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Reading: Romans 12:1-21
The title of my message today is “Five things to help us be a living
sacrifice”. For my devotions this past week or so I have been working my
way through Romans 12. As I did this Romans 12:1 has really stuck in my
mind.Romans 12:1 NLT says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I
plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for
you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find
acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him”.In this verse
Paul urges us as believers to follow Jesus example in being a sacrifice,
but rather die for sin, we die to ourselves and offer ourselves to God.
Paul encourages us to be living sacrifices. To give our lives for God’s
service. He says that this is an acceptable sacrifice to God and the way
we truly worship Him. It is a right response to the actions of a loving
But how do we go about being a living sacrifice? What are some of the
things it entails? If we read through the rest of chapter Romans 12 Paul
gives us a few clues. Today I just want to touch on some of the things
that jumped out at me as I meditated on this chapter. In future messages
I will dig a little deeper into the main points and give them a sermon
of their own.
1. Renew our mindVerse 2 says, “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. Renewing your mind.
This is a vital first step if we are wanting to live a life in God’s
service and be a living sacrifice. We need to line our hearts and minds
up with God’s thinking.
How do we do this? The primary way is by prayerfully reading,
reflecting and meditating on the Bible. As we do this we allow God’s
Spirit and God’s Word to enter our minds and sink deep into our hearts.
The result of this if we do it diligently over a period of time, it
changes our hearts to our minds forever. The result of this is “Then you
will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and
perfect.”I find that as the years go by and my mind is renewed
more and more, the things of God become easier and more natural to do.
It is easier to love others, it is easier to serve others and it is
easier to live by Kingdom standards. In many ways our minds are
like the gearboxes of our lives. If our minds are renewed, it is easier
to put them in D for drive and go forward in Christ and His will for our
lives. If they are not renewed we might be in Park, Neutral or even
Reverse. Those who drive an automatic will know that if you are in
drive, you only have to take your foot off the brake and you start
As I said I will unpack renewing our minds in a deeper way in a
future sermon. But today I just want to make the first point that a key
to being a living sacrifice is to renew our minds.2. Use
our gifts wellVerses 6-8 – “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; 7 if it is serving, then
serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 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.”Paul
tells us to use whatever gift God has given us to the best of our
abilities. If it is to prophesy, teach, serve, give, show kindness or
encourage we should do the best job we can.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul also says, “4 There are different kinds
of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different
kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of
working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
And in 1 Peter 4:10 Peter reminds us to, “Each of you should use
whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of
God's grace in its various forms.
Using our gifts well is a key part of being a living sacrifice for
God. This is sometimes where the sacrifice part comes in. There is work
is finding, recognising and developing your gifts. I may be an
encourager but we have to work at it. My loner tendencies needed to be
overcome so I could be where people were who needed encouragement. I was
told I had a gift of teaching, but I had to work to develop my gift with
diligent study. I also had to get over my paralysing fear of public
speaking. It can be hard and a sacrifice, but there is no greater and
more peaceful place to be than being right in the middle God’s will
using God’s gifts for the good of others. I wouldn’t be standing here
today if I didn’t work hard to develop my gifts.3.
Really love each otherVerses 9-10 – “Love must be
sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one
another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. ".Both the
NIV and the NLT say this well, but I love the way the NLT puts it “Don’t
just pretend that you love others. Really love them”. That is straight
to the point! I remember when our girls were young we put this verse
on the fridge. We then had a list of ways we could show we really love
someone. It said things like…
Kids have a way of putting things simply. I have never forgotten
these things. They showed me that we love others in practical ways, by
helping when they are in need. This is sometimes a sacrifice. But it is
well worth it. Because it means we are living out this life that Jesus
calls us to live and being a light unto the world around us.
There are a number of other places in the New Testament that talks
about the importance of loving one another.
1 John 4:7 - Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes
from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11 - Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to
love one another. John 13:34-35 - "A new command I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By
this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one
another."These verses remind us that we are commanded to love
one another, that those who love are born of God, that since God loves
us we should love one another and by our love for one another people we
know we are Jesus’ disciples. My heart is to be known as a disciple of
Jesus, so I need to love others.4. Live in harmony with
each otherVerses 14-18 – “Bless those who persecute
you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn
with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be
proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not
be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do
what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as
it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. In the next
section Paul urges us to live at peace with everyone. The NIV says to
live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you.
I remember years ago I worked with a lady who just didn’t like me. No
matter what I did or said she just would not warm up to me. She would
even go out of her way to make sure I did not receive favourable
treatment at work. One day I read these verses and it reminded me that
no matter how she treats me I had to live at peace with her. So I prayed
and asked God to help me work with her and to ask if there was ways I
could bless her. In time I emailed her and apologised if I had offended
her without knowing. As a result, we were able to talk and the problem
was sorted. We had a good working relationship and were able to talk and
we did not a barrier between us.
It really brought home to me that we should try to love and serve
others even if they persecute us as Christians. God makes it very clear
it is not our place to curse or take revenge. That is a big sacrifice at
times and is contrary to a worldly way of thinking.
If you want to be a living sacrifice, you need to live at peace with
everyone as much as it depends on you.5. Conquer evil
with goodVerse 21 – “Don’t let evil conquer you, but
conquer evil by doing good”Paul finally finishes this section
with a plea to not let evil overcome us, but we need to press on and
overcome evil with good deeds. I remember years ago I was heavily
involved in community outreach with our church in Perth. We would go
door to door giving away Jesus videos. We were on fire and we wanted to
take on the world. Then along came September 11. It is when I let evil
overcome me. I was horrified at the evil people could do to each other.
It really knocked me and I found it hard to go out every Saturday. I
knew there was evil in the world, but somehow it brought it home to me.
It took me a few months to get back on tract.
Verse 21 was one of the things that helped me get back on tract. God
commands us to conquer evil by doing good.
Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil is for good men to do nothing”. I think Princess Di used that in
one of her famous speeches too.
It can be a sacrifice to have an overcoming attitude. But if we keep
moving forward and serving God by serving others the Bible promises we
will reap a harvest at the right time. It tells us this is Galatians
6:9.ConclusionAs we can see from these
things being a living sacrifice is about:
And while we do these things we are to keep our hope, be patient when
things are going wrong and keep praying faithfully.Let’s pray
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