Reading: Romans 11:28-32 & 12:1-2
Text: Romans 12:1 “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.”
[a] When we were in Holland two years ago, we went to Arnhem to see the war graves.
[b] It was a very moving experience – to see all those white gravestones, with the names of husbands, fathers, sons – who had sacrificed their lives in seeking the freedom of others.
[c] It was a very humbling experience to stand there, in the midst of such sacrifice.
[d] We also visited the museum that is there, where there are many video presentations, pictures, and weapons that were used at the time.
[e] There were also mock-ups of the events of the time, with life-size models, and sound tracks. They were so real, you could almost smell the gunpowder.
[f] I can assure you, it in no way glorified war – quite the opposite. It highlighted man’s inhumanity to man! It showed the importance of keeping such sacrifice in our minds, so that the risk can be reduced of it happening again.
[g] With the new United Nations resolution on Iraq just published, the world is holding it’s breath to see what will happen. Will Saddam Hussein, one of the most evil men who ever lived, abide by the resolution, or will he try to instigate world war three, which will be basically Muslim against Christian nations.
[a] The VICTORY IN WORLD WAR TWO, which brought us PEACE, came at GREAT PRICE. Even though much of the sacrifice is so many years ago, there are many today, who remember their loved ones – yes, with great pride, but also with great sorrow.
[b] But we owe our present freedom to the fact that it was a victory, and in the midst of our remembrance, there is much respect and appreciation for those who died securing our freedom!
[c] Sometimes, in the Salvation Army, we look back the ‘the good old days’, with great nostalgia, and bemoan the fact that ‘fings aint wot they used to be!’
It’s always the case, if we do this, if we do that, if we do the other, things will be different! Let’s do it as we used to – in the days gone by!
[d] As today, we remember that in war, victory is hard won, and only comes at great sacrifice, we must remember that this also applies to spiritual warfare!
[a] Yes, we can look back to great spiritual victories of the past, and give our opinions of why it’s not happening today!
[b] We can even proportion blame, and put the world right – we can all be good at that!
[c] But we sometimes lose sight of the fact, that those great victories of the past, were only won at great sacrifice!
[d] If we truly desire to see those days return, then we must also be willing to, AS OUR scripture says, ‘present our bodies a living sacrifice’. Nothing less will accomplish the desire for revival, and the winning of souls into the Kingdom.
[a] Whilst in Holland, I was very challenged, when I realised, that the Salvation Army there, is neither allowed to march, or hold open-air meetings. It’s against the law!
[b] I thought of the UK, and the time when Eva Burrows, as General lobbied the Houses of Parliament, because we were in danger of losing our right to be on the streets! I remember her telling Salvationists – “use the right you have – or you will lose it.”
It is said that a soldier who enlisted in the American Civil War took along his kit of watchmaker's tools, and while they were in camp he did considerable business. But one day when the order came to strike tents and prepare for battle, he looked around his tent in dismay, and exclaimed: "Why, I can't possibly go, for I have twelve watches to repair, which I have promised by Saturday night." The man had forgotten what he had enlisted for. The soldiers of the King of kings sometimes seem to forget what they enlisted for.
[c] As we sit in so many of our churches and Army corps, if we’re honest, sometimes, we do little else than entertain ourselves. It is very seldom that people will wander in through our doors. It is rather the case, in the words of the Lord, that we must ‘go into the highways and byways, and compel them to come in!’
[d] The spiritual foundations on which this corps is built, are those that were laid through the holiness, sacrifice, and spiritual calibre, of those to whom we look back with admiration!
[e] There is always the danger that we can miss the point! If we are willing, to live a life of holiness, offer ourselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice, put ourselves entirely at His disposal – GOD WILL HONOUR IT – AND CROWN IT WITH SPIRITUAL VICTORY!
[a] When we think back to the graves at Arnhem, we think of those who paid the supreme sacrifice – a victory that only came through their death!
[b] For spiritual victory to come, in our own lives, and in our corps, the same is true, the Bible says we must die to self! We must die to the old man of the flesh!
[c] I remember clearly the time I was baptised in water, as a young teenager – I was witnessing to the fact that I had ‘died’ with Christ, and was rising in newness of life!
[d] The problem is, that the ‘old man’ doesn’t stay dead! He keeps coming back to life, like some sort of fearful vampire! AND YOU HAVE TO KEEP KILLING HIM ALL OVER AGAIN!
[e] No wooden stakes through the heart here – he is killed by us keeping our relationship and commitment to the Saviour up to date!
[a] When Paul said in his epistle to the Romans, that they were to offer their ‘bodies as a living sacrifice’, he was speaking to Christians – it is something we have to do continually, as we become tarnished, and drawn away by this world!
[b] Do we feel that we are living sacrifices at this moment?
[c] We all can judge our spiritual depth by looking at others – but in the end it comes down to something between the Lord and ourselves – it is only to Him, that one day we will answer.
[d] There is always the danger, that those who look at themselves, in today’s view, as ‘nominal’ Christians, mistakenly think that is good enough for God.
It is only as our own relationship with Christ is right, that we have the effect we desire on those around us, both in and outside the corps, in influencing them for the Lord.
SONGS FROM SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK