Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Offering Our Bodies as Living Sacrifices of Worship to God

“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”
 (Romans 12:1).

Worship can be expressed in various forms. Some examples are through music, tithes and offerings, responding to the teaching of God’s Word, and performing acts of service and mercy in God’s name. This verse suggests something else to me as well – worshipping God with my body even while suffering.

I am slowly learning to be aware of ways in which I can do this. As I endure the ongoing struggle with migraines day after day, I am trying to praise God for the ability He gives me to keep functioning through them. When the eye discomfort is so bothersome that I can’t read or use the computer or television, I try and listen to Bible study tapes or worship music. When pain keeps me awake at night I try to pray for others. None of these things are done in my own strength – it is all done by the power of Christ giving me not only the ability but the desire to do them.

There are many times when I don’t offer my sufferings as a willing sacrifice. Sometimes all I can do is sit in agony or despair and cry to the Lord, pleading for mercy and endurance. God understands that. But each time I offer my pain and suffering in an attitude of worship as a sacrifice on the altar of praise, God does something wonderful. Whether now or later, He turns the ashes of my offerings into beauty and gives me a garment of praise for my spirit of heaviness. Whether praising or crying, I want to remember that my body is God’s living temple, and regardless of its physical condition, it can be a beautiful place of sacrifice to Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me a willing spirit to view my sufferings as a sacrificial offering to You, and show me ways I can do this through my specific circumstances. I praise and thank you Lord for accomplishing this through me. Amen.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Transformation

“And we . . . are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:18).

We did not have much winter this year in Virginia so signs of spring have come earlier than usual. Trees and flowers are budding and blooming, and those first splashes of color are a welcome change to see. Spring is a time of transformation because nature’s appearance changes dramatically during this season. Transformation can be more than an external change in form though. It can also mean a change in essence or character. That is what God wants to do in my life, and He is using my pain to accomplish it.

God’s Word and Spirit have the power to transform my sinful, earthly nature, but it requires some work on my part as well. I must be willing to apply Scriptural truths to my life. Becoming fearful over a physical problem is the time to remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past and to trust His provision for the present and future. When tempted to have a negative or despairing attitude, I remind myself that I am not the same person that I was before knowing Christ. I am able to make a different choice as to how I respond to every circumstance in my life.

Allowing God to transform my thoughts, attitudes, and actions will bring new splashes of color to my life and the lives of others. Signs of spring make people feel happy. Not complaining, becoming fearful, or constantly focusing on my problems encourages and uplifts those around me.

Spring’s transformation is temporary but the transforming power of God in my life is everlasting. It can be revealed through me at all times, even when my physical health or circumstances look bleak. As I renew my mind in the knowledge of who He is, who I am in Him, and what He can do through me, I become more conformed to the likeness of Christ – the best and most beautiful transformation of all.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I see the earth transformed during the beauty of springtime, help me also see how my pain and suffering can be used by You to transform my heart, mind, and actions into Your image. Amen.