Good morning to you my precious family in Christ

Read Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of 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.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he was urging, actually begging, the members of the church to present their bodies as a living sacrifice.

You might say Paul, wait a minute – a LIVING SACRIFICE? Doesn’t the mere word “sacrifice” insinuate death? How can one be a “living sacrifice”?

In order to clarify what Paul was writing, let us look closer at the words of the text.

In the Greek, the verb “present” means to place a person or object at another’s disposal. The noun “sacrifice” also means “victim”. Victim brings about a negative image; yet, our Lord Jesus was a victim – a willing victim. He placed Himself at the disposal of God the Father, laying down His life on the cross for each and every person. He was willing to endure excruciating physical pain, not to mention the pain of separation from the Father.

So if one becomes a victim like this, is one really a victim? I would say “no” not victim, rather “victor”. With that, in the next verse, Paul is encouraging us to not be conformed or moulded by and to this world, but to be transformed, changed by the renewal of our minds. Since our Lord Jesus is our example, we as His children follow Him; the laying down of our lives becomes a sacred act.

Because of His great act of worship to the Father, we as believers can also worship Jesus and the Father that way. And when we worship that way, we hunger more for God’s Word, therefore we are being being transformed by the Word as we spend more time reading it.

That is what we sing in that great hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross: It closes, Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

That is what Paul is urging us to do here. He says God is interested in you bringing your body and making it available to him. When he says to present your bodies, he means it is something you do all of the time.

Some of us, feel like saying, Lord, surely you don't want this body! Let me tell you something about it! It smells and snores. It has a bad heart, Lord. It has a dirty mind. You don't want this body. I have trouble with this body. It is always getting me into trouble.

My spirit is great, and I worship You with my soul -- but the body, Lord, that's what gets me down!

But the Lord says, “Bring your body. I know all about it. I know more about it than you do. I know all the things you tell me about it plus some things you haven't learned yet. Let me tell you something. By means of the blood of Jesus, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, I have made it holy and pleasing.”

That is the beautiful appeal of these verses. It is not telling us that we have to get all cleaned up and get our lives straightened out in every way and become perfect before we can offer ourselves to God.

Paul is saying, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices. Bring your bodies (that is what it says in the Greek word — your bodies, not yourselves) as a living sacrifice unto God. Bring it, with all its problems, with all the difficulty you have with it, with all the temptations and all — bring it just the way it is! I don't know how that affects you, but that encourages me greatly. All the other religions that I know of in the world tell us that somehow we have to straighten out our lives first, and then offer them to God. God never talks that way. He says, “You come to me just the way you are. I am the answer to your problems; therefore, you must start with me. You can't handle those problems yourself. Don't start with thinking you have to get them straightened out. Come to me, because I have the answers for your problems.”

Think back to what Paul tells in Romans 6:11 about our relationship with God, “…we’re to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”. To be alive to Christ means that we continually offer ourselves for the Lord’s glory. It means that we must give “all” of ourselves; - you/me in our totality.

It means the different roles, responsibilities, and resources that make you and me. That’s what Paul was talking about when he said “your body”. He was talking about your whole self—your entire being.

Think about who you are; identify the different things that make you who you are. Maybe you are a father/mother, grandfather/mother, brother/sister, a son/daughter, an uncle/aunty, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, pastor, Bible study leader, friend, husband/wife, veteran, a mentor, runner, and story teller. These are just a few of the different roles that make each of us unique. Then, there is our unique personality and all the different ways it works within these roles…and I haven’t even mentioned the resources that God has given each believer. All of this makes you and me distinctly us.

Throughout today we will operate within at least one of these capacities. Paul says that we should offer it all to God as a “living sacrifice”! Why? Because it is Holy and pleasing to the Lord! Everything we do in all the different capacities of our lives are to be done for His Glory.

Today for me that means typing out and sending devotions, working on a Bible study, prepare for a Marriage preparation meeting tonight, making phone calls, sending WhatsApp messages to keep contact and encourage the church family, work on a Health and Safety policy to work for COVID19 issues when we return to church, mowing the lawn, washing the dog, spending time with my precious family, and many other things —all, of it should be done for the glory of God!

It’s funny how, when we view it from this perspective, it changes our attitude. We don’t have to do life with a sense of drudgery; we realize all we do has eternal value. It’s true! Even if we don’t fully understand it, it all has value because it all brings glory to God.

Join with me in thinking about the roles, responsibilities, and resources that God has given you and I to operate in today. How might you offer your body as a living sacrifice?

What is a barrier to you living this kind of life? What can you do to avoid it?

Now pray and ask God to give you the grace and mercy to live for Him.

Paul encourages us in these two verses:

First, his own testimony of desire from Philippians 1:20: “It is my eager expectation and hope that “Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or by death

Second, his exhortation to us from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

The challenge for each believer of us my brothers and sisters is to walk in victory by the power of the Holy Spirit; becoming the worshipful instrument of the living sacrifice of Jesus our Messiah and to “Present our 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.

Let us pray

O LORD our God and Heavenly, Father, help each of us by the Holy Spirit to walk victoriously each day as we lay our lives down for Jesus’ sake. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Please help us to walk worthy of our calling, to be bold witnesses for You. Lord Jesus create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news about You today. Help me to be a person of prayer. I ask that You help us to be transformed by the power of Your Word and Your Holy Spirit a not to be moulded to the ways of the world. Thank you, Father, that you invite me to come to You just as I am, with my whole self, including my body. Help me each day to present myself as a living sacrifice. We ask this in Your Holy and precious name Lord Jesus’. Amen.

Much love to you from Maurice and Margaret