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Prepare

As we set aside time to devote to God, we are choosing to sacrifice some things – a few more minutes’ sleep, perhaps, or a chance to watch another half hour of TV. Picture yourself laying the demands on your attention on an altar and offering them to God, so you can give yourself fully to him.


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Bible passage Romans 12:1–8


Romans 12

Living Sacrifices
 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. 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.

 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


Explore the Bible


Stop conforming!
In verse two, Paul tells us not to conform to the pattern of this world. What might that mean in the 21st century?

Of course, on one level Paul simply means we should stop sinning, but on a deeper level I think he means we should not live according to the world’s values. What do you think they are?

Becoming part of the Body
Looking at the later part of the passage gives us a clue – by seeing what we should be transformed into, we can deduce what we need to be transformed from.

A key one for our age is verse five – we are one body and each member belongs to all the others. This is completely opposite to the individualistic, self-sufficient pattern of modern Western culture, and requires a huge shift in our thinking. It’s one thing to be surrendered to Christ, but to each other? How would that work?


Respond


Ask God to show you what it means to live not as independent units who occasionally meet together for worship and teaching, but as interdependent parts, each needing – and needed by – the others.

Jennie Pollock


Introduction to Romans 12–16


Romans has been likened to a classical symphony: it is full of grand content and can be divided into four distinct movements. The first three are chapters 1–4, 5–8 and 9–11. Now we begin the final movement, chapters 12–16. As with any fine symphony, these chapters are full of echoes of what has gone before and are an organic continuation of what, were it indeed music, would be universally recognised as a masterpiece.

These verses begin with the word ‘Therefore’ (12:1). It is often (and helpfully) said that whenever we see a ‘therefore’ we should ask what it is there for – and so we do.

Paul’s letter is closely reasoned and we should follow the train of his argument, seeing how one stage leads to another. He has now come to the point where he wishes to spell out the practical, moral and existential implications of what he has been teaching. Romans 12:1 is like a hinge on which his argument turns, moving from the doctrinal to the practical, the intellectual to the ethical. All of it hangs together, as the word of God. Because of everything that has gone before, the believer in Jesus is called to a new way of living. Chapters 1–4 alert us to sin and reconciliation to God in Christ. Chapters 5–8 speak of the ‘law of the Spirit who gives life’ and who rescues us from our powerless selves. Chapters 9–11 tells us that we are now included in the historic drama of the people of God. All of these truths compellingly pose the challenge of how to live up to our calling in Christ. We are called to be transformed.

The great watchwords of the Protestant Reformation, drawn from Romans, are said to be ‘Christ alone’, ‘grace alone’, ‘scripture alone’ and ‘faith alone’. True indeed, but authentic faith can never properly be ‘alone’. It must always issue in transformed lives and actions.


Deeper Bible study


‘Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 6:11)

God is merciful; everything that Paul has so far said in this letter relates to this truth. The appropriate response to such generosity on God’s part is that we should offer ourselves back to him to be used in his purposes. Christians believe in sacrifice, but this is not the kind of external sacrifice that was being offered in Jerusalem’s Temple, or any other such place. It is the sacrifice of our own lives, the laying on the altar of response to God of everything that we are or will be – a ‘living sacrifice’ (v 1).

Let’s not imagine that this is easy. All of us are comfortable going along with the crowd, following the ‘pattern of this world’ (v 2). It is stressful to be different. For a start we have to think a lot more about who we are and what we are doing, which is why the apostle sees the renewing of the mind as crucial. ‘Mindfulness’ (commonly used to mean self-awareness) has a particular meaning for Christians (v 2). It requires us to define ourselves in relation to God, not primarily to ourselves or to others. We belong to God by virtue of both creation and redemption, so we should not exalt ourselves unduly (v 3). Nor, by the way, should we think of ourselves too lowly. Rather, we may value ourselves as members of God’s new community, finding our value and our calling in relation to the people of God, with its manifold gifts and functions. In Christ we are participating members of a movement that is new and dynamic. This is where we find our true identity. So much for Western individualism. So much for inferiority complexes. The church is like a body which is both one and diverse (vs 5,6) and realising that we belong to it is part of having our minds renewed.

Nigel Wright


Bible in a year


Read the Bible in a year.

Isaiah 3–5

2 Timothy 1
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Conform/Transform?


A meditation on what it really means to conform or transform.

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The good news fund


Good News Fund

 

Financial support available for great mission ideas

If you’ve got a brilliant idea for reaching out to children and young people beyond your church but you need a little financial support to get it on the ground, we’ve got some good news for you!

The Scripture Union Good News Fund provides grants of up to £5,000 to help amazing mission ideas see the light of day, and we’re ready and waiting to receive your application!

For more information or to apply, visit:
www.scriptureunion.org.uk/goodnewsfund

Good News Fund

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Audio


I want to serve the purpose of God (In my generation)
Mark Altrogge
Copyright © 1982 People of Destiny International/Word Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com



Love rain down
Kat Regester
Copyright© 2010 Vineyard Song (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk




Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Very young children often enjoy playing together even before they have learned to play WITH each other. We call this 'parallel play.' My husband has often said ironically that the most important part of Sunday church time is the morning tea. And he doesn't mean the food. Being together in God's presence to pray, sing, listen and learn brings its own blessings, but it is actually 'parallel playing - or parallel praying.' It's only as we share our lives - our personal news, our thoughts, opinions and feelings - that we are able to minister love to each other in whatever form is called for by the exchange. Small home groups provide the perfect opportunity for this, and those who are able to experience ongoing fellowship in this way find there a great treasure of ever deepening fellowship and spiritual growth. Can anyone say Amen?

  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 04 September 2017

    'Make a decisive dedication of your bodies ...' All for Jesus, all I am, and ever hope to be ..' Robin Mark. https://youtu.be/8u92h1iHV7M Thank you Graham and a GILVIN, and Amen Hannah. Our love for Brenda demonstrates what I was saying above, though we are rather a large small group!

  • Ray Skinner | Monday, 04 September 2017

    AMEN, thanks Mr Hampton.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 04 September 2017

    v1 We have to die to our own desires daily. The Apollo spacecraft travelled to the moon, but it was not just as simple as blasting off and landing on the moon. Course corrections were made every ten minutes or so for the entire trip. And then, they only landed a few feet inside the targeted landing area of 500 miles. Yet the mission was a success. Likewise, there has to be a starting place for this decision to be a living sacrifice. We have to “blast off,” or start our journey, sometime, but we don’t ever “arrive” in this life. We just leave and start toward the goal (Philip 3:12-13). We may be making course corrections every ten minutes for the rest of our lives.

  • Luke Taylor | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Amen, Rachael, thank you for all your helpful comments

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Monday, 04 September 2017

    #ExploretheBible In verse two, Paul tells us not to conform to the pattern of this world. What might that mean in the 21st century? This verse goes on to give us the answer. The key is our minds. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7). If we think on the same things that the world thinks on, we are going to get the same results. If we keep our minds stayed upon God through the study of His Word and fellowship with Him, then we’ll have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). It’s that simple. If we fail to renew our minds, we can live our entire time on this earth without experiencing the abundant life that Jesus provided for us.God’s will certainly is good and acceptable and perfect. We don’t move immediately into everything that God has for us but there is always growth into the things of God. What a wonderful promise that we can prove God’s will in our lives and it starts by making a total commitment of our lives to the Lord

  • Graham Fuller | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Thank you Gilvin for a very good analogy. I've never thought about following Christ in that way before.

  • Angela Munday | Monday, 04 September 2017

    The design is perfect and the individual parts fit together to enable the finished work to be wonderful and to be everything the creator imagined.....things in the natural world are continually changing; like a flowing river that travels to join the sea, we move forward, minute by minute. Now, is the time to remember "we have different gifts, according to the grace given us." (verse 6)...... Praying today for you, RUTH, DAVID and JAN. Amen.

  • Ruth Chisholm | Monday, 04 September 2017

    I found myself being self centred this morning, anxious about the day ahead, then read my daily Bible app verse. "For we are Godʼs handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 Great news God made me, he knows what's going on in my body, handing this over to Him releases me to be the person he created me to be. Then these verses from Romans continue the theme, a good reminder to go and encourage the medical teams looking after me and bless them as God abundantly blesses us. RACHAEL amen to this supporting and encouraging community. I find formulating my thoughts in writing is useful , though sometimes I then just delete and don't share!

  • Marilyn Wadsworth | Monday, 04 September 2017

    "Amen, Rachael"! Our 'small group' is just about to begin after the summer break and I am so looking forward to us meeting together again. We cannot minister to everyone in church but we can minister to those that the Lord has especially called us into a relationship with.

  • Roger Hall | Monday, 04 September 2017

    My thoughts about the antics of the leader of North Korea led me to make a statement during the 11.00 service yesterday, that we should pray that The Lord will remember the people who seem to have to worship their leader and in a way that will touch the leader too with the enormous and overwhelming love of God. The idea was to use the Lord's Prayer, read slowly and thoughtfully and apply "thy will be done," and also emphasise "as we forgive those who sin against us." I was amazed to be asked afterword, "why, what's he done?" God is working His purpose out.

  • Keith Dearden | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Praying for all those starting school today, for those moving to High Schools and into new classes with new teachers, that Jesus will be present in their midst and keep them safe.

  • Ken Sykes | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Love it Gilvin. Just imagining us all wiping our foreheads and saying 'phew' as we land a few feet inside heaven.

  • Lynda Spencer | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Amen, RACHAEL! (My husband agrees with yours, having frequently expressed the same!) KEITH, good call! As we pray for those starting school/nursery/high school today can we also pray for Christian teachers whose job becomes increasingly stressful for so many reasons, not least of which is standing firm in the faith and sometimes having to swim against the tide. GILVIN, I love the way you put things. Thank you so much for helpful comments today. And yes, HANNAH, I remember Brenda too! She was the first person to make me feel welcome on the WL page when I tentatively commented for the first time! This is indeed a precious family. May the Lord richly bless you all today.

  • Carol Stockman | Monday, 04 September 2017

    RUTH I felt the same as you needing strength for the day. Thank you for sharing. I totally commit my life to you Lord, to do "the good works, which God has prepared in advance for us(me) to do"

  • Derek Forster | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord to Thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee; Swift and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice and let me sing Always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee, Filled with messages from Thee.

  • Rosemary Fairweather | Monday, 04 September 2017

    The meditation made me think of Adam and how he loved to stir things up and challenge against conforming to religious stereotypes but to allow God to renew the mind. Bless you Adam if you still join us. By grace we are on a journey. We can trust the promises and the teaching is sound. By Gods mercy and the spirit's leading, day by day transformation takes place as we are drawn to Him.

  • David Chipchase | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Thank you all for your support for Jan and me. She is looking and sounding very much better. My informed guess is that she will be discharged on Friday.

  • David Chipchase | Monday, 04 September 2017

    Amen Rachael. My health prevents me from getting to morning activities including church. I really, deeply miss that fellowship with other believers which is why WL is so important to me.

  • Carol Stockman | Monday, 04 September 2017

    I am praying for you, DAVID and Jan at this challenging time.

  • Barbara Sabin | Monday, 04 September 2017

    https://youtu.be/-55gBA_0_cM

  • Ray Skinner | Tuesday, 05 September 2017

    "The most important part of a Sunday meeting together is the tea afterwards, a time for fellowship..." I want to qualify my early AMEN, by saying that authentic Christian discipleship (which of course includes fellowship across the whole body of the church) flows out of submission to the Word. Hopefully the time prior to tea renewed understanding of God's word to us through the Bible, and where appropriate, partaking in our Remembrance Meal together.

  • Ray Skinner | Tuesday, 05 September 2017

    I now turn to Romans 12:9 and following....

  • Lynda Spencer | Tuesday, 05 September 2017

    You're absolutely right, RAY. It's the balance we need, as in the early church where the believers met together. "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2 v 42 Would that we also experienced the Lord adding to our churches daily those who would be saved!

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 05 September 2017

    LYNDA if we Christians read the Acts of the Apostles more often we would realise how much we need to model our Church Fellowships on Acts 2 42 -47 then our Churches would grow. We need to be Spirit filled people who read God's Word study it and pray together, share meals together and share our finances clothing food etc etc that we don't need with others. I was very blessed to belong to a Fellowship where a man was gloriously saved whilst in His garden shed he and his Christian wife were then as one and they sold their house and gave it to the Church and went to live in rented property. How that Church grew it became a centre for Holy Spirit days for the Alpha course it had four worship services on Sundays the Lord blessed their fellowship abundantly. All we have to do is be obedient to His Word.

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