Sermon:  A Gift for All Seasons

Summary:  Even during slow times, such as summer, we are always to be an offering to 
God in heart, mind, and body, which means not being conformed to this world, but 
being formed and molded by God every day in every season and situation in life.

Know:  For our gifts and worship to be acceptable to God, we are to be 24-7 Christians, 
shaped by God and not by the world

Feel:  Like aliens in a world we no longer belong in because we now belong to God

Do:  Do a survey of different times of the week, month and year, and evaluate how our 
Christian way of thinking, acting, and believing shapes our behavior during each of 
those times.  Identify times and situations where worldly values shape our actions 
more than godly ones.  Formulate a plan to bring these in conformity with Christ.

Text:  Rom 12:1-2

Scripture Reading:  Lk 9:23-25

1.  What do you think of when the word "summertime" comes to mind?
	a.  Kids are out of school - summer vacation
	b.  Trips to the park, picnics, baseball, home building projects. etc.
	c.  My observation is that some things slow down during the summer
	d.  Does Christian faith slow down?  No of course not
2.  Text this morning talk about the nature of Christian faith (Rom 12:1-2)
	a.  Begins with "Therefore"  - What does that mean?
	b.  It is a conclusion to what has gone before
3.  Let's take a look at what has gone before:
	a.  First, it deals with sin and salvation
		- Jew and Gentile are sinners and under God's wrath
		- Justification is through faith, and Abraham is example of this
		- Salvation from God's wrath through the last Adam - Jesus
		- Salvation for power of sin through his death & our death
		- Law freed from captivity to sin, now we can serve God
		- We are being transformed into his image by the Spirit
		- Result - We more than conquerors
	b.  Application - To the Jews
		- God is faithful and has not discarded them
		- Their rejection of Christ part of God's plan, a& for their own good
		- God transformed definition of the people of God - It is In Christ
		- Invitation to be people of God still extends to the Jews - In Christ
		- God's Ultimate purpose - Mercy to ALL (10:32)
4.  Focus now switches from what God does to what we are to do
	a.  How do you respond to God in all that he does?
	b.  Look at how we to respond - - -

I.  Bring God an offering
	A.  Sacrifice vs. Offering
		1.  By far, the majority of references in the Bible says, "offering"
		2.  "Sacrifice" was limited to animal offerings
			a.  Has similar, but not quite same meaning in English
			b.  In Hebrew, meant "to slaughter" or "sacrifice"
		3.  In English, when you sacrifice something, what does that mean?
			a.  Not usually associated with joy, but pain
			b.  "If I have to sacrifice for you, I will"
		4.  But that is not how they viewed it at Sinai
			a.  People to bring a freewill offering for the tabernacle
			b.  This the one time Israel shines in the wilderness
			c.  The gave too much, and did it cheerfully
			d.  Our English word "sacrifice" not carry same overtones
	B.  What is the purpose of an offering?
		1.  One is to thank and honor God
			a.  Offerings to God is not limited to animals
			b.  It included First fruits, grains, bread, drink, etc.
			c.  Expresses joyful thanksgiving to God
		2.  2 Cor 9:7 - God Loves a Cheerful Giver! 
			a.  Doesn't say God loves when we begrudgingly "sacrifice"
			b.  Why does he love a cheerful giver?  Acknowledges God 
			      as the source
			c.  When we cheerfully respond by giving, that is worship
		3.  Worship is how Paul responds to God in Romans (11:33-36)
			a.  We honor God in our praise
			b.  (Heb 13:15) - Offer up a sacrifice of praise, fruit of our 
			     lips, that gives thanks to his name
			c.  But it goes BEYOND that...
		4.  (12:1) - We to offer selves up as living sacrifices
			a.  This is our reasonable/logical service of worship
			b.  So worship not limited to what do in auditorium
			c.  When offer our whole life, that is worship
				- Whether it is during the winter months
				- Whether it is during the summer
				- All of it belongs to God
	C.  ILL:  Many Christians literally sacrifices lives for Christ
		1.  In the Bible there were many
			a.  John the Baptist was murdered by Herod
				- Pragmatist would have told him to shut his mouth
				- But he boldly taught the truth
			b.  Acts 7 - Stephen was stoned for his faith
				- He knew the crowd was hostile
				- Yet, when presented with opportunity, he taught
		2.  Throughout history, many literally gave up their lives
			a.  Polycarp, elder of Smyrna, killed because he a Christian
				- Brought to the arena before the emperor
				- He was told to renounce his faith or be killed
				- Threatened him with the lions and with fire
				- He never renounced his faith, and was killed
			b.  William Tyndale, for printing Bibles in English
				- Believed everyone had the right to read scripture
				- He gave his life in doing so
			c.  There were kids like Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott
				- Targeted by gunmen because they were Christian, 
				- Media chose to omit that fact
				- Asked at gun point - Do you believe in God?
				- They were shot
		3.  Stories go on and on
		4.  Most of us will probably not be called on to do this, but...
	D.  Living Sacrifices include this and what we do day by day
		1.  Our challenges is no less a challenge
		2.  It is one thing to offer up our lives literally
		3.  Another thing to be on the altar daily
		4.  We wake up every morning, aware that we live on the altar
			a.  We offer God ourselves
			b.  Offer our hearts, minds, hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth

II.  Bring God an offering that is holy (12:1)
	A.  Why a holy offering?
		1.  God always instructs we give up what is holy
			a.  This means we bring what is set apart
			b.  It is something that is a cut above the rest
			c.  It is the best of the best
		2.  Why?  Because God himself is holy
			a.  We would not acknowledge his holiness by bringing 
			      something less than holy
			b.  Bringing God leftovers is not to treat him as holy
	B.  How are we as living sacrifices to offer ourselves as holy? (12:2a)
		1.  By not being conformed to this world
			a.  Phillips translation - "Not let world press you into its mold"
			b.  Like it or not - You are moldable
				- Question is not - Will I be molded?
				- Question is - Who or what will mold me
			c.  This is another way of saying, "be holy"
		2.  By being transformed
			a.  In Greek, the word is - Metamorpho 
			b.  Where our English word, "metamorphasis" comes from
			c.  What does it make you think of?
				- May think of caterpillar turning into a butterfly
				- Some may think of transformers
			d.  This is another way of saying "be holy"
		3.  By a metamorphosis of mind 
			a.  Text says this change is through "renewing your mind"
			b.  We change what is on the inside, from the inside out
			c.  We take every thought captive for Christ 2 Cor 10:5
			d.  We keep unspotted by the world Jas 1:27
		4.  Then can offer up selves as a holy sacrifice, unspotted by world
	C.  If we do not, then what are we like to God?
		1.  Jesus used "whitewashed tombs" as illustration Mt 23:26-27
			a.  You can whitewash, beautiful a tomb on outside
			b.  Still full of death on the inside
		2.  Like a coffee cup that sat on my supervisor's desk
			a.  Looked nice on the outside, had squadron seal
			b.  Inside, never washed, looked horrible
			c.  Would you want to drink out of something like that?
			d.  Neither does God
	D.  Jesus wants us to be changed from the inside out
		1.  Mt 23:26 - Jesus said clean inside of cup, and outside will be 
		     clean as well
		2.  Our hearts and minds are changed, which changes our actions
		3.  What does that mean?
			a.  Contrary to world, it is not all about me
				- It is first of all, all about God, creator and redeemer
				- Second, it is about my neighbor
				- Not about getting on top, but bottom - Least are the 
				  greatest and the greatest are the least
			b.  Contrary to world, when I am wronged, I do not get 
				- Seems cool in the movies, root for guy getting even
				- But that is not how God calls us to act
			c.  Contrary to world, accumulation is not what life is about
				- Whether accumulation of things, successes, 
				  popularity, etc.
				- Life is more than food, and the body is more than 
				- Life is Christ
			d.  Contrary to world, marriage is a life long bond created by 
				- Not just a social contract
				- Not just a casual going together for a few years
				- It is holy and created by God
		4.  Could go on and on, but this help understand what holiness is
			a.  Offer God selves as holy, we need to be changed
			b.  It is a change in mind and heart...

III.  A living sacrifice by nature is daily and perpetual (v.2b)
	A.  Not a one time act, but a daily renewal
		1.  Needs to be a daily renewal
	B.  ILL:  There are some things in life you lose if not renewed
		1.  Insurance, lease, business contracts, etc.
		2.  When get a renewal notice, need to renew
		3.  If you don't renew, it will lapse, and you will lose it
		4.  Have to renew when it is time to renew
	C.  Same with renewing of your mind
		1.  This passage is your renewal notice
		2.  It has to be a daily renewal, if not can lose your Christian mind
		3.  If lose your Christian mind, forget how to discern will of God
		4.  This why Jesus said take up cross "daily" and follow me Lk 9:23
			a.  Can't be a living sacrifice without daily renewal
	D.  Lets look at how to renew your mind regularly
		1.  Pray, read your Bible, reflection time, meditate 
		2.  Fellowship regularly with other Christians
			a.  Good if you can read, reflect, and pray together
			b.  Iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another
		3.  Participate in opportunities to grow
			a.  Bible Classes
			b.  Life Groups
		4.  Other things you can do
			a.  Read good books
			b.  Talk to other Christians
			c.  Take classes
			d.  List goes on...

1.  You are God's offering for all seasons
2.  This is not limited to a calendar season, but applies to all seasons of life
	a.  Whether kids, teens, parents, retired, 
	b.  At any season of life, we are God's offering 
3.  Have you offered yourself to God yet (inv)
4.  If you have, then you need to renew daily