3. THE MINISTRY OF PRESENCE
Vs. 1b “Present (offer) your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”
Your body is a VEHICLE to get you places
Before man created cars – God gave you feet. – your feet are pointed FORWARD!
I have learned one thing. As Woody says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’
The world is run by those who show up.Your body is a VESSEL.
2 Timothy 2:22 – he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Your body is a TEMPLE.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
4. A REASONABLE THING
Vs. 1c “which is your reasonable service of worship.”
* Everybody worships someone or something. (from Mark Batterson evotional)
In Exodus 32, Moses is on top of Mount Sinai for forty days. And when the cat’s away the mice will play! Exodus 32:1 says, “When Moses failed to come down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. ‘Make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared’.”
Aristotle said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” That isn’t just a law of physics. It’s a spiritual law.
I think it’s easy to miss the most obvious lesson in this story. Here it is: the Israelites couldn’t go forty days without worshipping.
Moses was gone for a few days and it created a spiritual vacuum. The Israelites had to find something to fill the spiritual vacuum that was created. Why? Because we can’t not worship! If we aren’t worshipping God with a capital “G” we’ll find a god with a lower case “g” to fill that vacuum.
So Aaron told them to bring him their gold earrings. These aren’t any old earrings. These gold earrings were a gift from God. Let me hit the rewind button and go back to Exodus 12:36. The Israelites asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. And it says, “God caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So, like a victorious army, they plundered the Egyptians.”
Here’s what I’m trying to get at: the Israelites turned a gift from God into an idol. The Israelites literally used a gift from God capital “G” to make a god little “g.”
If we aren’t careful, God-given gifts can become idols. In fact, the greatest blessings pose the greatest danger.
So Aaron melted the gold earrings. Then he “molded and tooled” it into the shape of a calf. And the people said in Exodus 32:4: “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt.”
In the margin of my Bible I wrote the words “silly slap” next to this verse because that’s exactly what I want to do.
The Israelites saw God perform the ten miraculous plagues. They had box seats for the parting of the Red Sea. They ate the manna God miraculously provided in the wilderness. They saw God perform all of these miraculous signs.
Then they give a golden calf credit for getting them out of Egypt: “These are the gods who brought us out of Egypt.”
Are you kidding me? …..Come on, people!
Do you know where you’d get if a calf was leading you. Nowhere! All they do is chew cud.
And that’s what cracks me up. Of all the idols they could have made, they choose a calf. I don’t even get it. Maybe it’s just me, but you could certainly come up with a more impressive idol couldn’t you? If you’re going to get into idolatry, at least make it a Raging Bull with three horns that shoot lasers or a two-headed calf that breathes fire. Is that the best you can do? The Israelites aren’t even good at picking idols!
– Let me give you a definition of worship. – Worship is giving credit where credit is due.
Sin is the exact opposite. Sin is giving credit to anyone besides God for anything.
Imagine someone facing the eastern horizon and motioning in a dramatic gesture intended to make the sun rise. And the sun comes up. And they think their dramatic gesturing did it. Each of us is that person. Every ounce of energy, every penny, every second of time, every thought, every talent, every opportunity, every blessing is a gift from God.
Whenever I start getting heady, Job 34:14 keeps me humble! “If God were to take back His Spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease and humanity would return to dust.”
Here’s my translation: without God we’re not even “Diddley Squat.”
Now let me jump back into Exodus 32.
God has rescued the Israelites. He has shown them miracle after miracle after miracle. He has given them gift after gift after gift. And what do the Israelites do? They take the gift God had given them and use it make idols. They give credit to some golden calf.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we forget what God has done for us?
Let me demystify worship. Worship is saying “Thank You.”
Maybe I’m simple-minded. But I think “Please” and “Sorry” and “Thank You” aren’t just good manners. They are the key to spiritual maturity. Never stop saying “Sorry.” Never stop saying “Please.” And never stop saying “Thank You.”
Isn’t that what I Thessalonians 5:18 says? “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ.”
I think there’s part of us that reads a story like Exodus 32 and we chuckle. Those silly ancient people! How could they worship a golden calf? They were so ancient and so silly. But we worship little green pieces of paper with numbers on them. Is that really any different? I think our idolatry is much more refined and civilized. But if we’re worshiping anything other than God Almighty then we’re bowing down to a golden calf.
So the Aaron makes a golden calf and the people get all excited. They build an altar in front of it. They even throw a dance party.
“EVERYBODY DANCE NOW.”
Moses comes down the mountain with Joshua and they hear this ruckus. Joshua said, “It sounds as if there is war in the camp.” Moses said, “No, it’s neither a cry of victory nor a cry of defeat. It is the sound of a celebration.“
Have you ever seen someone get super excited about something you thought was super silly? And you’re sort of embarrassed for them. Like something who thinks they can dance, but they can’t really dance.
Permission to speak frankly? I’m embarrassed for them! You would think that this golden calf was producing Cold Stone Creamery shakes through its golden udders or something. But all it is is an inanimate object. That’s it.
Here is my observation.
They were getting excited about the wrong thing. There is nothing wrong with getting excited. The word enthusiasm comes from two Greek words: En Theos. It means “in God.” In other words, the more we get into God the more enthusiastic we become. Christ followers ought to be the most enthusiastic people on the planet.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Boredom is the root of all evil.” I find that fascinating. Let me share a personal conviction: I don’t think our biggest problem is not feeling bad enough about what’s wrong with us. I think our biggest problem is not feeling good enough about what’s right with God.
I think our greatest sin is under-celebrating. Heaven is going to be a cosmic celebration.
Let me reveal one of Satan’s tactics. The enemy tries to get us to focus on what’s wrong with us so that we won’t worship what’s right with God. I’m going to say it over and over again in this series: don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right about God.
Here’s the bottom line: the Israelites celebrating the wrong thing.
We were hardwired to worship something so much bigger and so much better than our manufactured idols.
5. BE A NON-CONFORMIST
Do not conform to the pattern of this world
God made you an ORIGINAL….please don’t die a COPY.
Be a thermostat!
Don’t be a thermometer, be a thermostat. Thermometers just reflect the climate around them – thermostats set it. Actually, they lift it! Most of us are like thermometers reflecting the culture around us. We buy things others buy, say things others say, wear things others wear, and value things others value. Oh, there are slight variations, but most of the time we don’t set the climate for the world we live in; we simply adjust to it. But not overcomers! No, they take life to the next level. They become thermostats and change the environment in which they’re placed. For instance, you may know people who raise the spiritual temperature of a group, or determine the attitudes of others just by being present. They’re pacesetters. They influence, rather than merely allowing others to influence them. Paul’s challenge to the Romans was to move from being a thermometer to being a thermostat. Listen: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Ro 12:2 TM). God calls us to be authentic. The word authentic comes from the Greek word “to author.” It means to read God’s script for your life and then write your own story, not copy somebody else’s. That’s living. That’s being a thermostat, not a thermometer! – (Bob Gass)Romans 12:1,2
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 (reasonable service of) 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. (NIV)