6th Sunday after Epiphany
After welcoming us warmly, Brad stated that our focus today would be on a familiar text, Romans 12. "How do we know what God wants? We’re going to look at that today."
Next Sunday Brad and Brooke will be in Florida, thinking about us while someone else welcomes us warmly.
Wednesday Feb 22 is the beginning of Lent. There will be no Kids Club or Youth Group as we share a meal at 6:15 and begin Lent with worship together at 7:00.
The youth group from River Falls will be visiting with us next week.
Brad again reminded us that our worship is not like going to a movie where you sit and observe. Rather it is something we all participate in together.
Darlene’s introit -- rolling, rhythmic and bright -- gently transported us into the spirit of worship. Brad then read to us from Psalm 63 and led us in singing "I Will Worship" and other songs. A Scripture reading from Mark 1:40-45 followed the tithes and offerings.
After many prayer requests were gathered and offered up to God, Brad began his sermon.
How do we know what God wants?
Sometimes we play games with God as if He were like a game show in which He was hiding behind Door #1 or Door #2 or Door #3. Or we play the game, “If it’s your will to go to Baskin & Robbins give me a parking space out front," as we drive around the block six times till it happens.
How do we know whether this or that is God’s will?
First, some things we know clearly. “Should I steal this bike? Is it O.K., Lord, for me to commit adultery, just this once?” These are questions we don’t have to ask. The Bible is clear on many things.
But some things are less clear.
Romans 12 begins with “Therefore…” And whenever we see a “therefore” we have to ask what it’s there for. ("That’s one reason I paid the big bucks for seminary," Brad quipped.)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform 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.
Therefore, I urge you… In response to what Jesus has done, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. The first answer to the question is, “God wants your body.”
God created you. But He looks down with love… He’s not just watching and waiting to stomp you like a bug when you mess up. He wants to be near you, to be with you. It's how Brad feels at the end of a day when he can't wait to get home so he can be close to his children.
A good way to start your day is to offer your hands or your lips to God, to be used in a manner that will bring life to others this day, not death. Sometimes we spend so much of our time trying to dig ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into.
“Give your bodies as a living sacrifice.”
Not a dead sacrifice… but a living sacrifice. If you take relationship out of Christianity you end up with dead legalism. The world sees Christians as people who have a list of rules. Christianity is not about rules. It is about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I do not try to be "good enough" for God to love me. I offer my body to God because of what He did for me when I didn’t deserve it.
A second directive for understanding God’s will: Give God your will. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” Another translation says, “Don’t let the world press you into its mold.”
MTV believed it had 20-year-olds in their power because this audience was a blank slate. This is an insult to a generation. As we approach life, we are to fill our minds with truth and not passively let things fill our heads. The essential thing is to not have a blank mind, but have your mind armed with truth.
Third step is this: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Psalm 1 begins...
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
God wants you body, God wants you will and God wants our minds.
Brad told a story about Genghis Khan. Someone asked, “How is it possible that you conquered all these cities with such ease?” He replied, “We bribed the gatekeeper.” You need to be a gatekeeper of what goes into your mind. This includes what you watch on TV or the movies you see. Don’t allow the trash to pollute your mind.
The second half of this idea is to fill your mind with good things, not just block out the bad.
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice... Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
It’s not a matter of anxiously praying about every little decision like “Do I go out this door or that door?”
God works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. But to do this you have to follow Paul’s directive… you have to give Him everything.
As Brad prepared this message he was reminded of an old guy who spoke at a Bible college in Canada. He got up to preach…. "The problem with Christians…. too many have moss growing on their butts because they never move. I have never lived that way. I’ve lived my whole life going 100 miles per hour."
Don't be paralyzed by uncertainty. Live pleasing to God and the rest is much easier.