Least We Can Do

Least We Can Do

The Least We Can Do

Study Text: Romans 11:30-12:1

Memory Verse: "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 (NIV)

If we take a look through the Old Testament, we will notice that the
Israelites presented animals to God as sacrifices. However, since these animals
were killed, they wouldn’t be called "living" sacrifices; they were
just sacrifices. But this doesn’t mean we should take that lightly. What if you
ranched for a living and you really needed to make a profit to take care of
your family? Instead of selling your prized animal in the marketplace, you
offered it to God. That’s a sacrifice!! So note, to call an item a sacrifice
means it should be of significance. (Give of your best to the Master.)

In Romans 12:1 Paul encourages the Gentiles (us) to offer, not their
animals, but their (our) bodies to the Lord as "living sacrifices."
Now the Word is not telling us to physically kill ourselves for God. Rather, it
is saying that we should kill those attitudes, habits, behaviors, etc. that are
not of God. We should die to the flesh and let the Spirit of God take control.

Now, a key word in this verse is "living," so let me ask this
question: How many of us live only on Sunday between the hours of 11:00-1:00
(when church is in session)? You might say, "Veronica, what a silly
question." Well, while it is true that we don’t "live" for just
two hours a week, many of us "live for Christ" for just two hours a
week. And that’s NOT what we should do. Our bodies should be "living
sacrifices," meaning that whenever we are living (breathing) we should
offer our bodies to the Lord. I recognize that this may be a difficult task,
especially if we’ve been living in the flesh for years and years. But I also
recognize that with God all things are possible (Matt 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke
1:37). As we turn our lives over to God, He will reveal the areas in which we
have not honored Him. And slowly but surely, our spirits will be convicted, we
will change, and more and more of our lives will reflect Him.

Here’s an example: Our pastor in Indiana once asked the congregation
questions along this line: "Would you feel comfortable if Jesus came to
your house? If He scanned your records, CDS and videos, would He feel at
home?" Boy did this work on us. (For those of you who don’t know, Eddie
used to DJ so we had boxes and boxes of music. We even prided ourselves on our
extensive collection.) The week prior to our pastor’s questions, the Lord had
instructed Eddie to destroy certain records and CDS because they "hurt
Him." Although Eddie had done as he was instructed, after hearing our
pastor’s message, we still felt convicted; so Eddie and I went back through the
music and got rid of more of it. As we continued to grow in Christ, our
collection rapidly diminished. I never imagined we would part with some of
those records and CDS. It was a weeding process. And this is what we have to do
in every area of our lives: break out the weed killer!! If we don’t, we’re
hurting God. And we don’t want to do that.

Now, the beautiful thing about this verse (Romans 12:1) is that it gives
further instructions on the presentation or the sacrifice of our bodies—to
make sure we get it right!! You see, we can’t offer our bodies to the Lord in
just any old fashion. So here are guidelines on 1.) What we should do when we
sacrifice our bodies and 2.) How (the manner in which) we should do it.

1. What we should do:

KEEP GOD’S MERCY IN VIEW. ("Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of
God’s mercy. . . ." Romans 12:1)

The first word of our memory verse is "therefore," a transitional
expression which indicates that this verse is somehow connected to the previous
verse(s). So let’s go back to Chapter 11 (you may want to go back further). In
Romans 11:25 Paul warns the Gentiles (or rather, former Gentiles–because once
we become saved we are all Christians) not to become "conceited." We
must not take the "I’m better than you because I’m saved" attitude.
Rather, we should look at our lives and be humbled knowing that God had to have
a lot of mercy to save us. I mean, just think about all of the sinful acts we
have committed against Him—-and He forgave us. He wiped the slate clean.
That’s more than enough reason why we should offer our bodies (our best) to
God.

Now the Lord knows that we are curious beings; we like to know everything.
Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? They were thrown out because their
curiosity (with a lot of help from Satan) got the best of them. But in Romans
11:33-36 we are told not to ask the infamous question "why." It is
not our job to understand "why" God had mercy on us. Paul makes this
point in Romans 11:34 when he asks, "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?" Of course the answer is "No
one." We may not understand God’s mercy, but we know that it’s there; we
can see it as it operates in our lives and in the lives of others. So our job
is not to ask why, but to keep His mercy "in view."

2. How we should sacrifice our bodies:

IN A MANNER THAT’S HOLY AND PLEASING TO GOD. Romans 12:1

A. Holy: To be "holy" means to be set apart for God’s use– to be
sanctified. The Word tells us that as Christians we are strangers/foreigners to
this world (1 Peter 2:11). We can’t be strangers if we are out there practicing
the same things ("sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and
witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,
dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like"
Galatians 5:19-21) that those in the world are practicing. As Hebrews 10:26-27
tells us, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the
knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left. . . ." So once
again, break out the weed killer!! Find those areas of your life that you have
not surrendered to God and do so, immediately. (See the lesson on Joshua 24:15
for more on this aspect of holy living—http://eyon.aus.fsu.edu).

To further explain the word "holy," the Lord pointed out to me
that each person is born with a specific call on his/her life. Each individual
has been set apart for a special purpose. We need to find out what our purpose
is and live according to that holy (sanctified) call. If we don’t, we are
operating outside of the will of God. I’ll give you an example: A young lady
agrees to work in the nursery of her church because an elder asks her. She
figures, "This is my opportunity to do something in the church; plus how
can I say ‘no’ to sister so-and-so," knowing all the time that she has a
very low tolerance for children. We can imagine what type of experience she
will have. What if the Lord wants this young lady to use her beautiful voice to
minister to others in song but she’s down in the nursery "yelling" at
children (remember she has a low tolerance)? She’s not using the gift(s) that
the Lord has given her. Find out what your "holy" call is and walk in
it.

B. Pleasing: Now, not only should we sacrifice our bodies in a manner that’s
holy; we should do it in a manner that’s "pleasing" to God. Hebrews
11:6 tells us that "without faith it is impossible to ‘please’ God. . .
." Here is the key to pleasing God: living a faith-filled life. So when
others say it can’t be done, you say "with God all things are
possible." I’m sure that there are other things we can do to please God,
but none of those matters if we don’t have faith. Remember, your walk with the
Lord started with your faith in Him; it took faith for you to be saved. Romans
10:9 tells us that "if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and
believe in your heart [have faith] that God raised him from the dead, you will
be saved." But we shouldn’t settle for the faith that we started with. As
we mature in our walks, our faith should increase and permeate every area of
our lives. (Read Hebrews 11 and 12 for more on faith.)

After he gives instructions on what we should do and how we should do it,
Paul concludes our memory verse (Romans 12:1) by explaining what we are
actually doing when offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices: we are
worshiping spiritually ("this is your spiritual act of worship"). We
should not let the flesh dictate our actions. Instead, our spirits should put
the flesh into action for God. As our spirit man takes over he will lead us to a
purer form of worship
, —a form of worship that has not been contaminated
with/by all of the junk of this world. So let us worship the Lord in spirit and
in truth, for this is the only kind of worship the Father seeks (John
4:23-24).

Picture yourself coming before the throne of God, free from all worldly
habits, behaviors, etc. You’re giving the Lord the best sacrifice humanly
possible. But God has given us a greater sacrifice—the greatest gift anyone
could ever give: eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. "For God so
loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [His best], that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16. What a
sacrifice!!!!! What a gift!!!!!

Many of us were taught that when someone gives us something we should at
least
say "thank you." Well when we offer our bodies as living
sacrifices, we are saying "Thank You, Lord!!" THE LEAST we can do is
live our short earthly lives for God, knowing that He’s been merciful enough to
grant us everlasting life with Him. "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
(NIV)

Have a blessed week!!

Veronica