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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - What To Do When You Feel The Squeeze - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - What To Do When You Feel The Squeeze - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - What To Do When You Feel The Squeeze - Part 1
TOPICS: Grace-Powered Living, Worn-Out

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Sometimes Christians are shocked when they read Old Testament stories about sacrificing animals in the temple. It sounds barbaric. Well, even though sacrificing animals is a thing of the past, I have some news for you. Did you know that God wants us to present our bodies as a living and a holy sacrifice? My message is titled "What To Do When You Feel The Squeeze" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Victoria Osteen, the wife of megachurch pastor, Joel Osteen, has been facing some withering criticism recently for some comments she made in her church that went viral, in which she was talking about the value of church attendance, obedience, and the subject we're talking about today worship. Ms. Osteen said, quote, "So I want you to know this morning just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship him, you're not doing it for God really, you're doing it for yourself because that's what makes God happy. Amen". And of course, the clip ended as the congregants cheered wildly.

Now, to be fair to Ms. Osteen, there is a kernel of truth in what she's saying. And the truth is, when we obey God, there are benefits that accrue to us. But when you take her statements in their totality, they reveal a basic misunderstanding many Christians have about the value of their faith. Many Christians value their faith, the measurement they use about the value of their faith is, what am I getting out of it? I hear that all the time. People say, "Well, I'm not getting that much out of my Bible reading any longer. I'm not getting that much out of my prayer life. I'm not getting that much out of the worship services. I'm not getting that much out of the preacher's messages". It's all in terms of get, get, get.

May I suggest just to you that our focus is all wrong. Maybe today you're one of those people who would say, "I know I've been promised that my faith is supposed to give me joy and peace of mind and contentment and freedom from worry. I sing about it every Sunday, but I'm singing a lie. What I'm singing is true is not really true in my life. I'm not getting much out of my relationship with God". If that's true for you this morning, again, let me say that perhaps your focus is wrong. You see the key to contentment and joy and victory in our Christian life is not what we get from God, it's what we give to God. And that's one of the paradoxes of the Christian life. We receive by giving, we acquire by surrendering, we live by dying.

And that's the theme of the message we're going to look at today in Romans chapter 12. The theme of the book of Romans is the righteousness of God. How to have a right standing, a right relationship with God. And Paul says, and here's the summary statement, "True righteousness, a right standing with God is available to all those who trust in Christ for their salvation". You'll remember in chapters 1 to 3, Paul talks about the problem of righteousness, and the problem is we don't have any of it. Romans 3 says, "We've all sinned and we've all fallen short of the glory of God". And then in chapters 4 and 5, Paul secondly talks about the provision for righteousness. Even though you and I don't have any righteousness on our own, God has plenty of it and he offers his righteousness to us when we trust in Christ. And then Romans 6 to 8 is about the power of righteousness.

What does being in a right relationship with God mean to us? You don't have to wait until you die to experience the benefits of his righteousness. Right now if you're a Christian, you can experience victory in your life over sin. That's the power of righteousness, Romans 6 through 8. And then in chapters 9 to 11, "But whose deep theological waters we spent several months in". Paul talks about God's program for righteousness. He offers a right standing with God to the Jews first and then he offered it to the Gentiles. And now we come to chapter 12, which is the final section in which Paul talks about the practice of righteousness, and this is the practical part of Paul's letter. It always points back to what Paul has talked about. Paul is talking about therefore in like of everything God has done for you and providing you his righteousness, what are you to do? What am I to do?

Well, that's where Paul gets real practical. And in verses 1 to 2, Paul is going to talk about how righteousness ought to impact our relationship with God. And then in verse 3 of Romans 12, all the way to the end of the book, he talks about how righteousness ought to impact our relationship with other people. Today we're going to look at our relationship with God in verses 1 to 2, some very familiar words from the Bible. I'm sure many of you have memorized these verses but perhaps have never really understood what Paul is saying. Look at Romans 12, verse 1. "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and a holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship".

The command here is the command for our sanctification. Paul says, therefore, in light of everything God has done for you, you are to sanctify yourselves. That's what he's talking about. He doesn't use the word, but it's what he's talking about sanctification. The sanctification is one of those $5 words in theology that we talk about, but nobody really understands what it means. So let me help you understand what sanctification is and what Paul is getting at here. To sanctify means to set apart for special use. The moment you become a Christian, God has set you apart for his use. And what Paul is saying, even though God has already done that for us, he has set us apart. When he saved us, we have to set apart ourselves for God's use. A good synonym for the word sanctify is the word reserve. Write that down.

Paul is saying we need to reserve ourselves for God's use. God has reserved us, he has set us apart for his own use, we need to realize that and act accordingly. One of my family's pet peeves about me, they have many of them, but this may be at the top of their list, is the fact that anytime we go to the movies, I insist that we get to the theater at least 45 minutes ahead of time. I wanna be sure we got the popcorn and the Cokes and everything just right and that we have the best selection of seats possible. I don't wanna sit on the front row, I want a good selection so we get there 40, they absolutely hate that. When they were little, my girls, they actually believed what I told them. You know, I would tell them what time the movie started and I'd give them an hour ahead of time so they'd be ready.

Now, they check on their iPhones what the real-time is, but I insist that we get there 45 minutes ahead of time, which for them it has been a great invention. When movie theaters start allowing you to reserve your tickets, you know, you can do that now. You can go online, you can buy your tickets, select where they are. And that means you don't have to get there 45 minutes early, you can get there five minutes ahead of time. The theater may be full, but when you walk in, your seats are empty. Why? Because they have been reserved for you. You can get there five minutes later and all the theaters empty. People are looking for seats and can't find where, but yours are empty because they've been reserved for you. It's been great. Of course, I still insist we get there 45 minutes early, but it's good to know that in case we're late, you know, they're there waiting for us.

Well, that's the word Paul is using here. It's the idea of setting apart for special use. It's like the moment you become a Christian, you take a post-it note that says reserved on it and you stick it on your forehead. From this point on, I am reserved. I am set apart for God's use. Now, why would we do that? Why would we set aside ourselves for God's use? Well, look at the motivation for the service, a motivation for the sacrifice. He says, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God". In other words, because of the mercy God has shown you in salvation, we have the obligation to reserve ourselves for God's use. Think about it. When there is nothing and you worth loving, God set his affection on you. When you and I were deserving of nothing but damnation, God offered us salvation. And because of that, we have an obligation to God.

In 1 Corinthians 6, verses 19 and 20, Paul writes, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body". God has purchased you. He owns you and me. He has the right to reserve us for his use. Or the passage we read this morning from 1 Peter 1:18 and 19, "Know this that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but you were redeemed with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ".

Do you remember what that word redeemed means? It was a Greek term that means to buy out of the marketplace. It refers to those who were slaves, a third of the world were slaves in Paul's day and slaves would be brought to the agora, the marketplace, where they would be auctioned off like an animal and a slave owner would come, he would pick out the slave he wanted, he would pay the right amount of gold or silver and he would buy that slave. He could do whatever he wanted to with a slave. He could work him to death. He could torture him to death. He could sexually abuse, and he was free to do whatever he wanted to.

The slave just went out of the slave market to more slavery. And Bible says, you and I, when we're born into this world, we are born slaves to Satan. We were headed for nothing but an eternity of misery and death, but God and his mercy, for no other reason than the great love in which he loved us, he sent Christ to redeem us, to purchase us, to buy us out of the slave market of sin. Why? So that we can be free to serve ourselves, to do whatever we want to do. No, he still owns us. He has redeemed us. He has purchased us to do not our will, but to do his will. Hebrews chapter 9 talks about that and we're gonna look at that in a moment. But I want you to cut stop and consider for just a moment what God has done for you. Think about the circumstances that led up to your salvation. Think about where your life was headed before you knew Christ and what he has done for you since that time.

John Calvin once wrote, "Men will never worship God with a sincere heart or be roused to fear and obey him with sufficient zeal until they understand how much they are indebted to his mercy". Do you realize how much you're indebted to the mercy of God? Isaac Watts, the hymn writer, in that hymn, when I survey the wondrous cross that I had the choir sing this morning, remember how he finishes that song, "Love so amazing so divine demands my soul, my life, my all". Our motivation for offering our bodies as a sacrifice to God is the indescribable mercy of God. But notice also Paul talks about not only the motivation for the sacrifice, but the nature of the sacrifices, and he uses three words to describe the kind of sacrifice that he ask from us. First of all, he says, this sacrifice he desires is a living sacrifice. "I urge you therefore, brethren, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice".

Now, remember in the Old Testament times, God commanded that animals would be offered on the altar of sacrifice. They would be dead animals that would be burned up before God. Now why did God do that? It's not because God got excited by a bunch of dead animals, okay? Dead animals didn't get God all, you know, worked up and excited. That's not the kind of God he is. The reason he demanded animal sacrifices was to point people to foreshadow, the true sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would be our once for all offering for sin. The writer of Hebrews says it this way in Hebrews 9:11 and 12. "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, he entered through the greater and the more perfect Tabernacle, and not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood. He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption".

The animal sacrifices that came year after year, they pointed to the one time sacrifice Christ would make to offer us not temporary or conditional redemption but eternal redemption. But now God doesn't ask for any more dead sacrifices, he wants a living sacrifice. He wants you. Paul alludes to this in 2 Corinthians 5:15, "And he died for all, that they should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf". Paul expressed a similar thought in Romans 6. Hold your place here and go back to Romans 6, verses 12 to 14. It's been some months since we looked at this. Let me remind you what he said about the sacrifice he wants from us.

Paul writes, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members that is the parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members," that is your body parts, "As instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you or not under the law, but you're under grace". Now, you may be saying, "Now Pastor, you've been talking in generalities for the last few minutes here, about a living sacrifice. What are you really talking about? What is it God really wants from me"? Here it is in a nutshell. When God saves you, he already has your spirit. That's his for all eternity. Now, he wants the rest of you. He wants the rest of you. He wants the parts of your body to be in service to him.

For example, God wants your mind. Your mind is reserved for God's use. He wants you to pour into your mind the things that please him. We'll look at this in a moment. Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a person thinks in his heart, so is he". Our thoughts determine our behavior. Our minds do not belong to us to fill with anything we want to fill them with, they belong to God. So what are you filling your minds with? Trashy novels, lewd movies, raunchy music, all of which war against God's plan for your life? And I'm not suggesting that, you know, you never read another secular book again, that's not what I'm saying, or that you throw out your television set. But what I am saying is this, every time you read a secular book, there are a lot of great secular books out there. Balance it out by reading a book with a Christian theme that will encourage you in your faith.

Every time you spend an hour watching television, why not spend 15 minutes reading God's Word that same day? Our minds don't belong to us, they belong to God. Or what about your tongue? Your tongue is not reserved for your use, it belongs to God. Do you realize that that 2-inch, 4-ounce mass of mucus membrane called the tongue has tremendous power? It has tremendous power for evil. And James talks about how just one word is like a spark that can set a whole forest on fire. I'll confess something to you.

This week I was in a conversation with some friends and the name came up of somebody who's not a member of this church. And I said five words about that person that were absolutely true, but they should not have been spoken. And I've spent the last part of the week trying to clean up that mess I made with five or six words. Just a few words has the power to destroy somebody's entire reputation. And yet with the tongue, we also have the ability with our speech to encourage somebody who is tremendously discouraged. We have the ability to lead somebody away from eternal damnation to salvation that comes to faith in Christ. Our tongues don't belong to ourselves, they belong to God.

What about our feet? We think, well, we're free to go wherever we want to go. Not if you're a sacrifice. Not if you're reserved for God's use. You don't have a right to go any place you want to go. Isaiah 59, verse 7, warns about those whose feet run to do evil. Instead, Romans 10:15 says, "How blessed is the person whose feet are used to spread the gospel of peace". I realize this is not heavy theology. This isn't predestination, okay, that we're talking about, but this is practical theology. This is where the rubber meets the road. God says he doesn't want a dead animal sacrifice, he wants you. You have been set apart, reserved, not for yourself to do what you want but to do the will of God. There's a second word that describes the sacrifice, it is a holy sacrifice. It's living and it's holy.

Now, remember the Old Testament animal sacrifices, they were to be without spot or blemish. They were to be perfect because they represented Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice who is to be perfect. But what does that mean for us? We're never gonna be perfect. Or you saying, "I can only be used by God if I'm perfect"? Of course not. But that word holy literally means to separate, it means a cut above. The idea here is God wants from you and me our very best.

Remember in Malachi 1, we looked at a few weeks ago, the Israelites when they were backslidden, one of the things they did was they would offer the most sickly weakest animal they had as a sacrifice to God and they would keep the good animals for themselves. They offered the worst they had to God. God said, "You wouldn't even offer this to pay your taxes, why would you think I would be pleased with this kind of sacrifice"? In the same way, God wants not what's left over, he wants our best. He doesn't want your leftover time, he doesn't want your leftover energy. He doesn't want your leftover money 'cause there's usually no leftover money. He wants the very best that you and I have to offer him. Our sacrifice is to be holy. And the third word he uses is acceptable. A living and holy sacrifice, which is acceptable to God.

You know what the word acceptable means? Literally it means pleasing. In fact, some translations say that which is pleasing to God. Now, listen to me. If you are not a Christian, there is nothing you can offer God or do for God that is going to please God. Doesn't matter how many hours you spend working in hospice. Doesn't matter how many homes you hammer out for habitat for humanity. Doesn't matter how much you do for the church or give to the church. If you're not a Christian, nothing you do pleases God. Isaiah the prophet said the best we can do is like a filthy rag to God. Our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God.

But after you become a Christian, after you're in a right relationship with God, there are many things you and I can do to be pleasing to God. And what he's saying here is your body offering it to God for his use that pleases God, that brings a smile to God's face when you offer yourself to him. And then notice he adds a phrase here, he says, "Which is your spiritual service of worship, offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship". I've read that verse for years and never really understood what it means. Do you know what it means? Your spiritual service of worship.
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