This is the first part in the Beyond Today Bible study series: The Time Is Now! God tells us we are to be “all in” when it comes to living His way now. What does that look like in the practical sense? This study will discuss the significance of Romans 12 and how it should impact our lives today.
[Steve Myers] Good evening everyone. Welcome to our Bible study this evening. We are ready to start a brand new series. We’ll describe it here in just a moment, but first, why don’t we ask God’s blessing on our study, and then we’ll go ahead and begin. So if you want to stand, we’ll ask God’s blessing, “Great, loving, heavenly Father, God Almighty, thank you so much for your wonderful ways. Thank you for the opportunity tonight to study your word, to dig into it, Father, and recognize this amazing plan that you have for us. And Father, the things that you want us to be doing as well as it relates to your calling and the wonderful things that you are doing with us as human beings. Father we want to put this into your hands. We praise you. We honor you. We ask for your inspiration and your guidance on all of it. And so we pray this and ask it by and through the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Welcome, everyone. As I mentioned, tonight is a beginning, the new beginning for a brand-new series. The title of the series is, “The Time is Now.” We chose that in relationship to some of the live presentations that we’ve been doing, most recently down in Dallas, and San Antonio, and in Houston. We want to welcome any of those that are watching with us tonight with this particular Bible study because we’re going to continue on in that theme on Now Is the Time. It is the time. The time is now and when you look throughout what God’s purpose and plan is that theme continually jumps out at you when you really look at what God’s purpose is all about.
It doesn’t take much to look out at this world, turn on the television, check Google, look at your Internet news, look at your smartphone. When you check what’s going on in this world, what do you find? You find some pretty difficult circumstances going on. If you’re really honest, is that something that you can just continue? Can the world continue on this path for very long?
You read your Bible and it says, “No way.” Hopefully, practicality tells you there’s no way it can continue like this. It can’t. God has a solution to the issues that this world faces. God has a solution for the issues that we face in our life, and understanding what His purpose and what His plan is for each and every one of us, should help frame our life, it should help frame the difficulties and the challenges out in this world. And it should help frame our lives, our attitude, our perspective on how we’re going to deal with those things and how we’re going to deal with the challenges and even the successes that we find in our own lives.
And so God opens our minds to His truth, and as He does that, He expects a few things. We really considered what God’s expectations are for each one of us. The time is now to really consider that. To really think about what God has in mind for you and for me. I boiled it down to two words, “All in.” What does God have in mind for us? He wants to spend eternity with us. But are there expectations that He places on each and every one of us?
Well I think there are. You’ll find in scripture, maybe these words aren’t used, but the concept of being all in, being totally committed with nothing held back is what God has in mind for all of us. In the world that we live in, I think we really can see a lack of commitment in our world. You look at just the way that nations get along, are we really committed to each other? Are we committed to peace? Are we committed to work? I don’t think you see that there.
What about our families, are we really committed to each other? Here in America, we can hardly define what a family is, let alone keep it together. We don’t know what the word commitment is or maybe we’re committed until something better comes along, something more interesting comes along, something gets us out of that commitment so we’re in a whole different frame of mind. But that’s not what God says about His expectations.
There’s a powerful passage that is in Luke 14:33 Luke 14:33So likewise, whoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.
American King James Version×. Here we have a quote from Jesus Christ Himself. Luke 14, sometimes this chapter is called, “Count the Cost.” This is the count the cost chapter. Is there a cost of discipleship? Is there a cost, as God opens our minds, reveals His truth to us, is there a cost involved in following Jesus? Is there an expectation that God places on us for following Him? Christ gives us the answer. He gives us the answer, He discusses the cost. As He boils it down, verse 33 points us to a little summary of that cost. Christ said, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
We claim to be a follower of Christ, and yet if we haven’t forsaken all, can we really make that claim? Can we really make the claim of being Christian, to being a Jesus follower, if you want to put it that way, if we’re not all in, if we haven’t forsaken all, if we’re not truly, fully, completely committed? You see, that’s challenge here because in this little section, Christ says, “Hey, this includes the people that are closest to you. If they’re a hindrance to you following me, you’ve got to forsake them.”
Things that mean the most to us, if we’re not willing to let that go, if we’re not all in, He says we’re not really His disciple. He lays it out. He says, ultimately that we even have to hate our own life. If we count our own life, our own feelings, our own thoughts, our own ambitions, more important than what He has in mind for us, He says we’re really not a Christian. We’re not really a follower. We’re not a disciple.
When you begin to look at this whole concept of being all in, this is a theme that is repeated over, and over, and over again. Can you find an example in the Bible where God says you don’t have to be all in? That it’s not really that necessary to be completely committed? Is there any section that really deals in that kind of thinking? I think if you follow it through, He never made any exception to that. Is there ever an exception saying we don’t have to be completely committed? That we don’t have to have that complete loyalty to God the Father and Jesus Christ?
He doesn’t accept a partial commitment, does He? He doesn’t. When you read through these various passages, He says, “I want it all. I want you all in.” And if you think about it a little bit differently, there are many passages in the Bible that use the word “Surrender.” It’s like we’re in a battle and we have to surrender our entire life into God’s hands, that our entire life has to be all in His hands. In fact, He expresses this through the Apostle Paul over in Romans 12.
Let’s turn over there, Romans 12, right at the very beginning of that chapter. Romans 12, notice the way He puts it in this section. He’s talking about being all in. He’s talking about being fully committed. He’s talking about, “No exceptions if you’re going to be a follower of mine.” And yet here He puts it a little bit differently. Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×He says, “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God.” So he’s beseeching us. He’s encouraging us. He’s admonishing us. He’s directing us.
Well what’s the direction that He gives? He says, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” So when we claim to be Christians, it’s reasonable, it’s our Christian duty, it’s our God given responsibility to be a living sacrifice, or in other words, to be all in. Now when you think about that, there’s no halfhearted effort that’s acceptable. There’s just not sticking your little toe in the water and checking out to see if it’s okay, that’s not acceptable. Why would I want to do that? Why? Isn’t that a question that comes to mind? If I’m supposed to give everything and supposed to be a sacrifice and be totally committed, what’s the purpose? What’s in it for me? That’s the question we could ask.
I think it’s a fair question. That was a question that those initial followers of Christ posed to Him. If you remember the story, but if you maybe hold your place here in Romans, go over to Mathew 19. In Mathew 19, the disciples had this on their minds, those initial followers that Christ taught Himself. That was something that came to their mind. As they listened to Christ, and He talked about full commitment, as He talked about being all in, as He talked about no halfhearted efforts to be a part of their thinking, Peter says something very interesting to Christ in Matthew 19:27 Matthew 19:27Then answered Peter and said to him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; what shall we have therefore?
American King James Version×. Peter said, “See, we’ve left all and followed you. Therefore, what shall we have?”
What is Peter saying, “What’s in it for me? Why should I give all? What’s in it for me? What do I get for following you?” Or maybe said a little bit differently, maybe he’s really asking, “Is it really worth it? Is it really worth giving all, being totally committed to Christ? Or maybe are we just fools for giving up everything and walking after you?” I think it’s a fair question, isn’t it? Peter posed that very thing.
So it’s interesting to see what Christ responded. You see what Christ said? Christ talked about the kingdom. He talked about the regeneration. He’s looking forward to the resurrection here, and He says, “When the sons of man sits on the throne of His glory, looking forward to the kingdom of God,” verse 29, He says, “Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or wife, or children, even things like lands, from my namesake…,” almost sounds like what we were just reading there in Luke, those who had put away all those things, whether it be relationships that don’t rise to the level of God, whether it be physical things, you put all that away and follow Christ, follow Him.
He says, “For my namesake…,” What’s in it? What’s the results? Is it really worth making that sacrifice? Well, He says, “You shall receive 100 fold and inherit eternal life.” So is it worth it? For Christ, He told them that very thing. This is worth it. Now not all things are going to be peaches and cream as we’re a follower of Christ. There are plenty of sections of scripture that talk about our calling also can lead to trials, and difficulties, and challenges and tribulation in this life.
But here, Christ is pointing beyond today, isn’t He? He’s pointing beyond the difficulties and trials and just physical life. Yeah, there’s blessings for following God now, it frames our mind, it puts all the challenges, and the sorrow, and the difficulties into a perspective that we can understand that this isn’t going to last forever. And of course, it also frames the wonderful things, the blessings as well. Christ points to the kingdom, that there is something in it, that there are blessings to follow.
There’s a powerful passage back in the book of Romans. If you want to flip back that direction to Romans 11. Won’t quite make it to 12 where we were, but if you go back to Romans 11, and notice something interesting here in Romans 11:29 Romans 11:29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
American King James Version×, as God opens our minds to His truth, we begin to understand His purpose, His plan, what God is doing, why He’s created us, what He’s doing with human beings. As we begin to understand that plan and that purpose, we can see very clearly Romans 11:29 Romans 11:29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
American King James Version×, He talks about the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. They cannot be revoked. They can’t be taken back. God’s calling you. The time is now to do something about that understanding and that knowledge that God has given you.
As we understand His purpose, we can’t just say, “Wow, I know a whole lot more,” you see, because it’s not just about knowing, it’s about what we do with that. And that calling that God gives us is something that is He doesn’t want to take back. That He’s called us for a reason and for a purpose. And so as we consider that, we begin to see the whys behind this wonderful calling that He’s given us. And no wonder the expectations are all in. That it’s full commitment. It’s complete devotion to God.
In fact, if we turn back just a page or two to Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×. Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×, here he says it a little bit differently but adds to this picture of the why should I do these things. He says, “We know all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We understand that purpose of God. We understand what He’s doing. It frames our life, it frames our circumstances, and we can begin to see God’s purpose in our lives.
He says in Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×, “Those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His son.” We have the opportunity to be like Christ. We are made in the image of God. Now He’s called us to put on His character, to put on His attitude, to put on His thinking. Talk about the wonderful blessings that God gives us, we have that opportunity to do that very thing. He says also that Christ is the firstborn of many brethren, pointing to the fact that we have the opportunity to be born in the family of God, we can be literal son and daughters of God.
We’re talking about the blessings God pours about right on top of us, showing us His ultimate plan. And so He says down in Romans 8:30 Romans 8:30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
American King James Version×, He says, “Those He called, these He also justified, whom He justified these He also glorified.” What should we say about these things? Well His conclusion there is, if God is for us, who can be against us? And so as we look at the plan and we understand our purpose, our purpose is to be sons and daughters born into God’s very own family in His kingdom, to be in the divine family. So if that is our purpose and that is our understanding, is it fair for God to say, “All right, because you’re going to receive all these amazing blessings, not only blessings today, but the ultimate blessing of eternal life in my family forever,” is that reasonable for Him to say, “You need to be all in”?
Is God all in? What is God holding back from us? I don’t think He’s holding back much, is He? He wants to share eternity with us. He’s not holding back. He’s not expecting anything of us that He’s not willing to give Himself, and so, His expectation is just that. He wants us to be totally committed. Maybe you can think about it this way, as maybe an illustration, anybody ever go to a church dance? I know it usually happens there. It usually happens at a wedding, they have all those specialty dances. You know the dances that they do, they do the chicken dance, right? You know one of the other big dances that they do? They do the hokey-pokey. Anybody ever done the hockey-pokey?
All right, what do you do? You put your left hand in, you put your left hand out then you…okay, you know the song. Well what happens when you get to the end of the song? You put your whole self in. You’ve got to be all in. And so as God describes what His expectations are for you, He doesn’t want just a hand, He doesn’t want just your head, “Your head in you put your head out.” No, you put your whole self on in. God expects that.
So if you go back to Romans 12, no wonder He makes these expectations, the stakes are tremendous when you think about what’s involved, we’re talking about eternal life, eternal life. So no wonder God says, “Put your whole self in.” You look back at Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×, here as a reminder what does He say? “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Then He goes on to say in verse 2, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” And so God maps this out that those are the expectations. Sounds like it’s a little bit harder than doing the hokey-pokey though, isn’t it, right? A little bit more difficult than the dance routine, to do what God says here.
Because as we begin looking and dissecting this little passage here, He starts by saying, “We need to present ourselves.” He starts there that we present ourselves. What does He have in mind when we present ourselves? That word can mean, well I present myself, I introduce myself to someone, and say, “Hi, I’m Steve Myers, who are you? What’s your name?” Yeah, okay that’s a part of a presentation, but that’s really not what He’s got in mind here. As you think about presenting yourself, you come before a dignitary and you present yourself to the queen or to the king. You bow and you humble yourself. It can also mean almost like the word looks, a present, it’s a gift. A present is a gift. You give of yourself to someone else. So when he says, “We’re to present ourselves,” we come before God and we present, we give ourselves as a gift, as sacrifice to Him.
And so he starts with that very thing. And we know that’s a complete present. We’re presenting ourselves to Christ. As we do that, He says, “It’s our bodies, present your bodies a living sacrifice.” And as we think about that, we have our own bodies. So are we saying just physically when we think about present your bodies as a living sacrifice? Well, what is our body? Is it just a physical thing or is there more to it than that as God calls us and works with us? It’s a lot more than that, isn’t it?
As we become converted, as we are changed, we are given God’s Holy Spirit. What does that do to our body? What is our body? You see, our body then in that sense houses God’s spirit. And so oftentimes through scripture, 1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
American King James Version×points to the fact that we are the Temple of God. And not just we collectively, Corinthians also points to the fact that we, individually, our own bodies are a temple because we house the Spirit of God. And so as we give a gift to God, our body should be that Temple of God. Or should that Temple of God be broken down, and the bricks are coming loose, and there’s holes in the wall, or it’s in desperate need of repair, or should it be whole, complete, a full sacrifice? Well, that temple ought to be in the best repair of all. I think that’s what God points to as He talks about the fact of being all in. That we are the temple of God’s spirit, and that spirit is dwelling in us.
And so if we have that spirit, we’ve been given power over sin. We’ve been given the power to overcome. We’ve been given the power to make that choice to be all in. That we can actually do it, it’s possible. It’s possible to do that when we have the Spirit of God, and so He says that’s what we need to be, have that spirit in us. In other words, He’s dwelling in us. God is dwelling in us right now. That should help us then to be that sacrifice.
Of course that’s kind of an oxymoron when you really think about it, to be a living sacrifice. Most sacrifices in the Bible didn’t make it through. They didn’t make it through. They were killed. They were dead. But here we see it’s modified to a living sacrifice. A living, not a dead sacrifice. But it’s got to be alive, moving, energetic and passionate for God’s way. A sacrifice, well look through the Old Testament, look at the sacrifices. Those animals gave up their lives. They gave up their lives, they were a complete sacrifice.
Christ pointed to that then as well, didn’t He? When He taught, he talked about the fact of forsaking your life. If you don’t forsake your life, you’re going to lose it. But he who loses his life will actually gain real life, spiritual life, eternal life, and so this concept of being that living, active sacrifice we give up our attitudes. We give up our human selfishness, and our needs and our desires, and we turn it over to God. And we live His way, and put away in sacrifice all of our own attitudes, and our own problems, and our own sins. It’s a pretty big expectation, but He’s given us the power to do it. It is possible, we can. It’s possible to be all in. We can be all in.
When you think about being a sacrifice, I heard that…there was this article I was reading about, it was called…I don’t even really remember the title, but it was in a Quality Press publication. And it was talking about ancient Greeks. And Ancient Greece ran into a problem that all kinds of representatives wanted to pass their laws. They thought their laws were the best and then all these laws were coming more, and more, and more. And they were being overwhelmed with legislation that didn’t seem to be very important. So they decided to do something about it. I don’t know if it’s actual fact or just the way that they reported it in this article.
But in order to cut down on all the useless legislation, when someone wanted introduced a new bill, a new law, they decided the way to do that is they could regulate it and not have so many useless laws by having the one who would be presenting that stand on a platform. I must have said, “So what? What does that have to do, it’s not like we’re slowing down anything.” Well, they had to stand on a platform with a noose around their neck. If the legislation passed, they took off the noose. Guess what happened if it didn’t pass. They took away the platform. You think you’d be all in for that? If you were going to present a bill, you think you’d be convinced that it was something good, something necessary, something that you’re willing to sacrifice your life for? Well they had to be, they had to be.
So when you think about the sacrifice that we’re asked to make, are we all in? Because this world, it’s like that noose around our neck. If we don’t see it for what it really is, it’s going to hang us, it’s going to hang us. And so God says, “This is the best way. This is the most profitable way to live.” Talk about an abundant life, His way is the best way. And so as He calls us to be that kind of a sacrifice, He also defines the kind of sacrifice, a living sacrifice. But He also says it’s a holy sacrifice.
See that as we look back at Romans 12, He says, “A living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.” This is a reasonable thing. Holy meaning it’s set apart for His purposes. It doesn’t mean that we’re absolutely perfect, but we’re striving for that. That’s our goal. And so we have set aside our life for the service of God. Oftentimes through scripture we’ll find that kind of representation, that that is our calling. We’re called to be set apart for God’s purposes. And of course a sacrifice was just that. It was set apart to worship and to honor God.
And so as He asks us and tells us we need to be holy, He’s not asking us to be anything that He’s not. This passage is throughout scripture that says, “Be holy for I am holy.” He’s given us the help. He’s given us the means to be holy through His spirit. And so we can overcome. We don’t have to be conformed to the world. We can forget the world. We can have a different perspective on this world. We don’t have to be locked into its frame of mind. We don’t have to get locked into its values and its concerns. We know what that is all about. This world is physical perspective on life and that’s it. That’s just a carnal perspective, just a physical perspective.
Paul just got done saying here in Romans, that kind of thinking, that kind of mind when we just lock into the physical things and that’s our only view life, if that’s our worldview he says is death, is death. And just a couple of pages before this, if we can just look over there, Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×, “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” You see the normal, everyday way of thinking, and reasoning, and living our lives is in total opposition to God’s way. That’s what it says in Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×. It says, “It’s not subject to the law of God nor indeed can be.” But God says we don’t have to be conformed to that way of thinking. You see, He’s given us strength, the power and the ability through His spirit to be a living sacrifice. To be set apart from the world. Not be conformed to its standards.
And so he gives us the means to do that, and He says by doing that, we’re not conformed, but we’re transformed. We can be transformed because our minds are changed. We have a changed mind, it’s not a carnal mind. It’s not a mind that’s focused just on the physical. It’s not a mind that’s enmity against God. It’s a mind that’s changed its way of thinking. We now have a spiritual outlook in our life. We look down here and we see, if we keep that kind of frame of mind, it’s death. That’s what it leads to. Verse 6, “To be carnally minded is death, but spiritually minded is life and peace.”
We see the value in striving to follow God. Especially as we see, it’s possible to do these things. In fact, in making those choices, in making the decision to be all in, He says we can have proof. We can know that this is the right thing. This is what I should be doing. This is the kind of life I should be living. He says, “When we are not conformed to this way of the world and we’re transformed into God’s way of thinking,” he says, “You may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” And so as you consider this passage, it’s a powerful one that as a living sacrifice, we present and give our all to God. And as we give our all, He dwells in us. Our body becomes a temple. Our life becomes an offering to God. And so He demonstrates the reality of His presence by the change in our life. And so we have been given this amazing opportunity.
As you think about it, you might say, “Well, being a sacrifice, offering myself, it sounds like it could be kind of hard. And so a lot of expectations there. It seems like it could be pretty difficult.” But wait a second, isn’t it fair to say we’ve been doing this all along? In one way or another, haven’t we been doing this all along? I’d say, “When have I been doing things like…” Well if we choose not to live this way, what are we doing? Well we’re sacrificing to a different god aren’t we? We make choices in our life. We can choose to follow God or we can choose something else. We choose a way of life. When we choose to make our feet go in that direction that take us into sin, into slavery, into impurity, we’re making a sacrifice. It’s not a sacrifice to God, we’re making a different kind of sacrifice.
When we make a choice to speak words that hurt and harm, yeah, we’re sacrificing but not the kind of sacrifice God wants. We’re sacrificing our bodies and our lives all along. All too often it comes down to I think trivial things. We sacrifice our lives to trivial, meaningless things. We do that all too often. All too often we do that.
God says, “Hey, if you’re going to sacrifice, do it my way because the blessings will flow from that.” Could you imagine what the story of the Bible would be like if certain individuals didn’t go all in? If you think about it for a minute, what if Moses hadn’t been all in? Would the children of Israel just halfway been freed, what would have happened if that were the case? What would be the case if David wasn’t all in? He would have almost fought Goliath. Almost, he’d have thought about it, but, no, that would be too hard. What if Noah wasn’t all in? He would have almost built that giant ship. What if John the Baptist wasn’t all in? He would have thought about sort of maybe preparing the way for the Messiah.
So I think we see throughout the pages of our Bible, individuals that were all in. Their lives and actions bore that fact that they were all in. And so it points to our time, it points to now. That the time is now for us to be a living sacrifice because it’s going to bring honor and glory to God. You go through all those different stories of the Bible they ultimately brought the honor, the glory and the praise to God for His purposes, for His plan. And so as we recognize that fact, it’s our time now, now is our time. Our time is now to be all in. To be that living sacrifice that God expects us to be. And as we live that way, He does say some remarkable things. If you’re still here in Romans 8, if you go all the way back to the beginning of the chapter, He says, “There’s no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When we’re, and I’d add for tonight, those who are all in, there’s no condemnation to those who are all in, who don’t walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit. That’s what we’ve been called to do, to walk according to the spirit. That begins to frame then, what is a living sacrifice? How does that exhibit itself in my life? If I had to say, “How does that look?” what does it look like to be a living sacrifice? Well there are daily sacrifices that we’re given in Old Testament times, but what is the daily sacrifice that we bring to God today? Can we frame this concept of being all in into the daily sacrifice that we are? I think we can. I think we can, and it might sound pretty simplistic, but I think it does boil down to some pretty straight forward, simple concepts to show that we are a living sacrifice.
How about if we consider what we see? What’s the difference between what a living sacrifice sees? What do we look at? What do we look at? I was reading a survey the other day that said, by the time a child grows up to be 21 years old, they’ve seen something like 300,000 ads on television, 300,000 ads. What do they see? What are they gleaning from that? What is the impact of that? What are the impact of what we focus on, what we look at, what we see, what we bring up on our smart phones or what we look at on the Web, those things indicate whether or not we’re a living sacrifice.
You see, the basic message of this world sure isn’t godliness, is it? How many ads have you seen that say, “Hey, here’s a way that you can be more godly, for 19.95, pick up this thing, and you will be more spiritual.” I’ve never seen an ad like that, have you? I don’t think so. And so I think when you begin to consider it, how can we present our bodies as a living sacrifice? Literally, what do I look at? What do I see? Does that have any impact on my spiritual life? If I’m constantly watching television, watching movies, I’m looking at Netflix, I’m playing video games, doing all those kinds of things, is that helping me to be more godly?
That’s not saying everything is horrible, of course not. But it does point to the fact that if I just adopt the culture that’s all around me, that that’s not going to be lending itself to become a living sacrifice, not going to. We know the stuff that’s out there, it’s basically pretty rough, pretty rough. When you consider that, I think you also have to throw in the things that I hear, what do I listen to? What do I listen to? Yeah, you can throw in the movies, the music, you can throw in all those kinds of things.
What I hear, the things that I hear, do they help me to be a living sacrifice? Do we every frame it in that way of thinking? The things I listen to, the music, the discussions I listen to, are they helping me to be transformed, or am I being more conformed to the way of the world? I think a daily sacrifice thinks about that every day. Is this something that’s helpful? Is this beneficial? Is this something that is important? I think we can begin to frame it in that regard. In fact, the way they do it on ESPN. I don’t know if anybody if ever watches ESPN, anybody watch ESPN? Okay, we have a few. When there’s nothing else to do, they put on poker.
Anybody ever seen those poker games? I’m not saying we should get into gambling, that’s not what we’re about. But one of the things that’s interesting in those games, when you’re at the end and you are basically hoping among hope to try to win this thing, oftentimes they’ll take all of their chips and they’ll push them all into the middle, they are all in. They are all in. Either they’re so desperate that they have to be all in, or they’re so confident in the hand that they have that there’s no way that they could lose. And so they put it all into the maximum, ultimate bet that they could have.
I think that’s what we’re talking about here. When we talk about putting our whole life into God’s hands, it’s like moving all of those chips into the middle. It is a sign of total confidence in God when we frame our lives like that. That we’re all in. It’s showing that total commitment, that total dedication to His way. That I’m actually going to think about what I look at. I’m actually going to think about what I hear. I’m actually going to think about what I say. How do I talk? How do I communicate? There’s a whole section of scripture in the book of James 3 that talks about our tongue and the things that we say and how we can use our speaking to build up or to tear down. We can burn other people or we can glorify God.
How do we communicate? Are we committed every day to sacrifice? Even the way we would talk, the things that we would say, are we really committed to say things that build up? Are we quick to see the negative? Are we quick to criticize? Are we quick to be cynical? Those are choices that we get to make. Those are daily choices we make, and I think a daily indication of whether were presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Are we adopting the culture, “Well I’m not as bad as they are,” but that’s not our standard.
Is our standard just to try to be a little bit better than everybody out in the world? Or is our standard the stature and the fullness of Jesus Christ? You see, I think that’s what it is. And so as you look at these kinds of things, I think we can do some practical things to make sure we’re in the right frame of mind. Could we make it a goal that as I look at things and as I listen to things, that I make sure that whatever it is I’m watching, and the time that’s involved in doing those things isn’t any more time than being engaged in spiritual things?
If I watch Netflix longer than I’m engaged in godly, spiritual activities, does that give me an idea whether or not I’m really striving to be a living sacrifice? If I read my Bible as much as I read other books, is that a gauge that we could use? What about praying and talking to God? What about being sure you’re at service or serving the church? Do I watch more TV than I do those things? Do I engage in other activities that are more conforming with the way things are out there or more transforming? I think those are pretty specific ways that we can begin to examine ourselves to see if we really are all in or if we’re really kind of keeping our left hand out or our left hand in. I think we’ve got to look at that.
It’s not just…these are overall principles as we consider them, but you can apply those things to every area of your life. We could apply it to our finances. Are our finances an indication whether or not I’m a living sacrifice? Is my career, the way that I work, is that an indication of whether or not I’m a living sacrifice? Relationships with other people, are they an indication whether or not I really am all in? I think all of those things point that way. Is my family a representation? Am I, as a father or a husband, a brother, am I really living that kind of a life? Or, I kind of reserved this little part for me, have I just held back this little bit over here. You see, that’s something that Christ says pretty clearly, “That’s not acceptable.” That doesn’t show ourselves as a disciple. In fact, it does come down to sometimes those little things that maybe don’t seem all that important sometimes.
But if you want to go back to Luke for just a moment, Luke 16:10 Luke 16:10He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
American King James Version×, here is Christ laying it out very clearly once again. He says it in a little bit different words this time, but you can sure see the meaning behind the words that He uses. We look at Luke 16, notice what he says in verse 10, he says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and he who is unjust in what is least, is also unjust in much.” And so as we step back and consider our lives, how about those little things?
You see, He tells us, “All in. I want even the little things. I don’t want a halfhearted, partial devotion. I want complete devotion. I want a complete commitment because that’s what I’ve given you. I’ve given you complete commitment on my part.” And so it’s an amazing process that God’s called us to. It’s full commitment, isn’t it? I was reading the story of John Livingstone a while back. He’s that missionary that went to Africa back at the turn of the century. All kinds of interesting things went on in his life as he tried to serve the people down there. And it was rough. It was difficult. Amazing circumstances and amazing challenges that he worked through and overcame, and just managed to continue to serve people.
I’ve read the story about the missionaries’ society in England that was trying to support him. And in one circumstance, they were asking him if he had found a good road so they could send help to him. And you know how he responded when he finally got that letter asking if he had found a good road that they could send help? He responded by saying, “If you only have men that will come when there’s a good road, I don’t want them. I don’t want them. I want men that will come here if there’s no road at all.” That’s all in. Right? That’s all in.
And if they can do that, can we apply this spiritually speaking and be all in, it sure points to the fact that this full-time, lifelong, complete dedication to God. And since He’s given us the means to overcome whatever it is that stands between us and being all in, it is something that is certainly doable. This concept of being all in is about an attitude, a perspective of complete dedication. And it’s a concrete thing. It’s not just this ethereal idea that there are real, simple, straightforward ways of behaving that show we are a living sacrifice, and being all in also means striving for consistency, being consistent in our actions, being complete in those actions.
In fact since we’re here in Luke, we can go back just a couple of pages and show that expectation that Christ Himself has of each and every one of us. Luke 9:62 Luke 9:62And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×, the very end of the chapter, Luke 9:62 Luke 9:62And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×, He frames those expectations by putting it this way. He says, “No one having putting his hand at the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Here we are, God’s called us to this path that ultimately leads to eternal life. He says, “No going back.” We’ve got to press on.
Even if there’s not a clear road, like Livingstone faced, we still need to press on. God’s going to give us the help to do that very thing. He says, “Push all of those chips to the middle and be all in.” Don’t just put a part of yourself in. Make sure you put your whole self in because those are the expectations. And yet at the same time, don’t ever forget that God is all in. That God’s all in for us and He’s going to do everything He possibly can to be sure we succeed.
There’s a powerful passage in the book of Philippians. Right at the very beginning of the book of Philippians, God tells us, assures us, helps us to understand His perspective when it comes to us and being that living sacrifice. Philippians 1, notice what it says in verse 6. Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×, He says, “Be confident of this very thing.” What can we be confident of? What can we put our faith in? Well it says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
You see we’ve got a God that says, “You put your chips all in, you make that commitment and dedication, and you show that every day in your life, and you have a change of heart and a change of mind, and you’re in a repentant attitude, and you are forgiven before me,” God says, “I’m all in. I’m going to make sure you’re there. I want you in the kingdom. I want to finish that work in you.” You see, because God doesn’t say, “Well I only halfheartedly build people,” when God’s in the construction, He finishes the project. He finishes it, and so He lays this promise before us, that we can take confidence in that.
And so we can answer, just a couple of pages over, it’s a reminder, Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×, because we might say, “Whoa, that’s really tough, I don’t know, can I do all these things?” Well with that frame of mind, that way of thinking, having Christ living His life in us, Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×is certainly a powerful reminder, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God isn’t asking us to do anything that’s not possible. He’s giving us the means and the power to do this very thing. Now we got to make the commitment. We’ve got to choose to do it. We’ve got to choose to be that dedicated individual because to be a follower means to be a living sacrifice.
We can stay committed, we can stay dedicated to God’s work and how He’s working in our lives because He’s dedicated to us and will complete that work that He started in our lives. When you think about today, you think about the calling that God’s given us, you think about how He’s opened our minds to His truth, as we’re understanding His way, you put all these things together, and He’s telling us, “Now’s the time. Don’t wait till later. Don’t be halfhearted about things. Don’t be wishy-washy about these things.” With these wonderful promises, these amazing blessings, with the purpose that God has in mind in our lives, He tells us the time is now to be all in.
All right, well that’s going to do it for our study for this evening, thanks for joining us. We will be continuing this series in two weeks. So our bi weekly Bible Study will continue on November 18th. So we’ll look forward to continuing the series called, “The Time is Now.” And we’ll see you November 18th.