Today’s Scripture is Romans 12: 1-2:
From the NIV: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 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.
From The Message: So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of maturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
“…Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking…” OUCH. How often am I able to say, “No, I won’t watch that program; it doesn’t honor God” or “No, I won’t carry the latest handbag; I’ll use this money to help someone else” or even “No, I will not miss worship *again* this Sunday; it’s vital to my spirit to worship with my family of believers”? Honestly, it is pretty dang hard for me to not want to fit in whether that’s with my family, with my friends – churched and unchurched, or the youth at PoG & in the community. The enemy has a sneaky way of helping me believe I am supposed to fit in and compare to everyone else: “Isn’t she pretty? I bet her life is easy!;” “That guy must have it all together, just look at how many friends he has!;” “I bet they make a ton of money; must be nice.” Ugh. Please forgive me, Jesus, for the arrogance and jealousy in my heart! I am sorry for looking TO the world for acceptance and LIKE the world to gain that acceptance!
God really challenges me with “offer your bodies as living sacrifices…this is your true and proper worship.” I WANT to get that right. However, my fickle mind and heart will always take over, telling me that it’s ok to *fill-in-the-struggle*, God will still love me and forgive me. Well, it’s definitely true that He WILL still love me and forgive me. Buuut, does that give me the go-ahead to sin, sin, sin? Of course not! Wait, wasn’t there something earlier in the verse…oh yeah “…in view of God’s mercy”! He’s not issuing an Executive Order then telling me to figure out how to implement the change in my life all by myself. He’s telling me that He, by prayer and petition, will walk with me as He changes me into that worshipful living sacrifice. Oh, hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus! I don’t have to figure it out on my own! *PHEW* Thank You, Father, for walking with us as we learn to become living sacrifices for You!
Finally, there is one more piece of today’s Scripture that gives me so much hope, especially since I am able to look into my own history and see just how incredibly God has worked in me: “…by the renewing of your mind.” Oh. My. Goodness. I was one fractured human being when God moved us over the Atlantic Ocean so He could place one exquisitely special lady in my way. (Ok, yeah, technically we were there for Shawn’s work, but that was God’s way of getting me to Muriel. I fully and completely believe that!) She introduced me to Who Jesus really is and set my feet firmly on the path to wholeness. Clinical depression and bi-polar II had pretty much caused me to believe I was a terrible person - hateful, ruined, unlovable. God had - still has - His work cut out in dealing with me but He has been gracious and merciful every single step of the way. He really has “renewed my mind” – literally! If God hasn’t quit working in me, He definitely won’t quit on anyone. Thank You, Lord, for never giving up on us, even when we give up on ourselves! Please help us each to learn who we really are to You – Your much-loved children! Amen!
Do you struggle with “looking like the world”? Do you have a testimony of how God has redeemed you, transformed you, changed you? Please share!