Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 5:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 12:1-2 (ESV). I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. The Mercies of God What are the “mercies of God”? Well, first of all, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope, and destined to spend eternity without God in eternal punishment. We all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. Not one of us is righteous in his own merit. We can never be good enough to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. So, God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to be born as a baby - to take on the appearance of a man (made in human likeness). Jesus is not only the Son of God, he is God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When he walked this earth, he was fully God yet fully man. He suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. God sent his Son to the earth to die on a cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that when he was crucified on the cross, our sins were put to death with him, and they were buried with him. Yet God the Father resurrected Jesus from the dead. When Jesus was resurrected, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and in what he did for us in dying for our sins, we can be forgiven our sins and have eternal life with God. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Jesus did not die just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to put sin to death in our lives, and so we can live to him and to his righteousness, set free from the control of sin and Satan over our lives. Living Sacrifices Because of what Jesus Christ did for us in putting sin to death, and in being resurrected from the dead in order to give us new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, we are to give our lives to God as living sacrifices (offerings), holy and acceptable (well-pleasing) to God. In other words, when Jesus died for our sins, we were bought with a price. He bought us back for God with his blood in order that we might no longer walk in sin, but that we may walk in his holiness. To be holy means to be set apart from (different, unlike) the world because we are becoming like Jesus, being transformed into his likeness. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want. Jesus is now our Lord (owner-master), and we are his bondservants (slaves) – no longer slaves to sin, but now slaves to righteousness. So, what should this look like? I don’t believe it means we now live in sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). But, it should mean that we now conduct our lives (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). Coming to Christ means we deny self, we take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and we follow (obey) Jesus (Lu. 9:23-25). It means, too, that we listen to Jesus and we follow (obey) him (See: Jn. 10). Basically, if we truly see our lives as no longer our own, but that they were bought with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins, and if we truly see Jesus as our owner-master and us as his bond-slaves, it should radically transform our lives. Jesus will be our first consideration in whatever we do, and we won’t be looking for ways in which we can still live to gratify our sinful flesh. We won’t allow our eyes to see or our ears to hear, as much as it is within our power to do so, what brings dishonor to God and what gives glory to our sinful flesh. We won’t allow ourselves to be entertained by the sinful practices of others via TV and movies, but we will want to honor God in all that we do. We won’t go our own way, either, but we will desire to follow the ways of God, and to seek his will for our lives. Spiritual Worship When we do this, i.e. when we give our lives over to God as living offerings to him, holy and well-pleasing to God, this is our spiritual worship of him. Although it is true that our worship of God involves praise, thanksgiving, adoration, singing and rejoicing, it cannot be true worship of him if we are still living to gratify our sinful flesh and giving lip-service only. So many people have a twisted or an incomplete idea of what it means to worship God. In the church of today, the word “worship” is often associated merely with a song service, and perhaps with the lifting or clapping of hands. But true worship of God begins in our hearts, and it has to do with worshiping him in spirit and in truth, i.e. with our entire being, in the Spirit of God, and in honesty and integrity. To worship God means to give him our honor, respect, devotion and obedience, as well as our admiration and adoration. Yet, we praise him with how we live our lives, not just with our lips. We honor him with our obedience. We demonstrate our devotion to him by walking in his ways and in his truth, and by following his lead. And, we respect him by taking his word seriously and applying it to our lives. Conformed vs. Transformed Why is it that so many who call themselves Christians are still living lives conformed to the ways of this sinful world? And, they are not living lives transformed by the power of the Spirit of God living within them? There is not much of a distinction these days between the church and the world. In fact, the church has become much like the world in order to attract the world of sin to its gatherings. It markets itself to the world, too, using sinful practices, deception and manipulation of human emotion. A large percentage of today’s church has become followers of men (humans) instead of followers of God. Books written by human authors (not God-breathed) have replaced scripture in small group “Bible studies.” Entertainment has become the central focus of many “worship services.” And, manipulation of human emotion has superseded the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Because of all this, the church is on a moral decline. A large majority of pastors battle with pornography addiction and/or have flirted with extramarital affairs. Since they are so often defeated by sin’s deceitfulness themselves, they are not leading their congregations to forsake sin and to follow their Lord in obedience. The gospel has also been diluted to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of the world, in order to give free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, while claiming heaven when they die. During “worship services” they show movie clips from movies sometimes containing sexual situations or glorifying other sins, and then they try to use these to make spiritual application. Yet, these movies often contradict the very truths they are being used to illustrate, so they are self-defeating. Yet, church leaders do this to try to connect and identify with the people of this sinful world on their level, but is that what Jesus did? No! Jesus was not put to death because he made nice with the world. He confronted the world with their sins, and told them that what they were doing was evil, so they hated him and put him to death on a cross. And, we are to be like Jesus, not like the world. We need to be transformed of the Spirit of God, and no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world. Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011 Be my desire, my heart set on fire, Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray. Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow. Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know. Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power, And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour. Lord, how I want to obey You forever. Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray. Teach me to love You; adore You always. Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today. Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy. Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray. Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me, So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now. I love to hear You speak Your words to me. I am so grateful that You set me free. Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord, And I will live with You for eternity.