1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(Romans 12:1-2 The Message)
Consecration goes beyond the surface - in fact, it embraces all of our being when it is operational in our lives. Consecration is simply the act of setting something apart for a specific use. When we say that the chocolate chip cookies are just for daddy because they are his favorite cookies, we have the expectation that the one receiving enjoyment out of those cookies will be daddy. The same is true when we say we have dedicated our lives to the service of our heavenly Father - he will receive the enjoyment our dedication brings.
Grace and mercy are two very powerful forces at work in our lives. It is the "favor" of God and the "pardon" of God that is at work in us. The first step in dedicating our lives to his service is to yield what he already owns! We are in a kind of "territory dispute" with God most of the time. We want to enjoy the liberty of his grace and release of his pardon, but when it comes to actually turning over the "deed" to our lives, we hesitate. We are called to be separated UNTO God for his special work within and through us. What we fail to recognize is that separation is completely voluntary.
In the off chance that I am not clear here, let me explain. God never REQUIRES our dedication. He is honored by it, but he never compels us to serve him. WE choose whom we will serve. What we fail to recognize is that by dedicating ourselves to him, we are really being set apart for the most awesome enjoyment that one could ever experience. Just like daddy may savor those chocolate chip cookies that have been "dedicated" to him, our heavenly Father will savor our dedication - giving over our "right" to hold control of our lives into his hands.
The most awesome thing happens when we finally yield the control of our lives to Jesus - we begin to bear the image of that which we yield to. Did you ever see two totally close friends and notice how much they "resemble" each other in their habits, ideals, and even in their communication? "Likeness" actually occurs because of the frequency of contact that they have with one another.
When we finally desire God's enjoyment of our lives more than our own enjoyment of our sin, God is honored to take what we yield to him. But...he only takes what is yielded (dedicated / consecrated)! There is a practice in the Old Testament that we don't see any longer in our church services - the practice of the altar sacrifices. That is okay, since Jesus was the perfect sacrifice! Yet, I think there was some value in seeing how the altar affected what was dedicated to God by being placed on it!
Every gift laid at the altar is affected by the altar. I call this the "altering" effect of the "altar". It is like putting those chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar for the enjoyment of one person only - each time that jar is opened, the aroma of those cookies rises. At the altar of God's grace and mercy, there is an aroma that reaches God's nostrils and invites him to enjoy that which has been dedicated to him. Yet, at the altar, God awakens a sense of need in us, as well. It is at the altar that we are acknowledging our dependence upon him.
One last note - the CALLED OF God are CALLED FOR God - his enjoyment alone. He already paid the price for our souls at the cross. When we yield the right to govern our lives (our will), we are truly giving evidence that we are willing to have that which controls us the most affected by the altar. Paul refers to this as having our minds renewed. I think he might have had the picture of the altar in mind - leaving no part of our self-will untouched by the fire of the Spirit.