My wife's Thanksgiving preparations are complete:
- "Green beans. Check."
- "Sweet potatoes. Check."
- "Pumpkin pie. Check."
- "Turkey. Rick's here, check."
You've probably made your list, cooked your meal, and are preparing for some time off, sitting at the table with friends and family, and getting ready to give thanks for your many blessings. Can I suggest one thing to put on your Thanksgiving list? Mercies!
Actually, the Apostle Paul makes that suggestion (Romans 12:1), but I wanted to make sure you didn't miss it in the midst of the table-setting and food-eating and family and football. Make sure you include a serving of mercies.
Specifically, the "mercy of God." Paul tells us to live our lives "in view of" the mercies God has given us. In case your schedule's been hectic, I've prepared a list for you and will serve it up now:
- While we were still sinners Christ died for us.
- God loved us even though we could not keep his law.
- God's grace is a free gift.
- There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
- Nothing can separate us from God's love. Nothing.
The list could go on. But these are just a few morsels of what Paul cooks up in his letter to the Roman church. He wants us to remember these in thankfulness. He wants us to feast on the goodness of God so that we are nourished in a way that transforms us.
And speaking of feasts we can learn a lesson from the turkey. The intent of us living in view of God's mercies is that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. A number of turkeys can soon testify to sacrificing themselves for our holiday. But that is a one-time sacrifice. True thankfulness turns us into living sacrifices — people who, because they have been greatly loved by God, in turn live lives of love and service for him.
In other words we live a transformed, Christ-like life.
I transformed some chicken once. We were having a group over and I wanted to use our new outdoor grill. Some friends had shown me how to marinate the chicken overnight in teriyaki sauce, bake it in the oven till almost done, and then put it on the grill for a few minutes to give it the grill taste.
So I marinated the chicken overnight in Soy Sauce, cooked it in the oven, and put it on the grill for a few minutes. I took the first bite to test it and it was so salty I almost spit it out. As soon as I said, "I don't know what happened, I marinated it in Soy Sauce just like they said!" it dawned on me. They said "Teriyaki sauce."
You get two lessons from this: first, don't marinate chicken in Soy Sauce. Second, the idea of saturating your chicken or steak or whatever you are marinating is what Paul is saying here to do to be transformed: saturate your mind in the things of God until it is renewed.
We remember the life he lived. We remember the love he has shown to us. We baste our thoughts in his good news until our minds have marinated into something new. That "something new" leads to a new life and a new purpose.
Take some time to be thankful this week. Remember God's mercies on your life. And live in view of that.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform 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 TNIV).