October 19, 2008
Part 3: Worship is Surrender
ILL: How many have seen The Princess Bride? It’s one of my all time favorite movies. What does Wesley say every time Buttercup speaks to him? “As you wish.” And Peter Falk tells us that every time Wesley said “As you wish,” what he was really saying was, “I love you.” (Is this a kissing book?) What was it that Wesley and Buttercup shared? True love.
This is the nature of true love: it seeks to please the loved one. “As you wish.” When Jesus prayed in the Garden, He said, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” What was He saying? “As you wish.” This is true love.
We’re talking about 24/7 Worship, about loving God with all we’ve got all the time. Today, we’re going to see that true love, real worship, is surrender. It’s living every day…As you wish.
Offering and announcements:
Baptism classes (item #1) – next Sunday, all services
Simply Worship (bottom of middle page) – Friday at 6 PM
African Children’s Choir (item #6) — Sunday, Oct. 26 at the Fox Theater; tickets available at TicketsWest.
Cami cd. The song used this weekend in the dance element is available on Cami’s just released 4 song EP available @ the kitchen for $5. 4 worship songs (one is the Amazing Grace/Tis So Sweet medley. Reflective/worshipful (piano, guitar and cello).
At the start of the message: Christ Clinic (back of tear-off) – video
We sang, “I surrender all”, and we prayed it…now we’re going to talk about it! “May your will be done. As you wish.” Has it ever been hard for you to surrender to God?
• Maybe you are afraid of what God will ask. “I just know that if I say ‘As You wish, Lord,’ He’ll ask me to become a missionary in Zimbabwe or a nun in Minot, North Dakota.” I wonder how many of you think that God is plotting ways to make you miserable, and just waiting for you give in!
• Maybe you surrender everything to God…and then you take it all back.
• Or maybe you just don’t want to relinquish the reins. “I like being in control of my own life. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.”
Whatever the reason, most of us wrestle with surrendering to God. It’s hard to do.
God isn’t asking for much…He’s asking for everything. Being a Christian is giving your whole life to God, laying it all on the altar. Worship is surrender. “What do you want from me, God?” His answer is always the same: everything. “As you wish.” Our text today makes that clear. Let’s read it together; it’s at the top of your outline.
Romans 12:1 “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.”
True worship is offering yourself to God as a living sacrifice. Worship is surrender. Let’s take a closer look.
1. The importance of worship: “I urge you…”
Last summer, while I was backpacking in Glacier, I thought about this verse. It begins, “I urge you.” That word “urge” is interesting. To urge someone to do something is to beg them, to earnestly and strongly advise them to do it. What other words come from “urge”? Urgent or urgency. An urgency requires immediate action. It’s important to do it now.
ILL: How many of you have ever gone to an Urgent Care clinic? Why do you go there? Because you are sick or injured and need immediate attention; you can’t afford to make an appointment with a doc in three weeks. You’ll bleed to death before then. It’s urgent! It needs attention now!
That’s the idea behind the word. To urge is stronger than to suggest or recommend or encourage.
ILL: Last weekend I saw the movie “Fireproof.” It’s an excellent movie on marriage.
• I recommend it to all of you…it’s that good. That’s a recommendation.
• If you’re married, I encourage you to see it. That’s a step beyond recommendation-I’m encouraging, cheering you on. Please go see this.
• If your marriage is struggling, I urge you to see it. That’s a step beyond encouragement. I’m urging you-this is important, and you should do it as soon as you can. It will help you. Go do it!
Paul starts off, “I urge you to offer your bodies to God as true worship.” This is urgent! This is important. Worshiping God with all you’ve got, offering your self to God as a living sacrifice is important. When Jesus was asked the most important commandment, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.” Love God with all you’ve got all the time! It’s not a suggestion or a recommendation…it’s urgent. So today, I’m going to urge you…I’m going to urge you to give your whole life to God-nothing less. This is important.
2. The motivation for worship: “…in view of God’s mercies…”
“I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies…”. I know that it reads “mercy”, but the Greek word is plural: “mercies”. God’s mercy is so huge and expressed in so many ways that Paul referred to it in the plural as mercies.
The motivation for worship is God’s mercies. When you get God’s mercies in view, when you see clearly what God has done and is doing for you…you worship! And specifically, you worship by offering your whole life to God out of gratitude. You can surrender your life to God if you see His mercies clearly and trust Him. You don’t surrender yourself to someone you don’t trust.
ILL: Imagine having a beautiful new car. Your neighbor’s son asks if he can borrow it. This young man is 16 and has been driving for 3 months and already has two speeding tickets and one accident on his record. What will you say? No. Why? Because you don’t trust him, so you won’t surrender your new car.
Same scenario-you have a beautiful new car. Your neighbor asks to borrow it. You’ve known him for years: he is 45, never been in accident, and takes meticulous care of his things. What will you say? Suck rocks, dude! Yes, because you trust him.
Paul says, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices to God”-a much bigger deal than loaning out your car. But he knows that we can’t and won’t do it unless we trust Him, so first he says, “in view of God’s mercies.” Get a clear view of God’s mercies and you’ll surrender.
Do you have a clear view of what He’s done for you? Do you have His mercies in view?
Psalm 103 says
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Don’t forget all His benefits. Don’t forget what He’s done for you! He’s forgiven all your sins! He heals all your diseases. He has redeemed your life from the pit! How many of you have been in the pits? How many of you remember what it was like living in the pits? He pulled you out of there and has given you a new life! Don’t forget! We worship Him in view of His mercies.
But it’s not just what God has done in the past; we also need a clear view of what He’s doing right now in our lives.
Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Great is Thy Faithfulness) His mercies never fail; they are new every morning. Fresh mercy for each day. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, God will be there, offering fresh mercies: fresh grace, fresh strength, fresh wisdom, fresh love, fresh power for the day. His mercies are new every morning.
ILL: My wife makes fresh coffee every morning. If she has some left over, she throws it out. I ask her why she doesn’t just put it in the fridge and save it, and zap it tomorrow morning. She looks at me like I’m dumber than a box of hair. Then I remember that this is a woman who can just smell coffee and tell if it’s fresh. It’s gotta be fresh-new every morning. That’s how she likes her coffee.
That’s how I like my mercies. Yesterday’s mercies won’t carry me today. This is why I start my day with PBJ time: time with God and His word. I read God’s Word, ask Him to speak to me and give me one thing for the day-fresh mercies-and then I write it down and pray it back to Him. I need fresh mercies-it’s like putting on the coffee pot every morning-get it fresh! I urge you…get a journal at the resource center-there’s a Bible reading plan in there-and join in with all of us who are doing PBJ each day.
You see, Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship. It’s not just about what God did for you 20 centuries ago, but also about what He’s doing in you now. It’s a relationship, and so it’s got to be fresh.
ILL: 33 years ago, I married Laina. I promised her faithful love forever. Every now and then, she asks me, “Do you love me?” I never say, “Have you forgotten what I promised you 33 years ago?” She hasn’t forgotten. She wants to know if I still love her, if my love is as fervent and fresh today as it was 33 years ago when I made the promises.
Good relationships keep growing. There is fresh love, new mercies. That’s what I love about being a Christian. It’s not a dead religion; it’s a fresh relationship. God’s mercies are new every morning! And it’s His mercies that motivate me to love Him.
Do you have a clear view of what He’s done for you and what He’s doing? Do you have His mercies in view? The more clearly we see what God has done for us, the deeper our worship and surrender will be.
3. The act of worship: “offer your bodies to God as living sacrifices.”
“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” In the Old Testament, people worshipped God by offering animal sacrifices. An animal was killed and the body burned on the altar as a sacrifice to God. But now we don’t offer animals on the altar; we offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
ILL: When I was a brand new Christian, years ago, when the dinosaurs ruled the earth, I heard this little story, and it grabbed me.
At a Sunday worship service, a group of African Christians was asked to prepare their offerings. Most of these people were poor farmers. They didn’t use money; they bartered with goods: produce or livestock that they raised, or products that they made with their own hands. So each Sunday, the offering was collected in large woven baskets, standing several feet tall to hold the live chickens, stalks of corn, bunches of bananas and other goods that would be given.
On this Sunday, a little boy found himself at worship empty-handed. He wanted to give God something, but had nothing to give. Suddenly, he had an inspiration. As the big basket came by, he jumped in! “I’m giving myself to God,” he told them.
Wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy?
Someone said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar. It’s true! We climb in the basket and crawl back out. We have to offer ourselves to God over and over because we surrender all, and then take it back. I put my life on the altar, and then crawl off and go do my own thing for awhile.
ILL: I loved summer camp as a teenager. It was my favorite week of the whole year. I always came back so charged up for Christ! The last night of summer camp, we had a special bonfire service. Each person as they came into the bonfire circle was given a stick. After we worshiped, students were invited to share what God had done in their lives, and then consecrate themselves to God in a fresh way. After each student shared, he would toss his stick into the bonfire, symbolizing full surrender of his life to Christ, a sacrifice being burned up for God. It was always very moving-lots of tears, lots of lofty promises, lots of people putting themselves on the altar as living sacrifices.
But when we got home and the glow wore off, many of those sacrifices crawled off the altar and went back to life as usual.
Ever done that? Ever put yourself on the altar and then crawled off later? I wonder where you are right now. If you did an honest inventory, could you say that your life is on the altar, that you are fully surrendered to God, or have you crawled off somewhere, and your life is not surrendered? Surrender to God isn’t something we just do once. It’s a lifestyle-it’s a 24/7 deal. We get up every morning to new mercies, and we surrender again to God. “Here’s my life. Do what You want. As you wish.” We have to keep doing it because we wander!
ILL: We used to have a dog named Chums that loved us but had wanderlust. Chums would wait by the front door, and as soon as one of our kids opened it to come in or go out, he’d escape. The kids and I would give chase, but we could never catch him. I’d call his name; he’d stop, look back at me…and then take off in the opposite direction. At first, we fretted and worried: would he get lost, or hit, or stolen. But Chums always came back. An hour or two later, he’d be waiting by the front door to get in. He loved us!
I am a lot like Chums. I love God, but I wander. I want to be surrendered, but I get distracted, crawl off the altar, slip out the front door, and wander.
ILL: I love the third stanza in that great hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.
I love that. My heart is prone to wander, isn’t yours? I’m a living sacrifice; and I often crawl off the altar. And it’s God’s mercies, God’s grace that binds my wandering heart to Him and brings me back, again and again.
Where are you? Are you fully surrendered…or off around the block somewhere? We have to keep coming back each day and offering ourselves as living sacrifices, because we crawl off the altar and wander away. “As you wish.”
I think it’s significant that Paul said, “offer your bodies.” By offering our bodies to God, we offer everything, our whole lives. We offer:
• All that we think with our minds.
• All that we say with our lips.
• All that we do with our hands.
• Everywhere we go with our feet.
To offer your body is to offer the totality of your life and activities to God. It is full surrender, nothing held back. Paul could have said, “Offer your thoughts, offer your prayers, offer your worship, offer your thanks.” But any of these would have been less than our whole self. But if you offer your body, you offer your whole life, for our whole life in this world is lived in and through the body.
Paul says that offering your body to God is spiritual worship. This is something unique in the Christian faith. The Greeks thought of the soul as good and the body as bad; the soul was entrapped in the body, and spiritual life was a matter of escaping or overcoming your body. The soul must ascend to God who is pure spirit. But Christianity shocked the Greek world because God, who is spirit, descended to us and took on a human body. The incarnation was the great idea in the Christian faith that changed everything. Now instead of escaping the body to get to God, we offer the body to God. Thus, everything about us is offered to God.
• All that we think with our minds.
• All that we say with our lips.
• All that we do with our hands.
• Everywhere we go with our feet.
It’s all spiritual, all holy, and all surrendered to God. “As you wish.” This is spiritual worship.
4. The nature of worship: surrender.
“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.” Worship is surrender. Worship is more than the songs we sing in church; it is a life offered to God as a living sacrifice.
ILL: Imagine having a child that was compliant and eager to please you for an hour every weekend. For one hour on Sunday, this child would tell you he loves you, and sing your praises as a parent. “Oh Mom, oh Dad, you are the greatest parents on the planet. I love you, love you, love you. You’re fabulous!” Sound good? One hour every weekend!
But the rest of the week, this kid basically ignores you. He just does his own thing regardless of what you say, sometimes doing things that are outright defiance, other times acting like you just don’t exist. Then the next weekend, you get serenaded for another hour.
What would you think? My child is weird. This doesn’t add up.
That’s what it is like when we sing at church, and then live like we want the rest of the week. “I love you” here at church; “my will be done” the rest of the week. It’s weird-it doesn’t add up.
What will it look like for you to surrender fully to God? I don’t know. It will look a little different for each person. It means that each day you have to offer yourself afresh, and seek God’s will. “Not my will, but yours be done. As you wish.” And God’s will for you is different in some respects than His will for me. There’s no formula I can give you other than urging you to simply offer your life-all that you are and all that you do-every day to God.
This surrender to God has two prominent characteristics: it is total and it is reasonable.
It is total surrender to God. The totality of the surrender is seen in the language of sacrifice. The sacrifice was killed and then burned, totally consumed in the fire. To be a living sacrifice is to be totally surrendered to God.
ILL: Someone has said, “When you look at a plate of ham and eggs, you know the chicken was involved. But the pig was committed.”
The chicken gave something; the pig gave everything. It’s one thing to be a chicken-Christian-you’re involved. It’s another to be a pig-Christian-you’re surrendered. You’ve given everything to God.
Surrender is total and it’s reasonable. The word “spiritual” is the Greek word logikos; we get the word “logical” from it. It is often translated “reasonable”. For Paul, offering ourselves to God is reasonable or logical-it makes sense. Total surrender is the only rational course to take when you really see who God is and what He’s done. Nothing else makes any sense. Halfway surrender is irrational. To decide to give part of your life to God and keep other parts for yourself-to say “Everything is yours, Lord, except for this relationship, this deal, this pleasure”-is irrational! Surrender to God is reasonable; it makes sense.
I have always had a little trouble with the word “sacrifice”. I don’t think we really sacrifice anything for God. To me, a sacrifice means giving up something and getting little or nothing in return. When someone advertises an item for sale and says “will sacrifice”, they mean they will sell it for far less than it’s worth. They’ll take a loss. And I’m afraid that is what some people fear about full surrender to God. To be a living sacrifice means they’ll give everything and get little back. But I’ve never sacrificed anything for God in that sense, because whatever I give to Him, He gives something better back.
ILL: David Livingstone wrote this in his journal.
“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paying back a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind and a bright hope of glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.
To give myself totally to God is really no sacrifice; it’s a privilege. For I owe Him everything, and He always gives back more to me than I give to Him.
In Luke 19:28-30, Jesus has just told the disciples that it is hard for the rich to get into heaven. So Peter said to Jesus, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Peter was saying, “Lord, we have sacrificed everything for you.” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Does that sound like a sacrifice?
In Luke 6:38, Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Does that sound like a sacrifice?
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Jesus didn’t say, “Whoever loses his life for me loses it-tough luck.” That would be sacrifice. He said, “Whoever loses his life for me will find it.” When we give ourselves totally to God, we find our life-real life, abundant life, eternal life. Does that sound like a sacrifice?
When you surrender your life to God, you find your life. I urge you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices which is your spiritual worship. I urge you this week to live your life surrendered to God. I urge you to live this prayer: “As you wish.”
Let’s take a moment to pray. “God, what are you asking of me? Not my will, but yours be done. As you wish.”
Song and dance.
Opportunity to surrender.