Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this your reasonable act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to prove what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:1-2)
I have heard many, many sermons in recent years about how to receive blessings from God. Some have been of the "name it and claim it" variety, others have focused on changes we need to make in order to be ready to receive God's gifts, most have put the emphasis on the benefits the Christian will gain.
An Uncomfortable Word
There is no doubt that Jesus brought great blessing to those He touched during His three year earthly ministry. But He also said, "anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me," (Matt 10:38).
Contrary to what some people believe, our cross is not something imposed on us from outside but something we choose to take up of our own will. It is not a cross of physical suffering or financial hardship. The context of Jesus' words is that of ensuring that, in all things, He is first in our lives, even above our closest and dearest family.
The Lord Jesus has to be the top priority of our lives, to the extent that we are willing to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him. Some people will say that Jesus has made the one sufficient sacrifice so that we do not have to. His sacrifice was for our redemption, He paid the full price so we can have peace with God. There is nothing more we can do to earn our salvation. But that is just the beginning.
As Paul was at pains to remind the Corinthians, "you are not your own, you were bought at a price," (1 Cor 6:19-20). One we have received our salvation we belong to God and He has rights over us. And through the words of Scripture He says to each of us, "offer yourselves as a living sacrifice."
All To Jesus I Surrender
Christianity is not about sitting in rows on Sundays, singing our favourite hymns and songs, listening to a sermon which makes us feel better about ourselves and having coffee with like-minded people.
Christianity is about surrendering ourselves to Jesus for Him to work in and through us, whether we like the consequences or not. We cannot say, "but Lord," because where there is a "but" Christ is not Lord. Our job is not to reason out the why and how of what He asks of us. Our job is to be obedient, whatever the cost, otherwise we become excess baggage in the church, hindering the work of the Lord.
Prayer College Assignment
A life surrendered to Jesus consists of a series of days surrendered to Him. Begin each day by offering yourself as a living sacrifice and then endeavour to be obedient moment by moment, remembering that you can do nothing without Him (Jn 15:5) and relying on Him to provide the strength you need (Phil 4:13).