Monday, April 23, 2012

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Back in the middle- ages when an important message was read or a decree went out from the king a messenger was sent to read it out loud to the people of the land. This messenger would stand in the center of the townsfolk and proclaim- “Hear Ye, Hear Ye! This is what the King decrees!” This would get the townspeople attention, and everyone would drop what they were doing and come and listen.
With that same voice, with that same sense of importance, Paul 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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2. There is a sense of urgency here in Paul’s writing. One that should stop us and make us pay very close attention to what he is saying to the believers, to us. Paul, a messenger of our True King, rolls out his scroll and gives us this decree, a decree from Jesus Christ, a decree from God that if we would obey it, our lives would be transformed.
Paul says, “I beseech you” which means, ‘to call alongside, to beg’. He is not asking us to hear him; he is urging us, crying out for us to LISTEN to him. I used to tell my kids (and still do) that there is a big difference between hearing and listening. When one of my kids would say, “I hear you” I would reply, “Yes, but are you listening to me?” To me, to hear means to take what I have said and walk away- placing it in a file somewhere until you can toss it away. To listen means to apply what is being said, to seek to understand and to allow the words being spoken to take root and make an impact on my life. Paul is standing in the midst of the book of Romans saying, “Listen to me! Take what I am telling you, seek to understand these words and let them make an impact on your life!”
Now that Paul has your attention, he goes on to encourage us that “by the mercies of God, that you (we) present our bodies a living sacrifice”. I want all who read this blog today to take a few minutes and ponder, dwell on the things that God has done for you. Do we truly understand and comprehend the compassion that our God has towards us? Jon Courson writes this, “after spending eleven chapters talking about man’ s ruined condition and God’s rich salvation, in chapter 12, Paul begins to encourage us to start serving Him.” (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary New Testament) Paul has just written to us, in the previous chapters, the worthless and ruined lives we were living before the Lord Jesus Christ saved us, before the Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us and gave us the gift of eternal life through His death on the cross. “By the mercies of God” should bring us to our knees.
But Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, since we now understand how much mercy and compassion and love our God has towards us, we should now, “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God..”  The word Paul uses, which we translate “present” means ‘to place at the disposal of; to yield’. Paul is begging us to lay it all down. When we present our bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice, we are saying to Him, “My lord, O king, just as you say, I and all that I have are yours."(1 Kings 20:4) We are giving Him total and complete control of every aspect of our lives. There is nothing we have, nothing we gain, nothing we are that He has not given us. Because of what He has done for us, because of who He is for us, we can in all confidence lay down our bodies as a continual and ongoing sacrifice. We are to live our lives as holy (set apart) to God and seek to please Him alone.
I hear women so many times struggling in their walks because they are seeking to please their husbands, their children, their families, their ministries, their pastors; they seek to please all who cross their path. (Galatians 1:10) But Paul wants us to be free from that bondage and seek to please the Lord God who gave Himself for you. Jesus Christ desires to be the One, the Only One to whom you put all your hope, trust, faith, expectation and service to. I can say in all confidence that if we as women stop trying to please everyone and begin to please our God, our lives will be filled with all the blessings and love we desire. We seek to please our husbands and gain their approval, to gain their love. Imagine if we sought to please only the Lord Jesus Christ- Who loves us more than our husbands ever could. If we could only grasp the concept of pleasing God and not man, oh, how free we as women could be! (If this touched your heart, please may I encourage you to go and read Galatians 1:10)
Paul says we are to present our bodies, “which is our reasonable service”. But if we present our bodies to serve Him, and we don’t surrender our minds, our will, our soul and our strength, then we have not given Him all that He desires. We can give our bodies to Him in service. I see it every time I go to church. Even I have given my body to Him, to serve Him. But I failed to do the one thing that was most needful. I forgot to surrender everything else.
People who know me will tell you that I am a “Martha”, and that is very true. I am a doer, in fact, being idle drives me crazy. But the Lord showed me the balance that He was referring to when He chastened Martha for her much serving. (Luke 10:41) He showed me that there is nothing wrong with being a “Martha” as long as I am “Mary” first. What Paul means and what the Lord showed me goes hand in hand. We are to serve Him, seek to please Him alone, but to please Him; we must first get to know Him.
Every day we are walking a walk with Jesus. Every day we are asked to serve Him, to seek Him, to please Him. But so many times we miss the importance of the fellowship that He desires to have with each one of us. Paul is telling us in Romans 12:1-2 that our walk is not to be one of frustration and discouragement, it is to be transformed. Paul tells us “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 will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
Ladies, we have been given a decree this morning. The Lord God is calling to us to step out of the daily devotions of repetition and to meet Him each day with an intimate communication, in expectation of getting to know Him, our God. When we stop reading our devotions as a “practice, as a routine” and start seeking to know Him, He will open the scriptures to us and we will be transformed. Paul stands in the midst of Romans and calls to us today to let go of all that we know, and to answer the call to intimacy that Jesus is seeking from us. If you are struggling in your walk, if you are reading and not growing- then perhaps you have forgotten why and who you are seeking to know. We are called to commit our lives in gratitude towards our merciful God and offer to Him a consecrated lifestyle that is based upon intimacy and not theology.
One thing that has been rolling through my mind these past couple of days is this: “Let go of what you think you know and grab hold of the One who knows you, and desires to be known by you.” We have been given a choice, a calling today- and just as Paul cried out for your attention, I too, am begging you to “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.” (Romans 12:1-2) What is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God? To have an intimate, one on one relationship with you- and you alone. I pray for each and every woman, man or child that reads this blog today, that you would let go of yourself and fall upon the mercies of our God, laying down your body, your soul, your mind and your strength, allowing Him to work in you and through you. I pray that we would be a complete, living sacrifice, allowing Him to do as He pleases, and that we would seek to please Him only. To God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be all glory and honor and praise, Amen.