How are we supposed to live as followers of Christ? What is the impact you have or should have as a Christian? What influences are behind your actions and thought process? What effect could we have if we were determined to live our redeemed lives as Paul lines out for us in Romans 12? This is our next step in finding out! I challenge you to:
The Romans 12 Experiment
Trial 1 (Romans 12:1-2)
As a fully developing or newly redeemed follower of Christ, we all face some of the same questions in our walk, some of the same questions from above. As a Pastor, I would ask myself the same. And what greater example of turning to Jesus and living above reproach, than Paul, who was considered a slave for Christ. Since his Road to Damascus, he was committed to sharing the gospel, and not just that, he wanted to help others to do the same. Now, if that’s not an example of what I want in my life and what you should want in yours, it’s time to have a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting! It’s the Great Commission you know, Matthew 28:18-20 says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I hope that through this challenge we can see, grow into and experience a closer relationship with God. And we could also become a wholly engaging body of Christ, live out an example and sharing our faith with those around us.
On to the verse:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Sure, you have read this or heard it before, but trying to read further into it, Paul is laying out a foundation here that tells us to commit ourselves, our bodies, to a life of service and then instructs us to think with a transformed mind, that this is necessary in determining the will of the Father. Even though these sentence are two, the thought is one. That you can’t have action without faith, and you can’t have faith without action, but they work hand in hand. That one should in turn inspire the other. Does your faith inspire action in your life or vice-versa? It does say that this is ‘your spiritual worship’. The offering of yourself, motivated by His ‘mercies’, can ensure that they would be acceptable in His eyes, a true ‘living sacrifice’. This is our goal, our aim! We no longer sacrifice animals as a means to worship God, but instead, we offer our lives, with His intentions, serving others and not ourselves, as this true sacrifice. And YES, you can do it!
Paul teaches that we should be distinguished by grace and our faith. He uses words like ‘appeal’ here, because we should be driven by grace, not by command. We shouldn’t offer servanthood out of obligation, but rather out of a response to the grace shown to us. When we ‘present’ ourselves, it is a permanent commitment to Him. Much like a vow in marriage, our presentation is a commitment that is a work in progress. So, like a marriage, it must be nourished, encouraged and fueled by knowledge and faith in Him each step of the way.
In verse 2, we are not presenting our bodies, but we are presenting our minds. We mostly look for God to lay out his plan for us in a way easiest and most convenient to us, in a dream, in a text, from someone else…. and then we get to choose whether to accept them or not. And even though these are ways God can talk to us, Paul shows here that there must be a devotion before we can expect instruction. God’s direction in our lives is in response to our transformation and commitment. If you think God is going to direct you while you are not committed to a renewal of your mind, think again!
Christians are transformed by the Word of God and are not conformed to this worlds thinking or actions. This commitment is a lasting exercise for all of us. It is a reconstitution of His Word and will in our faith and our actions. This month I challenge you to read these 2 verses daily or weekly, memorize them and let them speak to you. Let’s see what can happen in our lives, all of us!
Next month: Trial 2 (Romans 12:3-5)
I encourage you to add thoughts and comments below and join the discussion.
Thanks, Pastor Zack
So the other day I was driving on my way to a job and found myself pondering the mistakes of my past, some of my blatant disregard for moral standing in my faith and some things I wish I would have saved for the one I should have. I immediately started thinking to myself, “If I could go back in time and change some things…….” I think at some point, we have all been there. “Oh the things I could change, if I only knew then what I know now.” Sure, I could amend some blunders in my life, and I would choose to preserve, even my first kiss for my beautiful wife Misti.
Then I started to tear up as I contemplated the thought of not ending up with the same outcome as my current circumstance. Not having my Zoie Girl as a daughter, whose life is like a living musical, filled with love and joy for me. Unable to hold my little Kayli, the Snuggler, and listen to her add an accent to almost every word she says, my heart would cry. Would I have such an amazingly beautiful, talented, God fearing wife, Misti. Would I be surrounded by the same amazing group of people that want to see God move in His people the same way I do. In the same way I would want to relive moments from my past, there are many things that I would not want to be altered. Regret and repentance are a part of life, and as good as it sounds to have lived a life that was holy and upright, perhaps the path I took wasn’t as offtrack as I would say it was.
I grew up in the church from a very young age and can say that there were a lot of things that I didn’t struggle with, which I am very thankful for. I never stopped going to church, I might have played church every once in a while, but never left. Regardless what happened to me or those around me, I never strayed from the One that I knew had my best interest at heart. That being said, I made mistakes, A LOT! I asked for forgiveness, A LOT! I looked back and regretted, A LOT! But the more and more I think about it, the more I realize how much has also gone right. I’m left with the thought of my path, my choices, and how A LOT of those moments were used for the Kingdom. I keep thinking about “the One that I knew had my best interest at heart”! If I truly believe that statement, then why, even in my failure, can I not grasp how He can continue to erase the failure and put me back on the path to “my best interest”. My best interest is in His heart. His heart is people. People need truth. Truth can set us free. Freedom from ourselves. He truly knows me, more than anyone ever will, more than I can know myself.
Think for a moment of walking down a beach. Each footstep is a moment in time, good choice or bad. As you turn your head to look behind you, you can see the prints, and how deep or light of an impact you made in the sand. But as the water laps at the shoreline, and covers the tracks, it doesn’t matter how great the impact (good or bad), the water (God’s mercy) washes up and the step (or choice) is gone. Maybe this is how we should look at decisions from the past, as a step. The step will get us from here to there, and we should learn from every step we take where we can walk and where we shouldn’t. You don’t want to go back to try to recreate a step, but instead, look forward to what’s in front of you and take steps with His heart in mind.
In Phillipians 3:12-16 it says “…I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
What we have attained is where you are now! Past that, it is up to you. The choices of the past are just that, in the past. Good or bad, they are in the past. And while we can still learn from them, we must look forward and base our decisions from here on out on the fact that God has our back. If we can try to look to God for guidance and understand that we can only strive for perfection, we can stop looking back and start pressing toward the goal! In this, God can show you that He’s been there with you the whole time. So LOOK PAST your past to the future you can have in Him!
You ever hear the phrase “Clothes make the man”? Psalms 93:1 says “The LORD reigns, He is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. Psalm 104 says “Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.” If we could only take this for what it says.
Looking back at my life I can say that I’ve never had an issue with faith. Never had an issue with believing that God could and would take care of my family and I. I’ve always known that God has His eyes on me and would provide for me in my time of need, whatever the extent of that is. God has truly blessed me throughout my life. However, in evaluation, I am not using my faith to it’s full potential. I’ve realized through some recent conversations that we recognize God not as who He is, but who He is to us, how we’ve personally seen Him respond and react on our own lives. He is the God of who I’ve seen and sometimes that’s it! I hate that!
Within the last couple of years God has really opened my eyes to who I didn’t know He was. He has revealed to me some new gifts and fruits in my life. The faith that I used to know He would provide was not wrong, or lacking, or even misdirected. It was tunnel visioned by what I knew of God. Sure I’ve read the Bible and seen His mighty works all through it, but what value did I give that. I dressed God in the clothes that I was used to seeing Him in. My faith, as genuine as it could be, was limiting who God was to me. There are so many names for God, my faith was concentrated on El Shaddai, properly translated, means “God Almighty, All Sufficient”. He is so much more though; my Savior, my Healer, my Peace, my Power, my Deliverer, and on and on.
Knowing that now, I can’t look back at what could have been, should have been or would have been. But instead, I look forward, to what I know my God is, The Everlasting King, The Beginning and The End, God Almighty. If He is truly robed in majesty, armed with strength and is clothed with splendor to me, then let me use who I am and the faith that I have to see every aspect of God flourishing in my life and those around me. I will not dress God up anymore in what I think He’s supposed to be wearing. His robe has limitless possibilities!
The definition of fair in context is “just or appropriate in circumstances”. I’ll tell you what’s not fair:
It’s not fair that I have a gorgeous wife whom my thoughts are submerged with (Ephesians 5:25) and mandated through God I must be the provider for (1 Timothy 5:8). In this provision I must work, while taking away the priceless moments from whom I’ve united as one with. That within the engineering of my very being, there was created a desire, a passion, a drawing and attraction for this stunning woman (Proverbs 5:18-19). Her very essence is what I cleave to (Mark 10:7), because she was made with me in mind to love. It’s just not fair!
It’s not fair that with a simple gaze from her eyes I can be stirred with so many emotions. If she’s hurt, I’m saddened, yet angered. If she’s elated, I’m excited, yet calmed. If she’s worried, I’m encouraging, yet concerned. The gentle touch of her hand as it softly slides into mine and fingers interlock, contributes lavishly to the already exuberant love that exudes from within my heart for her. That a single kiss from her lips could shatter any idea I ever had about what love was between a man and a woman. It’s just not fair!
It’s not fair that I have two beautiful little girls that I can’t be with every second. That I am entrusted with their well being and livelihood, to be raised and guided to walk a path of righteousness (Ephesians 6:4). That I will forever have them in the front and back of my mind, as I worry about choices and freedoms, and above all how they will use those. It’s not fair that they can so easily sway my decisions with a simple “Pleeeease, daddy!“ because I delight in them(Zephaniah 3:17). That there might be no limit to what I would do in their defense. That I would pour myself into someone so much, for so long, just to give them away one day to someone who would never love them as much as daddy will, and I have to like it. Can’t guarantee that! It’s just not fair!
It’s not fair that God would love me so much that He would send His only Son to die on a cross for me and I can’t even spend as much time with Him in appreciation. I can’t even open up His Word as often as I’d like a day to study it or read about the many other things He did for others. I can’t say for sure that I would have stayed awake in the garden praying with His Son at the most crucial time in history. It’s just not fair!
It’s not fair that He has given me eternal life and I can’t even live this short life here on Earth for Him 100%. It’s a shame that He is nothing but selfless, and that I can be selfish at times. That His countless promises to me are foregone conclusions that surround His chosen people, and however magnificent, marvelous, stupendous, amazing, astounding, astonishing, extraordinary, remarkable, phenomenal, staggering, breathtaking, fantastic, mind-boggling, awesome and wondrous they are, I don’t exhaust every effort to share them with all whom I come in contact. That the mercy and forgiveness He has, I haven’t even a speckle of. That creation sings His praise every moment and yet I could wait ‘til Sunday’s service to give it my all. That His love knows no boundaries and that mine are slightly superficial. It’s just not fair!
I wrote this in when I was a young boy, but it has never meant as much to me as it does now! God I’m amazed by you!