It’s Time to Decide

December 13, 2022

At the end of Joshua’s life, when the people of Israel were receiving their inheritance in the promised land, Joshua assembled all the people together to urge them to be true to the Lord.  He said to them, “Now therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15 NAS95)

Joshua is urging the people of God to a full commitment to God.  This powerful message is one that we ourselves need to consider carefully.  Sometimes we waiver in our dedication.  Sometimes we live our lives straddling the fence—with one foot in the Lord and one foot out.  But God is calling us to full commitment.  Choose this day whom you will serve!  If you are halfway committed, it is time today to make a choice!  Is the Lord God, or not?  Is His way right, or not?  Will He bless those who seek Him, or not?  Is it disagreeable to you to serve Him?  Then choose whom you will serve.  Will you choose God, or the false gods of this world?  Will you choose God, or your own way?  Make the choice today: who you will serve, who you will lead your family to serve, and commit yourself fully to your choice.

What does full commitment to God look like?  It is not just words spoken or good intentions, but right actions.  It is being dedicated to studying His word and striving to walk by the Spirit.  It is being dedicated to prayer.  It is being dedicated to assembling with the church on the Lord’s Day and bringing your children along with you.  It is being dedicated to living a life unspotted by the world.  Are we striving for these things?  If not, why not?

And remember, that when we choose the Lord, when we dedicate ourselves to His way, He will take notice.  He will bless us and our families.  He will strengthen us.  He will be near to us if we will seek Him with a committed heart.

What about you?  Have you made your choice, or are you sitting on the fence missing out on the blessings of full commitment?  Choose this day whom you will serve!

To Be a Living Sacrifice

September 5, 2014

Does Jesus make a difference to the way you live your life? Paul makes an appeal. It is a strong exhortation with the authority of the Apostle Paul behind it (see Romans 12:1). The appeal is motivated by the mercies of God which Paul has explained in the first eleven chapters of Romans. Because of the difference that Jesus makes, Paul says that it should change the way we live.

Paul wants us to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. Paul has already said earlier in the letter that we are to present ourselves to God (6:13). The emphasis on bodies may remind us that we are not to let sin reign in our mortal body (6:12), and that we are to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (8:13). It is with our bodies that we serve. It is a living sacrifice as opposed to a dead sacrifice like the animals killed and placed on the altar under the Law of Moses. It is a thank offering. I do not add to the work of Christ. My service is the joyful response to what has been done for me. It is to be a holy sacrifice. We are set apart for God, and we are to be holy, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (see 8:4). It is well pleasing to God when we live this kind of life.

Presenting our bodies to God is then called by Paul your “reasonable service” or “spiritual worship” depending on translations. Let’s tackle the service/worship word first. It is latreia in Greek (G2999). This is the normal word for service done within the temple, which explains worship as the other translation. For Paul, Christians are priests and the people of God, the temple. Paul has smashed any secular versus sacred distinction that we might create. What I do in everyday life, I do as if service to God. Or as Paul did say, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23, ESV). I don’t get to bracket off a portion of my life and say this part is mine, God, you can’t have it.

But what kind of service is Paul talking about? The Greek word is logikos (G3050). A classical Greek lexicon would define this word as “possessed of reason.” The standard Greek New Testament lexicon (BDAG) suggests “pert[aining]. to being carefully thought through, thoughtful.” It is translated as “reasonable” (KJV, NKJV, NET) and “spiritual” (ESV, NASB, NIV84). It is the kind of service that reason gives. And possibly, the most helpful suggestion is to say that it is the opposite of the “futile thinking” and “debased mind” found in Romans 1:18-32.

If it sinks in what Jesus has done for me, then it makes sense to be a living sacrifice! But someone has quipped, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps trying to crawl off the altar.” Paul wants us to have renewed minds. He does not want us squeezed into the world’s mold. When we get it right, we dedicate ourselves to be a living sacrifice.