Here we go, folks! I've added some thoughts in Red. Don't let me clutter your conversation with God, however -- My notes are humble thoughts -- I'm praying they spur further conversation with your Heavenly Father!
New International Version (NIV)
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform 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.
Ever wondered what God wants from you? According to Paul, what God wants most from you...is you.
Now, don't be scared by this. If you truly know how much God loves you (i.e. He DIED for you) you will want to give Him everything. (More on this: check out SALVATION in this blog!)
Problem: The WORLD. Boy, does the world distract us, corrupt us, and deceive us into thinking God is not enough. Verse 2 tells us not to CONFORM or "give in" to the pattern of this world.
Verse 2 also tells us to "be transformed" - WOOOHOOO -- Boy, do I love these words! God has the power to change (as the dictionary says) my condition, nature and function! I'm glad He can put this old "cracked pot" to good use!
Finally, in closing, we need to give God everything and pray that we understand His will for us...which is pleasing and perfect (not always comfortable)!
Are you willing to say to God, "I'm all in." ?
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Humilty - This is a concept long lost in this "me-centered" world. Yet, I have found the greatest leaders are humble leaders. They are decisive and strong, yet humble and focused on GOD, not themselves.
Verses 3 - 8 speak volumes to anyone living/working/relating to others. Think about your church a moment, or even your family. Everyone has a role to play. God has gifted people in different ways. We should respect those gifts.
Let's get real here folks. Even the most annoying person in your life may have been placed there to reveal something to you...to advance your work for Christ...to contribute to the body of Christ.
Soooo....grant grace in your relationships. Let go of disputes and focus on the BIG PICTURE:
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Oh, my...these are marching orders! Move forward and cling to these concepts. If you memorize verses 9 - 13, you will avoid so many wasted, frustration-filled moments!
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Pastor Dennis Morgan once said: The true test of a Christian is often what spills out when we get bumped.
Think of yourself as a glass filled to the brim. When someone bumps you, what splashes out? Is it "Living Water" (John 4:10)
It's impossible to live in this world and avoid conflict. God sent verses 14 - 21 to give you instructions on dealing with conflict, confrontation, and, yes, unfair persecution.
Keep these verses in mind next time your glass is bumped!