The Scripture lessons for August 27 were Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 11:33-12:8; and Matthew 16:13-20. Pastor Rub focused his message on the Epistle lesson and basically drew out the “because/therefore” nature of our faith and its expression. Because of God’s great mercy, we therefore offer ourselves as living sacrifices as a spiritual act of worship.
In the first three chapters of Romans Paul describes the human condition apart from God, which he then sums up in chapter three.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Beginning with Romans 3:24 and continuing through Romans 5 Paul begins to recount God’s redeeming and justifying grace. This section of Romans is best summed up in Romans 5 where Paul writes:
Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In chapters six through eight Paul describes God’s grace and mercy by reminding us that through our baptisms God has united us Christ and He has given us His Spirit. He describes how nothing can separate us from God’s love. In chapter eight he writes:
Romans 8:37-39 …we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Then in chapters nine through eleven Paul tells us these mercies are for Jews and Gentile alike. In Romans 9:25 Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 and writes:
As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
This brings us to Sunday’s Epistle lesson where Paul writes:
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, 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.
It is as we see and experience God’s mercies that we are motivated and moved by the Spirit to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God in and through service to others. Jesus tells is in John 13:35 that people will know we are His disciple by our loving others as He loves us. And Paul instructs us in Romans 6:13 to “present ourselves alive from the dead and our bodies as instruments of righteousness.”
In Romans 12:2 Paul further instructs us Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….
It is as our minds are renewed in and with God’s mercies that the Spirit works transformation in us. Throughout the rest of Romans 12 Paul describes what that transform will look like.
A question for each of us is “With what are we renewing our minds and what transformation is God seeking to work in and through us today?”
Amen! So be it!!!
My thoughts, I would like to hear yours.
(All passages are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted)
Chime in with your thoughts and questions in the comment section!