O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB  
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    Rev. Cameron Schnarr

Beautiful Savior Lutheran School

Lutheran Church Canada - What do you believe?

LCC - Lutheran Church Canada

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, Canada
What's a Living Sacrifice, Anyway?

What's a Living Sacrifice, Anyway?

Based on Romans 12:1-2

Preached on October 4, 2015

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"I therefore encourage you brothers, on the basis of the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual worship. And stop being conformed to this world, but rather let yourselves be transformed in the renewal of your mind, so that you probe what is the will of God, the good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Dad, I want to ask you a question," said little Josh after his first day of Sunday School. "Ok," his Dad replied. "The teacher was reading the Bible today, about the Children of Israel building the Temple, the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, the Children of Israel making the sacrifices," said Josh. "So what's your question?" his Dad asked. "Well, didn't the grown-ups do anything?!"

It doesn't need to be the first day of Sunday School for us to get the things of God mixed up, does it? It could be any day. Because God - and the worship of God - are not things that come naturally for us. He needs to teach us about them. He needs to walk with us, like a daddy teaching His toddlers to take their first steps. Think about it: What is worship now that we have Christ? How are we a part of it everyday? And what does it look like in your daily life?

These questions are at the heart of what we will be focusing on throughout the month of October as we trace our way through Romans chapter 12. God is going to teach us about how He has made us new - to worship Him- and much like little Josh we are going to be pleasantly surprised with what our Father in heaven has to say.

Paul writes, "I therefore encourage you brothers, on the basis of the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices - this is appropriate worship ." Living sacrifices? How does that work? The very definition of a sacrifice is that its dead. And you burn it on the altar. What are you talking about Paul?

But something's different. This new worship in Christ - is not your old, dead, one-time ceremonial sacrifice. It is alive, Paul says. Ongoing. Something that God has made you - to be. You have been united with the death and resurrection of God in the flesh. You have been made one with the dead, sacrificed One who now lives forever. And when this happened, in the waters of baptism, God put His own Spirit inside you. He gave you a new life - a new worship life - one that doesn't end.

A living sacrifice. That is what you are now - in Christ. You don't worship God sometimes. God has made your whole life worship. You don't worship God when you have the time. God has made your whole life worship. You don't retire from worshipping God the way you retire from a career. God has made your whole life worship.

But let me guess, that's not the only part of what Paul said - that made you raise your eyebrows, is it? Because he didn't say "offer your hearts to God - this is your spiritual worship" - No - He said "offer your bodies." And that is NOT how you and I would have written it! Paul does not have in mind some invisible, ultra-spiritual worship that is largely not felt by others. In fact, he says the opposite. Your spiritual worship is something concrete and visible. The way you put your body into action for God in time and space.

Old Adam hates this, because he wants worship to be private and just me all by myself. He doesn't want it to be seen by others and impact them in their troubled lives. But that is why you're still here - why God hasn't taken the new you to the new earth in the life of the world to come - God is using you to show His light here in the darkness. He has invaded our sinful world and our sinful flesh with the pure flesh of His Son. He has come barging in with His holiness and His righteousness and His new life and He has remade you in it so that everything you do in your body is sacred and holy and worship to the Most High God.

When you walk around, God and His holiness are with you, invading this dark world, bringing it light. You are not called to escape the world, but to new worship in the world.

Picture a chandelier - hanging in the dark - one that uses real fire and wicks instead of electricity. There you were, a dead, black lifeless wick offering no light or heat - But God sent His Son - who came down in the flesh and lit you with His Gospel fire - brought you to life in His Spirit - that you might the fill this dark world with His light and heat - a flame made to shine forth the glory of the One who lit it.

And so Paul says, "Offer your bodies." Let the newness of the Spirit have its way in your daily life. Give your body to the power of the Gospel. Offer yourself here to your congregation. To your neighbour in the pew beside you. And to the work God is doing in this community through Beautiful Savior. Dear Lord God, have mercy on us - and all those around us. (quick pause)

God's Word is working here to change the way you see things. Stop being conformed to this world, Paul says, but rather let yourselves be transformed in the renewal of your mind. You way you see things. The way you think. Don't listen to the words of this world, but to what God says about this new self He has made you - and how He promises to use you here. See yourself and your life in this Gospel way. View your bodily actions as your worship of Almighty God, and watch Him work His glory through your hands.

Today is LWML Sunday. A perfect match to our stewardship focus - because our LWML is one of the ways ladies can worship God as they offer their bodies. Whether it is serving lunch to the congregation - don't worry, its coming - or putting together kits and packages for impoverished children, or our Winnipeg homeless, or new young mothers that need a helping hand - the LWML is one of the many ways to get involved in the work God is doing in this congregation, and it is good for you to know about it.

But the best thing for you to know. The most important thing for you to know as we start our stewardship focus is that Paul teaches all of this comes on the basis of God's mercy. God has only made you to worship Him with your body, because His Son offered up His body for you. Your salvation doesn't depend on your worship. You worship because of your salvation. Because of Jesus. Because His compassion compelled Him to invade this world, find you, and make you His. You are eternally safe in Christ - forgiven - washed - new. So receive this encouragement brothers, in Christ that fire burns bright.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rev. Cameron Schnarr