PRESENTING OUR BODY A LIVING SACRIFICE
PRESENTING OUR BODY A LIVING SACRIFICE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
As we have watched Christian people over a number of years we have come to the conclusion that the key to the victorious life lies in presenting our body a living sacrifice each day, patiently living for the Lord in the manner spoken of by the Apostles.
There are those who are waiting for the golden moment, the time when the Lord appears to them and commissions them for work in His vineyard, when every hindrance has been removed. But the golden moment seldom arrives.
There are others who follow the Christian "liturgical year." They do not bring forth much fruit.
The winner in the Christian race is the believer who each day seeks God's will in every decision great and small, reading his Bible, gathering together with fervent believers on a regular basis, giving, serving, pressing closer to Jesus at every opportunity.
Table of Contents
PRESENTING OUR BODY A LIVING SACRIFICE
As we have observed Christian people over a number of years we have come to the conclusion that the key to the victorious life lies in presenting our body a living sacrifice each day, patiently living for the Lord in the manner spoken of by the Apostles.
The common denominator of spiritual success is not intellectual brilliance, an outstanding education, extraordinary talents, remarkable ability to get along with people or to persuade people, unusual spiritual insight, excellence in public speaking, or any of the other attributes or stellar characteristics that we might assume would make for an outstanding performance in the Christian life.
Some people start off with a great show. They are fast but they don't last. They may exhibit remarkable zeal or ability for a period of time. But after some years have passed their interest wanes or they are sidetracked into the pursuit of money, material goods, an important job that requires too much of their time, or some other situation or endeavor.
It is the patient plodder who is found after decades have passed, still serving the Lord diligently even though few seem to notice or care, who gains the crown of righteousness and eternal life. To please the Lord we must pray and seek God as though we were the greatest apostle on the earth even though we are not being used by the Lord in any noticeable manner. This steady faithfulness is so utterly important to the Lord!
The winner in the Christian race is the believer who each day presents his body as a living sacrifice, seeking God's will in every decision great and small, reading his Bible, gathering together with fervent believers on a regular basis, giving, serving, pressing closer to Jesus at every opportunity.
Sometimes believers make a great mistake. They think at some point there will come a golden moment at which time they will "go forth and do great things for God." But for most of us the golden moment never comes. We graduate from high school, maybe from college. A few years pass and we get married. A few more years pass and we retire from our work. The next thing we know we are in a hospice in denial at the thought of dying. It happens to the best of us.
You have to make up your mind to serve God today in the midst of your "impossible" problems. Call on God with all your might. The golden moment is now!
We know we should get busy and serve the Lord. "Of course we cannot really mean business with God when we are young children." Oh no? In our assembly we expect children from the age of four to think of themselves as disciples of the Lord Jesus, as members of the Body of Christ.
We take the children and their worship seriously. As soon as they can waddle around in diapers they are waving the flags of worship. They are an extremely important part of our assembly. It is from such as these that God ordains strength. Their golden moment is now.
The children between seven and twelve often come up to the altar on their own, during the Communion service, and take the elements as a personal covenant with their Lord. They are not forced to do this, just invited sometimes. They need no prodding. They love to do it.
"Of course our teenagers are too young to really serve God. They must wait until they are older." Not so. We are giving part of our Sunday evening service to the young people to conduct as they will. They understand the planning and presentation is up to them, that if it flops it flops. Again, we regard what they do as serious and significant, not some sop we are throwing to them, some cute little "young people's" activity. We expect them to mean business with God and we listen to what they have to say.
The teenagers can become very capable with flag and banner routines, with mime, with drama, with tambourines. They can participate in what we call yadah. One or two of the youngsters will stand before the congregation and act out with appropriate movements the worship songs being sung. This is yadah. When we take our youth seriously they take themselves seriously.
I think the Lord has charged me and no doubt numerous others with making the new covenant clear. The Christian new covenant has become lost under the rubble of salvation by grace, mansions in Heaven, an any-moment "rapture," and the rest of the current traditions. The new covenant actually has to do with a transformation of our personality so we keep God's commandments by nature. Our teenagers understand the difference between what we are preaching and the prevailing traditions and they can verbalize our message. They can portray it in mime. They mean business with God.
On occasion, as the Spirit of God seems to be directing, most of us in the assembly get up and march around the church. The only music is the drum. Some of the young people get the banners, including the great banner portraying our Champion on His white horse, while others come to the front and hurl their banners downward as an expression of the destruction of the enemy. The golden moment of the teenagers is now.
"We can't expect much from young adults. They are in college or getting married or just starting a career." We do not accept this. We expect the young adults to find out from the Lord what He wants them to do, whether service on some foreign field, or at home, or whatever God wants. Should they pursue higher education or not? This is the time they must look to the Lord for guidance so their life will not be wasted on accumulating money or assisting the world in its mad rush to destruction. Their golden moment is now.
"We know of course that those in their forties cannot really get down to business with serving God because they are in the middle of their careers, looking forward to serving God when they retire." This is the biggest lie of all.
The American culture is eating the life out of those in their forties, making increasing demands on their time and strength. Pharaoh is commanding them to make bricks without straw. They are hanging on, hoping to make a lot of money so they can retire in comfort.
These men and women are at the peak of their ability. It is now they are to be serving the Lord in some significant manner. God has something for them if they will look to Him. It may mean abandoning their plans for retirement. Their golden moment is now.
Perhaps the greatest delusion of all, one that snares American Christians, is the idea we can make a lot of money and then retire and serve the Lord. Do not deceive yourself. One of the bedrock principles of ministry is a willingness to trust the Lord for enough money to continue.
It is not possible to store up a great deal of money so we do not have to trust God, and then bring the Word of life to people. The Word of life comes only from the servant who is crucified with Jesus and living by His Life, from nowhere else. Apostles dwell in the Divine fire, not in walnut-lined studies surrounded by their commentaries and Greek lexicons, receiving their retirement check every month so they do not have to trust the faithfulness of God.
Then we come to the senior citizens. "Of course we cannot expect the seniors to go as missionaries or serve in some significant manner. They are too tired." The truth is any person at about any age can find significant Kingdom work to perform if he or she will seek the Lord. The elderly (at seventy-nine years of age I hate the term) can develop a ministry of prayer and intercession, or write to missionaries, or work with the children. If they have served Christ during their life they are a fabulous source of wisdom and inspiration for the young. God will show them how they can serve in the Kingdom if they are willing to do so. The golden moment of the seniors is now.
You can be sure that whenever you decide to serve the Lord some seemingly insurmountable obstacle will confront you. You have to serve Him in the midst of your problems. There will never come a day when you have no problems and can serve the Lord conveniently. Your golden moment is now.
How tragic are those elderly people who now realize they have wasted their life waiting for the golden moment that never came. Now they wish they had served the Lord when they had energy and health. When they look to the Lord they know He is disappointed. They do not know what to expect when they die. They wasted their one and only chance to show their love for Christ.
Your time to serve the Lord is right now even though the obstacles are monumental. You are a mother with young children. You are building a business. You are planning to get married. Go ahead and wait for a better time. You will find it never comes.
You are too young, too busy, or too tired. You would love to spend time in prayer but you have no time or strength left.
Of all the forces that immobilize Christians, one of the most damaging may be the idea that one day there will arrive a golden moment when it all comes together, when we are free to serve the Lord without worrying about money, when we are strong and healthy, when we have no family responsibilities, when we are in another place, another land where the people will come flocking and everyone will cheer us on.
For most of us this moment never appears. We have to do the best we can today in the middle of the mess.
You may in the process of losing your spiritual inheritance. What are you going to do about it?
The Christian liturgical year would be funny if it were not so serious. It causes us to lose the fullness of our reward.
We now are approaching summer. Everyone knows that people go on vacation in the summer and so we will wait to get serious about serving the Lord until the fall.
When the fall comes school is starting. We are exhausted from getting the kids back to school. Family is coming from out of town for Thanksgiving and preparations have to be made. We will serve the Lord just as soon as we make it through Thanksgiving.
After Thanksgiving no one can be expected to get serious with God because of the approach of Christmas. Everyone is shopping early this year and the stores may run out of toys. Anyway we have to practice for the cantata. But after Christmas, then we will really get down to business with the Lord.
After Christmas we must wait a bit. Everyone is exhausted. The kids are going back to school. It is time to get our income tax ready to send. Pretty soon practice starts for the Easter oratorio. After Easter we will serve God.
It is springtime, graduation time. There are parties to attend. School is finishing up. Let's wait until graduation is over and we are not so busy. Then we can think seriously about serving the Lord.
Now we are approaching summer. Everyone knows that people go on vacation in the summer and so we will wait to serve the Lord until the people return from vacation and the kids are back in school.
This is the Christian liturgical year. The cycle continues until we are in a nursing home. Then of course we have to wait until we die so we can serve God in Heaven. Certainly no one expects us to enter the ministry or go on the mission field while we are waiting to die!
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—NIV)
Since the late forties we have witnessed several people who have been prophesied over concerning what they were called to do in the Kingdom of God. There is no doubt in my mind these were genuine prophecies. The prophecies were given by godly ministers, sometimes confirmed by two or more elders. The settings have been orderly assemblings of Christian people, not wild or disorderly meetings.
More often than not the ones prophesied over continued on with their life, no radical change taking place.
Why is this? Why was there not an evidence at some point that the glorious prophecies were being fulfilled or were soon to be fulfilled?
Is it because they are going to be fulfilled during the thousand-year Kingdom Age? I don't think so. I think the answer lies in Romans 12:1,2 (above).
If I am correct, then most Christians, prophesied over or not, have been given gifts and assigned roles in the Kingdom that never will be activated or fulfilled. They do not do what God said.
Paul urged us:
To offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.
To not be conformed to the pattern of this world.
To be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
Paul said if we would do this we would be able to determine God's will for our life.
Christian people, at least in America, are not presenting their body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. They are being conformed to the pattern of this world by the television, the newspaper, and now the Internet. They are not being transformed by the renewing of their mind in the Word of God.
Because they are not obeying Romans 12:1,2 they do not know what God's will is. They suppose if God wants them to do something He will wake them up in the middle of the night and tell them. But this is not how it works for most of us.
The reference here is to the burnt offering, described in the Book of Leviticus. There were several kinds of animal sacrifices the Jews were taught to observe. Some of them, such as the sin and trespass offerings, were obligatory. When you sinned or committed a trespass you had to make the prescribed offering or be cut off from Israel.
But the first offering listed, the burnt offering, was voluntary. It was a gift from you to God, a freewill offering. The Altar was named after this offering, being called The Altar of Burnt Offering.
He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He is to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar. He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. (Leviticus 1:4-9—NIV)
Remember, this was not an offering for sin. Its purpose was to show the devotion of the worshiper. It was an act of worship, a desire to please God.
Notice (above) that the Israelite slaughtered his own bull and then skinned it and arranged and washed the pieces. The worshiper performed part of the service and the sons of Aaron performed their part.
All of it was to be burned on the altar. Paul tells us that our entire natural man, our adamic nature, is to be crucified with Christ in order that the sin in us may be destroyed.
There is a tremendous lesson here. We Christians look to God to carry a greater part of the service than He is willing to perform. There are things we have to do.
We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. God is not going to do this for us. We have to slaughter our bull, arrange the pieces on the fire, the head and the fat (our carnal mind and fleshly, lustful nature), and wash the inner parts and legs (our heart and our walk with God) with the water of the Word.
We are to make sure we are not conformed to the pattern of this world. God will not do this for us. We have to turn away from the worldly media and entertainment.
It is up to us to make certain we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind in His Word. God is not going to read the Bible to us.
God always stands ready to help us when we call on Him for advice and strength. But we have to make the effort to seek God.
"You will find Me when you look for Me with all your heart."
How many Christians drift through life, never growing in the ability to choose the good and reject the evil? They may attend church for fifty years and never grow an inch spiritually. At seventy they are still the same person they were at twenty. Why is this?
It does not help that the churches are preaching grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture. These are candy the way they are preached. There is no nutrition for people to grow on and so they continue as adult babies.
What is the key to growth? What chemical triggers spiritual growth? What catalyst is missing?
The missing chemical is death with Christ and life with Christ. We are not teaching the people to count themselves dead, to really count themselves dead! We are not teaching the people to offer their body as a living sacrifice, a whole burnt offering, to really offer their body as a living sacrifice, a whole burnt offering!
We may talk about forsaking the world and carrying our cross behind Jesus but we do not do it. The Christians are saving their lives, not losing their lives in the Lord Jesus.
If we would learn of our assigned gifts and roles in the Kingdom of God we must do the following at once; not when some golden moment comes, not after the summer, but right now—now when everything tells us it is the wrong time.
We may be thinking, "tomorrow maybe, but not right now."
Two of the most practical people you will ever meet are God and Satan. Both of them understand fully that yesterday and tomorrow never come. Salvation always is now. In fact, as the Lord told me just before my heart attack, "all there is, is now."
If you do not offer your body as a living sacrifice right now you will never do so.
If you would find God's will, this is what you absolutely must do right now!
You must declare that when you were baptized in water you died. I mean, you really died with Christ on the cross. No monkey business, you are dead—a goner. Your life is over. Adam is crucified. Get the message. Make a steel resolution in your soul that this is the truth and there are to be no changes.
If you have to, get alone by yourself and yell at the wall: "I AM DEAD!" Make sure nobody hears you, especially the neighbors.
Now you are ready to join the Lord Jesus Christ in His resurrection from the dead and ascension to the right hand of the Father.
Now God will begin to judge you, helping you unwind your graveclothes of worldliness, lust, and self-will. It is appointed to man once to die and after this he is resurrected and judged. This is what will happen to you, in a terrifically real spiritual sense, once you are willing to declare yourself dead.
Whoa, that isn't all. You have to do this every moment of every day for the rest of your life. It isn't difficult once you get accustomed to it.
Now, what else must you do? You absolutely must press, press, press into the Lord Jesus so you are instantly aware of His Presence. You need His Divine Life to strengthen you as you walk with God.
What else? You must make sure you are not being conformed to this world. Conformation to the world and its ways comes through the various media that assault us. We are in the world but not of the world, Jesus said. Therefore we have to continually guard ourselves against the values of the world.
Americans worship professional athletics. We must avoid such worship. Jesus Christ does not spend his time worrying about professional football scores. There are thousands of Christians being martyred every day in various parts of the world. These are your brothers and sisters. You are a rich American. Therefore redeem the time!
Americans worship money. No one can serve God and money. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness if you want to find God's will and grow in Christ. What you need will be added to you or God is a liar.
Americans worship sexual lust. Do you want to destroy your nervous system and end up as a silly fool? If you do, worship sexual lust. Dwell on it. You will never find God's will for your life. Your next stop is the nursing home.
Americans worship entertainment. Are you going to spend the precious hours of your life watching the moral filth projected on the screen? Do so and you will have eternity to wail because of opportunities forever lost.
Americans worship material goods. They are persuaded a person's life consists of the abundance of things he or she possesses. You want to be dead while you are living? Surround yourself with more material goods than you actually need. Spend your time guarding them, dusting them, and fixing them. You will never have enough time to wait on the Lord to the extent you know what He is saying to you. You do not own your goods, they own you. They are killing your spiritual nature.
America is a degenerating culture, ready to be taken over by a more disciplined nation. Are you prepared to walk with Jesus through atomic fire?
If you would prove God's will for your life you absolutely must be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You do this by praying, meditating on the Word of God, gathering on a regular basis with fervent Christians as possible.
As I said before you must press, press, press into the Lord Jesus constantly. The hour of temptation is rapidly approaching, the period of darkness when no man can work.
God has gifts and a ministry for you, a role you are to play in the days to come. Of this I am certain.
Are you going to wait for the golden moment to prepare yourself to do your Lord's will? Believe me, that moment will never come in the future. It is now. Now is the time for you to count yourself dead with Christ and risen with Christ. There is no other process that will cause you to grow in the knowledge and will of God in Christ.
Are you going to wait until the summer is over? It will never be over for you. There always will be a lion in the street. Jordan will always be overflowing its banks.
Just when you get ready to set aside time to seek the Lord, here come the relatives for a month. Your boss is downsizing your department and you have to do twice as much work. Your home is in an uproar. The church just split. Your company wants to move you. You are offered a higher position that will keep you out of church and away from your family. The corporation has tripled your workload but you have only three years before retirement.
You are so busy that you are sick.
What do you do? You go to God and tell Him of your determination to quit fooling around. You want to present your body a living sacrifice and do His will as described in the Bible.
Do you think God will hear you? Do you think your Father in Heaven will ignore you? I tell you He will hear you the moment it comes into your mind to bring your bull and slaughter it. The One who spoke the incomprehensible bodies of matter into space and time has heard your cry. It has come up before Him. There is no power in the heavens, on the earth, or in the dark regions below the earth's surface that in any manner can prevent His hand from reaching down and making it possible for you to live as a Christian should.
He can and shall help you. Call on Him right now!