The Will of God, Part 2
by Rev. Randy Brown
Our Scripture for the morning is taken from Romans chapter 12 verses 1 & 2.
So, brothers and sisters because of God’s mercies, I beseech you therefore to present your bodies a living sacrifice which is holy and acceptable unto God. This is your appropriate service. Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can discover what God’s will is. What is good and pleasing to God.”
This is the word of God for the people of God.
We are going to pray together. Would you be seated as we pray?
Heavenly father, as we come to this part of our worship experience. We’ve had a good time already. We’ve laughed and prayed and sung and listened. Oh God, in these moments, may we hear and use your word for us. You know the one who stands before You. You know that my sins are many. You know they call him Reverend, but he’s not. I pray that once again you would come and rescue me from me. I pray that you would come hide me behind your cross. That the words that are spoken would be your words not mine. That the one who is seen would be you and not me. Above all, may we hear the quiet shuffling of sandaled feet and know that it is Jesus the Christ that comes to walk in our midst. In His name and for His glory I pray. Amen
We are in part two of our sermon series – a three-part series on the will of God. You will remember that last week we talked out of Paul. We talked about rejoicing, and praying, and giving thanks. Today we look at another one of Paul’s letters to the Church at Rome. “Thus, I beseech you therefore rendered by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” One of the first things about this particular Scripture is that it is a uniquely Christian theme. It is a uniquely Christian plea because he said, “I beseech you therefore brethren – so he’s talking to the church folks at Rome, and he said; “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice”. He is only talking to the believers there. One of the things that we know is that, in the Greek culture, they compartmentalize and they had the compartment of the body, and spirit, and soul. They didn’t give much thought to the body. They thought that the body was that which captured the spirit, so they spent a lot of time on the spirit and soul but not much time on the body. But, Paul is speaking to the church, and is pleading with the church. Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. Christianity, in opposition to the Greek, Christianity teaches that the body is an important part of who we are. The body belongs to God. The scripture tells us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The scripture tells us that you shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, heart, mind and all strength and body. It means everything you’ve got. Love God with all that you have. Do you know what the word all in that means? It means all. So, love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and body. The Greeks didn’t want to do that. It’s uniquely Christian that the body belongs to God. The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
A friend of mine was conducting a confirmation class at her church. A couple months ago, this question came from one particular confirmation class; “who is Jesus?. One little boy raised his hand and he gave this answer. It’s the best answer that I think I’ve ever heard. He said, “Jesus is the one who offers me the good life.” Now we are all in tune with that. But keep going. He said, “Not only good just for me but for others who perceive God’s work in my life.” He offers us the good life, not just good for us, but good for all that God is working through us.
That young boy ought to be in a seminary. He’s got to pass middle school first, but he still ought to be there. Not just good for me but good for all those whom God works through me. You see, what we have is what God has blessed us with. Our bodies, and this is what Paul was saying, “Use your body in such a way that it is a sacrifice to God. What you have, what you’ve been given is a blessing from God and you are to use it to bless others. There’s nothing wrong with the nice homes, and the nice cars – but are we using those things to the glory of God?
Sometimes, though, I know what we do. We play a game with God. We say, God if you did this for me, this is what I would do. You know, if I win the lottery I’ll tithe. Well, God’s not worried about what you don’t have. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for that young boy. He was on his first date and he was scared to death. He and his girlfriend were sitting there and he was real quiet. She said to him, “Billy what are you thinking about?” He said, “Well, what I was thinking about; I wish I was an octopus.” “Billy why in the world do you wish you were an octopus?” “Well, I was just thinking if I were an octopus I would have eight arms.” “I would use all eight of them just to hug you”. She said, “Awe shoot Billy, you ain’t using the two you got.” A lot of times we think about what we would do if we had what someone else had. But God says “no, no, no, what are you doing with what I gave you”? Mr. mean-to-do has a comrade and his name is didn’t-do. Have you ever met them? These two fellas live together in the house of never-will. I’m told that house is haunted by the ghost of what-might-have-been. What are we doing with what we have – with what God has given us. He says, “Present yourself to God”. We are God’s hands, we are God’s feet, and we are His voice. This is our reasonable act of service – a reasonable act of worship, as one translation says it.
We talk a lot about worship. We talk a lot about contemporary and traditional and classic and blended and all that. But, worship is more than that. It is the offering of every day to God. How do you worship on Monday and Saturday? It’s not just about being here for an hour on Sunday – waiting for the sermon to end, but it’s how we live the rest of our lives. That’s what true worship is. Present your bodies to ordinary tasks of the day. How do we approach it? Our oldest daughter is working at a restaurant, and she’s a manager, but one of the things she has to do is wash the dishes. She said, “I’ve improved my prayer life just by washing dishes. You know, you’ve got to do something while you’re trying to get it clean.” How we offer our everyday, ordinary things to God. That’s what true worship is.
Do we offer to not be conformed to the ways of the world? Somebody said it like this,” Every one of us is born as an original and we die a copy.” God went to an extreme to make you unique and different from anybody who has ever existed and we want be like Mike. You know, you’ve see the commercial – we want to be like Mike. We’re born unique. And we die boring. What if everybody in the world was like me? It would be a boring place. Just ask my daughter, she will tell you. When Paul mentions; “Do not be conformed”, conformity, that’s a disease that our society is overcome with. Conformity – you know what a chameleon is? A chameleon is an animal that in order to survive, changes its color’s to look like its surroundings.” We are not to do that. That’s not what God calls us to be – conformed to the ways of the world. Don’t change just by the blowing of the wind, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Sometimes we do continually.
It says do not be conformed to the ways of the world. But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Before, he told us what not to do. But, before he tells us what to do, I want to change and go in another direction. Jeremiah gives us another “form” that we read earlier this morning. Since Jeremiah talks about it four times in his book, when he says, “Reform”, you know we need to reform. But that’s not, that’s not the total answer. But, let’s talk about reforming for a moment. Martin Luther, you know your church history. You know that he was the leader of the Protestant Reformation. You know in our country we’re trying to reform everything. Just turn on the news. We’re trying to reform gun laws and Social Security and taxes and immigration, and on and on and on. Everybody’s nose is broken but nobody knows how to fix it. Reformation, Reformation is a human attempt to make things new. We call that; New Year’s resolutions. How many of you remember your resolution from last year? I want to ask how many of you kept it – but many don’t even remember what it was. Paul brings up another “form”. Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Where conformity means that everything changes, to transform something means that you stayed essentially true to the core. Although the outward expression might change, inwardly we stayed no different, although outwardly we may go a different direction.
We stay true to God’s word but relevant to the culture. We don’t let the culture dictate what we do but we understand the culture so that we might be relative to the culture. That’s what he’s talking about – being transformed. We can’t do ministry the way we used to do it. I can’t do ministry the way I did it 36 years ago. It’s not relevant anymore. Society has changed. You don’t believe it? If you don’t believe society has changed, let me ask just this one question. Does anybody here, besides Dana, still listen to 8-track tape players. Of course not. Why, because it’s not relevant anymore. I remember when my daddy brought home a console stereo and it had this thing over in the corner. And you put an 8-track tape in it. I thought we had arrived. I thought – man we’re in tall cotton.
Nobody knows what we need. You see, society is changing and if we are still trying to communicate the gospel and live out the gospel in an 8-track world we’re not going to be very successful. We’ve got to change, and be relevant to the culture of the day. Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. To allow God to show us creative ways whereby we can reach the culture, and we can reach those people who are in our path. We do it in all sorts of ways. I remember hearing a story about a young girl who had gone to work in a nearby large city and she was an elevator operator. All day long up and down, up and down, pushing buttons, what floor are you going to? That was her job, and she wondered, “How in the world can I be a witness for Christ in a job like this.” She prayed about it. She thought about it. You know what she came up with? God gave her the answer. You get on an elevator, you push the button, the doors open and you get off, and here’s what she says to you. “I hope your last trip is up.” Relevant to the culture that she was in, God transformed her. That’s how God transforms us –by the renewing of your mind. What we put in our minds is very important. Ask a schoolteacher. What we put in our minds is very important. Are we putting this on our minds? Do we spend time with this or do we just dust it off to bring on Sunday morning.
Our oldest daughter reads a lot and her favorite author is Karen Kingsbury. I don’t know if many of you know who she is or not, but she is a Christian writer who just recently moved to Memphis. I’m trying to get a time when Karen Kingsbury is giving autographs in a bookstore and let Randy go meet her. And, I keep thinking this is what’s going to happen. One day when that happens, she’s going to walk up to Karen Kingsbury and going to get an autograph and she’s going to say “I just love your books.” Karen Kingsbury is likely to say, “Well, which one do you like best.”? She will tell her – she’s read them all – and Karen will ask, “Well, What part of that book did you like best”?
Set that aside for a moment. There is going to come a day when we get home – when we get to heaven – and I think there’s going to be a big autograph party and our Heavenly Father is the one who wrote the book. And we are going to be standing in line – you are going to be standing in line – and you’re going to say, “God, I just love that book. And, He says, “What part of it do you like best?” Would you be able to give him an answer? Do we allow this (holding up the Bible) to renew, to renew our minds? Are our minds renewed by prayer? Are our minds renewed by fellowship and worship? Our minds are renewed by reading His word, and by putting it into our life. That’s what God wants us to do. To be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may see what the will of God is. You see, the more we spend time in prayer, the more we spend time in fellowship, the more time we spend in reading God’s word, God just kind of transforms us. He changes us. Have you ever read the Bible, but then reread it and saw something you didn’t see the first time? That’s God transforming you. That’s what He wants to do.
Let me tell you an example about transforming and then I’ll be through. It happens as a mystery of God, but here is an idea of what it looks like. Years ago, there was a Frenchman who married a young English girl. Their whole married life, the Frenchman was hounded, I guess you would say, by his wife’s friends – you ought to become a naturalized English citizen. And he refused, he refused, he refused. Well, finally somebody who wouldn’t give up on him Said, “Jim, you really ought to become a naturalized English citizen.” He replied I believe I’m ready to do that. So he studies and he goes down to the Naturalization Board. He takes the test. It takes about 15 minutes, and fills out the paperwork. He walks out and all his wife’s friends are there – and their friends – and it’s just a big celebration. Somebody says, “Jim, how do you feel”? And Jim said this; “15 minutes ago Waterloo was a defeat and now it’s a victory”. That’s what transformation is. That’s what God wants to do for us, to turn our defeats into victory. That’s God’s will for you – if you will allow him to do it. Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. That’s what the book says and the book never lies. Let us pray:
Oh loving God, who can take defeat and turn it into victory, loving God who takes our hurts and mends them, who takes our brokenness and heals it. Loving God, your will is to transform us. Lord would you do that in our lives today. Would you do that in our lives, this morning, this week, that we may experience your transforming power. That’s Your will for us and we want to walk in it Lord. That’s your will for us and we want it to happen today. Don’t let us settle for anything less. In Jesus’ name Amen.