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Guest Speaker: Joshua O’Connor

Many thanks to Josh, who took time from his school break to speak with us. Following are the notes from his sermon.

Romans 12: 1-2 (Common English Bible)

“So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.”

  1. Introduction:
    Hello, I am Joshua O’Connor and today I will be talking about what it means to Live Knowing you are in the Will of God and the Judgment Free Zone it creates.
  2. Scripture: Romans 12: 1-2
  3. Interpretation:
    • Now this scripture is a letter from Paul to the Romans telling them about what it means to be a Living Sacrifice for Jesus and His gift of Eternal Life.
    • Being a Living Sacrifice means giving like we say at the beginning of some services All of your Heart, Mind Body and Strength to the will of God.
    • Now he also said to not Conform to the patterns of this world. This world has Sin, and that comes along Judgment from the others around you. You do not have to concern yourself with Judgment from ANYONE if you are in the will of God. This is saying none other than to Pray and following God’s Guidance for your life.
    • Being transformed by renewing your mind is to all ways keep your mind open knowing that things won’t always work out the way you planned for it is not your plan you are called to live but God’s Plan.
    • And now comes the hard part… you will be called to test your faith, it will come when least expected and you may not immediately know what God wants you to do to face these challenges. But there is an ANSWER to knowing how to face all challenges and that’s with God.
  4. Illustration:
    • I am currently a Sophomore in College at Clarkson University. Believe it or not college has taught me a few things, one of the most meaningful things is finding your identity as an individual and that becoming and adult comes the realization that everyone does have free will from God to choose who you want to be and what you want to do with your life.
    • As a College Student In a rigorous curriculum with many commitments, I have a limited amount of time, but the key is that I can choose to do with it what I want and that comes with consequences, Good and Bad.
    • Now as part of that “Free Time”, I decided to keep a Firm Commitment to my Faith, and continue to Attend Church, Bible Studies, and Pray daily. This Decision stemmed partly from my Upbringing and all of the amazing things that I have been able to be a part of with my Church Family but mostly from my own Personal relationship with God through Jesus.
    • This Decision, did come with Consequences. Sometimes when my friends chose to go out and party, or got to go relax on Sunday mornings. I had commitments, towards Following my Faith. By making these Decisions others such as my classmates and people arounds me, but also close friends Judged me for my decisions. They tried to make me Question why I would do these things.
    • They said, “we are all young, healthy and should be enjoying ourselves not concerning ourselves over religion”.
    • Though I Did NOT waiver in my commitment to God though these Judgments Did Sting a little bit.
    • Now even though I did these things as I thought the Lord was guiding me to do there still came Challenges.
    • Halfway through last semester, my first semester of engineering courses I had some grades on assignments that were NOT the best. I also was getting very tired of Early rowing practices and trying to fit in some of my other Clubs and Activities. I continued to work hard and nothing let up. As I was growing concerned I Continued to Pray and follow my commitment to my Faith.
    • Though still nothing changed. I was feeling very Lost and Overwhelmed.
    • And over time the challenges persisted and I kept praying but I grew Impatient because all of these problems did not agree with MY Timeline. Though what I did not realize is that my time line was not the same as GODS Timeline.
    • After a few weeks of trying my best to both work hard and follow my faith, Things started to look up. As I started to go to office hours and get more help, my grades went up. As I found the friends I could count on I was Supported in my activities and I realized that God had been there all along.
    • By the end of the semester I had gotten my Grades up above where I had aimed, I had some personal bests on rowing workouts and after a year and a half of working hard I Got an offer of a summer internship from a company I liked.
  5. Implication:
    • So now what do we do with that…
    • The first step is to Realize that by being a Christian you have committed to Giving ALL of your HEART, MIND, BODY and STRENGTH to trying your best to follow God’s Plan for your life.
    • And you have to know that God doesn’t have the same timeline or way of getting things done as you. For God’s Power is not of this world and is greater than the Challenges and Problems that will test you with for they are of This World.
    • Now when you Know This. That you are praying for God’s guidance and following him as best you can. That Judgment of others does not matter. For they are Judging God’s Plans which are always right and true.
    • This is what I call The Judgment Free Zone. When you have accepted Jesus as you Savior and you are so committed to his plan over your plan, and you have decided to Trust God rather than the thoughts of others or the way of this World.
    • And Boy let me tell you, when you live life in this Zone you will have Great Confidence, knowing that God is with you always and you are surrounded by the best company you could imagine, Christians, your church family.
    • And Remember, when times are tough, and you feel like you are alone, that you are Judged by others for your actions that you have God in your corner and that there is nothing outside of his power.
    • For these are some of the most crucial moments to hold on to your faith and to NEVER let go. To live in you Judgment Free Zone, you will do things you never thought possible, be put in places you never thought possible and you will know that it was ALL possible because of GOD.
    • THANK YOU!!!