As we have been learning, the book of Romans is about the gospel of Jesus. As Jesus taught the gospel in the Old Testament to be perfect, stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life, so in the New Testament. Jesus taught and lived from the Old Testament since there was no New Testament until 300 years after Jesus when the Catholic Church compiled it. Paul and all the New Testament writers continued the gospel theme of the Old Testament by living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. Let us continue listening to Paul as he instructs us how to turn our bodies into living sacrifices for Jesus. He is giving us practical instruction on how to live the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. As I went for my prayer walk this morning, I asked God to put within me a greater love and desire for His perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. I want to experience even more of the joy God offers those who live in obedience to Him. Romans 12:1 to Romans 12:21 I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship. Wow! That just threw out all of our churches, denominations, religions, services, rituals and ceremonies. The only worship God considers “reasonable” and pleasing is to make our “bodies as living sacrifices”. How? By living “Holy”. How do we live “Holy”? By living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. Okay, God has shown us what “God’s will is”! He wrote out His will for us on two tablets of stone so all the world would never forget. Therefore, to be continually “transformed” we must be continually “renewing” our minds by putting in to them the will of God. That is “what is proper, pleasing, and perfect”. There is no longer any doubt as to what “God’s will is”. From Genesis to Revelation God’s will has been made very plain. He doesn’t change His mind. His character doesn’t shift like clouds in the sky. He is the Rock of stability we can stand on and know “what is proper, pleasing, and perfect”. All you have to do is accept it into your life. For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you. Ah, that is the real problem. Pride! The world today, including those who call themselves Christians, are thinking of themselves more highly than they should. In fact, a true Christian never thinks of himself. Why? Because true Christians are to be Christ-like, who never thought of Himself. God has assigned you a “measure of faith”. Like a teacher who is giving out assignments to his students. However, if the students refuse to do the assignments, it won’t do them any good. Are you doing your assignments from God? For we have many parts in one body, but these parts do not all have the same function. If your car was all one part it wouldn’t get you very far. Nothing in this world is of one part. Everything is made up of many parts in order to function properly. However, for that “thing” to function properly, all the parts within it must be working as an orderly and perfect unit. Each part must be in unity with the manufacture’s designed function for the “thing” to operate perfectly. We as Christians may be many parts to one body, but we must all be working in perfect order and in unity with the Manufacture’s designed function for our part, and the body, to function properly. No matter what your designed function, every part must be in perfect unity with the Ten Commandments. As each part functions in perfect unity with the Ten Commandments, each part will then function as a unit in perfect harmony within God’s plan for the body of Christ. In the same way, even though we are many people, we are one body in the Messiah and individual parts connected to each other. The connection is the Ten Commandments. The character of Jesus is to be ours. By being grafted into Jesus, sucking on His character of perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments, we become like Jesus in character. Then we, as individual parts, will be “connected to each other” through that same character: perfection. We have different gifts based on the grace that was given to us. So if your gift is prophecy, use your gift in proportion to your faith. Your perfection may express itself through the different gifts God has given you, but you will still be perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping. No matter what your gift from God, it will be dedicated to the work of God and not to this world. If your gift is serving, devote yourself to serving others. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching others. For most who claim they are serving or teaching, etc., it is only a front to self-serving. They are not using their gifts for God. It is all selfishness. That word, “devote”, is interesting. Are you devoted to serving or teaching others for God? Or are you using God as the excuse to make money, work your way up the ladder of worldly success and building worldly influences? If it is encouraging, devote yourself to encouraging others. If it is sharing, share generously. If it is leading, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping, help cheerfully. For most, if we encourage, we don’t do it devotedly. We don’t want others to be more encouraged than we are. If we share, we don’t want to share generously in case they get more than we have. If we lead, we don’t want to lead enthusiastically just in case they become greater than ourselves. And helping others? Seldom is it done cheerfully. Unless we get something out of it, we grudgingly help others. Your love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Oops! Most of what we call “love” is true hypocrisy. Worldly “love” is about putting on a show in order to get what we want. Few are abhorring evil. Few “cling” to what is good. The world and churches of today have gone mad. Sin and evil have become so accepted, we don’t see sin as evil. Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other. It is hard enough for family members to be “devoted to each other”, let alone to the “family of God”. We have become so devoted to ourselves and our churches, we only see others as a means of getting what we want. Jesus was so devoted to us that He sacrificed His home and his life. How devoted are you? Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit. Serve the Lord. How do we serve the Lord? By being on fire with the Spirit in showing devotion to one another. Not much of that going on. Everyone is taking advantage of everyone else for their own glory and good. Church is full of it. Be joyful in hope, patient in trouble, and persistent in prayer. I think we need a lot more work in our Christian walk. Are you serving the Lord? Are you joyful in your hope of Heaven? Are you patient in trouble when the world comes against you? Or do you avoid living the Christian life by staying away from trouble? Persistent in prayer? Not many are persistent in prayer. We may say a quickie every now and then. But to be persistent, laying our need to stop sinning and to live perfectly before Jesus, I don’t think so. When was the last time you asked God to take a specific sin out of your life? Supply the needs of the saints. Extend hospitality to strangers. I want to thank every one of our donors who has been faithful in supplying the needs of this ministry. So many of you have extended your hospitality to this stranger. Thank you! Without asking anything in return or exchange, you have sacrificed mightily by helping this little ministry fulfill its part in God’s plan. Bless those who persecute you. Keep on blessing them, and never curse them. That’s a hard one. Over the years I have been learning the truth of that text. To bless and love at all times, what a difference it makes in the life. Blessing others will always bring blessings back. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Cry with those who are crying. As simple as that may sound, have you ever found it difficult to “rejoice with those who are rejoicing”? I have. I think it is the old nature that doesn’t want others to get more rejoicing than I get. I’m truly trying very hard to look closely at my “rejoicing” to make sure the motive is true and honest. It is hard for me to “cry with those who are crying”. My life has been so full of sorrow, I sometimes wonder if there is any room left to include the sorrow of others close up. And yet, at a distance, I do weep for those who are weeping, crying and in pain. Maybe it is because their pain hurts me so much that it is hard for me to express it when I am around them. Live in harmony with each other. Do not be arrogant, but associate with humble people. Do not think that you are wiser than you really are. Living in harmony with others is really hard to do. I suppose that is why Paul tells us not to associate with bad company. To live in harmony, everyone in the group must have the same goals, the same outlook and the same desires. I suppose that is why light and darkness cannot dwell together. Maybe that is why we are only to “associate with humble people”. Even prideful people cannot dwell in harmony with each other. When we realize that God is wiser than us, then learning to listen and care as Jesus did will become easy. Do not pay anyone back evil for evil, but focus your thoughts on what is right in the sight of all people. That is not the same as rebuking, correcting and warning. Payback is revenge. We leave revenge to God. We love! But love, true love, is about warning, rebuking and correcting because we don’t want to see anyone burned up. We are to encourage each other in righteousness. We are to encourage each other in living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life. That is what Jesus did. We are to follow His example. And let me make this very plain, rebuking, correcting and warning does not have to be with a mad or angry attitude. It can actually be with a smile on the face and joy in the heart. After all, the object of rebuking, correcting and warning is to bring joy and happiness to the life. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people. That is not a blanket acceptance of sin. We live in peace with all people as far as it depends on us. Yet, we are never to live in peace with sin. We are never to accept sin. We are at war with sin. We love people so much, as Jesus did, that we are to warn them, correct them and rebuke them when they are in sin. Then, we encourage them in living as Jesus commands. Rejoice always! Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.” God has His “payback” ready to go. However, He loves the sinner so much He is patiently giving the sinner time to repent and return to righteousness. Soon, however, that patience, His grace, will come to an end. We love and do all we can to work with the plan of God in bringing the sinner back to God. We are to be loving undershepherds. I have found that concept to be so true. Those who have hurt me, caused me trouble and hated me and this ministry, later I have learned of “God’s wrath” that was put upon them. Do I rejoice? No. I am sad they did not listen and turn from their wicked ways. But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him. For if he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will pile burning coals on his head.” Doing good to the sinner is not accepting his sin. Jesus pours out good to sinners and the righteous all day long. Every drop of water that falls from the sky. Every ray of sunshine that hits the earth. Every breath we take is from God. That is not an acceptance of sin, but a revelation of the character of God. We are to reveal the same character in our lives. It was through acknowledgement of God’s great love to me, a sinner, who did not deserve His grace, which brought me to repentance and obedience. Let us pile up truckloads of “burning coals” of goodness onto the heads of our enemy. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. I am finding that statement to be so very true. Many claim they cannot stop sinning because they have tried. The problem is, they are focusing on the sin. When we stop focusing on the sin and turn our focus to our duties and responsibilities as Christians, living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life, we will find there is no time for sin. That is how we “conquer evil with good”. It is all about focus. Where is your focus?