Please use the comments below!

A Mother's Prayer

On Mothers' Day, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon about Hannah's prayer in I Samuel 1-2.

Hannah's Suffering

She was suffering socially and culturally.  But she was diligent in her relationship with God.

Hannah managed her suffering with uncommon grace.

Hannah's Response

Hannah's representing a larger narrative (as in common in Hebrew literature).

Peninah represents larger cultural expectations for women.  Motherhood was supposed to make her happy and satisfy her.

Elkanah represents an alternative.  The double portion showed his love for Hannah.  He offers her a real alternative:  He'll take care of her!  (He wasn't a typical man of his time.)

But even that represents a departure from her God-given calling.

Elkanah's saying, "Find your satisfaction in me."  But we're designed to find satisfaction in God alone.

In today's world, we're still urged to find satisfaction in our children or in a great love.  Today, women are also given the alternative of finding satisfaction in our careers.

These various alternatives don't work, don't produce satisfaction - and everyone knows that, really.

Hannah rejects both the alternatives before her.

Hannah's response is a transformative, faith-soaked, God-dependent prayer.

The phrase "Hannah stood up" in verse 9 is an idiom meaning, "She put her foot down."  She made a firm decision.

Hannah surrendered.

It's not bargaining with God.

If Hannah had been bargaining, the order would have been:  Prayer, Provision, Peace.  But in this case, the order was:  Prayer, Peace, Provision.

Hannah has resolved.  She stood up!  And then she got peace.

She's been praying for years, but something shifted.

She prayed, "All my life, I've wanted a child for me.  Now, I want one for you, Lord."

She wants a child in service to God.

Peace comes in response to the prayer.  Hannah has let go.  She wants God's story for her life.

How does Hannah get to this place?

We look at her prayer in I Samuel 2.

First, she acknowledges God's sovereignty and power, which is how spiritual breakthroughs begin.  "You're God - I'm not."

The Great Reversal:  God does not see the way we see.

Hannah was blessed because she suffered.

The Great Reversal:  If I hadn't experienced those hard things, I wouldn't now experience such freedom.  "It is not by strength that one prevails."

At the end, she brings up the Messiah.  And her prayer foreshadows Mary's prayer, which also brings up the Great Reversal.

Cultural expectations tell us what we need to be happy.

What if the whole checklist is wrong?

There is an alternative.  Stand up and surrender.

"When they are wholly His, they will be more themselves than ever."  -- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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