We often ask this question: What is God’s will for my life? As students, 30-somethings, etc., we all ask that question. We might question if we knew God’s will for our life.
This isn’t a personal take on God’s will or how to not have regrets, or career advice for everyone. This is a question that God has laid on Ray’s mind for a while now.
This passage gives us three ways in which we can know God’s will: (1) to know how we are as recipients of God’s mercy, (2) to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, and (3) to join the church.
Romans 1 recounted the problems that people have in a failure to glorify God, attributed to a futile mind, leading to idolatry. God judged those people, to sexual impurity and degrading of their bodies. Then he gave them to a depraved mind. Paul then goes on to list the sins associated with a depraved mind. This introduction to Romans seems hopeless.
Even if we had everything from modern society, we would not have a chance to save ourselves. Ezekiel’s dry bones were symbolic of how dead Israel was. Bones are dead, and no amount of effort can reform them. This is the human predicament: We are utterly dead, dry bones. But this is the good news: Tendons and flesh appeared and life was breathed into us.
This was symbolic of Jesus’ coming. He sent his son in the flesh to breathe spiritual life into us. This is salvation.
Do you agree with this assessment? We’re this helpless/hopeless. Salvation is not just upgrading ourselves from Windows Vista to Windows 7. It’s not just a few tweaks.
As Jesus said to Nicodemus, we have to have a new life. We have to hit the reset button, game over on our old life.
As a Christian, do you realize that you have reached this point as a recipient of mercy? You need to get that so that you can get the rest of this message. So the first part of understanding God’s will is seeing our position, “in view of God’s mercy.”
With this new life, these new bodies, we can now offer them as living sacrifices. It’s remarkable that the same bodies we used to use for sin and depravity, we can now worship God with.
Greeks reading this would have been baffled. Bodies were supposed to be low, degrading. This is a radical concept.
It means that how we live out our lives is a big deal. What we do in terms of our bodily posture to God means a lot. Even in prayer, our posture (walking, kneeling, etc.) matters. Take an example: coming forward for prayer at the end of the service. There were times when Ray felt convicted by the message, but only sometimes could come forward.
We all know there’s a big difference between those who say they love their brother or sister, and those who actually try to help them. There’s a difference between those who say church is important to them and those who actually come. By waking up this morning you’re saying that God is this important to me.
Matthew shared at the prayer meeting to prepare for the new Caltech graduate student bible study. He’s realizing that he has to rearrange his schedule to fit this in.
Caltech students are typical for wanting to endure pain. They can’t take enough classes, it seems. Then they say that the last term was really hard spiritually. Our use of our time matters. Sometimes the most spiritual act you can do is to sleep.
For all of us, how does Monday through Saturday affect Sunday?
Third: God’s will for you is to be part of his church. We read further, into Romans 12:2. We say that yes, we want to know God’s will. But we don’t read further, and the NIV section headings can deceive us into thinking that that’s the end. No, Romans 12:2 is related to Romans 12:3-5.
What is the pattern of the world that we are not to conform to? It’s a pattern where I am at the center. People are catering to me. I can do this missions trip, pad my spiritual resume, etc. I’ll be nice to people just so they can be nice to me back. If you don’t meet my needs, you’re a nobody. Last week, we read John Piper saying that salvation shifts us from being self-centered to God-centered.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17: We regard no one from a worldly point of view. The new creation is come. This worldly point of view is our self-centeredness. From now on, we regard no one in terms of what they can do for us.
These verses describe how we ought to relate to one another in the church. We must recognize that Jesus is the head of the church, and therefore we need to be an active member in the church.
The problem with keeping verse 2 in isolation is that we tend to think of our Christian life as an individual, solitary journey. No, our role is within the local church. This is God’s plan to transform the world. The early Christians lived out their faith in their city-based churches.
Jesus talked to a lot of people, but he devoted himself to only 12. He was always with them, and formed close relationships with them.
Facebook gives us an inflated notion of friends. We have met these people, but it gives us an illusion of being close to a lot more people than we actually are.
We’re called to carry one another’s burdens, pray for each other. These things can’t happen in the global, worldwide sense. It would be sad if Ray’s marriage was only existent on Facebook, if he didn’t take his wife out to dinner or even come home ever. We need to have closer friendships than our Facebook crowd of friends.
Now let’s look at verse 3: Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought. Pride is a problem at the root of many difficulties.
Since we’re proud people, we very often butt heads. When this happens in the church, what do we do? We could switch churches, trying to find the perfect church that doesn’t exist. No, we need to learn to work through our differences.
The Gentile Christians in Rome could have been tempted to exclude the Jewish Christians, and vice versa. What if our church became a mega-church and Ray were called by Rick Warren to lead a ministry there and left? What if Ray went home to his parents and started lecturing them on everything he knows. They, and we, would want to put him in his place.
A simple question: Do you belong to a church, or just attend a church?

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