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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Romans 12:1

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: We began a 40 day New Testament reading plan on April 3. If you want to participate and have not been following the reading schedule up to this point we suggest starting with today's reading and reading previous portions after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day schedule. More information concerning the Scripture reading plan is below the daily message.

The links below will open to the selection to be read along with a built-in listening device. 
  • Today's reading (April 27): Romans 11- 1 Corinthians 1 beginning here.
  • Tomorrow's reading (April 28): 1 Corinthians 2-9 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Make Me An Offering"

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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" (Romans 12:1,2).

Here in the USA we have a week for about everything imaginable. Someone has actually designated a "National Clear The Clutter Week" and I suppose it's an impetus to clean up and in some cases discard all the stuff we have accumulated. If there's one business I wish I had invested in it would be the self storage business. The number of these small garage-like complexes has grown immensely during my adult years.

I have to admit my family deals with clutter although when I examine it individually I have a hard time calling it that. After all, when I examine an item I might be able to use it sometime or someone else can. I suppose this resourcefulness is actually a blessing passed down through my depression era parents but it can also be a hindrance! Clutter is actually a byproduct of prosperity but it also illustrates the destructive grip that stuff can have on a person.  I keep intending to clear out our storage areas and perhaps this will be the encouragement I need! (Brooksyne's edit:  Actually he did clean out a storage room but as I went out today I saw that it is already filled again, two weeks later. I'm putting him "out there" but I am guilty as well.)

Old hands on BibleOver time as we walk with God, He is in the process of transforming us. We might consider it also in the sense of clearing out the clutter and rearranging our priorities. But the Scriptures call us to personal responsibility in the God-ordained process of transformation. 

In our transformation process we battle sin, the flesh and the devil. God's intention is so very clear in the first verse: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

We have a responsibility in not conforming any longer to the pattern of this world and in  renewing of our minds. This transformation is not for a short season, but a lifelong commission. We are being transformed and it seems that this phase will not be complete until the next stage of our existence, when we go to heaven.

God no longer asks us to offer blood sacrifices; instead He calls us to offer up our bodies to Him as a "living sacrifice".  The major, ongoing challenge of being a living sacrifice is that we tend jump or slide off the altar quite frequently.   This means we must continue to surrender our body, mind and spirit to Him, which is holy and pleasing to God and is our spiritual act of worship.

In the previous chapters of Romans the apostle Paul had developed the truth of "God's mercy."  The response to this wonderful mercy is for all who believe to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices."  An aspect of this sacrifice is that we sacrifice something of lesser value now for something of much greater future value.  (Of course, it may seem a large sacrifice at the present, but the perspective from heaven's view will reveal that our sacrifice wasn't so huge after all).

The daily Scripture verse happens to be one of the very first that gripped my heart during my earliest discipling days in the early seventies.  In fact I still recall sitting at a restaurant on Noland Road in Independence Missouri with an older Christian named Dave and receiving the challenge of this verse using the outline of a head on a napkin. Dave described how we had been conformed to the world with a variety of clutter that fills our minds with the pattern of this world.

Conformed to this world

He stressed how we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and he shared various means through which our mind is renewed.

Transformed by the renewing of the mind

We need to clear the spiritual clutter with the ongoing renewing of our minds and determine this day that we will live our life in faith and obedience to God, offering our bodies as living sacrifices!

An old song of commitment comes to mind as I complete this encouragement. We sang it often in my early days of ministry but it still rings true and is my heart's expression today.

Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary,
Pure and holy tried and true,
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for you.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:  Father God, I am in awe of Your invitation that bids me come and offer my all.  My all seems so insignificant in comparison to Your vastness, Your Holiness, Your omnipotent power.  Though I am completely unworthy to be called Your child, You embrace me wholly with Your infinite compassion and absolute acceptance.   Though I've given You my heart it will be a lifetime struggle to surrender to You my all.  It is not in my own strength or capability but in Your merciful embrace that little by little I loosen my grip on the temporary to take hold of the eternal treasures that result from my intimate relationship with You, God Almighty.  Amen.

Brooksyne's note: I often refer to Colossians 2:8 when I am torn by the so-called wisdom handed down to us today by the media, popular culture, academic elites and "experts" when it does not align with God's Word.  When I hold to God's teaching it immediately dispels the conflict (or clutter) that would otherwise captivate and confuse my mind: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Stephen's note: I have completely lost contact with Dave, who shared the napkin illustration with me and can't even recall his last name. I hope he is still serving the Lord and it would be nice to talk to him and share how his "Renewing The Mind" teaching blessed me, nearly 40 years later!

Bowmansdale, PA
Last night we had a meeting near Bowmansdale, PA and passed this stone building which always catches our eye.

Pet walk 4/27/11
This morning we took a long walk across the freshly mowed rye field across from our home and let our pets wear themselves out in the large open field.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Lord Prepare Me To Be A Sanctuary"   Video  Randy Rothwell

"This Is My Offering"  Video  Third Day

"Make My Life A Prayer To You"  Video  Keith Green

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video  Christ For The Nations

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan

"You've Got The Time" Bible reading planOn Sunday April 3 we began a forty day program of reading through the New Testament and we encourage Daily Encouragement Net readers to consider joining in as we read/listen through the entire New Testament in 40 days. (At this point we suggest starting at the reading for the current day and then reading the portions you hadn't read when the 40 day period is over.)

These readings take about 30 minutes per day. Prior to each message we will provide a direct link to the Scripture portion to be read and listened to each day and for the next day. (and several links for the weekend daily readings).

The daily encouragement message for each weekday during the forty day period will be based on a portion of the text in the Bible reading for that day (or, on Mondays this may also be from a Scripture portion read over the weekend.)

Here is a page where you can download the entire Bible to your computer in a variety of versions.

Here's an overview of the plan I have prepared with practical tips (pdf)

Here's a schedule for the entire 40 day reading period along with discussion questions. This is especially suitable to bookmark during this period as it contains links that will open directly to the passage to be read for the day.

"Proclaimer" Bible listening deviceThe reading links open to Bible.is, an online Bible with audio player and additional apps that you may find useful. For those who may prefer the KJV it is available. For international readers there may even be a version available in your native language. Just click the small tab directly below the Bible.is logo on the top left to see available versions. 

This Bible reading plan is a partnership of Daily Encouragement Net and Faith Comes By Hearing, a ministry which provides Bible listening resources all over the world. We will share more about this ministry in future messages.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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