I love our Wednesday evening group called “Going Deeper”. Its a recap of the sunday sermon, with opportunity to think through the message, and apply it to life.
We have been working through the core message of our church, and sunday was the message of us as community…. upholding each other, strenghtening each other , and encouraging good works. Wow, is that ever needed in this age we live in where the rest of the world is busy trying to carve out everything they can for themself, and leave little for anyone else.
And wednesday we worked through reading Romans 12. Romans 12 is perhaps one of the most endearing and powerful chapters God has used in my life. The first two verses are like the high and holy experience of yielding, surrendering, and allowing God to teach, mold, change us into his very people.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Present yourself – not just go, but be in the moment – engage in the process of yielding yourself to God.
Living Sacrifice – what a comparison to the old testament where animals were killed, butchered and then presented as sacrifices. Someone told me long ago that living sacrifices are difficult because they move, and crawl off the alter. I can say that has been true of me, how about you?
Reasonable service – it is what God wants of us.
Be not conformed – don;t be like the world
Just so we don;t have a doubt he clarifies, be transformed – and more clearly be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Renewal is for a purpose – to prove what is good and wonderful about God.
So the group continued to read Romans 12 – and we walked through those passages about not being puffed up, swelled with pride and thinking we are more than we are… and the gifts, the variety of gifts are there to work together to strengthen the body.
Romans moved on to the verses about how to behave, think and be. Perhaps i have been hanging out in the kingdom for a long time because these verses, although some are challenging, are becoming more and more ingrained in my life, programmed in my thoughts and actions. I want to honor god by doing good, blessing others, and even doing good to those who have not been like that to me.
But our group stopped. And in honesty someone actually said “I dont like those verses, and i dont think they work in my life…. my problematic situation has not changed… and i have prayed for years. ”
It stirred in my heart again that hope that she would have the faith to trust God for his timing. And I ernestly prayed that God would prove her words wrong by moving in that situation, bring change, ease strife, just show up.
I wanted to give her the faith God has given me to believe and trust in his word… even those extremely challenging, life transforming passages. Especially those passages. But why should we take God at his word and live by faith?
Why? Because faith is required by God… it is far to easy to believe because we see it, and so illogical to the world to believe what we do not see. But it is God’s way.
Why? Because as we trust in small things God strengthens us to trust more, and go deeper. He challenges us to get to know his character, to know his word, to grow in grace and truth.
Why? Because it is God’s way to transform our minds, renew them with his thoughts, his ways, his timing, and his outcome.
In my life God has used Romans 12 to remind me that I must begin by yielding myself, dead to my own self and alive in Christ. I must then work on that relationship with God – always allowing his word to wash over my soul and strengthen me, renew me, grant me peace.
It is only then that I can grow in my use of gifts to the church and ministry to the world. And that ministry must be lead and guided by his word and his spirit.
Thank you father for your word, and for the gift of community – Thank you that we have others to walk with through this life, to bear each others burdens, and to rejoice with. Thank you for the measure of faith you have given each of us. May you expand our hearts to accept more of your word, and to believe without doubt. Father, thank you that this journey to heaven is not easy, but thank you that you are there to walk with us through each step. Grow us stronger, deeper, and fill us with your wisdom, your fruit, your joy. May we yield ourselves to you, and may you use our lives to build the body of Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen