A Living Sacrifice

Wednesday, April 09, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12 (NIV).

Pleasing to God

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Because of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying for our sins so that we could go free from the power of sin over our lives, we are strongly encouraged here to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. To sacrifice something means to forgo, forfeit, surrender, give up and/or let go of something which we might naturally want to hold on to. In this case, the offering is “prescribed by God; hence an offering the Lord accepts because it is offered on His terms” (Source: http://biblehub.com/greek/2378.htm). In other words, the correct and appropriate response to God’s love, grace and mercy toward us is for us to surrender and submit our lives (mind, heart, soul and body) to him, and for his purposes.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace and the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are crucified with Christ so that we (the “I” in us) no longer live, but Christ now lives within us, and the lives we live, we live by faith in the Son of God who gave himself up for us (See Gal. 2:20). We died to sin, so that we should no longer live in it (See Ro. 6). He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). This is our true and proper worship of him to give ourselves to God in order to live holy lives pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed by the Spirit of God within us in the renewing of our minds away from sin and toward walking in God’s righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24; Ac. 26:16-18; Tit. 2:11-14).

With this attitude in mind, we are then able to do the following by God’s grace and mercy and love within us, and in his power and strength and life working in and out through us.

Humble in Heart

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

If we have truly died to sin, in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, and we have been transformed in heart and mind away from sin and toward walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and the life of Christ is now being lived out through us, and we have given our lives over to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, although our flesh may still fight against us at times, we can, by the grace of God, live lives of humility and service to others. We can have the appropriate self-image which sees ourselves through God’s eyes, both in seeing where we have come from, and what we have become by God’s grace, so that we do not exalt ourselves beyond measure, nor do we degrade ourselves.

Sincere in Love

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

In Christ Jesus we can thus have sincere love for one another. Not all of what we call “love” is truly sincere or truly love, though. Sometimes we get this “Hollywood” or “Cultural” or “Societal” idea of what love is instead of the Biblical teaching on what love is, and thus we end up doing and saying things in the name of “love” which are actually contradictory to what true love is really all about. True love cares more about the true needs of others than it does about itself, often risking its own reputation and acceptance in order to demonstrate divine love and grace to others. Divine love hates what is evil and it clings to what is good. It does not placate evil (sin), it is not entertained by it, and it does not ignore it in favor of making others “feel good” about themselves. True love shows compassion, mercy, kindness, generosity, and affection, et al, yet it is not false to those whom it claims to love all in the name of “love and kindness.” True love is sincere, honest, open, genuine and straight. It never compromises truth, faith and commitment to God for acceptance of others.

Live in Harmony

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

When we have truly died to sin by God’s grace, and we have given ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him as our true and proper worship of him, we will most likely face persecution and even hatred from those who oppose or who are disposed to being indifferent to such a relationship with God/Christ. Yet, we are not to trade “tit for tat,” but we are instead to treat our enemies well and/or to speak well of them, not in insincerity or in false flattery, but we should treat them with kindness and not in retaliation. We should not rejoice over sin and wrongdoing, but we should share in other’s joys as is appropriate, as well as we should sympathize with them in their sorrows, again as is appropriate for God’s holy people.

As far as it depends on us, we should live at peace with everyone. Yet, we should never compromise our faith and convictions or the word of God, nor should we deny Christ in order to please humans. We are to live to please God, not humankind. Yet, as far as we are able to please others and to be at peace with them without compromising our faith and convictions, we should do so. We should treat our enemies with kindness and respect, giving to them as they have need, and as we are able, yet we should not become one with them thinking that is the way to “win” them to Christ. We should continue to stand for Christ and for the gospel of Jesus Christ and to give ourselves to God as living sacrifices even in the face of severe persecution and hatred directed toward us.

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
11 ¶ Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.