If you have been following the posts the past couple of weeks on abandoning New Year’s RESOLUTIONS for a WORD, then you know how this came about for me. It all really started with a verse that is the theme verse for this devotion.
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. 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. (Romans 12:1-2).
I have read and heard sermons about this verse on any number of occasions. Up to this point I had always looked at it very literally and simplistically; an instruction to get into God’s word every day and at some point I would reach some ethereal point of renewal that would put me in some magical place of knowing of God’s will. Thus, one of my annual New Year’s resolutions was to read the bible in a year.
Truth: I have never successfully done this in my life. I have read the entire bible, probably several times, over the course of my walk with the Lord, but never in a year. Yet every New Year’s Eve, it made the list and I diligently printed the bible-in-a-year reading plan and every year I would lose it somewhere in the second week. I would then tell myself that I could catch up and by the end of January I had failed.
I would console myself, saying that I could do it at my own pace and would get somewhere around 2 Chronicles and that would be it. I would then head down that lovely path of self-defamation and misery.
It never occurred to me that God really didn’t want me in a self-created pit of despair over His WORD. His WORD meant to be instructional, loving, rebuking, foretelling and above all, grace-filled, not guilt-filled.
How many times have I been in His WORD and never viewed it as an act of worship, but an act of diligence? It is not that my heart wasn’t in the right place or that I didn’t learn from reading the scriptures and memorizing them so I could recall them in times of prayer or combat. God has spoken to me through them.
I just didn’t always get that God’s WORD is living. It is living, relevant and active and I can choose to be alive in it or just learn it without heart change or life change. The Apostle John tells us
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… (John 1:1-5)
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1: 9-14)
Jesus is the WORD. If I am a true believer that Jesus is my LORD and SAVIOR who was crucified to atone for my sin, was raised up on the third day and sits at the right side of the Father and delivered the Holy Spirit to reside in us then the WORD is alive and the WORD is alive in me. It is what I choose to do with it that brings renewal, true knowledge, transformation and life change.
This journey is about choosing to live the WORD, to be alive in the WORD, in Jesus, reflecting His character one WORD at a time. It is about choosing to be INTENTIONAL, to sacrifice and to surrender as acts of worship that are holy and pleasing to God as He created us to be.
I want to throw out a few things to ponder about participating in this devotion.
- I will be leading and posting scripture, planning, actions, journal entries and outcomes about the WORDS God gives me. However, you can choose any WORD God is leading you to explore using the same steps I take.
- You will not succeed at INTENTIONAL Living if you do not take ACTION. We can have the best of intentions but they yield nothing if we do not act on them.
- INTENTIONAL Living involves some level of planning and commitment. This is not about taking control for ourselves, but yielding to God who does not ever want us to be stagnate, even as we are waiting on Him.
- Intentional Living is NOT about overcommitting. As we move through WORDS and INTENTIONALLY taking ACTION on them, be wary of over-extending yourself. We are not selecting one WORD at the expense of all the rest or at the expense of your family or other priorities in your life.
- We will learn the most if we have dialogue about our God given WORDS and our journey through them. Please leave comments and let us know your WORD and how God is transforming you with it.
The first WORD God has given me is SACRIFICE. Even if your WORD is different, I would encourage you to contemplate Romans 12:1 and consider making a sacrifice for the Lord as a spiritual act of worship, holy and pleasing to the Lord one day this week and take action on it.
If we are not going to conform to this world but be transformed one WORD at a time, then we need to be focusing on God and sacrifice is a great way to do it.
You could FAST for a day. Give up food or some food item (i.e., coffee, sugar, chocolate, meat, etc.) for 24 hours. This can be something bedtime to bedtime or 7:00 pm on a Monday to 7:00 pm on a Tuesday.
Or, FAST from an activity for a day. Think of an activity you do (i.e., TV, reading a novel, news, Facebook, etc.) where that time could be otherwise spent the WORD and/or prayer.
Whatever you choose should be something that causes some discomfort (sacrifice) and replace that time spent on those things with focusing on God. Take an hour or more out to read The Bible and to pray and not just prayers where you talk but time in prayer where you listen.
Lord God, I ask for your wisdom and discernment as we focus on SACRIFICE and how we can be a make a spiritual act of worship that is holy and pleasing to you this week. I ask that you would go before us on this journey of INTENTIONALLY pursuing you one WORD at a time. That you would open our hearts and minds to be transformed into reflections of you and expanding your kingdom which is your will for all of us. I lift us up to you, in Jesus name, Amen