Our Lives Are to be Continuous Worship!
O Lord God, my dear heavenly Father—You call upon me to dedicate myself as a “living sacrifice” in service to my Savior. As I worship this morning in Your presence lead me sincerely to confess my sins, joyously to sing Your praises, attentively to hear Your Word, gratefully to receive Your sacrament, and humbly to lay before You my petitions. Prepare me, O Lord, for my week of service. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Solomon urges us to “remember” our “Creator” and draw close to Him before we grow old and our lives on this earth end. A life lived under the guidance of the Lord and in service to the Lord will be a life blessed by the Lord!
As a twelve year old child Jesus went to the temple with His parents to worship. He stayed there for three days and astonished the temple teachers with His understanding and answers. Jesus’ example reminds us of the importance of worship!
Text: Romans 12:1-5
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
In Christ Jesus, whose lordship we acknowledge and whose love we embrace, dear fellow redeemed:
If you had lived as a believer during Old Testament times your worship life would have been very different than it is today. To begin with you would not be here this morning, for this morning would have been the beginning of your work week. You would have been here yesterday—Saturday, the Old Testament Sabbath Day. After church you would not have then spent the afternoon on a project involving work, for the entire day by religious law was set aside for rest. You would have spent the remainder of the day in quiet meditation and prayer.
If you had lived in Old Testament times as a woman and had given birth to a son, as Brandi Miller or Celeste Hanel did shortly before Christmas, you would have had him circumcised on the eighth day by a priest, just as Mary had Jesus circumcised on the eighth day. It would have been part of a prescribed religious ceremony, rather than a simple medical procedure, for in Old Testament times circumcision was a means of demonstrating your commitment to the LORD and your desire that your son become a member of His people. On the fortieth day after the birth of your son, you and your husband would have by religious law been required to go to the temple in Jerusalem, just as Mary and Joseph did, to present your son to the LORD. You would have had to offer a sacrifice at that time as the Mosaic Law commanded—either a lamb and a turtledove, or a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
In Old Testament times the whole issue of your church offerings was settled by law. You would simply have given a tithe to the LORD. One out of every ten new-born lambs would have been given to the LORD. One out of every ten bushels of grain you harvested would have been given to the LORD. One out of every ten dollars you earned would have been given to the LORD. It did not require much thought, for it was simply the law.
Yes, if you had lived as a believer in Old Testament times your worship life would have been very different than it is today. Today we are not subject to the Mosaic Law and its specific demands regarding our worship life. We can worship on any day of our choosing. We do not have prescribed sacrifices to offer, and we are simply told to bring our generous offerings to the LORD with a joyous and cheerful spirit. Indeed today it is proper for us to speak not of God’s will for our worship life, but that God wants our entire life to be one of worship! Let us consider this thought as presented by the apostle Paul in our text—OUR LIVES ARE TO BE CONTINOUS WORSHIP!
Paul begins by saying that our bodies are to be “living sacrifices!” He writes: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” In Old Testament times believers coming to worship would bring animal sacrifices. The animals would be slaughtered at the temple and their carcasses offered to the LORD. The bodies and blood of those animals represented the body and blood that the promised Savior would sometime in the future offer to remove the sins of the world. Remember the words of John the Baptizer when he first saw Jesus: “Behold! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Paul picks up the idea of the Old Testament sacrifices as He speaks about the lives of New Testament Christians. We are no longer to offer to God the life of another creature, but rather are to give our lives to God! Since we all have bodies, we can all become sacrifices—not sacrifices that are killed before an altar, but rather living sacrifices! Because we all have bodies all the time, our worship is to be constant. Our every word and our every action are to be witnesses to and proclamations of the gospel of Jesus Christ! Our lives are to become living doxologies to God, so that all who see us will be led to glorify God because of us. This is what Jesus had in mind when He urges us to: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). This is what Jesus had in mind as well, when He sat with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and told her: “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).
Such a continuous life of worship, Paul says, is our “reasonable service” in view of the “mercies of God” reflected in the work of Jesus. If Jesus gave His life up for us, and He did, in order that we might live throughout eternity in heaven, it is only reasonable that we dedicate to His service our present lives, which are so very short in comparison to all of eternity. Yes, OUR LIVES ARE TO BE CONTINUOUS WORSHIP! Our bodies are to be “living sacrifices!”
Our lives are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds!” Paul writes: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” For Christmas I received from my oldest daughter Bill O’Reilly’s newest book Culture Warrior, in which Mr. O’Reilly outlines the current culture war between the traditional approach to our American culture, which is based in large part upon biblical thought, and the secular-progressive approach to our culture, which is based entirely upon a non-religious—indeed anti-religious thought. Friday in the mail I received the latest newsletter from Answers in Genesis, which outlined another aspect of the culture war—the current battle being waged by secular humanists against Christian schools and home schools. They are objecting to the fact that the curriculum used within Christian schools and many home schools acknowledges God as Creator and rejects the theory of evolution. As an example of what is happening in our own country Ken Ham, the newsletter editor, alluded to the fact that the University of California system has decided “not to accept new private-school course submissions for core curriculum subjects if they are based on the science textbooks” which promote creationism and oppose evolution. The matter is currently in court.
My dear friends, who or what is shaping the way you think about the current issues and trends of our day? We are living in a world, which has always been opposed to God and continues to be so. Our God does not want us to be “conformed”…to be molded like a piece of play-dough… to the pattern of this world, but rather we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds!” This can only take place when the word of God is given priority in our lives, so that the Spirit of God can change us. We are to be God’s bridgehead in our age into the hostile territory of this world. We are to be that “salt” and that “light” (cf. Matthew 5:13-14), which people will taste and see, and thereby be drawn to the grace, mercy, and wonder of God! Our lives, which are our worship, are to be a constant statement of “NO!” to the world, but “YES!” to the truth and power of God! Consequently, it is important that we examine all that seeks to influence our thinking and our doing. We are to “test the spirits,” as the apostle John tells us, to see “whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). In this way we will be able to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” and by living therein we will find blessing! Yes, OUR LIVES ARE TO BE CONTINUOUS WORSHIP! Our lives are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds!”
Our thoughts are to reflect “the grace of God given to us!” Paul writes: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Paul now addresses us individually in order to overcome our individualism—our natural selfish tendencies and sinful pride. While it is important for each individual to have a proper understanding of self-worth, as someone who has been created and redeemed by God, it is equally important that we guard against the selfish pursuit of personal goals and pleasures. We are living in an age of unprecedented wealth—wealth which we are constantly urged to use to satisfy our every desire as quickly as possible!
Paul urges us to think “soberly,” which means seriously and thoughtfully about our real situation. Our lives are fragile. Think of the child in the Twin Cities who only a few days ago fell out of an apartment building, but whose fall was broken by two men passing by. He could have very easily died. David was thinking soberly concerning his life and ours when he wrote in Psalm 39: “LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You. Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (verses 4-5). Let us remember that God by His grace—His undeserved love—has bestowed upon us our faith, upon which our entire future in time and in eternity depends. He enables us to live the very lives we lead. Now we can choose to lead them in direct opposition to God and His will, but to do so is to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, for we do not “call the shots” but rather are subject to His will and judgment. Therefore, dear friends, let us humble ourselves before God and seek to do His will, for therein we will find true and lasting blessing! Yes, OUR LIVES ARE TO BE CONTINUOUS WORSHIP! Our thoughts are to reflect “the grace of God given to us!”
Our actions, finally, are to bring blessing to the “body of Christ!” Paul writes: “For as we are many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” When was the last time that you did something specifically for someone else? If you are having a difficult time answering that question, then these words are intended especially for you! In reality, however, we all must listen to them closely for once again it is all too easy to become preoccupied with what we want and in securing for ourselves all that we desire. Paul reminds us that while we are important to God as individuals, we have been saved by God as individual parts of a greater whole. Just as we have many body parts—eyes, ears, hands, feet, stomach, kidneys, etc., so God has redeemed and brought by faith into a close relationship all of the members of His glorious Church!
Consequently, God would have us open our eyes to the people and the possibilities around us. Men—do not simply consider your career aspirations as you make your plans, but consider the overall welfare of your families. Women—do not become so deeply involved in your personal goals, that you do not see the multiple needs of the men and children in your lives. Young people—do not become immersed in this culture’s pursuit of personal and sensual pleasure, but recognize that all of your friends are individuals placed beside you by God and with whom you can accomplish great things and bring about great blessing not just for yourselves, but for your congregation and your communities. When our attitudes constantly move us to look beyond ourselves to others, then our lives will have become lives of continuous worship! That should be our goal, for that is God’s goal for us! Yes, OUR LIVES ARE TO BE CONTINUOUS WORSHIP!Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting