Romans 12:1-2 Upward living Part 1

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

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.

God’s sacrifice – His Mercy


Without God’s mercy,  we would be hopelessly lost in our own sins.  There would be no escape from certain judgment and separation from God.  But God’s mercy sent Christ to die for us and provide a path to righteousness and hope through faith in Jesus Christ, our sacrifice.


Because of this mercy,  let us rise above the craziness of this world and become shining lights of “God’s Mercy” to the dark world around us.  How does this happen?  It is not automatic.  It is not easy.  Setting Holy standards require strength and constant attention in our heart and mind.  So much of our dark world’s ideas are trying to reprogram our lives toward sinful behavior and depraved thinking.  Let us rise above this world and strive to live by Holy standards to not only feel God’s presence but to present God’s presence to the world.

What is a Living Sacrifice?

Offer your body a living sacrifice.   This seems like an oxymoron.  How can one live and die at the same time?  Notice the two words.  Sacrifice represents the cost of following God in the Old Testament.  One would take their very best and most valuable sheep to be placed on the altar and killed as repentance and worship to God.   Sacrifice was the painful death of an innocent animal picturing the cost of sin covered by the innocent blood of Christ.

What does a “Living Sacrifice” look like?  We look closely at our lives and put to death (sacrifice) habits, attitudes, desires that are sinful in nature.  We compare our lives with the world and Christ’s standard.  We intentionally kill those parts of our lives that are not honoring to God.


This action is our sacrifice to God.  God sees our efforts and His presence grows in us.  What are some examples to consider sacrificing?   How do you relate to family, friends, and workers?  What do you watch, read or tweet?  What does your daily schedule look like?  Is there room carved out for God, the Bible, and prayer?  Make a sacrifice of time for God.

Set process, not goals

One piece of advice.  Instead of making a goal,  focus on creating a daily process.  Once a goal is broken it’s hard to really start a new goal.  But focus on creating daily or weekly processes of sacrificing known issues or the process of setting aside time to spend with God.

Ask God to reveal areas in your life that could be sacrificed as worship to God.  I know it is painful but it is an act of worship.   You will become closer to God and His presence will reflect a greater Holiness in your life.  The result is a greater lightnside for the world to see.

Make one change this week for a living sacrifice.

As I write this article,  I already know I need to sacrifice more to God in my daily processes.  No gain.

I feel good about it.  I’m striving to live upward.

Ps 46:10 “Be still”…Solitude with God

“We who have been drugged by diversions cannot expect to enter the quiet without a struggle.  Our souls will roar for diversion”

Gary Thomas, Seeking the Face of God



The quieter days

Some of you will remember when we had no cell phones, internet, Facebook, hundreds of channels of tv.  Simpler times.  Quieter times.  We went to church more.  Had more family time. More conversation with people. Probably more real friends.

There were fewer diversions.  Now we jump at every tone from our cell phones.  We have the capacity to fill every minute of our day with something.  This is an addiction just as difficult to fight as physical issues.

Solitude is worth fighting for

The idea of being quiet and having no distraction is something to fight for.  Solitude before God is such a powerful and fulfilling time.  It is in these quiet times that we began to know the real issues of our lives.  In solitude before God, the Holy Spirit brings up pains, emotions to deal with and receive healing.  In the quiet times there will come revelations that you would never receive in the business of the day.  God will give you a verse that is ‘your verse‘.  The more you meditate on it the more God reveals.

One powerful verse I love that God brings back to me is Luke 5:38 ” new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”  Jesus has new wine of His presence to pour into my soul,  but I need to prepare my old wineskin (soul)  to receive it.  I feel a drawing to mature in Christ through prayer and meditation.  The reading of scripture and the discipline of my daily walk helps me grow and repair my soul (wineskin). When my soul is renewed,  Christ will pour more of Himself in me.  More Holy Spirit power, peace, and praise.

A Practical Guide 

It all leads back to being still before God.  Mark out some time each day to be still before God.  I will share a simple formula I use many times that you can spend a half-hour before God very easily.  30 minutes of solitude with God:

5 min   Praise God  Psalms 57:11,  63:3-4,  Rev. 14:11

5 min   Cleans the temple (confession)  Psalms 51:10-11  (prays over yesterday’s problems)

5 min   Intercession – Remember the world 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (have different peoples on each day)

5 min   Share my needs Matthew 7:7-8, James 1:5-8.  ( upcoming needs, family, personal)

5 min  Quiet…let God speak John 10:27,  1 Kings 19:12

5 min   Read Scripture

“Solitude is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world”  Henri Nouwen

Some of the material today is from a book called ‘Replenish’ by Lance Witt

Remember we are conditioned to surround ourselves with distractions.  Make a place of quiet solitude with God and you will find a brighter lightnside.

God’s Presence – A tale of two Kings

King Saul vs King David

two kings


Two kings, Saul and David.  Both were called by God.  Both kings were anointed by prophet Samuel.  But during their reign, there was an important difference between them which effected their decisions, attitudes, actions and had a drastic effect in their final years.

Neither Saul nor David was perfect.  Both kings made poor decisions.  David even committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband to cover up his disgrace.  Saul made poor decisions.  He had outbursts of jealousy and tried to murder David several times.

Importance of God’s presence

One major difference between Saul and David was their dependence on God’s Presence.  The presence of God made a difference in how they reacted to life.  The Presence of God makes a difference in how you respond to corrections and repentance.  The Presence of God helps one to seek God when in need and to glorify Him for His mercies.

It was during Saul’s reign that the Ark of God was captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4.)  Saul did not go after the Ark of God.  He relied on his own efforts rather than seeking the presence of God.

When David became king, the first thing he did was go after the Ark of God (2 Samuel 6.)  Even getting the Ark back to the kingdom was difficult.  But when the Ark was entering the kingdom David danced before the Lord with all his might.

Effect of God’s presence

When David was confronted by God’s prophet concerning his sin over Bathsheba and Uriah,  he repented crying out to God for forgiveness ( 2 Samuel 12).  David said, “against You only have I sinned”  (Psalms 51).  Saul made excuses and lied to God’s prophet about his sin (1 Samuel 15).

Our pride and selfish desires can keep us away from the presence of God.  Without God’s presence, we will become more self-righteous and begin sliding down a slippery slope of darkness.  I will confess the presence of God is not always pleasant,  especially if the Holy Spirit is putting a spotlight on your sin.  However, if you repent you will find God’s grace and mercy flooding your heart.  Your life becomes aligned again with God’s covering and the blessings of Psalms 91 (last week’s blog).

David’s life had its ups and downs but he lived a long life full of God’s presence.  Saul, on the other hand, suffered from depression, rage, and emptiness.  Saul even sought the demonic presence of a witch for direction.  Saul died in battle lost from God.

How to keep God’s presence

The main difference between Saul and David…the desire for the Presence of God. Many days I pray over Psalms 51:10-11 

[10] Create in me a pure heart, O God, [I look over my actions of the previous day and confess if I had said or did something wrong. I ask God to forgive me and fix my heart]

and renew a steadfast spirit within me. [I ask God to restore a constant reliance on God. To keep my emotions in balance]

[11] Do not cast me from your presence [I must have God’s presence.  I must feel God and be able to talk with God.]

or take your Holy Spirit from me. [ I need the direction of the Holy Spirit in my life. I need to be able to hear His voice even if it is telling me I’m wrong.]

Moses said I will not leave your presence.  David said do not send me away from Your Presence.  Today in a troubled world YOU need His Presence. Seek it today and every day and you will find a continuous lightnside.

God’s Presence – Benefits in a troubled world

The benefits of living in God’s presence are listed in Psalms 91.

This is the third message on God’s presence.  This message reveals the practical benefits of living in God’s presence in a troubled world.  I believe the time is running out for Satan and his demonic dominion.  He is working overtime to destroy as many people as possible before Jesus comes back to earth.  There are many signs that we are living in the last days.  It is important for us to be aware of satan’s traps and attempts to destroy our souls.

 Psalms 91. (New Living Translation)

V1-2 (Describes our focus on God’ presence daily)

“[1] Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [2] This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

V 3-God’s presence makes you aware of satan’s traps.  (Anger, Lust, Unforgiveness, Rebellion, Pride, etc)

[3] For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease (of the heart).  [4] He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

V5-8  Protection from fears in the night.  Confidence in God’s power and protection.

[5] Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. [6] Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. [7] Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. [8] Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

V9-13  God sends angels to help protect and guide you.

[9] If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, [10] no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. [11] For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. [12] They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. [13] You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!  (I would not run to a Zoo to see if you could literally crush a lion! God is speaking of the strength and deadly intent of our supernatural enemies. You have power in God to overcome them with boldness with God’s presence in your life.)


V14-16  God’s commitment and love to those who are living in His presence


[14] The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. [15] When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. [16] I will reward them with long life and give them my salvation.”


What a wonderful description of the benefits of God’s presence.  Even though we live in a dark world,  with God there will always be a strong lightnside.