Pondering the Passages: Romans 12:1-2

Romans 12:1-2 “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. 2 Do not conform any longer 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.”

Memory Verse for the Week: “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.

This weeks passage is probably very familiar. Don’t let that stop you from mining it for riches that are waiting to be discovered as you ponder these verses and let God speak to you.

The book of Romans, from my perspective, is the most passionate letter that Paul wrote. You see his passion for the gospel. You see his passion that the Jews might be saved. You see his passion for worship. When you come to Romans 12:1-2 his passion is at fever pitch. Here’s my amplified translation of v.1 that attempts to capture this passion:

“Therefore, I urge you, I plead with with you, I beg you – in view of God’s mercy, in light of everything that He has done for you (rescuing you, redeeming you, reconciling you) – to willingly offer your bodies every day as living sacrifices. Sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God. Sacrifices that are not just out of your abundance but sacrifices that cost you something. Sacrifices that demonstrate to God that you are totally and irrevocably surrendered to Him. Why? Because this is the only reasonable thing for you to do. He created you. He loves you. He saved you. This is how you can worship God in real, practical, and tangible ways – as you give yourself to God. As you give your time, your talents, and your treasure to Him – not begrudgingly but because you are so overwhelmingly grateful for what he has done for you.”

So here are the questions that come to my mind as I ponder this passage:

Do I have an urgency similar to Paul’s when it comes to total surrender of my life to God?
Do I really understand God’s mercy – how He has not given me what I really deserve?
What parts of my body are as yet un-surrendered to God? My mind, my eyes, my tongue…?
To what extent is God pleased with my “offering”?
How am I conforming to the patterns of this world instead of to the Word of God?
What am I intentionally doing to renew my mind?
Am I being disobedient in any way to what God has revealed to me as His will?

Everyone of these questions demands an answer if I am going to really personalize this passage and get the most out of it. I am thinking on all these things. I will only answer one of these questions in this post but feel free to ask me any of these questions when you see me this week. So…

What am I intentionally doing to renew my mind? Admittedly, my mind needs a lot of renewing. So here are a few intentional things I will do this week as a beginning:

1) I will fast from all TV for one week beginning today (Thursday thru Wednesday). It is way too easy for me to turn on the tube and turn off my mind at the end of the day.
2) I will read one great book and blog about it in the coming week. This will give me something to do when I am not watching TV and help me to think God thoughts.
3) I will find 15 minutes each of these days to pray Scripture and ask God to renew my mind.
4) I will continue reviewing my memory verses from the past 4 weeks and make sure that I can still say them.
5) And I would like to ask you to take a minute right now and pray for me – asking God to transform me by the renewing of my mind.

Now a few thoughts about the difference in a living sacrifice and the sacrifices of the Older Testament:
1) OT sacrifices went to the altar not by choice. A lamb didn’t wake up one morning and say “Today I’m going give up my life and be a sacrifice.” – I, on the other hand, have a daily choice as to whether I want to present myself to God as a sacrifice.
2) OT sacrifices were dead not living. – They did not have the option of getting off the altar whenever things became uncomfortable for them. I, on the other hand, can live an “un-surrendered life” at any time that I want.
3) OT sacrifices were to be “unblemished.” I, on the other hand, come to the alter with all kinds of blemishes. It is the willing act of surrender that God uses to make me holy and pleasing in His sight. It is God’s doing, not mine.

And a few thoughts about knowing God’s will:
I hate to say this but I think most believers pretty much do what they want to. Me included. The whole idea of testing what we do to see if it lines up with God’s will is kind of foreign to us. We go about our business just sort of assuming that what we are doing is okay with God. And even expecting God to bless everything we do with a good ol’ “Attaboy!” We rarely stop to think and ask a few simple questions: 1) Why am I doing what I’m doing? Is it because it’s the way I’ve always done it or the way I’m expected by others to do it or the easiest way to do it? (These would fall under the category of “conforming to the world“) 2) Have I seriously thought this through? Have I sought counsel from people who love me – but even more than that, who love God with all their hearts. Have I spent time in God’s Word and prayed this through so that His peace reigns in my heart. (These would fall under the category of being “transformed by the renewing of your mind“)

Here’s what John Piper has to say about this: “Is it not plain therefore that there is one great task of the Christian life: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We need new hearts and new minds. Make the tree good and the fruit will be good (Matthew 12:33). That’s the great challenge. That is what God calls you to. You can’t do it on your own. You need Christ, who died for your sins. And you need the Holy Spirit to lead you into Christ-exalting truth and work in you truth-embracing humility. Give yourself to this. Immerse yourself in the written Word of God; saturate your mind with it. And pray that the Spirit of Christ would make you so new that the spillover would be good, acceptable, and perfect—the will of God.

I’d love to read how God has been speaking to you through these verses. You can leave a comment by clicking on the bubble at the top right of this post.

So next week is our “off ” week. Every four weeks we will take a break from pondering a new passage to review the four previous ones and solidify our memory verses. I’ve found one  of the best ways to do this is to ask others how they are doing with their verses and then to ask them to listen to you say your verses and make sure they are right.

So next week look for my post on the book I’m reading as well as a “Special Edition” post that I hope will help you as we continue to move forward with pondering great passages from the New Testament. I will wait until next week to reveal the next passage so that you don’t try to get a head start. Grace and Peace to you!!!

11 thoughts on “Pondering the Passages: Romans 12:1-2

  1. For some reason, God did not take me 3 1/2 years ago. Every day I am thankful for this! but I can’t help but ask why? I pray daily that I am growing and living my life pleasing to Him and that I will be the example He needs me to be here on earth. Thanks Shae.

  2. So, since I haven’t shared my ponderings with you in the past, I think now would be a good time. Many of you probably know that the last month has been a hard time for me with regards to my job. Our 14 person company has laid off half its workforce, and is about to reduce once more. Every other day it seemed that we were getting more and more bad news. I can see all around me the despair that comes from not knowing if you are going to be the next one looking for a job – and I have felt it somewhat myself.

    I can only do one thing. I didn’t send out a resume for this job – though I have been here 4 years. I didn’t want to come to NC – though we have found a terrific home and terrific extended family in Ridgecrest. I didn’t even want to be working in the area I am now – though I have come to enjoy it. God brought me here for his own plans, and through it all I have learned to sit back and let him drive. As we have been working through this rough situation, I have kept foremost in my mind that God has a plan for me, plans to prosper and not to harm. Sitting back to let God work his plans in my life isn’t easy, but I have come to trust that this is the right thing to do. I can’t do it very well sometimes, and not very often (it seems), but I can do it.

    As far as sacrificing myself to God, I have a long way to go. How can I do that when I have to worry about work, kids, church – yes, church activities can be as trying as anything else…moreso because you have to pretend to be happy about them – and everything else. The thing I struggle with is this – I don’t have to worry about those things because God has a plan. I just have to let him do what needs to be done, and be willing to give it all up when he asks. I am supposed to be going to Haiti with the missions team in April. God has been working on me about participating in a long distance mission trip for over 7 years. And now, just as I commit, we have financial problems. Is that going to keep me from following God’s will? NO! The money will come from somewhere. I have family and friends that are faithful to God and will give…but more importantly, God is faithful. If he wants me to go to Haiti, then I will go. Period, end of statement, you are dismissed, get to lunch.

    In terms of renewing my mind and not conforming to the world, I am trying to get back to my daily bible reading. This blog is helping, as is the fact that I have a ESV bible on my phone now, so I can read it when I have any free time. Helping Alayna with her bible verses for school and Awanas is too. As Shay said, prayer of the righteous is never harmful, and I would ask that each of you pray for me as well – and I will gladly do the same for you.

  3. So much in just a couple of verses. It is so much easier to conform rather than to be transformed. Actually for most of us it takes no effort to conform we just simply blend in with the rest of the world around us. Our days are spent mostly surronded by people & stuff that are fighting against any desire to transform. In the business world I’m surrounded by people whose only desire is to attain more of everything …wealth,possessions, etc.
    Renewing takes serious work and can not be accomplished outside of time spent in the presence of our Lord and Savior. When a commitment is made to spend time with Him the enemy will put everything in our way. So being very intentional is a must for me. As it states we do these things in order to test and confirm God’s will for our life. Powerful words that I will continue to ponder in the days and weeks to come.

    Shay & Brad, You have been prayed for. Now return the favor.

  4. Awesome post as usual AND convicting to me to be more proactive in the renewing of my mind. No TV for a week. That is hardcore! Maybe I’ll do that….but I have to prepare….talk about living sacrifice…OUCH! Such a privilage to see and read how God is working out his truths in each of your lives. I’ve prayed for each of you. I must say I am a bit sad. I so look forward to Thursday when we get our big announcement for the week to come. I enjoy the accountability that I feel with this group. So I am a bit worried that I won’t use my week off appropriately. I too am going to try to review all my verses and perhaps I too will try to read a “growth” type book. I’m going to miss my pondering 🙁 I do ask that you each pray for me and that I would remain faithful in setting aside time to spend in the word each day even though we aren’t “doing” a certain passage…..

  5. Awesome post! I agree with Bobby, that it takes no effort to conform because it is so easy to just blend in. This week has been extremely trying at work…trying to take care of the needs of 30+ people…when three or four want to ask you to do something at the same time that you are crunching on a deadline…All I wanted to do was sit there, eyes closed and bringing scripture or song to mind. That is my refuge, getting back under HIS wing…in the midst of the storm. I too like to turn on the tv and fade in the evening…but I will push back, read more and study my versus even harder. I was never a good student, always afraid of failure…but who can I fail here, but myself if I don’t do as HE speaks. Praying for you all!

  6. Wanted you to know I am praying for you and thank you for your thoughts on this passage. Would you mind sharing the names of a few great books? I would appreciate it.

  7. 1st thing I notice is “therefore” I remember Brother Don teaching us to ask “what is it therefore” Soooo I had to read part of ch. 11 and saw God’s mercy is reflected on. Next I see “brothers” so Paul is talking to fellow believers. That is me!

    “in view of God’s mercy” I think of that as always being in my mind, ever present before me. His MERCY- that undeserved favor that forgives me. Christ while on the cross saying ” Father forgive them for they know not what they do”
    Boy does this bring questions to mind about myself

    “living sacrifice”
    In the OT the priest gave dead sacrifices and sprinkled the blood for sins on the mercy seat
    In the NT the Great High Priest Jesus Christ willingly became the sacrifice himself once and for all. What MERCY. What a view. Maybe I need glasses with the etching of Christ on the cross to remind me to show to others the same mercy God has shown me so the reminder would be ever before me and always in my view!
    Because of His mercy and grace I am alive ,no longer dead in my sins. ” To offer my body “means I need to do it. Jesus said to take up my cross daily and follow Him . Do I die to self daily? I remember what Rick Warren said in PDL- ” the problem with living sacrifices is they tend to crawl back off the alter.” I have to look at my perfect Redeemer for examples.
    1. Jesus always did His Fathers will. He came to do His Fathers Will.
    I have God’s word( Heb 4:12 tells me is “alive and active), and the ” Living Water” Holy Spirit who makes known to me the things of my Father
    2. Jesus took time to be alone with God the Father to seek His Will
    I need to take time daily to be with my Father
    3. Jesus came to serve not to be served
    I remember getting a little upset one day while I was doing some organizing at church. I remember saying to Jesus, “but I did not make this mess. He reminded me ” I did not sin but I died for yours!!!” Very humbling!
    So how do I do this?
    God’s word answers it for me in Ephesians 5:1″ Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
    By being yielded and intimate with my Perfect God I:
    Will be convicted when I am conforming to the world
    My mind will be set on the things of God
    He by His Word and the Holy Spirit will make known to me His good, pleasing and perfect Will
    Father , I praise you for mercy thru and in Christ Jesus. I praise you that I am alive in Christ and no longer dead in my sins. I pray for conviction of the Holy Spirit to show others the same mercy I have been given. Please bring my every thought captive and by your Spirit help me to live a life that is a pleasing aroma to you. Father the areas of my life that “stink” please continue to show me. You tell me in Phillippians 1:6″being confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you (me!!!) will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
    I love you,

  8. Wow! You all have such great insights that I don’t think I can add much. My one thought is; ‘this is your spiritual act of worship”. Often we think of worship as just singing praise songs with our eyes closed feeling uber peaceful in the presence of God. I agree that is a part of worship, however Paul gives us another way to worship, Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice. To me this means; being kind vs. ugly, using a soft answer to turn aways wrath, doing good and not getting weary in doing it, exhibiting the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, mildness and self control). it’s a daily doing what we know is right rather than doing what we know is wrong. Peace … see you all next week.

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