Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stick with me here!

NIV Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual {1 Or reasonable} act of worship.

2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

(This is long and Rod tells me to keep them short or people won’t read them…but please prove him wrong in hanging in here with me and allowing the wind of the Spirit to breath on you and speak to your heart…even if it takes some time)

I am not sure how long I will have to hash this out before Morgan starts flipping! So here goes...
Often when God speaks to this seemingly stubborn child, He will use repetition. This weekend I was studying the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark chapter 9. I stopped at verse 2 where it says "There he was transfigured before them." The word for transfigured is the Greek word Metamorphoo (This is where we get the word metamorphisis (think caterpillar transforming into a butterfly). I am going to give the definition out of the lexical aids of the Key Word study Bible:
"denoting change of place or condition, to form. To transform, transmute, change one's form; to alter fundamentally. Used of Jesus' transfiguration which involved the miracle of transformation from an earthly form into a supernatural one, as signified by the radiance of His garments and countenance (Mt 17:2; Mk 9:2). This perhaps hinted at what the bodies of the righteous may be like in the age to come (1 Co 15:51 ff.). (THIS NEXT HALF IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO.) Used of spiritual transformation, an invisible process in Christians which takes place already during their life in this age (Ro 12:2, 2 Co 3:18). Romans 12:2 could be translated in expanded form, "And quit being so concerned about keeping up with the fads and fashions of the present age; rather, concentrate on letting your character undergo a metamorphosis by the renewing of your mind; in order that you may be able to evaluate and ascertain what the will of God is-that which is good, well-pleasing, and ideal."

So often we struggle with God's will. We wonder what is His will for my life? Did I miss His will already? Was it His will that I married this person? Is it His will for me to have children? And the list goes on and on.
As I was reading last night and listening for His voice, He spoke very loudly in my Spirit that I miss what He has for me and those around me because I am not living in obedience. He wants my mind to be renewed so I can discern His will. First of all what is a renewed mind? Lets look to Romans 12. (Oh and as a side note...i read Romans 12 on Saturday night, I then said to the Lord, "Lord, I feel like these verses on the renewed mind are especially for me right now. Please confirm if this is something that you want to work in me, and that I need to pitch a tent on these verses and allow them to get down deep in me by giving them to me again. THE NEXT MORNING my bible opened to Romans 12. Then a verse for the day was guess what Romans 12. Coincidence I think not!).

Therefore in verse one backs us all the way up to Romans 11 with this doxology:

Romans 11:33-36 33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and {33 Or riches and the wisdom and the} knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" {34 Isaiah 40:13}

35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" {35 Job 41:11}

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Paul urges us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices in view of His great riches, mercy, and glory. We are to offer ourselves to Him as literal bond-slaves (doulous) to our master in light of the cross and the great mercy He has shown to us in not treating us as our sins deserve. Verse 34 and 35 point straight to the cross in my opinion... 34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"

35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"

When we come to the cross we are all on level ground regardless of past sin or position we are all sinners coming to the foot of the cross. We have given Him nothing that He should repay us. We have never been His counselor nor does He need a counselor. We come to the cross wretched, stained, and sinful. We come with nothing that we can give Him. So in turn we can offer our life to Him daily with the deep gratitude and affection for Him saving us when we were dead in our sins.

Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (there is our word metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind.”

What does it mean to not conform any longer to the pattern of this world? The word conform is Syschematizo. This word is derived from two words in the greek: syn meaning together with and schematize meaning to fashion. “To conform to the same pattern outwardly. The exhortation in Romans 12:2, ‘”Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,”’ urges Christians not to focus their lives upon the external and fleeting fashions of this age nor be shaped by them. Rather, they should pursue a deep inner change of character (“but be transformed by the renewing of the mind").” So to conform to this world simply means that we pattern our lives after this world system. We are going to have to be intentional if we are going to not conform to the pattern of this world because the world system and all it has to offer are constantly begging us to come. The enemy knows all to well that if he can get true followers of Christ to feed their flesh that they will become ineffective and most likely ruin their testimony. He knows that if he constantly appeals to our senses through media, malls, money, and the pleasures of life and we buy straight into it our focus won’t be on things above. We can not live life on the fence. Either we are both feet in the world system or we aren’t. The Lord has called me specifically to starve certain areas of my flesh, areas that suck me in if you will. He and I know what they are and I am cooperating on offering myself to Him, in losing myself in Him. I have spent a lot of time feeding the flesh. It has proved to be a counterfeit an imposter. All that it offered left me cheated and empty. It is my prayer that I will remember intensely just how empty it is and that the Holy Spirit will convict me when I start to "go there". We live in this world and God means for us to be highly effective. I believe with all that is in me that we are missing out on our promised lands because of our unbelief. We go after self-gratification because it feels good and we buy into the lie that God is holding out on us. That is the same lie that caused Adam and Eve to sin in the garden. I had a choice before me this weekend that my flesh was warring with my spirit over. I literally had to stop in my car and say “Lord, my flesh wants to do this but it is contrary to Your word. PLEASE trump my flesh with the power of the Spirit and help me not to give in to how I feel right now.” The Spirit won that time, Praise Him!

Once we get into a pattern of conformity it can be hard to break but it is never too late. We need to get on our face and pray for the godly sorrow that leads us to repentance. It may take time but through prayer and the word we can be victorious in areas that may seem devastated. Nothing is a lost cause with Christ. Another thought I have when I look over my past is that conformity always brought some manner of sorrow and consequence with it to teach me and leave a mark on me reminding me of the repercussions I brought on myself. Still there is no telling the mercy that has been poured over my life in spite of my failures to believe and obey. Let’s learn from our mistakes, allow God to free us and heal us and use our past sins to pay the enemy back because of our great redemption from the very things that once enslaved us in our conformity. Another picture of conformity in the life of a Christian is a visual the Lord gave me several years ago. It is what I call a “Chameleon Christian” a person that blends in and doesn’t look any different than anyone else, yet calls themselves a Christian (that is my picture of conforming). Let me ask you a question that I am asking myself: does your life look any different than the life of one that does not profess Christ? If someone came into your home as a fly on the wall would there be anything different about you? Christ calls us to come apart and to be different (not weird…ha ha) but different…to be transformed. To show a life to the dying world that has been changed by the power of the blood and the testimony of the Word. We are to be walking to the beat of a different drummer with our drummer being Christ not the ruler of this world satan.

So how do we keep from conformity? Well first I would say that Romans 12:2 gives us a direct word on that. We are to be transformed (changed, altered, and renewed) by daily walking with Christ in the power of the Spirit. We are to have our minds renewed. How do we do that, we spend time in the Word and prayer. We have our minds transformed and renewed by abiding in Him. We put good things into our hearts and minds, namely His word. We can listen to sermons, surround ourselves with people who sharpen us, and spend time meditating on His word. I promise based on experience that the more you feed the Spirit the more influence you will have on the lost. You will be compelled to reach out to others and you won't be able to help telling of the great things the Lord has done. You and I will be like the apostles who were commanded to no longer speak in the Name of Jesus:

Acts 4:19-21

19But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.

The word for renewing is Anakainosis and it means “to renew. Renewal, renovation, rejuvenation, the process and work of restoring something back to a new condition. Refers to spiritual renewal; of the mind as the object (Ro 12:2, the degree to which one can ascertain [determine through evaluation] God’s will corresponds directly to the degree to which he has been transformed by his mind’s renewal); the Holy Spirit as the agent (Titus 3:5, “[the] washing effected by…regeneration and [the] renewal effected by…the Holy Spirit.”

I don’t know about you but my mind works overtime. Whatever we think about is where we start to steer our bodies until what we are thinking becomes an action. We can dwell on some pretty bad stuff or we can take our mind to the Word and our Healer and begin to bear fruit for the kingdom. If I dwell on my problems or even my feelings long enough I begin to walk around in defeat. Our problems are real so I am in NO WAY saying to ignore the hurts of life. What I am saying is to take all of those things and bring them to Jesus. Do these verses with all that is assailing you:

Lamentations 2:19

19 Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at the head of every street.

Psalm 62:8

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Sometimes the best medicine for a bleeding heart and a messed up mind is to just come and offer Him some praise. The “living sacrifice” comes to life when life is really hard and we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but we continue to walk by faith, not by sight and we trust in our Sovereign Lord when our flesh screams not to trust Him but to take matters into our own hands. I know some really precious people right now that are going through painful divorces, infertility, singleness, loneliness, depression, anxiety, financial difficulties, health problems, people who are suffering from wrong choices they made, people who are struggling to forgive, people who are dealing with bitterness in their soul, men and women who are struggling with a broken heart that has been ripped out and stomped on, they have been betrayed, abandoned, and struck down. Life has turned out to be hard. The enemy has a field day trying to toy with us to stay in a place of defeat and despair instead of us lifting our head to Jesus and allowing Him to send forth His word and heal us. Our rival wants to offer us counterfeit medicine that will only numb the pain without us ever getting to the root of it. If we truly offered ourselves to the Lord, giving Him the good, the bad, and the ugly all of the hurts would become servants to us. I can truly say that if I had not gone through some major disappointments, hurt, rejection, abuse, failed relationships, the loss of my first child, health issues, if I had not been through those trials I would not know the Lord like I do. I would not know and rely on His love, I would probably not even seek Him at all if life were so grand. I wouldn’t know His comfort, His mercy and forgiveness, His Fathering of me, His unfailing steadfast love toward this child. The Lord has started calling me back to some basics and maybe He is doing the same for you. He is calling me to quit living so much for me and my own interests and to come back to finding my life hidden in Him. You see when we focus so much on how we have been dealt a raw deal we begin to go after whatever means possible to make ourselves happy. If it is monetary things, we chase after that. The world tells us “if it feels good do it.” You deserve better is what we here. Hey problems in your marriage, find a new spouse, difficulties at your job, find a new one, no longer satisfied with that car buy something better. Is your house to small, get a bigger one! Please… please… please yourself, and don’t forget to look out for number one…You! Then we are more miserable and nothing will ever fill our cavernous needs yet still we strive. If Jesus were here today in the flesh, would He be amazed at our lack of faith like He was in His hometown or in examples like the one in Mark 9? When He comes will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?")? The Lord is calling me and you as well to take Him at His word to come with the faith of a child and trust Him when the path is dim. He is faithful! Okay so all that is to say we need to be in the word to be effective in this world and to be changed in the attitudes of our mind. We also need to do a little practicing of the famous Phil 4:6-9 passage. We don’t just need to have it memorized we need to do it. One of my hardest struggles is to change my thoughts from what I am feeling to what is true. Here is Phil 4 in the Amplified version:

Philippians 4:6-9

6Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

7And God's peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

8For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

9Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of [e]untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

Now back to the beginning: 1. We need to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. He is our master and in becoming a bond slave we become captive to Him to do His will. We have the liberty to omit things that are permissible but maybe not beneficial because we are servants of the Most High. 2. We run to the word instead of conforming to the patterns and fads of this world. We come and grow like Jesus did in Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” We will not be people of influence unless we are growing in Him. 3. We have our minds renewed daily by confessing our sins, turning from them, not giving into the flesh and its lusts and by abiding in Him.

John 15:4-6

4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Psalm 16:2

2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

May our life be testimony to the verse above that apart from Him we have no good thing!

After all of this offering, renewing, being transformed, then what? We will be able to test and approve what His will is. Through renewal and being set apart for His work we will have His mind. We already have it in Christ but our mindsets become drastically altered as we loose focus and are focused on earthly things. 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 says “15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
16"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?"[a] But we have the mind of Christ.”

We have the mind of Christ but will we use it? Will we feed it? Will we trust in Him or will we trust in ourselves?

After we have done what the verses speak of we will be able to test and approve what His will is. Test and approve (Dokimazo) means “approved, tested. To test, try, prove, scrutinize, discern, distinguish, approve. It has the notion of testing a thing to ascertain whether it be worthy to be received or not. Something good is expected of every trial, proof. (1) To prove through demonstration, scrutinize, examine, test, try, assay, determine the genuineness or value of something through testing…(2) To determine the identity of something through evaluation…(3) To approve, pronounce good, fit, worthy, or acceptable after testing.”

In essence God is after renovating our minds, refashioning them from the world to the mind of Christ in each and every situation. Think about renovating a home or restoring an old car. God wants to renovate to get out the old, rot, garbage, mold and decay. He wants to replace it with the good, admirable, worthy of praise and He is after restoration, restoring the old, beat down, broken and dilapidated places in us. Since the fall He has been all about the business of restoring us to Him. Thank you for the cross Lord.

So we will be able to test and approve His will. Will here (Thelema) means “to will. Will desire, inclination, choice, determination. The suffix –ma (in thelema) conveys the notion of result; in this case, that which results from the exercise of the will. Hence, thelema is the actual thing willed, the will specifically, particularly, and concretely. It means, then, will, not to be conceived as demand, but as an expression or inclination of pleasure; a want or desire which pleases and creates joy. When it (the word thelema) denotes God’s will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. Used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure…”

So if I were to sum this up in a verse from the Bible it would be this one:

Psalm 27:4


Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

As we offer ourselves to Him, stop conforming, be renewed and transformed, we can discern His will, His good pleasing and perfect will because we are delighting ourselves in Him. His desires become our desires. His perfect hatred for sin becomes our hatred for sin. His pity and compassion on the lost, or the believer stuck in the pit of sin becomes our pity and compassion for we are one in Him.

He knows what we need better than we do. Oh we think we know and we find out all to soon like Solomon that life is fleeting and full of vanity a chasing after the wind. But when our life is hidden in Christ it is full of meaning and purpose. So lets stop believing lies and start believing the truth.

If you read this far I pray that this helps you and encouraged you like it does me. I need to be reminded. In closing I am going to give you a verse that the Lord has been speaking to me this week. I read it Saturday and then my friend Jessica called me this morning and told me to read it! I love how the Lord works! Lets not miss what He is doing!

Isaiah 26:3-4

3 You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.

4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

Much love


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