I had an idea of what I wanted to write about this Easter. It’s so exciting when God reveals something to share with my audience. I never want to assume that everyone that reads has heard the Resurrection story. So, I’m thrilled to share what God laid on my heart this week.
Several years ago, I was reading my late Father’s favorite book of the Bible, Romans. Chapter eight is one of my favorite chapters to read, and chapter three is illuminating. However, chapter twelve is growing on me fast! The first time I read verse twelve of chapter twelve, it spoke to my heart loudly. I’ve shared it in both of my books, and it continues to encourage my heart.
This week as I began my quiet time one morning, I was surprised that I was starting the book of Joshua in my daily reading. It was shocking that I had already read through Leviticus and Deuteronomy! In some years, those books have been a challenge, but for some reason, I found myself enjoying reading Deuteronomy, especially.
But this post is all about Romans twelve and the instructions here for successful Christian living. (Most of my scripture references from Romans 12, I’ll be referring to the NLT version unless otherwise noted.)
In verse one of chapter twelve, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is our spiritual service of worship. Speaking of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it is chock full of sacrifices, but the animal kind! It must have been a bloodletting back in Old Testament times. The priest sprinkled blood on the altar, rubbed blood on the altar, and even cut animals in half on the altar sometimes.
Thankfully, Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins by the shedding of His blood on the cross. But once we have accepted the gift of salvation, God wants a living sacrifice. He wants our bodies; heart, soul, and mind! This kind of sacrifice is the beginning of how we can honor Him.
Transformed or Conforming?
On September 9th of, 2012, I recommitted my life to Christ. Back then, I realized that I refused to offer my life up to God for years. He was second place in my life and maybe even third at times? Despite my salvation, there was no heart transformation. In fact, I had conformed much of my life to the worldly view of things. If you’ve read either of my books, you know my focus was on how the world views success.
You may say that you’ve never experienced the challenges or struggles I faced years ago. However, before you go too far with that thinking, let me share with you some ways that you can “conform” to the world, thus hindering your transformation.
Rationalize. The dictionary defines this as to justify, explain away, or reason. Are there ANY thoughts or behaviors that you have “justified” or “reasoned” away? Anything that does not fall in line with God’s Word? Think about that. While you’re thinking, I’ve got another good word for you to consider.
Compromise. Concede. Give and take. Settle. Make a concession. Have there been times when you find yourself doing these kinds of things instead of a “living sacrifice?”
I want to give you a glimpse of just how easy it can be to find yourself conforming to the world’s way of thinking. If these things become habitual, your continuing transformation can stagnate. So, how can you begin the process of change and glorify Christ?
Renewing your mind is where your transformation begins. I had to make hard choices. I still have to at times. Christian living is an ongoing process. You cannot just set it and forget it. God never promised us easy. Click To Tweet
Nevertheless, God did promise never to leave us alone or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) I want you to realize that He understands we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength. That is why He sent the Holy Spirit to live within our hearts. He also left us with His Holy Word for wisdom, guidance, direction, and encouragement. It takes humility not to think we can do this independently but be willing to ask God for help, strength, and wisdom.
Spending an hour at church on Sundays is not enough. You have to be “plugged in” to the Power source, Jesus Christ, to bring honor to God. Spending time with God needs to be a priority in your life. I want to give you some hope. So here are some things you can do to continue the responsibility of honoring God.
Draw Near to God. Earlier, I mentioned being “plugged in” to the Power source. If you don’t plug into God’s Word regularly, how effective can or will you be at glorifying Jesus? Bible studies and reading plans are fantastic, but do you dig deeper? Do you ask God to show you His message for you that day? I approach God in prayer, asking Him to encourage my heart, enlighten my mind, and inspire my thoughts. Whatever I share on my website, podcast, or even my books has to be inspired by the Word of God.
Gifts from God!
Determine and Develop Your Gifts. After establishing a DNA of humility, God is ready to take advantage of the gifts He has blessed you with since salvation. You must identify your gifts and then develop them.
Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves by the faith that God has given us. God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well in His grace. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. Giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:3,6-8.
I have embraced my gift to be an encourager to the body of Christ. It is such a blessing to me when God opens doors for me to encourage, whether through writing, sharing on the podcast, or even having the opportunity to pray for someone. God will usually bless you with a gift or gifts related to your passions in life. Maybe that will help in identifying your spiritual gifts.
Having embraced an attitude of humility and now committed to developing your God-given gifts, what is left for you to do now? Well, I’m glad you asked! Because this brings me to my favorite verse in this chapter.
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep praying! Romans 12:12.
I’m sorry about the exclamation point. It’s probably more for me than for you. I constantly have to remind myself to be patient, but I love the encouragement to keep on praying. There have been times when I realize that I have not prayed about something in a long while.
It’s not that I don’t believe God will answer. My intention when praying is first to offer up a heart full of gratitude and then pray for others in need of prayer. I need to keep praying for healing for my injured brain. I have not prayed for a companion in forever, and I believe a replacement car is not part of His plan for me. So, I need to search my heart and pray for things that align with God’s will and purpose for my life. I’ve said it before, but I cherish prayer! I cannot believe that because of what Jesus has done, we have access to the Father!
Here are a few things Paul implores us to due in closing out chapter twelve of Romans. I don’t want to overwhelm you but read through these scriptures. Let God speak to your heart. Is there an area of weakness mentioned? Something you struggle with at times? Then keep on praying.
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Do things in such a way that everyone can see that you are honorable. Do all that you can do to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:13-19.
I know this is a lot to digest. But God knows your heart. He loves you, and He will empower you to live in a way that brings honor to Him. Ask Him to show you areas of your life where you can be better.
I encourage you to place your living sacrifice upon the altar and commit yourself daily to living a holy life for God. Holy, not meaning perfect, but “separated” for service. Make it your goal to live in this way leading up to Easter and beyond. Your life will be a sweet-smelling aroma ascending up to God. The choice is yours, dear friend.
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