- By Marie Alvero

“Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”1

I believe that God has given us power and agency to make changes and choices for our lives, but I also sometimes feel how easy it is to get distracted with “self-help” ideologies. Designing our “best lives” and making five-year plans, for example, are positive actions, but we need to find a way to reconcile that with “giving our bodies as a living sacrifice.”

That’s a really interestin­g Bible verse, because it’s not just talking about our thoughts or our beliefs being presented to God, but our bodies too. That means what we are physically doing with our lives should be to His glory. The Bible calls that our “reasonable” service—so, not super amazing, not award-winning,

1. Romans 12:1 NLT but just your “starter package” Christiani­ty being lived out.

When you look at following

Jesus in that context, it gets real. It’s not just an ideology, but something you spend your time on, something you give yourself to. “Sacrifice” doesn’t imply that life is going to be dreary or tough, without any fun or ambition or dreams. That’s not it. True fulfillmen­t can only be found in staying close to God and following His plan.

Here comes another year. As usual, we come into it with all the hopes, dreams, and expectatio­ns the promise of a New Year brings. But I hope you take time to think about what God needs from you. What does a “living sacrifice” look like in your life and walk with Him?

Marie Alvero is a former missionary to Africa and Mexico. She currently lives a happy, busy life with her husband and children in Central Texas, USA. ■

If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?—David Livingston­e (1813–1873)

Sacrifice alone, bare and unrelieved, is ghastly, unnatural, and dead; but self-sacrifice, illuminate­d by love, is warmth and life; it is the death of Christ, the life of God, and the blessednes­s and only proper life of man.—Frederick W. Robertson (1816–1853)

The Christian faith is meant to be lived moment by moment. It isn’t some broad, general outline—it’s a long walk with a real Person. Details count: passing thoughts, small sacrifices, a few encouragin­g words, little acts of kindness, brief victories over nagging sins.—Joni Eareckson Tada (b. 1949)

I have a plan and a purpose for your life—and I want to help you discover it and walk within it. I have answers to your questions, solutions to your problems, and insight into the complex situations you encounter. I have promised in My Word that if you will seek Me, you will find Me, and I take great pleasure in guiding you into all truth.

When you ask for My guidance, I give it,1 but you must first be willing to set aside your own ideas and plans.2 That can be difficult, especially if you have your heart set on something but you aren’t sure that it’s the right time or that I will agree that your plan is best for everyone concerned. When faced with such tests, remind yourself of these promises in the Bible: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart,”3 and “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly.”4 If your desire is truly to find and follow My plan, I will give you the best.

I know your past, present, and future. I understand your needs and desires, your aspiration­s and fears. I know everything about you. The more you learn to seek and follow My plan for your life, the more likely you will be to find genuine happiness and fulfillmen­t. The choice is yours.

1. See Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7; James 1:5.

2. See Isaiah 55:8–9.

3. Psalm 37:4

4. Psalm 84:11*

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