living worship

by SHANNON ALFORD

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1–2 (NASB)

Love Expressed

It was a typical Thursday morning in May. My two boys, Si and Austin, stumbled out of bed, quickly dressed for school and ran downstairs to fight over who would eat the last of the toasted waffles. Just as I yelled up the staircase for my daughter, Brooke, to come down and eat, our phone rang. It was only a few minutes after seven. Who could be calling this early in the morning?

 I answered the phone and heard the anguished sound of my mom crying on the other end. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. I stepped out of the kitchen and went into my bedroom where I could calm her without alarming the children.

 “Mom, take a deep breath and start over,” I whispered.

 “Oh, Shannon,” she sobbed, “Stacey had a heart attack in the middle of the night and passed away.”

 I immediately fell to the floor and began to weep. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Then I began to think about the commitment my husband and I had made to my brother three years earlier, just before he died of cancer. We promised him that if anything ever happened to his wife, Stacey, we would take in and raise all five of their children as our own.

 How could this be happening? We already had three children of our own … adding five more would bring us to eight! What were we going to do?

 We often wonder why life is so full of situations and circumstances that cause us to constantly stop and ask for clear direction. The truth is God never intended for us to be separated from Him. And only when we’re placed in a difficult situation and our backs are against the wall do we tend to realize we need power and wisdom greater than ours to make the right decision. That’s when we all want a God who is larger, stronger and wiser than we are.

For 15 years, my husband and I had been worship leaders and songwriters and had taught others how to be worshippers. But now, God’s will was leading our worship to be a living sacrifice. Overnight, we went from being an aunt and uncle to my brother's kids to being their mom and dad. Our kids went from being cousins to siblings. And instead of five people living in a house together, there were now ten.

I used to think worship was just the goose bumps I felt during slow songs, but God showed me true worship isn’t something I go out and do; it’s something I live. True worship begins when I place my life on the altar— seven days a week, 24 hours a day, offering myself as a living sacrifice to God.

Most of us long to know what God created us to do and have a desire for Him to reveal His will for our lives. In Romans 12:1–2, the Apostle Paul gives us three steps to knowing God's good, acceptable and perfect will for our lives. First, give your life to Him daily as a sacrifice. In other words, develop a consistent prayer life, so you daily give God your life and ask Him for help to live like Him (Matthew 16:25). Second, give up your natural, carnal nature that is like the world. The only way you can do that is through God’s grace—the supernatural power that enables you to do what truth demands (1 Corinthians 2:12–16). Finally, give in to allowing the Lord to change you by daily washing yourself with the Word of God, because the truth you know sets you free (John 8:32).

No matter who you are or what you’re doing, your life is worship. And as I learned, worship isn’t something you go and do; it’s something you live. When we live in God’s will, we learn to be thankful for Him and His promises. We know it’s not us that does anything; it’s Christ who lives within us. So I urge you, go out today and be “living worship” as you allow His will to be done through you.

We pray, give us such an awareness of Your mercies

That with truly thankful hearts we may show forth Your praise

Not only with our lips, but in our lives

By giving up our selves to Your service

And by walking before You

In holiness and righteousness all our days

The Common Book of Prayer

Prayer

Lord, give us Your grace. Help us give up our lives daily so Your will is accomplished through us. Teach us what it means to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow You. Every day, lead us in a lifestyle of worship allowing Your Word to wash us as we live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Activation

  • Knowing that worship isn’t just something you do but something you live, meditate on ways you can daily give your life to Him. How does this change the way you live 24/7?
  • If your life is worship, then what are you doing to let others know who you are worshipping? What are some carnal-minded ways you’ve allowed the world to blind you from walking in the truth? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can be a better light an
  • Intentionally start spending more time developing your relationship with God. If you’re struggling, ask someone who loves you to keep you accountable.

For Further Study

  • Matthew 16:24–25
  • 1 Corinthians 2:12–16
  • Matthew 5:14–16
  • James 1:22–25
  • John 8:31–32
Matthew 16:24–251 Corinthians 2:12–16Matthew 5:14–16James 1:22–25John 8:31–32
SHANNON ALFORD
Romans 12:1–2 (NASB)