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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Prioritizing our Priorities

So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him—an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way. (Romans 12:1 ERV)
How exactly does one offer their life as a living sacrifice to God? If we were to take this literally, one might think about needing to die as a martyr for God, as one might for a "good cause". If we were to merely think of this figuratively, one might reason it is some type of reference to the amount of time we spend at church, doing "work" for the church or community. While neither of these is bad, it isn't the intent of the passage. Paul is reminding the Roman church of how much God's grace has accomplished in their lives to deliver them from "religious pursuit" and from having to make all things right in their lives by their own effort. In other words, he has reminded them of the work of grace in their lives. The natural outflow of grace is to honor the one bestowing that great gift by living in obedience to his will. This is the "living sacrifice" God is most "impressed" with - for a life lived well is one in alignment with is will.
Living only for God brings him great pleasure. Some might think this means we have to lock ourselves away in some cloistered convent or monastery, but the opposite is probably more accurate of what God wants. He wants us to be in this world, working alongside each other, living out our faith in our daily work. In so doing, we meet up with others who also need to discover the joy of what it is to experience complete freedom from a life of sin and to come freely before the throne of God in restored relationship. We "live out" our faith in service to each other, helping each other grow in God's grace. We share in developing one another's understanding of the magnitude of God's plan for their lives and then we help them walk it out. In living life as an example of his grace, we are offering a precious sacrifice.
In another sense, we offer our lives as a living sacrifice each time we come into the presence of God. We spend times specifically focused on celebrating him, enjoying his presence and learning at his feet. This is what energizes us and helps us to be ready to "live out" our faith in our everyday work. It is more than just going to church on Sunday, then calling that "all good" for having had time in God's presence. It is the time each and every day in which we just take time to get alone with him and celebrate him in praise and worship. It includes time in his Word and time just listening. In so doing, we are being renewed and he receives honor each time our lives are changed more and more into his likeness.
We over-think this "sacrifice" thing, but if you have ever tried to take time each day to do this, you know how incredibly difficult it can be when life's demands are knocking at the door. Yet, if we do take the time with him first, we find all the "knockers" can wait and all we needed to accomplish that day gets done. It might just be that God is asking us to prioritize our priorities in asking us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice! Just sayin!