It all began in 2008. Somewhere…perhaps in a Bible study or a sermon…Romans 12:1-2 floated into my heart like an autumn leaf twirling to the ground. It was not an unfamiliar pair of verses, but neither were they sealed into my memory….yet.
Before long, these verses began popping up everywhere. In a sermon, in whatever Bible study I was doing, devotionals, on the radio…flitter, I fully expected to walk into a bathroom stall somewhere and find them scrawled on the wall. Seriously, it was comical how God was using repetition to force me to pay attention to these verses. The more I heard them, the more I realized that there was a message, a life message, in them for me.
In the eight years since, I have tucked these verses deeply into my heart and made them into an almost daily prayer for my life. I believe they are the key that opens the door to the authentic Christian life. Let’s start with verse 1.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (ESV)
As we think about authentic Christianity, about being a stand-out Christian in a world that tells us to shut-up, what possible help could this verse be? Sacrifice? Holy? It all sounds very antiquated, doesn’t it?
Paul is doing a little bit of what I like to call ‘guilt trippin’ his brethren. He is saying something like this: “Look at what God has done for you. How in the world could you not give your all for Him? It really is what you should do.”
One thing that is important for us to understand is the context in which Paul wrote Romans. In that day there was a prevalent philosophy that said that the soul or spirit was inherently good, while the body was inherently evil. Because the body was considered to be evil and would die eventually, it didn’t matter what you did with or to your body. Your soul/spirit was what mattered. For this reason, many people participated in immorality, believing that as long as their heart/spirit was right, they were good. There was a huge disconnect between the body and the spirit. Might sound a bit like today, huh?
So, back to how this verse impacted me. One day while I was exercising I was deeply impressed by the Holy Spirit to begin praying this verse back to God. So I did.
Lord, I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. I am yours. Change me. Use me. Make me into whatever you desire.
Now, this is not a prayer to be prayed flippantly, because sacrifices in the Old Testament did not remain alive. So, what I was saying to God is take whatever does not please you and crucify it, kill it, so that all that remains is holy and acceptable to you.
Vance Havner once said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar. This required an intentional, deliberate act of my will. I had to be willing open the doors of my heart completely to the Holy Spirit, holding nothing back….NOTHING BACK! I had to be willing to allow Him to clean out impure thoughts and selfish desires. I had to be serious about crawling up on that altar and allowing my flesh to be crucified so Jesus could live through me. What Jesus has done in my heart since I began praying this prayer is stunning. He has given me an intense desire to be more and more like Him.
Authentic Christianity requires that we give God the ultimate sacrifice of self….body, mind, and spirit. The world needs to see Christ-followers who are walking out holy lives because they have offered their bodies as living sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
MEDITATION MOMENT: What would you need to do in order to make Romans 12:1 a reality in your life? What is hindering you from offering your body as a living sacrifice? I would love to pray for you in this regard. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
Have you heard about Journibles? They are a series of beautiful books that offer space for you to write out that specific book of the Bible. I love my Romans Journible. I scribed the entire book of Romans in it. The Word comes alive even more when you write it out. Here is my Amazon affiliate link to the Romans Journible. Order your copy today and begin writing out the book of Romans.
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Does God ever ‘pester’ you? He does me, although I suppose it is not fair to call it ‘pestering’.
Perhaps I should say He nags me. Hmmm, no that does not sound quite right either.
Ah, I know. He is insistent. That’s it. Insistent that I pay attention to something important.
That’s what has been going on in my heart recently. God has been all up in my business about PRAYER.
Now, let me start off by saying that I pray…every day. The fact of a prayer life is not what He has been speaking to me about. Instead, He has been reminding me of the POWER of prayer.
It all began a few months ago when a friend told me that he was going to do something that he and I both knew was outside of God’s will. Yet, he was bound and determined to do it. My heart was broken over it. Broken so much that I wept on the spot when he told me about his plans.
Being the controller that I am, over the next few days I tried to figure out a way I could change his mind. There was not a way. As I agonized over the situation (and that is what I did because I knew my friend’s decision would bring grave and painful consequences), the Holy Spirit reminded me that there was something I could do to change the situation. I could pray.
In fact, when my friend told me about his intentions, I rather boldly, but in love, told him two things: first, God cannot bless what you are doing; and second, I will not stop praying for you to change your mind.
So, I began to pray that God would intervene and change my friend’s mind. I knew, because of the situation, that I was praying IN THE WILL OF GOD. So, I knew what I was asking God to do was something that He desired to do. THAT RIGHT THERE, friends, is the key to powerful, effective prayer. PRAYING IN THE WILL OF GOD.
I would pray early and often. I would cry and pray. I would pace and pray. I would get on face before God and pray. For several weeks this consumed my prayers. I knew that God had the power and desire to change my friend’s heart because what I was asking lined up with Scripture. I had to trust God’s heart and His plan.
About four weeks after I began praying, my friend came to me and told me that a few days prior he had gone to bed with a heart set on doing what he had planned. He told me that the next morning when he woke up, the desire to move ahead with his plans was gone. GONE! I praised God for intervening.
Y’all, prayer is powerful. PRAYER THAT IS PRAYED IN THE WILL OF GOD IS POWERFUL!
I knew that fact. Yet, being a witness to God moving in such a powerful way in response to my prayers has blown my mind. How do I know God responded to my prayers? Because my friend told me that less than a handful of people knew about what he planned to do….and he doubted that any of them prayed for him to change his mind.
I take absolutely no credit for his change of heart. All the credit goes to God!! All the praise goes to God! He simply allowed me to be part of His work through prayer in the life of my friend. Hallelujah!
So, friend, PRAY! Whatever is going on in your life, find out what God’s will is for that situation and then pray in His will. If God’s will is not clear in the situation, pray that God will move in the way that He knows is best.
Prayer is our most powerful weapon. Prayer is effective defense and effective offense. Use it!!
OH! By the way, did you get my BIRTHDAY GIFT? It was my birthday a week or so ago, and I gave YOU a gift. Click here to get it.
Also, did you check out my new Bible study that will be released in August, which you can PRE-BUY right now? I’m pretty excited about it. Click here to check it out.
Grace and peace,
If you were to come visit me at my home, I would send you directions to my home. I’m a pretty darned good direction giver. I would give you a starting location and tell you about landmarks along the way. I would give you the street name and number for my home. I would even tell you which fork in my driveway to take to get you to my front door.
So, let’s assume I gave you those directions to my home, but I made one teeny, tiny error. I left one number out of my street address. Oh, not on purpose, but let’s blame it on auto-correct!! Danged auto-correct!!!
Suppose my street number is 7639, but I give you 639. Every other word of the directions is correct, except the street number. How difficult will it be for you to find me? Probably pretty hard.
But, but, I was almost right. What’s a little number between friends?
Well, friend, you just found out that there is a big difference between being right and almost right.
Theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”
We live in a culture that has blurred the line between right and almost right so much that the two are nearly indistinguishable. It would be wise for us to step back a few paces and ask this question: “how do we discern between right and almost right?” I believe there are 3 things we need to understand in order to do this.
God’s Word is Right and Truth
Scripture is the standard that we, as Christians, must use to determine right from wrong. God’s Word is unchanging. It does not pander to the latest fads or political correctness. It was spoken by God, lived by Jesus, and is authenticated in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. What was right for the people of Jesus’ day is still right for us in 2016.
You may not like that, and to be honest, there are times that I do not like it. But the truth is the truth. God’s Word is our standard and plumb line for our lives as Christ followers. Period.
Know What Right Looks Like
When a person is being taught how to discern if a piece of paper money, such as a dollar bill, is counterfeit, they are not initially shown the fake money. Instead, they are taught what the real thing looks like. They are schooled in the inks, paper, techniques of printing, and many other things. In order to know what the counterfeit bill looks like, they must know everything about the real bill.
So it is with you and me as Christians. We must be able to spot the ‘almost right’ in our culture and to do that we need to know what the ‘right’ looks like. We need to know everything we can about what is right, and the only way to do that is to study God’s Word. Spend time in Bible study. Sit under godly teachers of the Word who do not bend the truth or water down the Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to recognize the ‘almost right’ that is so prevalent in our culture today.
Determine to Stand Solidly on Truth
Friend, the more pages that fly off the kingdom calendar, the more difficult it will be to not only discern right from almost right, but the more difficult it will be to stand up for right. In the United States we are seeing the distinction between right and almost right; right and wrong, blurred until even Christians are being deceived. We are seeing highly sought after Christian speakers espouse philosophies and lifestyles that the Bible says are sin. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being watered down so much that it is hardly recognizable flowing off the lips of some pastors and teachers.
You and I MUST stand solidly on the TRUTH of God’s Word. It may be difficult to do, but we must STAND ON TRUTH. It may cost us dearly, but we must STAND ON TRUTH. It may make us the object of derision and ridicule, but we must STAND ON TRUTH.
My heart breaks for the scores of people being led down a dangerous path of ‘almost right’ by Christians and unbelievers alike. Now, is the time for you and me to be warriors in prayer. We must fight on our knees for our nation, our state, our town, our church, our family, and our own hearts. Do not fall victim to the deception of Almost Right.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
When you have no answers….
When life does not make sense….
When your marriage is hanging by a thread and someone has the scissors close at hand…..
When there is far too much month left at the end of the money….
When you feel powerless to change….
What do you do? What do I do?
Hello friends! Today, I am offering you the words the Lord gave me for my newsletter subscribers this past Sunday. I pray they are a blessing to you. Don’t get my weekly newsletter? You can. Perhaps you have seen the pop-up box that appears occasionally when you visit my website. That little purple box is how you sign up for my newsletter. So, go over to the website and sign up.
Never has the Lord impressed upon me any clearer a subject for writing than the one for today. What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
I am convinced that the answer to each of the questions I posed above is the same one.
When you have no answers…….PRAY….because God has the answer.
When life does not make sense……PRAY…..because God sees the end from the beginning.
When your marriage is hanging by a thread…..PRAY….because God is for your marriage and He can heal it and restore it.
When there is far too much month left at the end of the money…..PRAY…..because God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and it ain’t nothing but a thang for Him to sell a few and provide for your needs.
When you feel powerless to change…..PRAY….because God can and will and does change hearts and lives.
God is able according to Isaiah 40:21-26 and 28-31 (NIV).
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Friend, I do not know what is going on in your life right now, nor do I know why God was adamant that I write on this topic of prayer today. What I do know is that PRAYER WORKS…PRAYER MOVES GOD TO CHANGE LIVES AND HEARTS. Praying according to the WILL AND WORD OF GOD is powerful. I know this one. I have seen God work over and over in hearts and lives in response to prayer.
So, dear one, pray. Pray big, bold prayers, but make sure that what you are praying lines up with Scripture and God’s will. That’s the key. If you do not know what to pray, hit your knees and begin with “Lord, help me. I need you.” When you pray in sincerity, humility and with a heart that longs to be in the will of God, He will come running to help you. I promise.
Today I want us to ponder something that all of us experience, yet many of us never find a way to crawl out of it. But, I know there is a way.
Is there an area of your life in which you constantly feel defeated? A portion of your walk where you cannot seem to consistently walk in victory? If you answered ‘NO’, I’m here to give you a HIGH FIVE. But if you, like me, answered with a resounding ‘YES’, I want to share with you what the Lord spoke to me recently about this matter.
I have an area where I just cannot seem to consistently walk in victory. I want to BADLY, yet it seems, more often than not, I default to defeat. The Lord showed me that I must begin the battle for victory in my mind. That is where it all begins. I must take seriously Psalm 19:14 and let the words of my mouth and the MEDITATIONS OF MY HEART be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. He made sure I understood that those meditations, those thoughts that lead to defeat, must be confessed before Him and repented of to Him.
Then, I must ask Him to help me replace those thoughts with godly, Christ-like thoughts. In my case, as I confessed my thoughts, He showed me that I was defaulting to selfish and self-centered thoughts, rather than humble, others-first thoughts. Oops!!! That bites!! Because really, who likes to think of themselves as selfish and self-centered?
Will I immediately walk in victory over this area of defeat? Maybe, but not likely. Satan does not want me to, and he will battle hard for this one. So, daily, sometimes hourly, I will need to take my thoughts captive to the truth of God’s Word and choose to replace those thoughts with Christ-like thoughts. God’s Word WILL prevail because He promised IT always accomplishes the purposes for which He sent it.
So, I am being intentional in recognizing the thoughts that lead to defeat, then confess them and seek to replace them with the words of Jesus.
Does this resonate with you? I’d love to hear from you if it does so I can be praying for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently, it seems the Lord places me in the middle of His classroom and teaches me a few life lessons. There is no syllabus for the class. Rather He teaches by showing me heart defects that are hindering my relationship with him. That makes for some painful lessons, but I know they are for my good. Today’s post is actually a re-post from a few years ago, but the lessons are just as pertinent as they were then.
i am NOT better than you
God had another lesson for me while I was at work at the pharmacy last week. Almost without fail, a judgmental spirit and humility seem to be the areas where I need the most work. I am acutely aware that pride is a sin God hates, and I want so much to be humble. In fact, I pray for humility on a regular basis. It seems to be a prayer that God is more than willing to answer in my life.
In my job as a pharmacist, I am regularly confronted with people from all walks of life. Rich, poor, hard-working, lazy-as-dirt, tall, short, thin, obese, humble, proud, funny, mean-as-a-snake, takers, givers and anything else you can think of. On this particular day, I was filling prescriptions for a person who has long been known as quite a talented abuser of the medical system. I’m not being judgmental. The facts are the facts.
As I worked on the prescriptions for this man, I was not even aware of the depth of my heart attitude toward him. You might want to cover the ears of small children, because here is where the story becomes ugly and very transparent.
I felt superior to the man, and I judged him based on his past. I felt that I was better than him.
Ugh! There it is in all its reprehensible ugliness.
Because I had made, what seem to be on the surface, better life choices than this man, I felt superior to him. As I checked his prescriptions for accuracy, the Holy Spirit smacked me really hard and Jesus said,
“Leah, you know that his choices do not make me love him any less than I love you. You know that works or life choices are not what make you acceptable in my eyes. I died for him just like I died for you.”
Immediately I was aware of how deep these feelings of superiority over others who had not made good life choices ran in my heart. It was all could do to stay on my feet. I wanted to go face-to-the-floor before the Lord in repentance. Instead, as I worked, I cried out to the Lord in my heart, asking Him to forgive me, and change my heart attitude.
How could ugliness like that be so deeply embedded in my heart….a heart that longs to be totally sold out to Jesus? The truth is that all of us have ugly lurking in our heart at times. What we do with that ugly when the Holy Spirit shines a light on it is the important issue. As much as it hurts to lance a boil full of ugly sin like the one that was residing in my heart, when we give the Spirit free reign to deal with it, there is immediate relief. Healing begins, and MY heart is tendered toward the Lord and his children in new ways. The pain of recognizing the ugly is worth the gain of having my heart made clean so that it looks more like the heart of Jesus.
I want to encourage you to pray that most daring of prayers: Lord, show me the ugly in my heart.
Friend, do you regularly pray for the Lord to expose sin in your heart?
Has the Lord exposed sin in your life lately?
Were you faithful to deal with what the Holy Spirit showed you?