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This might sound very complicated and wordy – BUT – it is very, very important and one of the most important truths that is not understood and hinders Christians from having the answers to prayers, and seeing the miraculous happen in their lives – like we all want.  It is extremely important to understand it.  So I am going to make this as simple to understand as possible, with what I have learned, and I believe it will have a deep effect on “Growing Older Gracefully.”  Many of you may already know much about this, but it’s very, very important and I believe God wants us to talk about it in this series.


I’m going to start with a major portion of Scripture on this subject.  It’s Romans 12:1-2 – and I’m reading from the Amplified Bible, because it makes it easier to understand.  (1) “I appeal to you, therefore, brethren and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies {presenting all your members and faculties} as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.  (2) Do not be conformed to this world (this age) {fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs} but be transformed (changed) by the (entire) renewal of your mind {by its new ideals and its new attitude}, so that you may prove {for yourselves} what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect {in His sight for you}.


That’s really, in just two verses, a huge amount of information to get ahold of –BUT IT IS REALY IMPORTANT.  When I began to get ahold of the truths in these two Scriptures, I began to comprehend the way things work – the way God planned everything – how faith, and the Word, and praying, and all of it flows according to the way God designed everything.  It made so many things finally make sense to me.  That’s the reason I wrote my third book, “Coming Out of the Cocoon.”  It’s about that word, “Transformation,” which is closely related to the word, “Metamorphosis.”  That’s the word which talks about that little caterpillar coming out of the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly.  


So, brothers and sisters, that word, “transformation” in the 2nd verse, is about you and I coming out of the cocoon of our former life – the life we lived before we were born again – and living our new beautiful lives that God has given us.  The sad thing is that so many Christians don’t have a clue how it works.  God has designed a wonderful and powerful life which is available to us – but we have to access it.  That’s what we’re talking about today.


Now – I went to a Butterfly Pavilion with my daughter-in-law a few years ago and oh what a magnificent thing to see.  I’ll never forget it.  Those beautiful creatures flying around everywhere – each one so unique – but they started out as little worms, locked in to a shell-like cocoon.  Then – one day – they CAME OUT!


So --- The apostle, Paul, wrote the book of Romans and in Chapters 1 through 11, he had been dealing with many, many very important things for all Christians to understand and grab ahold of.  We covered some of them last week when we talked about, “Seeing Ourselves The Way God Sees Us,” like righteousness, justification, no condemnation, love, sons of God, more than conquerors, blessed and chosen, and strength.  Of course, there are many more.  Now, these wonderful things have already been placed in our new born again spirits.  A huge portion of Christians know that they are supposed to live this way but they have not been taught, or just haven’t figured out how to operate in them, and go through their lives without living in these ways as the Bible instructs us to.


This portion of Scripture tells us how it works.  It starts off by saying that the reason that this is all available to us is “by the mercies of God.”  I have learned that what that means is that He (God) loves us so much and that great and powerful love is the motivation for the great mercies that He operates in toward us.  He has plans for us that are far better than what we could plan for ourselves - and, of course, He knows everything about everything!  We don’t!  His mercy for the human race of people is beyond comprehension.  He has plans for us - based on His love and mercy - which we don’t deserve - but, when we accepted what He has done for us through Jesus Christ those plans are available for us - or we could say, “His will for us.”


Then He tells us that, before we do anything else, we must dedicate our bodies to Him.  These bodies are what we live in here on this earth.  These bodies are what the Lord uses to help other people, to pray, to communicate, to show love, and on and on.  Every single part of our bodies is unique - in other words, the eyes do not do what the ears do.  The hands do not do what the feet do.  The mouths speak and they also take in food and drink.  The stomach is different from the legs - and on and on - and we have to really dedicate these bodies to Him.

It says this is our reasonable service, and our spiritual worship.  As we get older, the different parts of our bodies begin to try to give us problems.  Now think about this - If you put something on the altar to sacrifice it to the Lord, and it’s still living, it tries to get off the altar.  I believe that often, different parts of our bodies are trying to get off the altar because, in this scripture, it is called a LIVING SACRIFICE.  I really believe that the enemy (his name is Satan) says, “No - I’m gonna give him some pain there - or - No - I’m gonna make her weak in there - Then, they’ll get mad at God!  Yeah - that’s what I’m doin!!!!  They think God’s got a plan for them - I’m gonna throw some things at them to make them hate God and shut up that prayin’!!!!!!!!!  BUT - BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN AUTHORITY OVER THE DEVIL!!!


That first verse says that this dedicating your body to Him is pleasing to Him.  I believe that, as we continue to give our bodies to the Lord all the time through our lives that is another reason that it is called ‘a living sacrifice’.


One other thing is that, just because you did that when you got saved, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to constantly remind you (and your body) that IT belongs to God.  It’s a life-long thing - not to remind God - but to remind you!


One more thing - I believe another reason that it is called ‘a living sacrifice’ is because, while we are here on this earth, we have to die daily to our earthly desires.  Every one of us knows that things come at us to try to persuade us to yield - BUT - WE ARE LIVING SACRIFICES - WE JUST DAILY REMIND OURSELVES THAT WE’VE PUT THESE BODIES ON THE ALTAR TO GOD.


Now - we’re going to move on to verse 2.  The very first thing it says is to not be conformed to this world!!!  Now, I think this is a very difficult thing for most Christians.  Personally, I think that the older the world gets, the harder it is not to conform to it - because so much of the WORLD has become so out of contact with God, His Word, His Ways, His Way of Thinking, His Life, His Love, and on and on.  You can turn your TV on and, unless it’s on a Christian station, you’ll likely hear something ungodly in 2 minutes.  


However, in this group, we’re all getting older, so we’ve all had to learn to deal with this.  It isn’t just TV - it’s everything.  Then, there’s all that world stuff - and its effect on our family members - and we have to deal with that.  


So-o-o-o-o-o-o-o the only way to really keep from conforming to the world is to think like God thinks - OR BE TRANSFORMED!!!  Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) - “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  Now, remember, we talked last week about the spirit, soul, and body and that the heart is where the spirit and soul meet.  You got a new spirit when you were born again, but your soul, where your mind is, is the part that has to be renewed, as it says in Rom. 12:2.  Renewing your mind is what brings into your being the TRANSFORMATION.


If we keep thinking like the world thinks, or like we thought before we were born again, we are hindering the transformation in us.  God miraculously changed our spirit when we were born again.  But, WE HAVE TO RENEW OUR MINDS.  The way we can manifest our new life to the people around us is to renew our minds - in other words - get our minds to line up with our spirits.  I believe that when our minds line up with our spirits more and more, that’s when the heart works like a power house, through your faith, believing, your words, your love, and on and on.


Think about that caterpillar in that cocoon.  I haven’t studied the science about this, but knowing how God operates in many ways, I believe that God prepares for the release of that little creature, from his moment of birth, to be transformed.  Then - one day - Poof - a beautiful butterfly.  Transformed!  As we begin to renew our minds, so that we THINK different than we used to, we are becoming more and more like God wants us to be.  You can just put on a performance to make it look like you think different.  That won’t work.  You actually have to really

RENEW YOUR MIND.  That mind of yours is in your soul, and when your mind becomes more and more truly loving of God and people, truly forgiving of all the bad that has come at you, truly desiring to help your Christian brothers and sisters, truly desirous of people all over the world and ones close to you to get saved, or born again, and truly enlightened by the Word of God - THERE WILL BE SUCH A CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR SOUL AND YOUR SPIRIT  THAT YOUR HEART WILL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE WITH THE POWER OF GOD AND ALL THAT GOD’S ALREADY PUT IN YOUR SPIRIT.


Now we’re all on a journey and we all want to see big results.  So - when it comes to renewing the mind, especially for those of us who are growing older - we have to be determined.  Our bodies will scream at us - “No I don’t want to read the Word - I’m tired - I know I haven’t been doing much but I’m still tired - and a gazillion other things - but you know what I’ve discovered!!!!  I just talk to my body in the name of Jesus.  I’m serious!  I say, “Body, in the name of Jesus, I have authority in that name that’s above every name!  And I use that authority now and I tell you that God has placed everything in me that I need - it’s all there in my born-again spirit.  So I have strength, and power, and love and lots of other things.  In fact, the Bible says in Rom. 8:11 that I have the same power in me that raised Christ from the dead. And body - 1 Peter 2:24 says that, ‘BY HIS STRIPES I WAS HEALED’.  So - body - if  I was healed, then I am healed.  I’m not listening to you, body, I’m listening to God’s Word.  And I believe God!!!!”


Brothers and sisters - our relationship with the Lord is the most important relationship in our lives.  I have learned that I can talk to God about anything.  Now, most of the time, when I spend time with Him, I begin by worshiping Him, sometimes with songs that I love, sometimes just telling Him how grateful I am for what He has done for me, sometimes just saying all the names of God that I know.  One of them is Yahweh Adonai.  I just love that name.  Sometimes I sing all the names.  I have learned that spending time with Him isn’t all just about asking Him for things or intercession for others; it’s about visiting with my Best Friend.  What I have found is that the more time I spend with Him, just visiting, when a real problem situation comes along, I just quickly ask Him for a solution.  He always comes through for me.


For me, that kinda’ goes along with renewing my mind.  When you go through your day-to-day life, talking to your best friend, who is also the Creator of the Universe, after awhile you find that you really don’t think like you used to - you think more and more the way He thinks.


It’s not about watching your clock to be sure you pray for X minutes, or about being careful to say everything perfect, and on and on.  No it’s about a relationship.  He has to be the most important person in your life.  I have found that, when He is the most important, He brings things about in your life that you didn’t even ask Him for.


I have also found that my mind is renewed as I spend quality time reading His Word - and one of the things that happens is that I really, really get to understand what He is really like, and the way He thinks.  Often when I am reading in the Gospels, I imagine myself there in that group of people, or sitting at that table, or on that mountain, or in that boat on the water.  I say to myself something like, “What would I have done - if I had been dealing with a serious physical problem for a long time, would I have been brave enough to crawl through that crowd to touch the hem of his garment?”  Or - “If I’d been that woman at the well, would I have believed in Him as the Savior as quickly as she did?”


Then when I’m reading Acts, and the epistles, I imagine myself being in that crowd of people watching as Stephen preached that wonderful message, and then they killed him - or any one of the other servants of the Lord preaching and being imprisoned - and I liken it to my own life - and then it just makes me want to serve Him more and more and more.  


I really believe that renewing the mind is doing anything and everything possible to think like He thinks, to see people the way He sees people, to love the unlovely, to forgive for every wrongdoing to me.  I have imagined what it was like for the Apostle Paul to be in that prison - down in the lowest section - unable to move much at all - day in and day out - and yet keep on loving the Lord and preaching and writing to get people to believe.


Then I think about my life, in this culture, all these 2,000 years later, with electricity, water in the house, windows, beds, lovely furniture, air conditioning, heat, refrigerators, dishwashers, bathrooms, computers, TV’s, phones, lots of clothing, and on and on and on.  ALL I CAN DO IS PRAISE HIM.    I believe that is getting closer and closer to the way He thinks.  When you look at life from a biblical perspective, your mind begins to think different.  It’s getting more closely connected to your spirit.  Therefore you are renewing your mind!


Now, along with all the wonderful things we have for our day to day living that they didn’t have 2,000 years ago, there are many, many more things that try to take our minds off the Lord.  When you hear about what really goes on in the schools today, which are completely ungodly, it just is very sad.  When so many of the people have left God completely out of the way they think about children, about marriage, about sexual gender, about money, and on and on.  I have learned that, although all those things are considered NORMAL in our culture, we cannot allow them to have an effect on the way our minds think.  We must keep our lives centered on the Lord and His Word.  At the same time, we must live our lives as God desires us to - staying God-centered.  There is a way that God can and will show each of us individually that we can live our lives around our family and friends that the Lord can use to draw them unto Himself.  When unbelievers recognize the lifestyle you live - and the fact that you are loving and kind - they may struggle for awhile and pull back from you.  BUT - if you keep praying for them, God will draw them to Himself in ways that you can’t even imagine.  I don’t mean that you give in to their way of thinking - you just continue to love them no matter what!


Brothers and sisters - that’s the way those first century Christians had such a powerful effect on the world 2,000 years ago.  They renewed their minds - they didn’t conform to the world - they gave their bodies to the Lord and became LIVING SACRIFICES - they gathered with other believers at every opportunity - they remembered the promises of God - they gave to the poor - they served in every way they could - they were in daily communication with the Lord and He was leading them into HIS PERFECT WILL.


And that’s the last thing from Rom. 12:2 that I believe the Lord wants us to think about today.  God has a unique plan (or will) for every single one of us - no matter what our age is.  God’s not done with us until He takes us to heaven.  I have discovered in my life that, if I just keep communicating with Him, on a daily basis, about everything - and trusting Him completely - He will lead me in ways that I didn’t plan or even have any clue about.  He will use you - but you have to believe that and yield the right-a-way to Him.  Remember I talked to about the right-a-way a couple of weeks ago.  See yourself at that right-a-way with that car coming on your left.  You have to stop and YIELD.  Now imagine that Jesus is there at your left, coming around and you are yielding to Him.  


Tell story - moving to Leesburg - Peace - Phil. 4:7 (NKJ) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”


Did you notice that it said that the PEACE OF GOD will guard your HEARTS AND MINDS.  When you yield to Him when you don’t have a clue where, or what, or how, He will guard your hearts and minds - there where your mind and your spirit meet - your heart is at peace and He’s guarding you!!!!!!


I’ve experienced it many, many times in my life.  Much of the walking through this life in the PEACE OF GOD  has to do with renewing our minds - and therefore having our minds and spirits (where the heart is) all in unity.  That makes a life worth living!!!!!!!!


Often, older Christians just feel like there just isn’t much that God could use them in so this thing about “the will of God” is mostly for the younger ones.  Well, as I said in our first meeting, on the topic of “Older Christians Used By God,” sometimes some of the most important jobs that God has is to spend time in prayer for others.  Older Christians have more time available to them than the younger ones so a huge portion of miraculous answers to prayer for others is brought into this earth from older people praying.  It can also be brought about by older Christians just being friendly with lots and lots of other older people who don’t know the Lord.  Often, you don’t even have to PREACH to them - you just have to be kind and interested in them and God brings all kinds of situations in the conversation and you can share what you’ve learned about it.  That has happened to me many times.  Then, you look back on it and you realize that God was using you to cause that other person to think differently than before.  YOU WERE BEING LED BY HIM AND IT WAS HIS WILL FOR YOU TO VISIT WITH THAT PERSON!  Did you hear that I used the word, “VISIT,” there?  God’s will is not just preaching to someone - often it is showing them God’s love by visiting with them.  


I have discovered that walking in the will of God on a daily basis is not always God telling me to go do a certain thing - but often it is just walking in love and caring for other human beings and, therefore, HIS WILL comes forth and it almost just seems natural - when it’s really SUPERNATURAL!


That “good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” that it talks about at the end of Rom. 12:2 seems to flow through a believer as he or she goes about in their lifestyle, being led by the Holy Spirit - to the point that it almost just seems normal.

The only way it’s normal is that it is NORMAL FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT.  


God wants all of us to walk closer and closer to Him every day for the rest of our lives.  The more we do that, the more our minds are in unison with our spirit - and the more our hearts are in communication with the Lord.  Nobody does it absolutely perfect all 24 hours of every day - but the more we older Christians walk with Him, the more He uses us until the day He moves us to heaven.  So - really - as you get right down to it - that’s what walking in the will of God is - that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.  There are many older Christians who are walking more deeply in the will of God than they ever did when they were younger.  Yes, as we get older, we know and understand more than we did - but, walking with Him, communicating with Him, praying for others more and more, walking as a ‘living sacrifice’, and renewing the mind (and therefore being led more and more by Him in so many areas of life) - is the key to walking more deeply in the will of God.

Scriptures used for this lesson

Romans 12:1-2

Proverbs 3:24

Romans 8:11

1 Peter 2:24

Philippians 4:7

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