A new friend of Cornerstone, Pastor Jon Kelly, Lead Pastor at Chicago West Bible Church gives us his take on what living a surrendered life to God looks like.
Well, hey, Cornerstone. It’s so good to be with you today. My name is Pastor Jon Kelly from, uh, Chicago West Bible church on the west side of Chicago, where I get to serve as the Lead Pastor. So good to be here in San Fran with my Cornerstone family. Thank you to PT and the leadership and everyone here for
allowing me to feel, um, at home and feel welcomed. And it’s been good being here, um, in this great city, um, enjoying some food and seeing what God is doing here. And so thankful that you all are here, um, on mission for Christ and, uh, serving this community. I’m excited to join in with you on this series on Surrender.
And I hear that you’ve been working through on the word of God and learning about this topic. And, uh, I want to continue to help you process through what the Lord teaches and how we can grow and live in a life of surrender. So I want you to know, I’ve been praying for you leading up to our time here. Um, my prayer is that you would live a life that is marked by humility
and surrender to Christ and that your life would be consumed with Jesus. But what does it mean and what does it look like to live a life that is surrendered to Christ that is fully given over to Him? Well, I hope to talk with you about that today, as we turn our attention to God’s word. And so the title of today’s message is simply that The Surrendered Life. The surrendered life will be in the book of Romans chapter 12, beginning in verse one.
Um, but before we look at this topic of the surrendered life, can I just pray for you? I would love to just pray for you right now. So wherever you are, um, whether you’re listening on your iPhone or listening in to some earbuds while you’re going for a jog, whether you’re sitting at home listening, um, joining in on the service wherever you are, I just want to pray for you right now.
So if you just bow your heads and let me pray for you, that would be great. Lord, thank you for my brothers and sisters here who are joining us online and are listening in right now. Lord, we are, uh, turning our attention to Your word. We don’t need to hear from Pastor Jon or someone else we need to hear from You.
And so Lord, as we open Your word, I pray that we would hear Your voice speaking to us, calling us to a life of full surrender to You. And so God, I just pray You would bless this time that we are meeting together and studying Your word. And I pray that it would bear much fruit in our lives in Jesus name.
We pray. Amen. Amen. Well, if you have a copy of God’s word, I’m reading from the ESV. If you could turn with me to Romans chapter 12 The book of Romans beginning in chapter 12, Romans chapter 12 is a fascinating book. The book of Romans periods is a fascinating book, but the book of Romans chapter 12 is a great chapter.
And it begins with verse one that has a lot to talk about, um, a lot to say about the topic of, uh, surrender and consecration and fully giving yourself over to the Lord. So we’re only going to spend the next 25, 30 minutes. We’re going to spend it on one verse and as Romans 12 one. And I challenge you to not just read this verse with me and ponder today, but to meditate on it, to memorize it, to, uh, to, uh, read it out loud to yourself when you’re going through about your going about your day.
Um, it would encourage you deeply. Um, but look with me, Romans chapter 12, verse one, it says this, this, this is the Apostle Paul speaking to the church in Rome. He says this, I appeal to you therefore brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
So Paul is speaking here. There’s three observations I want to make, I want to look at on, based upon this passage right here, um, three things that we can learn about the surrendered life and what does the surrendered life look like? Well, here’s the first point. If you’re taking points about the surrendered life, the first point here, the surrender life is a life that is offered to Jesus.
Let me say that again. A surrendered life is a life that is offered to Jesus. We would, we get that from, look with me in verse one of chapter 12 of the book of Romans, he says, I appeal to you. Therefore brothers and sisters, I’m appealing to you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.
And so he opens up here with us. I appeal some of your translations might say, I urge you. So imagine someone saying, I’m urging you to do this. I’m, uh, appealing to you. I’m begging, I’m pleading with you to do this. He says, I appeal to you therefore, by the mercies of God, in light of all of the mercy, that God has shown us to offer your body as a living sacrifice.
And so what do I want you to do? Offer your body to God? Not just your money, not just your pocket book, not this five minutes of your morning, offer yourself over to God. And why should I do that? Because of his mercies? See it, I appeal to you, therefore brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies presents your body as a living sacrifice.
What good is it to talk about God’s mercy and the truth that God is merciful. If that truth isn’t changing us. Paul believes in the reality that God is merciful and that the fact that we’ve received His mercy, that that should change us. And so he’s pleading and saying, you know what? It’s like as a sinner to experience the grace of God, the mercy of God, and that should change the way you live.
First, Peter chapter one, verse three says it says it this way. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Even Peter acknowledged that we serve a God who is merciful, that God is a God of mercy and grace, but here’s the thing
church. It is very easy to take that grace to take that mercy for granted. It’s very easy to forget the mercy that’s been shown to us. So that’s why Paul says here by the mercies of God, the fact that God has been merciful to you, here’s what you should do out of, out of the context of receiving God’s mercy.
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. Offer it to God. I love this, that, that the surrendered life is a life that is offered to God, completely to Him offer all of yourself. Notice what Paul says, present your body as a living sacrifice. If you remember in the Old Testament, they would often offer lambs and goats, um, different animals for sacrifice for their sins.
Now we know those animals can never take away sins, but they were symbolic of the same way that, um, uh, this lamb is slain, uh, for sins that there’s accountability for me and that we are accountable to God. And so he’s saying we don’t want to offer, uh, animals as sacrifice. We want to offer our bodies. We want to offer ourselves God, I am giving myself completely to you.
And so Paul is referring to here, the physical body, all that you are offering your body, all of who I am. So here’s the question that you need to think about today that I need to think about today? What does it look like for me to offer all of my physical body, all of who I am to God, meaning what does it look like,
that my brain, my hands, my mind, my feet, my plans, my desires, my will, my life, all of that belongs to God. That’s the question that Paul is pressing us with offer everything to the Lord, not just your Sunday mornings, but your job. Your body isn’t yours. I belong to Jesus. My mind. Isn’t mine. I belong to Jesus, my hands, my feet, isn’t mine.
They belong to the Lord and they’re used for His glory. First Corinthians chapter six, verse 20 says this for you were bought with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. You said it again, I Corinthians 6:20 says for you were bought with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
God paid for you, your salvation. He paid for your eternal security with His own blood, the blood of Jesus on the cross. So that the Lord actually purchased you. You belong to Him. And so if there’s anything you can think about this first point here of Paul saying, offer or present your bodies, a living sacrifice is this truth.
Today you belong to Jesus. And the surrendered life is a life that is also offered on the altar to God every day. And in this world, you will either live for yourself or you will live for God. And the question you have to answer today is who have I been living for? Have I been living for myself? Is it all about me or is it truly about Him?
Is it truly about Christ? Am I in love with a religion? Or am I in love with a person, Jesus, my savior. You know, if you ever, um, have driven before you ever been to a carwash, um, you have a car, you, you you’ve taken your car to a car wash before. And, and if you, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but if you ever went to a carwash, um, that you can’t get your car wash without surrender period, um, when you pull up to a carwash, the very first thing that you have to do, if there’s some tracks on the ground and whoever’s working at the car wash will, the first thing they will tell you is, Hey, you need to cut your wheel and align your tires with the track, right?
So you gotta, you gotta drive on to the track. So, so align with the track. But do you know what the second thing is? Did they tell you to do once you align with the track? What’s the second thing you have to do next for anyone who’s washed a car before taking the goal to the carwash, you have to put the car in neutral.
Right? So it’s like, okay, now that you’re aligned, put the car in neutral, meaning the car has to release control in order so that the mechanism, the car washing mechanism can now take the car through and wash it and do everything that needs to be done to it. So it is with the Christian faith. The Christian faith, the life of Christ is a calling to surrender the same way a car has the pull up and align its tires with the track.
So when Paul says here and he says to, um, uh, offer our bodies where we’re aligning our ways, we’re aligning our life with God. And then when the car puts itself in neutral. So we are saying, Lord, I surrender, I submit. You now control. I’m aligning with Your word. I’m aligning with Your ways. I’m aligning with Your mission, with the ways of Your kingdom and Lord, I am putting things in neutral and allowing Your spirit to control me.
That is the surrendered life. It’s the life of aligning with the Lord, aligning with His word, aligning with His ways and allowing yourself to be in neutral. So that He can clean you. Wash you, use you. Work through you, and so that you can truly live for Him because in the Christian life, nothing works without Jesus.
You can’t do this yourself. You can’t live this life on your own. And maybe that’s, she listened to this morning saying, you know what? I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out this thing on my own. I’ve been trying to live and I’m by myself and work this out and have myself. No, I would appeal to you.
As Paul says, to offer your body as a living sacrifice to Christ and let Him lead you, let Him plan things, put it in neutral, my brother, put it in neutral my sister. And let the Lord do the rest. In fact, in John 15 five, Jesus does it this way. I am the vine. You are the branches, whoever abides in Me and I am Him,
he it is that bears much fruit. Listen to this for apart from Me, you can do nothing. You hear that John 15 five, apart from Me, you could do nothing. That’s what Jesus says. And we hear that. And we say, yeah, I hear You Lord, but really I can still. No, Jesus says, apart from Me, all the spiritual fruit, all the things you want to see will not happen outside of your submission to Me.
So the question we have to ask ourselves every day is Lord, here I am at Your service Lord. What do You want me to do today? Make this a habit in your life. Not Lord, here’s what I want you to bless. But Lord, here I am available. What do you want to do Lord? So the surrendered life is a life that is offered to Jesus, but next, jot this down. The surrender life,.
It’s a life that is holy and acceptable to Jesus, wholly acceptable. So notice here that Paul opens up by saying, I appealed to you. I’m begging you. I’m urging you based upon God’s mercy and how much grace and love He has shown you offer your body as a living, sacrifice to Him and notice what he says next, holy and acceptable to God.
So that not only we are to offer our bodies completely to Him, Lord, I belong to You. But that pursuit of holiness is right and good. The word holy and scripture tends to have two kind of categories. One, it means distinct and set apart. Unlike anything else. The second definition means purity. So when we say God is holy, it means He’s not like anybody else.
He’s not like your dad. He’s not like your brother. And He’s not like your boss. He’s not like your neighbor. He’s not like your cousin that gets on your nerves. He’s not like any of that. When the fact that God is holy means He’s distinct. He’s a one of one. There’s nothing or no one likes Him. So He’s holy.
He’s different from everything else. But two that He’s pure, He’s righteous, He’s clean. Right? And so when Paul says that we’re to offer our bodies a living sacrifice, it means those two things that we are like, God, we are separated. We are distinct. That you can look at someone who’s a Christ follower and say, I can tell that she’s been with Jesus, but also that just like, God, they love what’s pure.
They love what’s right. Leviticus 11:44 says. For I am the Lord, your God consecrate yourselves. That means sets yourself apart, therefore, and be holy as I am. Holy God says to His people, Leviticus 20:26 says you shall be holy to me for I, the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples that you should be Mine.
Leviticus 10:10 says you are to distinguish between the holy and the common between the clean and the unclean. You see a surrendered life is a holy life. It is a life that is distinct set apart from everything else set apart for God’s use set apart to God’s ways, but also a life that desires purity.
You know, my mother. Now mother back in the day, she used to work as a surgical technician. She was a surgical tech. And if you know what a surgical technician is basically surgery techs. They, they work with doctors during surgeries. And so the, the, the role my mom had as a surgical technician was she had to make sure that all of the instruments to perform the surgery are clean and sterilize for doctor.
So is that, uh, he or she came in to perform a stair, uh, surgery, all of the, uh, the, the, the equipment that’s the scalpel and all the, uh, sharp knives and everything had to be sterilized and they couldn’t be touched. They were set apart for the doctors use and during surgery, he assisted with that. And before all procedures, before any surgery and after every surgery, all the instruments that would be used had to be sterilized.
They must be pure. If not, they can cause an infection or death or whatever it meant, whatever can, you know, maybe that’s not helpful. Um, what am I saying? You have been set apart for God, my brother, you have been set apart for the Lord, my sister for the master’s use, you are a tool in his hand, and before he uses you, he must put you through a sterilization process.
He must cleanse you. So we ought to be holy. We offer our body as a living sacrifice. And God cleans us up the same way that you don’t use dishes or forks or spoons that are dirty in the sink. You wash them first before you use them. So God cleanses us before he uses us and he cleanses us as he uses us.
Some of you right now are going through a lot. There wasn’t some challenging season. And the thing that the Lord is doing right now is he’s trying to clean you. He’s trying to cleanse you. He’s trying to make you holy. He’s trying to make you pure. He’s showing you certain things in your flesh, certain thought patterns you have that are unhealthy certain toxic things that have shown up in your life.
And He’s not there to tear you down or beat you up. He’s there to cleanse you and make you pure. God never brings things up to hurt you, but to heal you. And so I don’t know who needs to hear that today, but someone’s going through some healing, right? The Lord is using His word. He’s using His people and it’s hard.
It’s difficult. It’s challenging. There’s things in our flesh that we’ve been battling with for a long time. Some of you you’ve been struggling with things for decades, and you’re like, Lord, I’m tired of repenting of this. I’m tired of struggling with this sin, or why are You allowing this thing to come up?
And the Lord is showing you something so he can heal you. He wants to purify you. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says this because we have these promises. Dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can devour our body and spirit and let us work towards complete holiness because we fear God. I got a question for you today is this.
I want you to ask yourself this question right now. Is there anything in my life that is defiling me either in body or spirit? Is there anything that I’m dabbling with? That is unclean and hinders my fellowship with the spirit. Is there things I’m watching that I shouldn’t be? Am I drinking too much? Am I doing this over here?
Is there something that I’m hiding something that’s luring me away. That’s hindering my time in the word hindering my time with pursuing Jesus. Is there something in my life that is unhealthy? That’s keeping me from surrendering to Him and maybe you need to do an inventory in both body and spirit. My body am I, am I taking care of my body?
Am I resting? Am I how’s my mental health doing? COVID has taken a toll on a lot of people. How is my mental health doing? Am I stewarding my body? Well, am I getting rest? Do I feel burnt out? How is that impacting my walk with Christ or spiritually? Am I skipping spiritual meals? Have I not been in the Word lately?
Have I not been in prison? Is there any idols in my life, things I’ve been putting before God, he says that we’re to present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. I love that he added not just holy but acceptable, acceptable means that there’s a right way of doing something. It means this is what God accepts.
It’s knowing the right thing and doing something. And I just want to say here, when Paul is talking about holiness and purity and what what’s acceptable to God here, he is not saying that you have to earn God’s love. So I don’t want you to hear this in here. Rules, restrictions, regulations. Okay. Here’s another to-do list thing that nothing I want to do list I got to do.
You don’t have to earn God’s love my sister. You don’t have to earn his love, my brother. The scripture says what can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing, not life, not death, not sickness, not persecution. Right? So you are deeply loved more than you can ever be. So why the emphasis on holiness and, and what God accepts? You are accepted because of the cross, but what Paul is getting after here, and what he’s saying here is we pursue holiness and we pursue God,
not because we want to get accepted and loved by Him, but because we have been accepted and loved by Him, does that make sense? So I’m pursuing Jesus, not, not to earn His love. I’m pursuing Jesus because He loves me. I’m pursuing holiness, not to be right with God, but I’m pursuing holiness because I am right with God.
I am pursuing holiness and purity, not to be loved by God, but because I am loved by God and it’s a right way to pursue the Lord. Ephesians 1:4, I mean, 4:1, says, I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called. 1 Thessalonians 2:12,
we exhorted each one of you and encourage you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. You see it there, Paul uses the phrase over and over walk in a manner worthy of the idea that, that you have been saved. You have been redeemed, you are deeply loved by the Lord.
So walk as someone who’s loved by the Lord, walk as someone who God has redeemed. That’s what he’s saying here. And it’s not to earn it, but walk into identity of who you already are. Live that out. It’s to God that He loves you so deeply that you have been forgiven, that He’s given you a new identity and it’s you don’t walk in any of it.
That’s not acceptable. My sister walking, who you are, don’t let the devil lie to you. My brother don’t let the enemy beat you down. You were not your sins. You are not your past. You were a new creation in Christ, and He wants you to walk in that the surrendered life walks in the identity of who I am in Christ.
And it means now I love purity. I love holiness. I love what’s right. Matthew five says blessed are the pure in heart for, they shall see God. I want to see the Lord. I can’t hug sin and hug Jesus, at the same time. I can’t coddle the sin that’s in my heart that the sin is trying to tear me down and pursue the Lord at
the same time I have to let one go in order to pursue the other.
That’s all we’re called to. Offer a body as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to the Lord. The surrendered life is a holy life. That walks in a manner worthy of God’s calling in a manner that reflects the fruit of salvation that can only be found in Christ alone. And so you have been called to a life of surrender in Christ, a life that is daily offered to Jesus, a life that is holy and acceptable to Him.
And lastly, jot this down last point. Last observation, the surrendered life is a lifestyle of worship to Jesus. Let me say that again. The surrendered life is a lifestyle of worship to Jesus. So notice here, right? It says, we urge you right brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable.
And we’ll listen to this last point, which is your spiritual worship. Some of your translations say, which is your, which is your spiritual act of worship. Paul basically says there’s more to worship than singing. What comes to mind when you hear the word worship, do you think of Sunday morning, hands raised, singing glory, hallelujah, or singing to a worship song?
Paul stretches that and says, worship is bigger than just singing. It’s also how you live. He says, offering your body. Paul says, presenting your body as a living sacrifice that’s holy and acceptable. That’s an act of worship. You want to know it’s an act of worship, not just you singing on Sunday morning, but you actually laying your life down and completely abandoning yourself to God and saying, Lord, everything about me belongs to you.
Paul says that’s worship. A surrendered life is a life of worship, truly given over to the Lord. And what is worship? Worship is essentially showing and declaring the supreme worth or value of something. When you worship something or you worship someone, you show by the way you live and tell how valuable it is.
So if you worship food, you show it by always eating and you tell it because you probably tell everybody under the sun, the best restaurant to go to, we don’t worship food. We don’t worship money. We don’t worship sex. We don’t worship people. We don’t worship a job. We don’t worship ourselves. We worship Jesus.
And when you worship Jesus, you show it in the way you live and you tell it to everyone, the same, you know, the things you love, you have no problem telling people about. You don’t have no problem telling people about your favorite sports team, whether it’s the Warriors, the 49ers. As I know we over in San Fran, your favorite restaurants, your favorite podcasts, your favorite books, the favorite of meals you like off of Pinterest, your favorite movie that just came out.
Y’all need to go watch so-and-so. We love to tell people about things we love.
But do we show people Christ and tell people about Christ? Paul says, the way you do that is by offering your body to God. And this is an act of worship. You know, the disciples, the men and women who followed Jesus and worshiped Him, they showed His worth by telling it to people, but they also showed how much they worshiped and loved Jesus, by how much they were willing to let go of for His sake, how much they were willing to lay down and sacrifice for their sake.
You know, you can tell how much a person loves something, but how much they’re willing to sacrifice for it. You can tell how much someone loves their family, by how much they’re willing to sacrifice for their family. You can tell how much someone loves their job by how much they’re willing to sacrifice for their job.
And you can tell how much someone loves Jesus, not by you know how excited they are simply about it, but how much they’re willing to sacrifice for it. And when Paul says sacrifice your body, offer your body, your life to the Lord, lay it down and say the Lord, everything I have belongs to You. That’s a person who’s on fire for the Lord.
That’s a person who’s fully worshiping Jesus. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do do all to the glory of God. So that means anything I do God desires to get glory from it. If I do anything, God wants it to be clear that it was done for Him. That’s what it means to live a life of surrender and worship.
When he says, this is your spiritual worship, this is your act of worship. This is how you connect, laying down your life. And you given your life to truly belong to God as an act of worship, because it means everything about you points back to God, everything about you, points back to Jesus. So the question we have again is, is it clear to everybody?
My mom, my dad, if they’re around my brothers, my coworkers, my neighbors, is it clear to everyone that my life is led by Jesus and lived for Jesus? In what ways do I show to everyone that Jesus is more precious to me than anything else in this world? How does my marriage show that Jesus is more precious to me than my marriage?
How would I’m living at a single, how does, how does me living a single, how does this season does it just does my life right now show that Jesus is more valuable to me than any other person I could ever meet, because anything outside of that is idolatry. It’s my, when I’m at work, even though I work hard, does my mentality show that my identity and my value isn’t finding found in what I do at my job, but who I belong to that is Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t want you simply my brother or my sister to have a time of devotions. He wants you to have a lifestyle of devotion. He doesn’t want you to simply have 20 minutes before you head out in the morning of reading the word and prayer and devotions. He wants, he wants a lifestyle of devotion.
That’s what we’re going for. Not simply a surrendered time, but a surrendered life that my whole life is lived for You. Okay? The surrendered life is a lifestyle of worship to Jesus. So as we close, I want to close by just praying for you, praying that you were encouraged by what you heard. As we looked on the surrendered life.
That is a life offered to Jesus. It is a life that is holy and acceptable to Jesus, and it is a lifestyle of worship to Jesus. My prayer for you is that this would be your life, that it would be clear and evident to all that your life has offered to Him that you love purity. You pursue what is right and acceptable.
And when you fall short, you humbly repent and turn back to Him knowing that He loves you and that your life is a lifestyle of worship. Not the Sunday morning of worship, not simply listening to your car, but that everything about your life says, I love Jesus and He is worthy to be praised. You should know Him too.
It’s my prayer that you would have the surrendered life. Let me pray for you, Lord. I just pray that all of my brothers and sisters listening now would walk away feeling encouraged, challenged, stretched, but also understanding that You have called us to completely laid out everything at Your throne and that Lord, um, You didn’t save us and redeem us so that we could belong to ourselves, but that your word teaches us
we belong to You. Show us what it looks like to be able to say with integrity, that everything we have and everything we are belongs to You, that we are surrendered to You. As you taught us Jesus in the prayer, he said, Lord, teach us how to pray. You said our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done.
On earth as it is in heaven. Lord, help us to say, Lord, Your will be done in my life. That is a surrendered life Lord. Your will be done in my marriage and my singleness at my job and my family in my pursuits, in my dreams, Lord would Your will be done, not my will. Would You get glory. So God, I just pray right now that those listening and the church and the saints at Cornerstone will not simply be marked by a church who worships Jesus on Sunday, but by a group of people who worship Him throughout the week and who live, live that are surrendered for Him and on mission for Him and would the city, the city see this church as a beacon of light shine brightly for Christ in Jesus name, we pray.
Amen. Well saints. It was so good being with you. So good praying with you. God willing. I hope to be back soon, my wife and kids, and, uh, and hopefully be with you in person and get to a fellowship together. So go in peace. You are loved.