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Daily Devotion for November 20, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Our "Sunday Virtual Church" this week takes us to the Church of God at Lee University, in Cleveland.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples. Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love. and that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation; Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your Spirit.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
But a faithful ambassador brings health.
Romans 12:1 (ESV)
A Living Sacrifice
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Notes on the Scripture
We have finished reading eleven rather difficult chapters in which Paul examines, in minute detail, the way in which God has operated to bring us righteousness. Here, at the beginning of Chapter 12, we see a major shift in tone. He has explained to us the differences between the Old Testament and the New, and why they are one Bible even though there seem to be many contradictions between them.
But this verse sounds very different. It is not an explanation; it is a call to action. Paul has told us "why". Now, he is going to tell us "what". And the very first "what" is to present our bodies as a sacrifice.
When we hear about the Jews making sacrifices, it sounds strange to our modern ear. How could anyone worship God — our God — by killing and burning animals or wheat? But that is what the law called upon the Jews to do in the Old Testament. We don't make animal sacrifices any longer because we live under a new covenant with God, reflected in the New Testament. Our relationship with God changed.
Does this mean we no longer make sacrifices to God? No. We now follow the law in the Spirit. We keep the same law in a new way. We follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law.
This may seem easier than what Orthodox Jews go through; we can get away with doing a lot less. And in ways, it is. But in one critical detail, it is more, because Christ did not give just his sheep or his wheat or his time or his money as a sacrifice for us. He gave his body. He sacrificed his own flesh and blood.
And now, like Christ, we present more than our possessions to God as our sacrifice. We give the one thing that is really ours: ourselves. Like Christ, we present our bodies as a sacrifice; we give ourselves back to the God who created us.
I hope that none of us are called to die for Christ. We must always remember that countless Christians have done exactly that. Yet, although few are called to die for Christ, we are all called to live for Christ. Each and every one of us are called to give our bodies as a living sacrifice.
The rest of Romans will tell us, in more specific detail, how we are to make this sacrifice. It sounds scary, but it isn't; because once we have faith, once we are confident in God's Holy Spirit within us and the salvation that awaits us, we do not need to fear anything. And in fact, leading a life of Christian sacrifice is a life filled with joy and happiness.