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. (Romans 12)
Max Lucado quite rightly says: if you engage in sexual activity outside your marriage, you’ll bring more pain into the life of your child than anything in this world.
Mom, would you force your children to sleep outside on a cold night? By no means. Yet if you involve yourself in an affair, you’ll bring more darkness and chill into the lives of your children than a hundred winters. No one can deny the relentless pain brought on by enduring the consequences of wrong actions. It may be as quick and simple as the sting following a swat from a parent's paddle or as lingering and severe as a prison sentence. Either one, however, is hard to bear. The person who cheats on a mate and later leaves the marriage must ultimately endure the consequences. The child who runs away from home in a fit of rebellious rage must live with the painful ramifications.
Actions have consequences. Make this your rule of thumb: Do what pleases God! Your classmates showed you a way to cheat, the internet provides pornography to watch—ask yourself the question, “How can I please God?” Psalm 4:5 says, “Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord and trust the Lord.” You will never go wrong doing what is right!
Gwen Smith in her devotional "when God Does a New Thing" says, God is all about beautiful transformations. He is an active, deeply personal, infinitely caring God who restores us on a heart level with a makeover of a masterful kind. When we turn to Him in repentance, He takes the broken, stained areas of our lives away and replaces our mess with a beauty that is far beyond ourselves – the beauty of Christ.
The Bible has a great deal to say about what happens when we turn to God:
“Those who look to him are radiant; they are never covered in shame.” Psalm 34:5
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Listen, friend, I am living proof of the scandalous nature of God’s grace… of His willingness to forgive and restore ugly, tattered heart places. I don’t write from a platform of perfection, but from a foundation of grace that was finished and established by the blood of Jesus Christ.
He came so that you and I could live beyond our pasts – beyond our disappointments – beyond our biggest mistakes and our deepest pains. He came so we could be forgiven and made new. So we could have abundant life.
I don’t know where this finds you right now, but God surely does. He knows and sees everything – and still His love remains.
We all have brokenness that needs fixing and stains that need to be cleaned. We all need a makeover! The good news of the Gospel is simple: when we call out to God and seek His heart and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, He does a new thing! He meets us with mercy, forgives us completely, blesses us with grace and does a masterful, life-changing work of transformation.
We all want to be a living demonstration of the fact that the will of God is "good and acceptable and perfect." In order to do that, we must have our minds transformed and renewed. In order to have our minds transformed and renewed, we must make our bodies "a living sacrifice" to God. We all want the will of God in our lives. We can experience it if we present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.
And notice how, when writing about his life, the apostle chose words descriptive of a battle. He understood the human struggle against sin as well as the challenges of pain and persecution in the trials we all face--even in doing kingdom work like preaching Christ to a fiercely resistant society.
This godly servant's life was also marked by surrender. His mindset is obvious in these words: "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Rom. 12:1). He was not afraid of Nero, nor was he struggling to stay alive. Paul trusted God to determine everything about his life, including where he would go, what he would do, and when he would die. Death did not scare him, because he knew he would dwell with Jesus forever.
God doesn't require our lives to be perfect in order to finish strong. We can live life fully and be ready to meet our Maker by surrendering, walking victoriously with Christ, and serving others. If Jesus called you home today, would you--like Paul--be confident that you lived well until the end?
Exodus 13:21 says this:
“When the love of God is discussed, we often speak of his love being incomparable, for it is like no other. God’s love for his people in Christ is eternal (Ephesians 1:4), primary and initiatory (I John 4:9-10), supremely sacrificial (Romans 5:8), unconquerable (Romans 8:28-32), and immeasurable (Psalm 57:10). God’s love as described in Scripture is in contrast to man’s weak and sin-choked love, and thus is without equal or even close rival. Yet within God’s incomparable love, the Scriptures make distinctions regarding God’s affection for objects of that love. He does love certain entities more than others.