Romans 12:1-8      21 August 2011

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1 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. 2 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.

Paul here begins to speak of Transformation of beginning to live in Christ, beginning to understand that what was and what is to be are now over lapping and that those of us who call ourselves Christian, are to
realize that we live in the What is to be. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the transformed by resurrection people that we are. We live under the reign of God, even though we live in this world.

When Paul says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, he is speaking of worship. It used to be that sacrifices were offered to God as begging forgiveness for sin, or as offerings for peace with God. Now we offer not dead animals, but living souls and bodies as our offering to God, giving of ourselves. That makes worship into a VERB, an action word, something that has meaning of and by itself. We offer all we are to God for His use in this world.

When I was preaching on the coast, we had some friends in Victoria who went on a Mission trip to Africa. Their team was going to finish the work on a church there, so that people would be able to go to the building out of the elements and worship God. The folks there were excited that the church building would be completed, they had done much work on it themselves but needed help with some of the construction, and they had no more money to have the work done.

Mission teams had gone and helped at different stages, and this was the last stage. Putting on doors, finishing out the bell tower and a couple of other things that needed doing. Well the dedication service was scheduled for Sunday 2 weeks later so they could put the finishing touches on the building. The drums started to beat, then another set further out picked up the beat and the local drums went silent. You could hear the beat going out further and further, until finally you couldn’t hear it anymore. Well the Sunday of the dedication came, and there were literally 100’s of people there, they had walked all that way from their villages to be a part of the celebration. There wasn’t enough room for all of them inside, but there were no windows yet just a place for windows, so the people gathered around outside to
hear and participate in the worship.

About 30 minutes into the worship the Pastor asked for the offering, he said something to the effect of: “Come and present your gifts to God here at God’s altar. Whatever you have God will bless and use it for the kingdom.” Then the Pastor sat down, music began to play, and people came dancing down the center aisle and the side aisles and brought money, fruits and vegetables. Then one woman began to dance down the center aisle, and she had nothing to place in the offering, she reached the altar, took down the plate, and gave herself to God. She actually stood in the plate, that was her good and acceptable, spiritual worship of God.

We live in two different worlds, we are citizens physically in this nation because we were born here or because we moved here from somewhere else and became citizens. We also live in the Kingdom for it overlaps this world and we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We need to understand that even though we live in the USA, are citizens of the USA, our allegiance belongs to God.

That is why Paul speaks of renewal of the mind, we are to be transformed into the image of Christ. We are to become more involved in the things of God, we are to be resistors against the temptations of the world in which we live. Somebody has said that if you don’t know who you are, the world will tell you. Do not allow the world around you to decide for you who you are, Once you became a Christian, you became a child of the King! Paul goes on to speak of humility in living.

Gifts of Grace

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly
than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

We are the body of Christ in this world, we are his feet and hands, eyes and ears, we are the parts that carry out the gospel in this world around us. Helping others to find Christ, so they too might be transformed, by the power of the Holy Spirit acting within them. We are a unit, unified by the glue of humility to be the body of Christ, acting through the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our minds and
bodies so that others will see Jesus Christ in us.

Paul says we are to act according to our faith, the words are “ according to the measure of faith” assigned to you by God. Each of us has faith, and Jesus said that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Act therefore according to that measure of faith that you have. As you do so you will learn more about God and His will for your life, and your faith will increase as time goes on.

We are to live daily for Christ, that is, that we live our worship of God on a daily basis, we offer ourselves to Him for His glory daily. As Paul says that is our Spiritual or Reasonable worship. Worship is not only the time we spend together on Sunday, it is also the things we do during the week. As we work, play, shop what ever it is we do, it is to be done as an activity dedicated to God. So that we can offer acts of grace to others as we move through our daily living, thereby giving glory to God. As we live our worship daily we will also be living in faith, knowing that our God will present us with those activities that will
allow us to show His grace in our lives. Worship, is a verb, just as love is a verb, if you don’t use these gifts of God then you lose them over time. Any time you act in a manner that gives glory to God
you improve your worship and your love of God and neighbor shines ever brighter.

What can one person do? Paul says that we each have gifts given us from God. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. What is your gift? If it is the ability to speak well, or to teach then use that gift to bring knowledge of God to others.

If you are one who is able to exhort, then do so with zeal, if you are a leader, then do that well and with joy. Do you have the gift of giving, then do that with good cheer, as the lady who danced down the aisle and placed herself in the offering plate, giving all she was and had to God for His service. Do you have a word from God, deliver it happily for God has blessed you with the gift of prophecy. Do you have the ability to be an administrator, go for it, the church needs your gifts too.

Whatever it is that God has given you go for it, it is His gift to you for you to use in His service. There is only one thing that will stop you from practicing your gifts, from sharing your gifts to the glory of God. That is the doubt and fear that Satan puts in your path and that you accept.

Michael J. Brown, born and raised in Bedford County Virginia, became it’s sheriff in 1996. In 1998 he began to form a group called, Operation Blue Ridge Thunder. It went after Child predators, and as he worked with this group he realized that the internet had become the hunting ground for many of these people. He worked at and finally was able to start the Safe Surfin Foundation a 501c3 that works to educate children and parents about internet safety. Through his efforts this is now a nationwide organization. One person can make a difference, if you will use the gifts that God has given you. This organization now has people such as Erik Estrada as their national spokesperson, Shaquile O’Neil  known as Deputy Shaq and others going around the country, putting on educational events to help protect kids by teaching them about safe surfing on the internet. What can you do if you will work
for Christ. Don’t allow doubt and fear to get in your way, rather step out in that faith that God has given you. Amen.