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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

Good morning brothers and sisters in Christ! It’s a pleasure to be here with you today.
I believe our Lord has a Good Word to share with us through me today, so my prayer is
that our ears may be opened to hear that Word & our hearts may be open to receive it.

Remember this portion of the story of God, as it is written in the book that we love,
Ephesians 2:10 & 4:1-16. Hear the Word of the Lord… This is the Word of the Lord

Wow, what an image of oneness in the body of Christ!

This passage’s message sings along with the hymn, we are one in the spirit we are one
in the Lord.
But it doesn’t stop there with just recognizing that we are somehow related because of
Paul challenges his readers to respond to the gospel story.
He writes about the church, not the building in a specific spot,
but the universal church that is made up of all Christians.
He starts with the everyday life of the church and how the church is a biiig family, with
many different members that make it up.
Church ought to be like one big family and this psg emphasizes how we are to be one.
(V. 4-6) One body, one spirit, we believe in one God,
There is a lot of oneness, a lot of unity but…
Unity is not the same as uniformity.
Jesus’ family consists of a lot of different types of people.
We can even look at our own family dynamics, how different our gifts & capabilities are.
How much more diverse is the family of God!? God, the Creator of diversity.
The scripture lists out here that there are…
Apostles. Prophets. Teachers. Evangelists. Pastors.
But, whatever our spiritual gifts or talents are, we are all empowered and unified by the
one Holy Spirit working and moving through us.
And when we use our many gifts to build one another up, we embody the kingdom.
In the beginning God gave humanity good work to be done.

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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

To have dominion over the land and the animals,

To care for creation, and care for one another.
This is how we can respond to the gospel!
The gospel story should radically reshape every part of our story.
It involves a change in who we are internally,
A heart change that then transforms the way in which we act
And behave and how we live our life.
Therefore, we can and should have joy in the discovery of our gifts, purposes, and tasks
that we can participate in what God is doing. And it is our responsibility to respond...
But, it doesn’t stop there.
Because responding to the gospel is a lot more than just understanding that it’s
Our duty and obligation.
Responding to the gospel involves good caregiving that goes beyond instruction and
Good caregiving describes how God is at work, healing his people
And what role we play in that work of God.
Responding to the gospel is participating with God.
And readily recognizing what God is doing as you provide care.
No matter what form that takes shape…
The past 2 months of May, I shared in ministry with a little village in the DR, Cristo Rey,
Which means Christ the King.
My mission team served with the nonprofit organization, Foundation for Peace.
They have a beautiful mission to relieve the effects of poverty and overcome injustice.
We continue to pray for one another when we are apart,
and maintain these relationships as best as we can,
bringing their stories and testimonies to our congregations and friends back in the US,
so that their voices can be heard.
The Foundation for Peace and our mission teams work together as long-term partners,
knowing that one person can’t do all the functions,
And that we don’t solely bring the goodness,
but we participate in the goodness God is already up to.

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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

For instance, while in the DR, 6 local doctors were able to be staffed because of
generous donations from various brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who
have the means to help provide for the material needs of this community,
Whether it be monetary, connections with doctors and hospitals to get medical supplies,
or things like vitamins or toiletries.
These 6 doctors gave up their Sunday,
Travelled a rough road, to provide a medical clinic for the community of Cristo Rey.
With rope, clothesline, and white sheets,
The sanctuary of the church in Cristo Rey was transformed into half a dozen
medical examination rooms.
Over 50 families came seeking care and healing.
We saw God healing on the Sabbath,
And just how crucial that was in this community,
who has a lack of access to basic medical supplies.
The bridge that connects the small village of Cristo Rey to the bigger city got destroyed
by a natural disaster.
This was the route for children to get to school, get resources from the capital, Santo
Domingo, and reach the hospital.
But vehicles cannot travel across it, nor is it safe.
Because the bridge is down, the commute is much longer,
adding a lot of time to get to these places,
which not only is inconvenient in a lot of ways,
but can be dangerous if someone needs to get help outside of the village.
And because of this dilemma, lives have already been lost.
When talking to the community members in Cristo Rey,
What they cared about most, out of all the struggles going on,
was the reconstruction of their bridge.
The hope is that there is a solution to this!
We all have a part in the body of Christ.
Whether it be prayerfully remembering our brothers and sisters in Christ in the DR,
Sharing their stories so their voices and needs can be heard by others,

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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

Giving to the bridge project, or supporting a mission team to serve in this community.
There is so much good work to participate in.
Acts like this embody the kingdom, how in the beginning God intended us to work
together in harmony, caring for all of God’s creation.

This message coincides seamlessly with Paul’s letter to the Romans, in Romans 12,
And I believe the Lord has a good Word for us from it today.
But I don’t want you to turn there in your Bible because I want you to listen to a different
translation of the scripture: The Message translation.
The Message has a very raw and straightforward language to it.

So, hear the Word of the Lord as I read it aloud...

Romans 12 MSG - Place Your Life Before God

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:

Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-
around life—and place it before God as an offering.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God.

You’ll be changed from the inside out.

Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.

Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,

God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially
as I have responsibilities in relation to you.

Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace,

It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this
goodness to God. *Let me repeat that…*

No, God brings it all to you.

*Listen to this…* The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is &
by what he does for us, not by what we are & what we do for him.

4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning
from the body as a whole, not the other way around.

The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people.

Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body.

But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously
functioning parts in Christ’s body,

Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be,

Without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be

something we aren’t.

6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else;

If you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching;

If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy;

If you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate;

If you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to

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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

If you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or
depressed by them.

Keep a smile on your face…

This is our Holy Scriptures… and thanks be to God for them.

See, God lets us participate in the healing work he is doing in the world.

It reminds me of an illustration my professor for short-term mission told me about how

we work with God.

Picture a father mowing the lawn with one of those push-mowers.

His child sees what he’s doing, and runs over to “help”

He gets in between his father’s arms,

And tries his best to reach up and push it along with him.

But you know, his cute little body probably isn’t pushing it a whole lot.

From an outsider’s perspective, he’s probably in the way more than helping his father
go in a straight path.

You know, working with kids can get a little messy,

Take a little more time, and a little more effort.

But we want them to learn, so we take that extra time and that extra effort to teach

The father could probably have done a much better and quicker job if he just did it

Similarly, with our all-powerful God, he can do anything with the snap of his fingers.

But He chose, and continues to choose us to be a small part of his great plan, to be his
hands and his feet.

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Ephesians 2:10, 4:1-16 NIV & Romans 12:1-8 MSG - Embody the Kingdom

Even if that means we sometimes get in the way of God’s will,

Thinking that we are in the right, but not able to see the whole picture.

He still lets us push the lawn mower with him...

We are in partnership with God, and in partnership with each other.

Participating in what God is already at work doing...

Now, this isn’t to say we should just sit back, relax, and be idle because God’s got it, He
can do it all.

While he very well can, that is not the point. This is to humble us.

Realizing what a privilege it is to have a place in the story, as a character among many
other amazing characters with their own unique role.

We are not the main character...

Spring of 2017, God gave me the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon.

A reason why I particularly like to go out into nature,

Is to stop, and stare, and to think.

To look, and to marvel. In awe.

That the very artist of that Grand Canyon,

Is the same artist that chose to paint little ol’ Elizabeth into the picture.

And he did that for you… and he did that for you…

The author of life itself wrote us into the story of the world.

That’s love.

God wants you to respond to that Gospel Good News, to participate, to embody the

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