Ibeseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).

Many Christians who truly believe they have dedicated their time, talents, and abilities to performing the Lord's work, find that no matter what they do, they don’t seem to get any results. Others have forsaken the world, given up all their bad habits etc, but they still seem unmotivated and useless when an opportunity arises to serve the Lord. The people from both of these groups have gone too far with God to be able to please the world anymore, but they also have come short of truly pleasing the Lord. They are like Israel, who had the faith to leave Egypt but then rebelled and refused to enter the Promised Land on God's terms. Our churches today are filled with these individu- als; each one stuck in an aimless "wilderness experience" of their own design.

How does this happen? What causes a person to seemingly stagnate in their faith? To answer this, we must first examine what God is asking of us. And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23). In order to be a fully functioning member of the family of God, He ex- pects us to surrender control of our lives to Him. Too many of us today claim to serve God, while at the same time still feeling the pressing need to look out for our own self-interest. We love the Lord, but we don’t quite trust Him enough to believe that everything will be fine if we just blindly follow His will.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice. When self-interest and self-preservation are still given equal billing with God-interest, then our efforts for God will be half-hearted at best. We won’t be enjoying the “fruits of the world” because we will be longing for acceptance by God, but we won’t be holy, acceptable unto God because we aren’t willing to give up that last bit of control. This type of "selective obedience" then leaves us in that aimless “wilderness experience.” No matter what actions we perform in the service of God, if we hold back a piece of ourselves because we are afraid of getting hurt or losing what we have, then our actions will be in vain.

He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). When John the Baptist spoke these words, he did not do so in a bitter fashion, mourning the status that he was losing. He did so with praise and thanksgiving, acknowledging the fact that the coming of Christ had given meaning to his life’s work. When we offer ourselves to Christ, we must consider that our whole life now belongs to Him. Only when He becomes the center of our life will we be able to experience the joy and blessings that come from serving God without reservation.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:20).

Thought for Today:

If you do not feel the fire you once felt for God, take the next leap of faith. Listen and go where He tells you and He will rekindle the fire.

Christ Revealed:

For Rom. 11:3: See I Kin. 19:10,14. Rom. 11:4: See I Kin. 19:18. Rom. 11:8: See Is. 29:10. Rom. 11:9-10: See Ps. 69:22-23. Rom. 11:26-27: See Is. 59:20-21; Jer. 31:33. Rom. 11:34: See Is. 40:13. Rom. 11:35: See Job 41:11. Rom. 12:19: See Deut. 32:35. Rom. 12:20: See Prov. 25:21-22. Rom. 13:9: See Ex. 20:13-17; Lev. 19:18.

Word Studies:

1:14 emulation = jealousy; 12:9 dissimulation = hypocrisy; 13:13 rioting and drunkeness . . . chambering and wanton-ness = unbridled lust, immorality and indecency.

Prayer Needs:

Staff: Jennifer Palafox • Country: Iran (80,840,713) Mid East • Major Languages: Persian, Azeri Turkic, Turkic Dialects, Kurdish • Hostile to all Christian activity • 99.4% Muslim (90-95% Shi'a; 5-10% Sunni); 0.3% Other (Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian) 0.3% Unspecified • Prayer Sugges- tion: Ask the Lord to help you teach His Word to your children; it will give guidance and instruction as they go through life (Prov. 6:20-23).

Memory Verse:

Philemon 1: 4-7

Philemon 1:4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

Philemon 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

Philemon 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Philemon 1:7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

Devotion courtesy Bible Pathway Ministries