Living Sacrifices—Romans 12:1

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1)

 Worship is a lifestyle. Worship that is pleasing to the Lord encompasses our whole being, thoughts and attitudes. Paul urges us to present our bodies to the Lord as living sacrifices devoted and consecrated to him as this is our reasonable service and an act of spiritual worship. This offering before the Lord is in view of his mercy toward us. Understanding the abundance of His grace and mercy will change our hearts. This is why Paul spent the last eleven chapters of Romans going over in detail this abundant grace through Christ so that we will understand God's mercy in spite of everything we have done. The greater our understanding of this truth, the more our lives will reflect this worship lifestyle with God as its center.

In Luke 7, Jesus visited the house of a Pharisee who had invited him to dinner. While he was there a certain woman came to him with an expensive bottle of perfume. She stood over Jesus weeping and anointing his feet with oil. The Pharisee was indignant and offended at this because she was a notorious sinner and an outcast in that society. He said to himself that if Jesus was really a prophet he would know what type of woman she was. Jesus, reading his thoughts asked him a question, "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" ( Luke 7:41 ). The Pharisee answered Jesus by telling him that the one that had the larger debt would love him more because he had been forgiven more. Jesus confirmed that he evaluated his question correctly.

The woman had come to Jesus aware of her status and her sin and had fallen at his feet worshipping him. She made no pretense that she was good enough for him, but she took what she had and offered it to him as a gift just the same. Jesus then went on to describe to this man that he had neglected even the common curiosities one would offer a house guest. He did not give him water to wash his feet, he did not offer him a kiss at arrival and he did not anoint his head with ordinary oil as was their custom. Jesus called him on the fact that he made no moves toward welcoming him into his home. However this woman offered him everything and held nothing back because of the grace given her. Jesus told her that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her. He then dismissed her to go and live the rest of her life in peace knowing these things ( Luke 7:36-50 ).

The obvious application is although both were sinners; only one recognized it and fell at the mercy of God. The woman was the one who came away from Jesus fully justified. She received grace because she looked to Him to save her. She found incredible mercy in Jesus and in return she loved him greatly. Her actions and worship of Jesus showed this change in heart.

Understanding the depths of God's mercy brings about the desire to serve him. When we know how much we are loved and how we have been forgiven, then this longing is an outgrowth of that knowledge. Paul encourages us in view of His mercy to offer our entire being in service to him. He exhorts us to be wholly devoted and consecrated to God and to live our lives in a way that pleases the Lord. If we are to live this way, the question then becomes what is a living sacrifice?

Fortunately, we have a perfect example of a living sacrifice in Christ. Jesus told the Jews, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me" ( John 6:38 ). Jesus' express purpose was to do the will of the Father. To carry to completion the work that God sent him to do. "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" ( John 6:38-40 ).

This is an amazing example of a living sacrifice. Jesus was obedient to the Father to the point of death. He knew God's will for his life and lived his life with that sole purpose in mind. Jesus told the disciples shortly before his crucifixion, "the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me" ( John 14:31 ). He was preparing them for his death, but in the same manner teaching us an important truth, that his purpose was God's purpose. He showed his obedience to God's will even thought it meant dying for the sins of the world and taking on himself the judgment and wrath for these things. He knew the agony he was facing and said, "if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" ( Matthew 26:39 ). He submitted to the will of God even facing this horrible death and was obedient to the purpose in which God sent him. This is a perfect example of a living sacrifice.

In the same way we become living sacrifices when we understand and know the will of God and walk in that will for our lives. Many think we cannot know the will of God, however the scripture teaches differently. God's intent, desire and will for us have been fully expressed in the scriptures. We can know and understand these things by renewing our minds to them and letting these truths dictate our thoughts and attitudes. Paul gave this key in the very next verse of Romans 12, "Do not conform any longer 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 " ( Romans 12:2 ). The way to test and approve God's will for our lives is to renew our minds to the truth of God's word. Understanding these principals will change our hearts to the direction of God. We will be willing and ready to do whatever he desires because his will becomes our will.

This lifestyle of worship comes from knowing God and understanding his grace and mercy toward us. In view of these things we should offer ourselves completely to God to be used by him. Not because we have to but because of who he is and what he has done on our behalf. We have been redeemed and set apart and his mercy has changed everything! Today I encourage you to find God's will for your life and to live it to the fullest, being a living sacrifice willing and ready to go as he directs, amen.

Being Transformed By the Renewing of Your Mind—Romans 12:2

"Do not conform any longer 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" (Romans 12:2)

In Proverbs 23 it says, as a man thinks in his heart so is he ( Proverbs 23:7 ). Our actions are a result of what we think. Intellectually we may believe something to be true, but our real convictions come out our actions. This is why it is so important to renew our minds with word of God. To take the scripture and implant it in our hearts so that it is in alignment with what God has said. If what is in our heart is scripture then we will act based on that belief system.

Peter said, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" ( II Peter 1:3-4 ). Everything we need for life and godliness comes through the knowledge of him. In other words, applying the word of God is what affects your life. Life and godliness is a byproduct of knowing God and what he has spoken. This is why Paul said to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We are so inundated with the world and it's philosophies that it is hard to escape its corruption and not to internalize some of those viewpoints, but through the knowledge of him we are able to escape the corruption in the world because our beliefs are based on his principals.

Jesus said the same thing in John, "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" ( John 8:32 ). Being free is not automatic, first you must understand that the truth is what makes you free and to be free you have to know what the truth is. Later in John Jesus was praying for his disciples, he said, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" ( John 17:17 ). Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. We are already righteous before God because of Jesus, but sanctification and holiness comes through the knowledge of him ( II Peter 1:3 ). Jesus said "your word is truth" so knowing and understanding God's word is what brings about our sanctification and knowing this truth will set you free.

In Romans 12 Paul urges us to be living sacrifices in view of God's mercy toward us. This is our reasonable worship of the Lord for all that he has done. In today's passage Paul gives us the key to being living sacrifices. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ( Romans 12:2 ).  Paul uses a very descriptive word picture of this change. First we should not allow ourselves to be poured into the world's mold. This will only cause us to look like the world, to act like the world and to talk like the world. Instead we should be transformed by renewing our minds with what God has said. Imagine a caterpillar as he turns into a butterfly, this transformation is what Paul is talking about. II Corinthians says that in Christ we are a new creation. The old is gone the new has come ( II Corinthians 5:17 ). After we are born again, we still look the same on the outside, but God said we are new creations, completely different and changed on the inside. Renewing our mind to everything God says that we are will transform our lives into the new creation that we are.

This is an amazing truth in scripture, not because this change comes with anything we do but because it comes by knowing God and his word. We can experience effortless change in life simply by renewing our minds to the truth of God's word. As a man thinks in his heart so is he ( Proverbs 23:7 ), when what we think and know is God's word, then it will come out in the way we live. Paul wrote to Timothy that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" ( II Timothy 3:16-17 ). The Word is what equipped us and prepares us for this life. We are instructed to know and approve of God's will for us and this comes through renewing our minds to the scripture. But to be effective in our lives it has to be our revelation, our truth, our basis for living.

Today, I am so thankful for the word of God and how its truth has blessed my life. What it says about me is who I am. I am thankful that all things pertaining to life and godliness are mine through the knowledge of God as written in his word. May you understand the importance of the scriptures and apply them to your life, amen.

The Measure of Faith—Romans 12:3

"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 measure of faith God has given you" (Romans 12:3)

With the renewing of our mind comes the realization that we have been given like precious faith just as all the saints before us received ( II Peter 1:1 ). At salvation God gave to each one of us the same measure and we are to use this faith to accomplish the will of God for our lives. He has given everyone of us the full amount but it is up to us to tap into this power source and complete God's plan for us. This happens by renewing our mind to God's word and letting his truth become the catalyst of our faith. When we do this, then we will be able to test and prove his perfect will for us ( Romans 12:2 ).

Today's verse is a continuation of the previous verses in Romans 12. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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" ( Romans 12:1-2 ). Every one of us has a perfect plan that we can prove if we yield ourselves completely to the Lord as a living sacrifice. This plan is because of God's mercy toward us. So in view of that, we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Understanding his mercy is what makes this all possible. This is why Paul urged us to be living sacrifices. His mercy brings about the desire to devote and consecrate our lives to him. Then by renewing our mind to the word we will be transformed into his likeness and prove his perfect will for our lives. Because of this, we are given this measure of faith to accomplish this plan.

 "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 measure of faith God has given you" ( Romans 12:3 ). This verse is in direct relation to the pervious verses. Because of this grace given us we are to understand our position in regard to faith. We shouldn't think of ourselves more highly then we ought, but in the same manner we shouldn't think of ourselves lowly either. We are given the same measure of faith to accomplish God's will for our lives, understanding that his will and his plan are a gift. Everything comes from God and nothing is on our account. We simply live it out by being living sacrifices, renewing our mind and walking in faith.

One of the important reasons to understand the truth of God's word is that it gives us the keys to operating in faith. We have all been given the same measure, so the problem isn't the amount it is the application. Our faith is sufficient. It's our minds that don't know what we have that gives us the problem. This is why we should consider ourselves in sober judgment, knowing that each one of us has the very same amount. God doesn't give great faith to one and little faith to another. We all have what we need for this life. But, we must be plugged into the power source and understand how to use it to accomplish God's will for us. Our faith is what proves his will.  By renewing our minds to his truth we will see this plan unfold. By understanding the truths of God's word we will know how to use this faith that has been given us.

Today, may you understand that you have the full measure of faith. May you renew your mind to the truth of God's word so you can test and prove his perfect plan for your life. Walk in faith today just as all the saints before you did, amen.

In Christ We Form One Body—Romans 12:4-5

"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 who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12:4-5)

In Christ Jesus we were set apart to belong to God. No longer a part of this world we have been made sons and daughters through Christ and called into a royal priesthood. In the same way, we belong to the body of Christ which is the church. Although the sum total makes up many members we are joined together in such a way that makes us one body. We belong to each other in unity and service to bring the operation of God's kingdom in this world.

Each one of us has been given a special gifting and called to a specific purpose. But on our own we will not accomplish much. Joining together with other believers and utilizing their gifting is what brings meaning and fullness to the body of Christ.

A great example of this is our physical bodies. It has many organs and parts but each part cannot exist on its own. Being a part of the body is what enables the various parts to operate within their function. A heart pumps blood throughout the body, the brain processes, thinks and gives instruction, the skeletal system supports the entire operation and our muscles are what enable us to move about. They all work together to create a living human being capable of amazing things. When there is a problem in any of these parts, then it affects the entire system and as a result the whole body suffers.

The same is true within the body of Christ. We all have different functions, gifting and strengths, but they complement other parts of the body. When operating as God designed us, we are blessing the entire body. When we don't operate the way we were designed, then the body suffers. We are mutually dependent on one another and the makeup of the whole body far outweighs the sum of the individual parts.

Each one of us should consider this and operate as God has called us. There are many parts to the body of Christ and many roles. Not all are teachers, not all are pastors but all have a place. The fact that some roles are not visible within the body of Christ does not mean they are less important. Actually the opposite is true, these gifts are absolutely necessary to the body and hold special honor by God. "While our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" ( I Corinthians 12:24-27 ).

The great thing about this is each one of us can play to our strengths and the within the gifting that the Lord has given us. This is why we need to renew our minds and prove the will of God for our lives ( Romans 12:2 ). This is how we know what we are called to be. Each part is necessary and each part blesses the body of Christ. We are called to belong to each other.

Today may you understand how you have blessed the body by being called and set apart for a specific use. By faith may you continue to operate in that calling, amen.

Using Our Gifts to Bless the Body of Christ—Romans 12:6-8

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully" (Romans 12:6-8)

There is incredible freedom in operating in your strengths. We were all created with specific purposes, talents and aptitudes. Those things are gifts from the Lord. He designed us to complement the body of Christ by our membership in it. We all have different functions but we belong to the same body. The many members make up the church and the church is the body of Christ.

In today's passage Paul is encouraging us to play to our strengths. We all have different gifts and talents according to the grace given us. So it makes sense that if we have the gift of prophesy we should use it to bless the body of Christ. If we are talented at teaching, then we should be teaching the word to others. If we have been given a servant's heart, then we should be operating within that calling. There are many gifts and each one is very important to the body of Christ.

Paul listed several things in these verses that are easily overlooked as gifts from the Lord. We readily recognize the more visible gifts such as prophecy, teaching and leadership. However, just as important are gifts like encouragement, generosity and showing mercy to one another. If the entire body clamored for the pulpit but disregarded other gifts such as encouraging a struggling member or serving the needs of the body, then we would have chaos rather than unity. We were called by one spirit to one body. This is why each one of us should know and prove the will of God for our lives and set out to operate in it ( Romans 12:2 ). This is what brings us freedom as individuals and what blesses the collective body of Christ.

Paul talked more about this in I Corinthians 12. "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many" ( I Corinthians 12:12-14 ). Recognizing that we are one in Christ, we are called to make up one body and the body depends on us to function as we were designed is an amazing thing. This realization will free us from trying to be all things to all people. Instead we can focus on our strengths and the purpose to which we have been called. This is how God designed us to serve the body, by merely playing to the strengths for which he created us, and by using our natural talents and aptitudes to bring fullness to the many members. In doing this we will experience incredible joy, because we are living our lives in the way God designed us to live.

Today, I pray that you enjoy the gifting that the Lord created in you. May you serve His body with your strengths and talents out of a heart of gratitude for what he has done. May your joy be overflowing in the fullness of Him, amen.

Juli Camarin

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