Hello Dear Christian Readers and Friends. It has been only one weekend since Thanksgiving Day and I am hoping you all had a great day celebrating the goodness of God with your family and friends. I sure did. Even on my worst day, I have so much to be thankful for!
I realized at 1:30 this morning, that it was my turn to post on our site. Time sure does fly! Since I have been sharing different things with you that I am doing in school, I thought this week I would share the second of three sermons I had to write and give for my Homiletics class. Because it was written to be heard and not seen, the writing may be a little off. There are places I have used all CAPS for my speaking notes, but I sure do hope you will enjoy it anyway! First, you need to know that when I refer to the video, it was a demonstration in which a man takes a large jar, fills it with small beads, rocks, water, and then golf balls only to discover that all the golf balls will not fit. Then the same items are put in the jar in reverse, putting the biggest item in first: the golf balls, the rocks, the beads, and the water, and everything fit perfectly! It is a great demonstration of how you can fit more in by putting the biggest thing in first. With that said, following is my sermon in printed form:
The dictionary defines “priority” as a precedence, established by order of importance or urgency. Priorities are funny things…what’s big to me as a priority may not be what is big to you as a priority. So what I put into my life first, as represented by the jar in the video, could be different than what you fit first into your life. And priorities usually change from one season of life to another.
Priorities are motivated by different things. Sometimes priorities are motivated by our selfishness – it’s all about “mwa.” Sometimes our priorities are motivated by a desire for material things, successful careers or caring for our families. We can even be motivated by things such as “fear” in establishing our priorities. Many years ago, I was influenced by the fear of not ever being able to do anything really well.
Today with a fulltime class load and homeschooling Alex, it is what seems URGENT at the moment that tends to take priority. I know your life is busy too! We all have many things to try to fit into our days…church, jobs, school, childcare, parent care, housework, yard work, doctor appointments, exercise, vacations, club meetings, kids after school activities, dogs, chickens, FACEBOOK, and the list goes on.
We all have things we must prioritize in our lives as to how we will get them all in and when. We have some things that we can be flexible with and some things that don’t have much room for flexibility. So we order our priorities differently according to our own perspective on life and according to our personal decision as to how important something is to us. But there is one thing –one PRIORITY that should be COMMON to all Christians – one PRIORITY that is VITAL that you and I have as our BIGGEST priority! That is our devotion to GOD. I want to show you WHY our Devotion to God must be our BIGGEST priority and HOW we live devoted to God.
I want to show you that a YIELDED LIFE is the BEST LIFE and it is a life that PROVES GOD!
Turn with me, please to Romans 12:1-2. I want to give you some background leading up to our passage. Paul has just finished discussing in the first eleven chapters of this letter a theological discussion informing the saints in the church at Rome of what God has done for them through Jesus Christ and who they are in Him. Paul has said things like “You were once disobedient to God, you were at enmity…at war with God, yet now you have obtained mercy in Christ. You deserved to die, but you have obtained a pardon for your sins.”
Then Paul culminates his theological discussion stressing the ultimate wisdom and knowledge of God which are past understanding. He emphasizes how no one can be God’s counselor or give to God… for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.
Now Romans 12:1, Paul is switching gears from the THEOLOGICAL discussion to one of practical application. He says, THEREFORE I URGE YOU brothers and sisters…
Therefore is a connecting word. It implies Paul is saying that because of all these things that he just presented to them that have been done for them and given to them, and because who they are in Christ…and who God is… in view of these things and in view of God’s wisdom… I urge you.
“Urge” is serious exhortation. Paul is trying to MOVE them to ACTION. And notice he is talking to Christians like you and me. He says, “brothers and sisters.”
Then he goes on, “by the mercies of God”…the J.B. Phillips bible translates this as “in view of God’s mercy”…in view of the mercy God has shown. So again, he is emphasizing the mercy God has already given them.
Notice He wasn’t threatening them with hell and condemnation as some do today in order to manipulate and control people… it is the love of God shown in His mercy that draws us to Him. Romans tells us it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance.
Then Paul says, “I want you to present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Okay, everybody was probably doing just fine up to this point but “MY BODY…A LIVING SACRIFICE…DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT. But stay with me here!
…This is where the BEST LIFE begins! Let me tell you why…
In Genesis, Adam and Eve walked in complete harmony with God and experienced peace, love, joy, awesome provision and purpose. Why? They were living yielded to God… They were living according to their design and purpose. This is what they were created for. You see the original nature of man wasn’t like the fallen nature we are familiar with. Originally human nature was yielded to God. They lived dependent on God.
Humans were created to be dependent on God and when we are not…when we are separated from Him…by choosing to be our own gods as Adam and Eve did…we lose our peace…
…there’s pain, thorns and thistles, and… sweat. There’s confusion, and lack of direction and purpose for life; and life can become overwhelming to us at times. We need help in making decisions about our education, kids, parents, finances, and when we are yielded to God, living dependent on–instead of independent of God, He guides our choices and we have everything we need. We live in HARMONY WITH God as we were created to be.
Adam and Eve chose to follow Satan’s direction instead of God’s that day in the garden. They decided to be their own God and quit yielding to His direction. They decided their way might be better than His. They did it their way. They separated themselves from God. How did that work out? Not so well. So Paul is urging these Christians at Rome to make a presentation of their bodies…to TURN OVER their lives to God… God has done His part. He is waiting for you!
As parents, don’t we want our children to be surrendered to us and our will…why? Because we know most times, our WILL is best for them…parents may lack wisdom at times, but God, our heavenly father, never lacks wisdom. Our heavenly Father always knows best!
Paul goes on to say, “This is your reasonable service…some translations say “spiritual” service of worship. This Greek word that is translated “reasonable” refers to a rationale decision. This isn’t about EMOTION. What he is saying is “this is your act of intelligent worship. Come on brothers and sisters – this only makes sense – it is rationale and intelligent to give God our lives and allow Him to be Lord! It is intelligent to live how He says is BEST and not what our flesh tries to tell us is BEST. We can trust God with our lives!
Christ had to sacrifice the desires that came from His FLESH. In the Garden of Gethsemane He sweat drops of blood as He fought the temptation not wanting to go through with the Father’s will, but in the end He said, “Not my will but yours be done!” Do you see this? Sacrificing our will to God’s may feel a little painful to us for a short time, but it will always lead to the what’s best! His plan is better than ours! A yielded life is the BEST life and it proves God!
Listen. God doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need anyone. He doesn’t need our worship. He is not egocentric. He is holy. He is perfect – always. That means He is perfectly happy and satisfied and is lacking nothing! But He created us out of His divine counsel for His divine purpose and He created us to be dependent on Him. So, FRANKLY, we don’t do so well when we try to go our own way without Him. God knows a yielded life is the BEST life for us. He also knows it is the life that will PROVE Him. It’s what we were made for…designed for. It is an act of intelligent worship in response to what God has done and Who God is – merciful and wise.
Offering ourselves as living sacrifices isn’t losing something. God isn’t taking something from us. He is giving us something – Himself and His wisdom! He is giving us HIS will which is PERFECT for us. And in regards to being a “living” sacrifice – It means it is something we must do over and over again. We will always be tempted to allow other things to take God’s place – our devotion from Him by requiring our time, our money, our thoughts and emotions. So Paul urges us to make a GENUINE ongoing COMMITMENT that will be ongoing for the rest of our lives. This is not a one- time action. Due to the many distractions – priorities – we have to rearrange them and put these in 2nd, 3rd, 4th place and sometimes give them up altogether.
We are simply sacrificing what we want to do that is in OPPOSITION TO GOD and presenting ourselves to God for His PURPOSE WHICH IS WHAT’S BEST FOR US anyway.
So Paul is saying, “In view of this great mercy that you have received from God, in view of HIS WISDOM, it would be an act of intelligent worship to give your lives to God. Yield your will for His when your will is in opposition to God’s.
Paul continues in verse 2… And do not be conformed to this world. You can’t be devoted to God and conformed to the world at the same time! The Greek word for “conformed” is soos-khay-mat-id-zoe. It refers to accommodating oneself to a model or pattern. It is used elsewhere in the N.T. describing those who conform themselves to worldly lusts.
The word “world” refers to a godless system. Any way other than God’s way is godless. That is what Eve and Adam did. Influenced by Satan, Adam and Eve went their own way. Don’t you know they regretted that moment for the rest of their life! We don’t want those kind of regrets, do we? Of course not! Paul is saying to the Christians at Rome and to us “don’t let the world mould you into its pattern…Don’t let it squeeze you into its mould. You are God’s child…a royal priest…you have been freed from the bondage of the world…freed from sin… you are free to choose the best way – God’s way! He is saying, “Don’t yield to the world’s ways and look like someone who doesn’t know Christ!”
Paul goes on to tell us how… HOW we can devote our lives to God? How we can remain yielded to Him with all of the world’s distractions and temptations pulling at us…
He says, don’t be conformed to the world but (He says, instead) be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The Greek word for transformed is “Metamorphoo” and is the same word that we get our word metamorphosis from. It implies a restoration to an original state. God is in the restoration business. He wants us to be restored in our relationship with Him to the state humans originally had with Him when they walked in “oneness” with Him with their intellect and will in alignment with His.
I can be transformed by renewing my mind. This is a choice we make for our lives! We choose to be transformed (changed) by making the decision to do what we have to do to renew our minds. The KEY is our minds. Understand, God changed your spirit and made it alive. We are a new creation in Christ but our mind is still the same ‘ole mind. It is our job to get our minds in alignment with the new heart, the new nature God has given us. The mind constitutes the intellect, understanding, and the mind-set, the feelings and the will. It describes a complete change, like that of a caterpillar into a butterfly. It indicates a literal change in the form or formulas of thought or being. So we are transformed “changed” by the Holy Spirit’s energizing within us as we renew our minds to God’s thoughts, purpose, and will found right here in the bible.
And Paul continues saying do this so “that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” We prove or test God’s will out in our lives as we live it out through our lives. In other words, we take it for a test run. We practice it in everyday living and as we do, His will, will be proved to be good and acceptable and perfect!
Doing these two things, yielding our will and renewing our minds leads us into God’s perfect will for our lives. And, this means He will be glorified through our lives. Others will see His goodness. They see God’s will is proven to be PERFECT AND GOOD. There is no better way to glorify God than this. This is worship, my friends. A yielded life proving God’s good and perfect will, thus, glorifying Him.
Priorities don’t just get out of balance over night. They get out of balance a little here and a little there as we are DECEIVED with worldly ideas and ways, DECEIVED by our flesh (un-renewed minds), and DECEIVED with the urgent. How about you? Have your priorities gotten out of order? Is your devotion to God somewhere down the list or completely off of the list?
Has God become a stranger to you? Are you living without purpose, peace and joy?
Do you need a wise counselor to help you make decisions in life or to find God’s will for your life?
I want to encourage you TO MAKE A DECISION TODAY TO LIVE YOUR LIFE devoted to GOD. Make Him your biggest priority. Remember, you do this starting with your mind, you choose. This is NOT AN EMOTIONAL decision! Love grows as you spend time with God.
Today you just need to use your intelligence, your mind and make this decision.
WHY? Because of God’s mercy and wisdom, IT IS an act of INTELLIGENT WORSHIP and BECAUSE THE YIELDED LIFE will prove God!
HOW? By yielding and renewing your minds according to His Word. Say “no” to the godless system and fallen nature that is in opposition to God’s will and purpose for you.
Just imagine what your life will be like as you yield to His will which is good and perfect for you! Just imagine what life would be like if we were ALL living life YIELDED TO GOD. We would all experience God’s wisdom, love, and peace and we share it with one another. Serving one another in love! Just imagine how wonderful all of our relationships would be – Relationships with parents, spouses, children and friends!Imagine what our church would be like, what our community and nation and world would be like if everyone would yield their lives to God!
One day that will happen. But for now, we can be that beacon of light to those living in the godless system that surrounds us. Together, we can be that light that PROVES God and begins to permeate the darkness to change the world around us! Won’t you join me and recommit your life today–Lets devote our lives to God by making our devotion to HIM our BIGGEST priority—
After all, it is a yielded life that is the BEST life and it is the life that proves God!
In Sisterly Love,