September 17, 2017: 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You control all things. You have set the governing rules of creation. And although our human sin jumbled it all up and corrupted it, nonetheless, Your love and goodness still pierces our darkness and warms our souls. Lord, we want the warmth! We desire to bask in Your light! Enable us to do so by surrendering our lives to You in all things and thereby get back a part of what our first parents lost. Amen


TEXT: Romans 12: 1-8

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

When I first arrived at Pinewood my lovely wife and I visited all the members. We needed to get to know them, and they to know us. I well recall one family that told us the most beautiful thing any Pastor can ever hear. They said: “When we got married we gave ourselves over to the Church and agreed to make Christ the Head of our household in all things.” They have done just that and all of us have benefitted.

So, what about you? Are you willing to do the same? Have you both agreed to do the same? Put in another way: Have you given Christ the totality of your life, as much as you can; or have you given Him the leftovers? I think of the OT story of Cain and Abel. One gave firstfruit offerings to the Lord—the best he had, while the other just did enough to make it look good. But, of course, God can and does judge the heart.


St. Paul has just spent 11 chapters in Romans dealing with the ultimate offering which God Almighty gave to us to pay for our freedom from sin and evil. That ultimate offering is Jesus Christ, the very best He had. Now, Paul sums up the meaning of all this for us today: “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.”

Our Savior offered up His body on a cross to save our souls. He was a living offering to God Who was put to death to wipe away God’s holy anger, justly deserved, from us. But then, our Savior also arose from the dead! And in so doing He became a living sacrifice Who just keeps giving grace upon grace to us! If we truly want to follow in His footsteps, shouldn’t we do exactly that—follow His lead?

People divorce what they believe from how they live all the time. People will say wonderful things, holy things, on Sunday morning and then adopt a totally different attitude during the week. Is that offering yourself up as a living sacrifice? Paul addresses this weakness among believers when he goes on to say: “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.” So, once again, are you giving God only a part of your life, whatever is convenient for you, or are you giving Him your all? Put another way, are you even trying?….


So, how can we all improve? How can we work toward this ideal of being living sacrifices to our glorious Lord? Again, Paul says this: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

All of us are currently at a different level of spiritual understanding, or sanctification. None of us is perfect, yet. If we were we’d be in heaven. So, what are your spiritual strengths and weaknesses in life? How is your attitude? Do you also wish to have God be the One Who truly governs your home, and are you working toward that goal? And where does your commitment to His church fit into all this?

Again, Paul says this: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”


That’s not a total catalogue of what being a “living sacrifice” is all about, but it’s a pretty good one, isn’t it? And as I look around, I see many people who have those very gifts. Some of you use them, some of you are sitting on them! Lately, I’ve been preaching against the common world view of humans exemplified by the phrase: “What’s in it for me?” Christians should always, always, banish that attitude from their lives! Being a living sacrifice is all about: “What can I do to help?” and asking it unbidden.

The key phrase in this entire text is this: “In view of God’s mercy.” In this world we all feel “put-upon” sometimes. We all spend time worrying about what others aren’t doing to further Christ’s kingdom instead of concentrating upon what we can do. In short, we unwittingly conform to the pattern of this world. But when you add the immense meaning behind that phrase: “In view of God’s mercy” when you place the cross and the empty tomb behind your life, well, how can you not seek to do your every best—with urgency—at being a “living sacrifice”?

So, now, I guess we’re back at the beginning. Are you, have you, placed Christ and His Church into a headship role in your house and life, or not? If not, there still is time. But don’t wait too long as your time of grace is getting shorter by the second…..Amen