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Sunday message 20 August 2017 – Romans series Part 4 – Living sacrifices who worship 24/7

READINGS: Romans 12:1- 8

MESSAGE

I wonder what the first word is you found in Matthew’s gospel that relates to feet? It’s probably when the wise men bow down to worship the boy Jesus.  (Mat 2:11  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.)  The word ‘worship” there means to prostrate oneself and kiss the feet of another.

Last week we mentioned feet too – remember – how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…

And then at the resurrection of Jesus in the same Matthew’s gospel –  at verse 28:9 – we read:  Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

Matthew’s gospel is bookended by these two physical acts of worship.

Romans 12 is about worship too. In a broader sense though.

Worship is the natural consequence of everything we read in chapters 1-11 – about what God has done to save us. It follows that it begins with that wonderful link word – THEREFORE.

In the light of all these things God has done – in the light of who we are IN CHRIST

– what are we to do? Carry on with our lives – indifferent – unmoved?

Unlikely.

And this isn’t just what one of my NT lecturers called “hints and tips for the Christian life” either. It’s stronger than that.

12:1 THEREFORE I URGE YOU – urge, beseech or beg…

In the light of God’s mercy (which we have speaking about these weeks by the way) – I strongly urge you to DO SOMETHING in response to what God has done:

offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual (or reasonable) act of worship.

  • O dear.
  • Your bodies.
  • Our bodies.

We prefer to spiritualize it all. And not talk about our bodies. Our addictions. Our habits. Our health. Our dates with the refrigerator at night. Often a bit too late at night.

We are to offer as a living sacrifice – make available – all of who we are.

We are meant to be a sweet aroma to God. In terms of who we are and what we say  – as we read in Hebrews 13: Heb 13:15  Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

  • Last week we were to confess with our mouths – stomata (stoma)
  • This week we are also to offer our bodies – somata (soma).

It’s the same word that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians when he says:

1Co 6:19  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1Co 6:20  you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.

So – it seems okay then to offer our bodies –  they are already made holy by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

It’s the worship that interests me. We have so compartmentalized our worship. We talk about a “service” of worship and within that time slots of “praise and worship”.

Jesus didn’t save us to have us here for an hour or two once a week when we are not sailing or working or sleeping or whatever… As if we can pop into a spiritual bubble for that short time. And then pop out of it again.

Look at the rest of the verse: we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Our WHOLE life is our worship – this is not the “worship” word that involves bowing down and kissing the feet of another. This is another word – λατρεία -Latreia

It Is a word implicating being in service to Godevery day  – in addition to what we do when we gather together to honour God in worship each week (as ecclesia – those who are called out and called to assemble).

It has implications for the whole week. So – I propose –

AN NEW WAY TO START THE DAY

Here’s my practical suggestion. Start the day in a new way.

Perhaps say ‘Good morning Lord’ rather than ‘good lord it’s morning’.

Then look at what awaits you with a shout of delight (a sacrifice of praise) rather than a groan or a moan and say:

  • It’s me, God. Hi Jesus. You died for me. Today I live for you!
  • I have confessed you as Lord in principle. Let me live fully for you, not in a cloister, but in the world of work and life. (NB: I recognise by the way that we can make sanctuaries in that world of work and life as we step out of the rush when we need to into a safe place in God’s presence).
  • ALL that I do today is for your glory. ESPECIALLY my work. ( NB: Read 1 Cor 7:17 and Colossians 3:23 here – and George Herbert’s poem below).
  • I want to have a Romans 12 day – in view of your mercy and grace – I am going to live totally for you each moment. Sacrificially – dedicated – devoted – set apart for you.

And the next verse shows us how. Verse 2. 

Rom 12:2  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.

And I will say Romans 12: 2 as my mantra or motto:

  • I won’t be conformed to the pattern of people’s thinking around me.
  • I will be changed by the transformation of my mind (renewing of my mind – metamorphosis)
  • I look forward to this day as you show me your will – each moment.
  • I am going to be the butterfly – not the caterpillar! Yay God!
  • And God – even when this body seems a bit of a crock – It’s yours. Take me.

There we go.

Amen.

 

 

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Note 1: George Herbert’s poem on work:

Teach me my God and King, In all things thee to see;

And what I do in everything, To do it as for thee.  

A servant with this clause, Makes drudgery Divine;

Who sweeps a room, as for Thy laws, Makes that and the action fine.

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10 November 2015 Tuesday church – Seeking Jesus

Readings: Psalm 127:1-2; John 12:20-33

SIR, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE JESUS

Sir, we would like to see Jesus. It’s a great request. A good place to start if you were there back in the day.

I mean – if you heard stories about him – his miracles – his turning water into wine – his raising the dead. Breaking bread and feeding 5000 at a time. Interesting guy to have at a picnic, this Jesus. Or at a funeral for that matter.

These unnamed and unnumbered Greeks ask Philip. Philip speaks to Andrew. Andrew and Philip speak to Jesus. One wonders if this is broken down telephones – Chinese whispers? Look at what happens next.

You would think that we would read, ‘Jesus said, “Bring them along! I’d love to have a yarn! Let’s hear what the latest is in the Hellenic world! How are the olive trees doing there?”’

The reply is weirdly challenging for us. It’s like a major policy speech. A shift in tone.

Even a policy shift.

There is no healing taking place, or teaching on loving God and our neighbour, prayer or worship, compassion or kindness. He replies:

“The hour has come…”

Listen again:

Joh 12:23  Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Joh 12:24  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Joh 12:25  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Joh 12:26  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Joh 12:27  “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Joh 12:28  Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 

He talks about

  • Dying (v24)
  • Sacrifice (v25)
  • Serving (v26)
  • Following (v26)
  • A troubled heart (v27)
  • How to pray and how not to pray selfishly (v27)
  • Obedience and how to glorify God’s name. (v28)

In fact one of these verses is found on cenotaphs – war memorials to the dead, to fallen soldiers:

It begins with “Truly truly I say to you” (αμην αμην λεγω υμιν – Amen amen lego humin).

Joh 12:24  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

It’s appropriate really as tomorrow is Remembrance Day. We should remember the many who gave their lives for our freedom and who still do today.

But also we need to know that we can’t seek Jesus on our terms.

We have people like that all the time. They complain that church ‘doesn’t meet their needs’.

Jesus does actually. But following him is like an inconvenient truth (Al Gore’s title for climate change).

Jesus died a sacrificial death too. He calls us to live a sacrificial life like his. (Romans 12:1).

You won’t get rich or famous. There’s no talk of prosperity here. Or even “my favourite hymns and bible passages.”

But if you really follow Him you will glorify God – like he did. He prays: “Father, glorify your name!”

It happens for Jesus on the cross! But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (verse 32). He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (verse 33).

His way is still best. Totally worthwhile! And wise.

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (Isa 55:6)

Amen!