What God Wants!

What God Wants!

Romans 12: 1

I have come today with a word that is disturbing.
This word comes from the pen of a preacher in Corinth.

This disturbing word was placed in a letter that was addressed to "All that be at Rome."
It also is a word that is addressed to you and me.

This word may cause you to be ill at ease with the practice of religion as we know it today.
This word may cause some questions about the focus of our faith and the character of our commitment.
This word may make us squirm on the padded pews of our comfortable Christianity.
This word may stop us in our practice of pseudo piety and self-indulgent spirituality.

You may also be disturbed to discover that whatever you have been doing
as a part of your Christian service may not be enough.
If you are tired and stressed out because the ministries of the church take so much of your time
and consume so much of your energy -- whatever it is, that has you tired and stressed out
-- it is still not enough.

There is something else that God wants!

Not many want to hear this word, but no matter how much you have given of time, talent and treasure --
it is not enough.
Whether you have been involved in church work or the work of the church --
it is not enough.

There is something else that God wants!

I must also tell you that it doesn't matter how long you've been part of the church.
You may be able to count the years of your membership by decades and by scores of years,
but your count won't count.
If you been coming to the church year after year, week after week, and Sunday after Sunday
-- it is not enough.

It is not enough!
There is something else that God wants!

I must also tell you that, even if you hold positions of leadership in the church
-- even if you have positions of high visibility in the church
-- even if you have such high leadership skills that even you believe that the church cannot function without you
-- it is not enough.

There is something else that God wants!

Remember I told you at the very beginning that the word
I have to give you today may be disturbing.
I must also tell you that even though you are a tither, and bring your tithes and offerings to the storehouse
-- it's not enough.
If you give that 10 percent, and you are waiting for the windows of heaven to open up --
it's not enough.
I must also tell you that no matter how much you give -- it's not enough.

We come here to worship.
We sing our songs.
The music thrills our hearts.
The gospel stirs our souls -- but it's not enough.

We say, "Amen."
We hear the sermons, and our hearts are moved, but when it's all over -- it's not enough.

The problem is that our worship is usually designed for us to get what we want.
But worship is not authentic worship until God gets what He wants.
Whatever we're doing in our worship and in our programs, somewhere in all of this
-- God ought to get what He wants.

I do not know how it has occurred, but somewhere in the process of worship and ministry,
we developed the idea that when we come to worship we ought to get what we want.

Have you ever thought that God gives us what we want everyday.
With every breath we take, we get what we want.
With every step we take, we get what we want.
When the Lord put a roof over our heads, we get what we want.
When the Lord puts food on our tables, we get what we want.
When the Lord puts clothes on our backs, we get what we want.
When the Lord gives us that job or that business, and puts money in our bank account,
we get what we want.

Even when you might think you are deprived, and when you think you are handicapped
by some personal or physical or financial deficiency,
it is still true that when you're able to open your eyes in the morning
-- you have already gotten what you want.

The question is -- with all your coming and going in the church and around the church,
and for all of your sitting in worship services, I'd like to know
-- when does God get what He wants?

I've heard people say, "I went to church today, and I didn't get anything out of it."
Have you ever considered that what goes on in church is not first of all for you?

Worship is not a time to get, it is a time to give.
Worship is not something that comes for you; it comes from you.

Whenever we gather in this place of worship, it is time for God to get something.

God should get the glory.
God should get the praise.
God should get the gratitude.
God should get the honor.
God is worshiped because God is worthy!

Instead of serving ourselves, we ought to concentrate on serving Him.
Instead of singing what we want to hear, we ought to sing what He wants to hear.

I am totally convinced that no matter what we have been doing,
as a part of our Christian witness, it is not enough because there is something else that God wants.

If by any chance this word of insufficiency and inadequacy of our contemporary religious worship
has in any way been disturbing, then you can imagine the effect which Paul's words
had on those who were members of that first century church at Rome to which he wrote.

Consider their work and their witness.
These were Christians who framed a faith which the Greeks called, foolishness
and the Jews called, a stumbling block.

It is to them, that Paul's says, "It's not enough."
These were Christians who joined the church when there were no churches.
These were Christians who were converted by uneducated evangelist.
These were Christians who were led to Christ by the preaching of one who testified
that he was the last to see Jesus.
It is to these that Paul's says, "It's not enough."

It is not enough!
There is something else that God wants!
What does God want now? From you? From me?

If all that we mention is to no avail, what does God want now?
If all these things are not enough, what does God want now?

It would be a tragedy to go through all of this worship and spend all of this time and give all this money,
and still not give back to God what He wants.

What a tragedy to discover after all the years of coming to church,
singing in the choir, serving on committees, meeting after meeting, and to discover
that you still have not given God what He wants.

The question is serious and tremendously important -- what does God want now?

Paul says it so clearly that it is impossible to mistake what God wants now.
Turn in your Bibles to Romans 12:1 -- this is what God wants:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God
."

Did you hear what God wants?
God wants Christians who are more interested in expressing than they are in impressing.

Far too much of what we pass off for religion is designed to impress others
about something of ourselves.
It is not designed to express something about God, and how He is working in our lives.

When you give so that others know what you are giving to God
-- that's designed to impress.
When you carry a Bible that you never read, just so people can see you carry your Bible
-- that's designed to impress.
When you do anything just to be seen by others -- that's designed to impress.
When you do anything for God just to be praised by others -- that's designed to impress.

But when you present your body to God as a living sacrifice, you're not trying to impress.

What how can we even imagine that we could impress God?
How can you impress God?

You were conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity.
How will you impress God?

You were not there when God laid the foundation for the world.
You were not there when He called things that were not, and made them into things that are.
How will you impress God?

Even your righteousness is only filthy rags in God's sight.

Paul says, "Present your bodies."
That's an expression of commitment.
That's an expression of authentic faith.

"Present your bodies."
Nobody can make you do it; you must willingly do it.
"Present your bodies."

You must do this, not because you want the world to see you, but because you want to see Him.
That's what God wants!

God does not need you to impress.
He wants you to express.

Look again at what Paul really says about what God wants:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice
."

Did you hear what God wants?
God wants a living sacrifice.

You must understand that the Judaic sacrificial system was based on the concept
that God could not be pleased without sacrifice.
They brought the doves, they brought the lambs, they brought the goats,
but just as soon as they got there, death took the sacrifice.
What the Jews had was not a sacrifice that celebrated life,
but a sacrifice that resulted in death.

God does not want a dead sacrifice.
He wants a living sacrifice.

There are a lot of people who attend our churches, but they are dead.
A lot of people have their names on the roll of churches, but they are dead.
They have no zeal, no life, no enthusiasm, no fire in their soul for the Lord -- they are dead.

But God wants a living sacrifice.
A living sacrifice says, "Use my hands and use my feet."
A living sacrifice says, "Here am I, Lord, send me."
A living sacrifice says, "I'll go where You want me to go!"

Some of you can remember when there wasn't much food in the house,
but mother knew how to scrimp and save and make do with leftovers.
Somehow, she continued to prepare meals fit for a king.
Love knows how to be a living sacrifice.

There are some here who had parents who could never afford to go to school.
They never walked across a stage and received diplomas or degrees,
but they worked from sunup to sundown so their children could have the things they never had.
That's a living sacrifice.
That was my mother who started working when she was 14 in a laundry for $14.00 a week.
That's a living sacrifice!

There only two kinds of sacrifice.

There is the sacrifice of reconciliation.
Long ago God needed a sacrifice that would atone for man's sin.
God needed a sacrifice that would reconcile a gracious God with a sin-filled world.
God needed a sacrifice that would reconcile the creature with the Creator.
God needed a sacrifice that would make sinful man just before His God.

But man cannot give God the sacrifice of reconciliation.

Cain brought his sacrifice to the altar, but God told Cain, "That will not do."
Abraham took Isaac to the altar and laid him on it as a sacrifice.
But God said to Abraham, "Isaac will not do."

There was only One who would do, and that was Jesus,
God sent Jesus.
He would not take Abraham son.
He had to send His own Son.

God sent Jesus to wash away your sins and my sins by the shedding of His blood.
God sent Jesus to atone at one time for you and for me.
God sent Jesus.
"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself."
God sent Jesus.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."

You cannot save yourself; that's why God sent Jesus.
You cannot find the way to Heaven by yourself; that's why God sent Jesus.

Man cannot give God the sacrifice of reconciliation.
But listen to what Paul says:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service
."

Man cannot give God a sacrifice of reconciliation, but once you have been reconciled,
once your sins have been forgiven and your transgressions washed away,
you can give the sacrifice of celebration and praise.

God wants a life that is willing to praise Him for whatever life brings
-- sorrows or joys, defeats or victories.

We must use every opportunity to give to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.

So, praise Him with your mind, your heart, and your soul -- that's enough!
Praise Him with the best resources of your spiritual being -- that's enough!

Praise Him with the unselfish giving of your whole self -- that's what God wants now!
That is an authentic, living sacrifice.
That is praise in its highest and most glorious dimension -- and that's enough!

"All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and serve Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all!"

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White