Thought for the Week 16 - 5th July 2020 by Rev Peter Baxandall

(16)   5th July                        Romans 12:1-11       Dedication

This week in our ‘Thought for the week’ we look together at Romans 12:1-11 as we look at the subject of the ‘therefore’ of dedication.

We shall take our ‘study’ from the New International Version of the Bible, which is the version we have in church – but before that I would like to do something different today - I would like to give you the version of this passage written by J. B. Phillips back in 1960.

It is one of the versions I grew up on as a ‘new’ Christian and this passage has been very special to me in this version over the years.

1    With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you my brothers and sisters, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him.

2    Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

3    As your spiritual teacher I give you this piece if advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your own capabilities by the light of the faith God has given to you all.

4    For just as you have many members in one physical body and those members differ in their functions,

5    so we, though many in number, compose one body in Christ and are all members of one another.

6    Through the grace of God we have different gifts.

7    If our gift is preaching, let us preach to the limit of our vision.

8    If it is serving others let us concentrate on our service; if it is teaching let us give all we have to our teaching; and if our gift be the stimulating of the faith of others let us set ourselves to it. Let the one who is called to give, give freely; let the one who wields authority think of their responsibility; and let the one who feels sympathy for their fellows act cheerfully.

9    Let us have not imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil and a real devotion to good.

10  Let us have real warm affection for one another as between brothers and sisters, and a willingness to let the other person have the credit.

11  Let us not allow slackness to spoil our work and let us keep the fires of the spirit burning as we do our work for the Lord.

Having taken time out to give you a flavour of that passage in a modern paraphrase version we will now turn our minds to the ‘Thought for the week’ for this week as we look together at Romans 12:1-11

We will do what has become our custom and start with prayer as we commit ourselves to God as we look at His word together and then we will sing a Hymn.

Prayer
Gracious Father, by the loving obedience and dedication of Jesus you made salvation possible to all in our wayward world.

Speak to us through our ‘Thought for the week’ as we study your word together.

Help us to be willing to give our lives to you as a ‘living sacrifice’ in true dedication as we seek to walk in harmony with your will.

We remember before you our fellow church members and ask you to strengthen, support and encourage them.

Help us, each one, to feel ourselves restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

So now, let’s sing together our fist Hymn for today - Lord, for the years

 

Lord, for the years Your love has kept and guided,

urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,

sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:

Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

 

Lord, for that word, the word of life that fires us,

speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,

teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:

Lord of the word, receive Your people’s praise.

 

Lord, for our land in this our generation,

spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care:

for young and old, for commonwealth and nation,

Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

 

Lord, for our world when men disown and doubt You,

loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,

hungry and helpless, lost indeed without You:

Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

 

Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us -

self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,

past put behind us, for the future take us:

Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.

 

Following our Hymn we turn to the ‘Thought for the week’ from Romans 12:1-11, where the first verse reads,

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship’

A       Our Relationship to God (Rom. 12:1–2)

Today we look at the fourth major ‘therefore’ in this letter of Paul to the Roman church.

  1. Romans 3:20 is the “therefore” of condemnation, declaring that the whole world is guilty before God.
  2. Romans 5:1 is the “therefore” of justification, and
  3. Romans 8:1 the “therefore” of assurance.
  4. Romans 12:1, is where we find the “therefore” of dedication, and it is this dedication that is the basis for the other relationships that Paul discussed in this section.

We might want to ask ourselves what is true dedication?

As Paul described it here, Christian dedication involves three steps.

(1)     You give God your body (v. 1).

For the person who does not trust Christ as Saviour, there is always the possibility that they might use their body for sinful pleasures and purposes, but once we belong to Him, we want to use our body for His glory.

The Christian’s body is God’s temple (1 Cor. 6:19–20) because the Spirit of God dwells within him (Rom. 8:9).

It is our privilege to glorify Christ in our body and to magnify Christ in our body (Phil. 1:20–21).

Just as Jesus Christ had to take on Himself a body in order to accomplish His Father’s will on earth, so we must yield our bodies to Christ that He might continue His Father’s work through us.

We must yield the members of the body as “instruments of righteousness” (Rom. 6:13) for the Holy Spirit to use in the doing of God’s work.

The Old Testament sacrifices were dead sacrifices, but we are to be living sacrifices.

Of course, our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect illustration of a ‘living sacrifice’ because He actually gave His life as a sacrifice, in obedience to His Father’s will, - but He arose again.

And today He is in heaven as a “living sacrifice,” bearing in His body the wounds of Calvary.

He is our High Priest (Heb. 4:14–16) and our Advocate (1 John 2:1) before the throne of God.

The verb ‘to present’ or ‘to give’ or ‘to offer’ in this verse, (depending on the version you are using), means “to present once and for all.”

Paul gives us two reasons for this commitment:

  1. it is the right response to all that God has done for us - “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God”; and
  2. this commitment is “our reasonable service” or “our spiritual worship.”

This means that every day is a worship experience when your body is yielded to the Lord.

(2)     You give Him your mind (v. 2a).

The world wants to control your mind, but God wants to transform your mind (see Eph. 4:17–24; Col. 3:1–11).

Do you remember how J.B. Phillips put it: ‘Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould, (or transform), your minds from within.’

This word ‘transform’ is the same as ‘transfigure’ in Matthew 17:2.

It has come into our English language as the word “metamorphosis” and it describes a change from within.

The world wants to change your mind, so it exerts pressure from outside.

But the Holy Spirit changes your mind by releasing power from within.

If the world controls our thinking, we are a ‘conformer’; if God controls our thinking, we are a ‘transformer’.

God transforms our minds and makes us spiritually minded by using His Word.

As you spend time looking at God’s Word, memorizing it, and making it a part of your inner person, God will gradually make your mind more spiritual (see 2 Cor. 3:18).

(3)     You give Him your will (v. 2b).

Your mind controls your body, and your will controls your mind.

Many people think they can control their will by “willpower,” but usually they fail.

It is only when we yield the will to God that His power can take over and give us the willpower (and the won’t power!) that we need to be victorious Christians.

We surrender our wills to God through disciplined prayer.

As we spend time in prayer, we surrender our will to God and pray, with the Lord, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”

We must pray about everything, and let God have His way in everything.

For many people they find it helpful if they can begin each day by surrendering their whole life and their body to the Lord.

Then they allow Him to speak to them and let Him transform their mind and prepare their thinking for that new day.

Following that, they pray, and yield the plans of the day to Him and let Him work as He sees best.

Often there is real value to pray especially about those tasks that upset or worry us.

To have a right relationship with God, we must start the day by yielding to Him our bodies, minds, and wills.

B       Relationship to Other Believers (Rom. 12:3–11)

Paul was writing to Christians who were members of local churches in Rome.

He described their relationship to each other withing the local church in terms of the members of a body – a picture that he also uses in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 and Ephesians 4:7–16.

The basic idea is that each believer is a living part of Christ’s body, and each one has a spiritual function to perform.

Each believer has a gift (or gifts) to be used for the building up of the body and the perfecting of the other members of the body.

In short, we belong to each other, we minister to each other, and we need each other.

What are the essentials for spiritual ministry and growth in the body of Christ? – here Paul suggests three areas to consider.

(1)     Honest evaluation (v. 3).

I like the J. B. Phillips version at this point – ‘Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your own capabilities’

Each Christian must know what their spiritual gifts are and what ministry (or ministries) they are to have in the local church.

It is not wrong for a Christian to recognize gifts in their own life and in the lives of others.

What is wrong is the tendency to have a false evaluation of ourselves.

Few things cause more damage in a local church than a believer who overrates himself or herself and tries to perform a ministry that they cannot do.

But at the same time, the opposite is true, and some people undervalue themselves and constantly pull away from taking any active service within the church saying, ‘I am not good enough’

Both attitudes are wrong.

The gifts that we have are not earned but come to us because of God’s grace and they must be accepted and exercised by faith.

We were saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9), and we must live and serve “by grace through faith.”

Since our gifts are from God, we cannot take the credit for them. All we can do is accept them and use them to honour His name.

(2)     Faithful co-operation (vv. 4–8).

Each believer has a different gift, and God has bestowed these gifts so the local body can grow in a balanced way.

But each Christian must exercise his or her gift by faith.

We may not see the result of our ministry, but the Lord sees it and He blesses it.

Note that encouragement is just as much a spiritual ministry as preaching or teaching.

Giving and showing mercy are also important gifts.

To some people, God has given the ability to rule, or to administer the various functions of the church.

Whatever gift we have must be dedicated to God and used for the good of the whole church.

It is tragic when any one gift is emphasized in a local church beyond all the other gifts.

And for a Christian to minimize the other gifts while he emphasizes his or her own gift is to deny the very purpose for which gifts are given: the benefit of the whole body of Christ.

Spiritual gifts are tools to build with, not toys to play with or weapons to fight with.

(3)     Loving participation (vv. 9–11).

Here the emphasis is on the attitudes of those who exercise the spiritual gifts.

It is possible to use a spiritual gift in an unspiritual way.

Paul makes this same point in 1 Corinthians 13, the great “love chapter” of the New Testament.

Love is the circulatory system of the spiritual body, which enables all the members to function in a healthy, harmonious way.

This must be an honest love, not a hypocritical love (Rom. 12:9); and it must be humble, not proud (Rom. 12:10).

“Preferring one another” means treating others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:1–4).

Finally, Paul reminded them that they must enter into the feelings of others.

Christian fellowship is much more than a pat on the back and a handshake.

It means sharing the burdens and the blessings of others so that we all grow together and glorify the Lord.

So, therefore, we consider what it meant to have a real sense of dedication to our Mighty God and at the same time have a real sense of dedication to one another withing the ‘body of Christ’

Prayer

Holy God, we bring our prayer to you in the power of the Spirit which unites us with Christ Jesus in the knoweldge that you will hear our prayers for the world and for the church.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Faithful God, we pray for all people who seek to follow your way in their lives.

Help your church speak your word of truth with confidence and in unity so that those who are searching and listening will be able to see and hear clearly your message of love and peace.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Creator God, we pray for people and nations whose troubles, brought about by the global pandemic drown out any thought of harmony and where the violent heat of anger destroys our peace.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Father God, we pray for the people who like ourselves are part of your church here in Hopton, Corton and Gunton.

As we read you word in our ‘Thought for the week’ give us sensitivity and insight into their needs and vulnerabilities so that we may learn truly to love our neighbours as ourselves. 

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Gracious God, we pray for people we know who are ill, anxious or bereaved, and for those that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens.

We pray that you will lead them, and us, in peace towards healing and wholeness of mind and spirit.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Merciful God, we pray for our nation and Government at this time of difficulty and grant them the wisdom and courage to make choices and decisions that bring good to the people of the nation.

Help us as we seek to move forward with a desire to begin to get back to normal and to rebuild the economy.

Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Loving God, we offer ourselves to you as a living sacrifice in faith and confidence.

Give to us a sane estimate of our own capabilities as you pour your gifts into our lives

Show us as we go out into this week how we can best reflect your love.

Fill us with the Spirit of life which was in Christ Jesus, your Son and our Saviour.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

And so, as bring this study to a close, we sing together the HymnSing to God new songs of worship’ – which is a hymn based on the words of Psalm 98

Hymn                           Sing to God new songs of worship

Sing to God new songs of worship:

All His deeds are marvellous;

He has brought salvation to us

With His hand and holy arm:

He has shown to all the nations

Righteousness and saving power;

He recalled His truth and mercy

To His people Israel.

 

Sing to God new songs of worship:

Earth has seen His victory;

Let the lands of earth be joyful

Praising Him with thankfulness:

Sound upon the harp His praises,

Play to Him with melody;

Let the trumpets sound His triumph,

Show your joy to God the King!

 

Sing to God new songs of worship:

Let the sea now make a noise;

All on earth and in the waters

Sound your praises to the Lord:

Let the hills be joyful together,

Let the rivers clap their hands,

For with righteousness and justice

He will come to judge the earth.

 

 


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