Category Archives: The Holy Spirit

What’s your superpower?

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As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.  1 Peter 4:10-11

 

This little passage is about spiritual gifting, which is the empowerment by God to do things for the kingdom. There is a difference between doing things that we are naturally good at and doing something by gifting, leading and enabling power of the Holy Spirit.  I have been naturally good at sports and music, and in my younger years would do much of both without much need of the courage and gifting of the Holy Spirit.  But there is a supernatural gifting that comes from God, by His Holy Spirit, that has been called your “spiritual gift.”

There are many varieties of this spiritual gifting, with lists in Ephesians 4:11-12, Romans 12:2-7 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.  They are things like teaching, giving, hospitality, wisdom and discernment, preaching, evangelism, administration and showing mercy.   When Jesus comes into your life, He gives you abilities from His Spirit so that you can serve Him and build up the church.  And He expects you to use it for His glory.

No Christian can then say, “I’m not good at anything; I have nothing to offer.”  That is a lie from Satan, or a ploy of your flesh to be a slug.  As sure as you have the Holy Spirit in your life, you surely have a gifting of some sort.  

There are two ways of looking at this gifting:

That every believer has at least one of the listed gifts.  Your task would be to discover what that gifting is.  One way of discovering this is to get out and try things.  And, just like someone who shoots baskets in his driveway was meant to take those skills and be a part of a basketball team, your gifts are meant to be fleshed out in the church.  

 When there are opportunities to serve and you do something, you may find that some things are in your wheelhouse, and others just aren’t.  And, you may do something like help out with Sunday School or take part in the worship team, and people may tell you how that really touched them.  You may feel the working of the Holy Spirit when you tell others about Jesus, and you know those words didn’t come from your own head.  A pattern will soon follow of things you are drawn to doing, and of seeing God work through that.

That the gifting of the Holy Spirit in your life is varied, depending on the need of the moment.  If I am filled by the Spirit and am walking in the Spirit, being led to do something and I do it, the Holy Spirit’s power will work through me.  There are times when God has led me to do something that is totally out of character for me, but I know I must obey and do it, and God works.  

Here is an example of this:  One time I was at a prayer meeting with several other churches in our area.  The pastor leading it urged us to think about someone we could share the love of Jesus with, and to ask God how to do that.  As soon as he said this, a mom from school came to my mind.  As we bowed to pray, I had a flash of an image of me standing at her door with two bags of groceries in my hands.  She had been having some troubles with drugs and getting caught.  It would have been more comfortable to me to have her in my jail Bible study, but to walk up to her door with groceries was not in my comfort zone.

After work the next day, I knew that this was when I should do this.  Her house was right across the street, so it was easy to know if she was home or not.  There were cars in the driveway, so this was the time.  As I stopped at the stop sign, the choice was there: if I turned right I would go home, left to the grocery store.

“Okay God, I’ll just drive to the grocery store…okay God, I’ll go in, but I don’t know what to buy for them.”  I sensed God tell me, “Just buy what you would buy.”  So I went my usual route, but got double of what I would get.  As I got to the check out, I told the clerk, “I need paper bags, and all of this has to fit in two bags.”  That’s what in my  “mini vision.”   So I fit them snugly in and set off for her house.  I prayed that God would give the words to say why I was there.  I didn’t have a script prepared.

When I got to the door with the bags in my arms, she came to the door and said, “What are you doing?”  Her living room had several people in it, so we walked into the kitchen and said, “I just wanted to let you know that God loves you.”  She gave me a hug, I talked with her and the guests for a few minutes and I left.  I am still waiting for the opportunity to tell her more about Jesus, and I have this gut feeling that one day it will come.

This was a one time working like that.  I was obeying  the leading of the Spirit, and trust that God worked through it.  If God is leading you to do something, just do it with the courage and the strength that He provides.  

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10


Handle with Care

But reject foolish and ignorant arguments, knowing that they breed quarrels.  The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness.  2 Timothy 2:24-25 HCSB          

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Proclaim the message.  Persist in it, whether convenient or not.  Rebuke, correct and encourage with great patience and teaching.  2 Timothy 4:2  HCSB

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 NIV

We’ve been studying 2 Timothy in our women’s Sunday school class.  One of the challenges was to memorize 2 Timothy, which I took on.  Surprisingly, it only took me about a month to get it.  As I’ve memorized it and reviewed it since then, the verses about gentleness have echoed in my head over and over.

It must be something God wants me to develop, because I keep getting many opportunities to put gentleness into practice.  One of the responsibilities as an Elementary Principal involves dealing with parents.  Over the last few months, I have had a few parents who have been unreasonable, irrational and argumentative.  Sometimes it seems that they are just waiting to jump on someone, and the minute the slightest issue comes up, they pounce.

While these parents are chipping and chewing, these verses keep playing in the background.  I want to spit back and show them the holes in their thinking and actions.  Then there’s the part about not engaging in quarrels and rejecting foolish and ignorant arguments.  I call it “picking my battles.”

I don’t think that I am the only one who has to deal with argumentative, unreasonable people.  We all do.  How we deal with them reflects what is inside and Who we belong to.  One of the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5, is gentleness.  That means that as the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in us, gentleness comes out like an air freshener.  I wish it was just that easy.  There is an aspect of me diligently working on gentleness, or any other fruit or character trait that makes me more like Jesus than like my old, grumpy self.

I pray in the morning to put on kindness, compassion, gentleness, humility and patience as listed in Colossians 3.  But I still have to consciously be gentle in my interactions with difficult people.  It’s kind of like if someone else finds a job for you, answering a prayer for employment and money to pay the bills.   You still have to get out of bed each morning and go to work.  And once there, you have to fulfill the job expectations.  We have a part to play in the process.

So it is with gentleness.  God works in me as I call upon Him as I daily keep in step with the Spirit.  In Jerry Bridges’ book called “The Practice of Godliness,” he recommends memorizing verses about the character issue that you are working on. Hence, the above verses to memorize and to put into practice.  God, work Your gentleness in and through me today, in Jesus’ name!


Do your prayers sound like this?

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And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to HIm.  Colossians 1:9-10a

Most of the time my prayers do not sound like  Paul’s prayers.  But when I really want to see someone grow in their Christian life, I borrow these words.  They really distill what we need to have to make it spiritually.  And when I’m stuck on how to pray for myself, I do the same.  Let’s take his prayer apart:

Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  According to quora.com, the average adult makes around 35,000 choices a day.  Just try to order a sandwich from “Subway” and you’ll notch about 30 choices.  It would be really nice to get a little note from God with our directions for the day.  Instead of getting that, we get the Holy Spirit who is always with us to guide us.  God, direct me today so I know I’m doing what You want me to do.

In all spiritual wisdom and understanding.   Just this last week I encountered a situation with a difficult parent where I needed God’s wisdom regarding how to respond to her bullying and berating.  I asked God for understanding what she really is angry at and how to stop butting heads with her.  God is not like a magic eight ball that gives immediate answers, but I trust that He will speak ideas into my heart and mind as I proceed.  Take your most difficult situation that is facing you and ask God for His wisdom and understanding.  

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.  In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” the character played by Tom Hanks, Captain Miller,  dies in his mission to save Private Ryan, the only son left in his family.  James Ryan went back to Normandy to Captain Miller’s grave.  Ryan stood by his grave and said, My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming back here. Every day, I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best I could. I hope it was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.” (From http://www.thesource4ym.com/movieclipdiscussions)

We don’t have to earn anything related to what Jesus has done for us.  That’s what grace is all about.  Private Ryan  felt a strong gratitude and had a  sense of purpose in life because of the sacrifice made for him.   We need to live our lives with a different purpose and sense of value because we know that Jesus  gave up His life for us.

Fully pleasing to Him.  If we do something that God instructs us to do, then we’ll be pleasing to Him.  That’s what obedience is.  If we don’t do something that we know God has commanded us not to do, the same is true.  If you want to please God, obey Him.  That’s what Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.”

May you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will today,  along with gaining wisdom and understanding from His Holy Spirit who is at work in you.  May God direct your steps and give you ideas, creativity and skill that comes from Him.  May you walk differently because you belong to Jesus, being filled with gratitude because of His sacrifice for you.  And may you please God by being obedient to Him.   May you turn from sinful ways and delight in doing things God’s way.  


Pray at all times in the Spirit

prayPraying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.  Ephesians 6:18

I would call prayer the walkie talkie that goes with the armor of God.  It is not an intercom, a one-way communication tool, but a walkie talkie for two way communication.  That’s why Paul writes to pray in the Spirit at all times.  What does praying in the Spirit mean?

In Romans 8:26-27 we find that “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Here are some of the things the Holy Spirit does to help us in prayer:

  • The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God.  He knows the mind of Christ and the will of God.  Then he He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us.  
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.   When I enter into praying ‘in the Spirit,’ I am asking the Holy Spirit to tell me how to pray and what to pray for so that I am praying for people against Satan’s strongholds, devices, and schemes and am effective in my prayers–not just babbling words or phrases learned from someplace.
  • The Spirit in my spirit prays with groanings that cannot be expressed in words, working in us to will and to do the will and good pleasure of our Father.  “Put on my heart what it is You want me to pray for and to yearn for.  Stir my spirit with Your Holy Spirit to intercede and to speak according to Your will.”

The prayer of the Spirit is the inner meaning of prayer.  It is more than just sitting down and asking God for a list of things–it is communion, fellowship, cooperation and identification with God and Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, a preacher in the 1800’s from England said, “The most important part of prayer is not what we say to God, but what God says to us.  It is no place to hurry (the place of fellowship with God).  The soul must be still and wait before the Lord.” (From the Collection and Works of Samuel Chadwick, Beacon Hill, 1943).

Ephesians 6:18 commands us to pray at all times, with all prayer and supplication.  Pray when you don’t feel like it, pray until you feel like it.  Pray for little deals and pray for big deals.  Pray for yourself and pray for others.  Prayer is a weapon.

Finally,  our power verse with tells us to be alert and to persevere.  Don’t be content with seasons of prayerlessness.  Break through whatever wall it is that keeps you from communing with God on a deep enough level to know that your spirit is communicating with the Holy Spirit.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power.”  James 5:17

 


More power

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(I pray that you would know)  what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the Heavenly places.”  Ephesians 1:19

Paul was praying for the Ephesians that their spiritual eyes would be opened so that they (and we) could experience God’s hope and understand how rich His inheritance in us is.  The third thing he prayed for is that we would know how great God’s power is.  It is so great that it rose Jesus from the dead and seated Him back in Heaven to rule and reign.  And it is available for us who believe.

Have you ever thought of that?  The miracles that Jesus did in the Gospels were to show us what God can do and was doing in Heaven.  Jesus said in John 5:19, “I do what I see my Father doing.”   God has all this power that can heal blind eyes, evict demons with a word, part the Red Sea (Old Testament) and raise the dead.  That same power is at work for us.

How do we grab a hold of it?  Part of it has to do with believing that God can do anything in our lives, not just in the New Testament.  We need a robust faith.  It’s like the story of the two fishing boats.  In the first one was a father and his son.  The second boat had a guy fishing alone.  The father and son weren’t catching much, so the boy watched the guy in the other boat pull in one big fish after another.  But then he would throw them back and only keep the little ones.  When they were close enough, the boy asked him why he only kept the small fish.  The man replied, “I have a small frying pan.”

Do you have a small frying pan for your faith?  If you want more of God’s power in your life, start by reading Matthew through Acts and see all of the mighty miracles that Jesus performed.  Place your faith in this God of power.  Ask God to grow your faith and trust Him enough to go out on a limb and learn that His power is real and available to you.

Another way of grabbing a hold of God’s power is to ask the Holy Spirit to work in your life.  The book of Acts seems to link prayer with a move of the Spirit and with boldness.  Acts 4:31 tells us, “When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”  Luke 11:12 reads, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that God gives us today to live the Christian life, to obey Him, and to be a part of building His kingdom.  May God open your eyes so that you would know how great God’s power is for you, toward you and in you.May you get a big frying pan sized faith, prompting you to pray  early and often, filling you with boldness so that your life shakes.


Touched by the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16

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This is the secret of the Christian life, right here.  Walk by the Spirit.  Let me tell you a bit of my testimony about God showing me that “secret.”  I became a Christian through a Vacation Bible School ministry when I was young.  I grew up in a non Christian setting and didn’t attend a Bible teaching church.  I didn’t have Christian friends and really didn’t know any other Christians in my high school my last two years.

But Jesus had a hold of me and He grew my faith in that wilderness.  When I got to college I was then able to attend a Bible teaching church and have Christian friends. But I had a lot of rough edges from growing up in the spiritual “wild.”  I had a heart for God, for His Word, and God was faithful in sanding off those rough edges.

After my third year of college I went to be a counselor at a camp north of Toronto.  It was a great place, but I was totally out of my comfort zone.  I was used to relying on what I could do for my self confidence.  But there in a different country with people I didn’t know was a stretch.  I then  separated my shoulder the first day the kids were there.  And one of the kids that I was counselor of had extreme behavior issues.  And it was there that I met Jesus in a whole different way, one that changed me deeply.

The director of the camp was a gifted Bible teacher and leader and God used her tremendously to speak into my life.  Combined with that, each morning I woke up long before anyone in the camp of over 300 people.  I desperately needed Jesus and He met me each morning as I watched the fish jump in the still morning lake, sitting with my Bible and communing with God.  The whole summer was like a honeymoon with Jesus.  It was there that the Holy Spirit got a hold of my life.  I came back to college a different person.  I had a boldness in sharing my faith and a new self discipline in reading and meditating on the Bible.  Before that my time with God was sporadic and I couldn’t get to being the kind of Christian I knew God wanted me to be.

I had a couple more experiences like that in my early twenties, and what it taught me was that if I relied on God, He would do His work in me and through me.  I didn’t realize it was the Holy Spirit leading me, giving me a bold faith and taking me to all kinds of exciting places to serve Him.  But looking back, I see that I learned from God what many Christians haven’t learned and need to learn.  For me, being touched by the Spirit didn’t involve tongues or visions of some sort.  It was getting radically changed on the inside and walking with a whole different confidence that I knew was God working in and through me.

God showed me if I kept that intimate relationship with Him that He would keep doing things in and through me.  Walking in the Spirit means all kinds of things, but one of the things it means is just letting God lead and obeying what He tells you to do.  The Spirit will fight the flesh battle, giving you the victory you wouldn’t have on your own.   It doesn’t mean that you will automatically win every battle, but you can quickly return to the victory that is in Jesus.  You won’t find it striving on your own to follow God’s commands or striving to be a “good Christian.”

What God did for me was purely His grace visiting me.  What He keeps doing for me knocks my socks off.  May God visit you with His grace, touching you with the Holy Spirit in a way that changes you forever.  Luke 11:13 says, “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”


People pleasers vs. God pleasers

 

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For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

The following is a partial list from Vicki Champion (vickichampion.com) on characteristics of a chronic people pleaser:

  1. Automatically Says YES when they want to say NO.
  2. Experiences exhaustion from trying to be “perfect.”
  3. Thinks that if they “do” the right thing they will be “accepted” or “loved.”
  4. Fear risk or that they might be wrong.
  5. Bankrupts themselves because they feel undeserving.
  6. Says “I’m sorry” when no apology is necessary.
  7. Believe others’ happiness is their responsibility. 
  8. Chooses to be nice over being real.
  9. Never has enough time.
  10. Lives with irritability because of constant pressure.
  11. Tries to control everything for everyone with no regard for his or her self.
  12. Wonders why they get so little respect and everyone takes advantage of them.

Now let’s try a list of things that would characterize a God pleaser.

  1. Uses the Bible as their  guide, not what is popular or politically correct.
  2. Obeys God rather than men.
  3. Knows that they answer to God and looks to Him  wholeheartedly.   
  4. Makes it their aim to please God.
  5. Makes the most of their time, gaining wisdom from God and guidance from the Holy Spirit.  
  6. Puts God first.  
  7. Understands grace, meaning that they  don’t have to earn approval or work for their salvation.  What Jesus did was enough, so they walk in freedom.  
  8. Doesn’t worry about being liked and is willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.

That’s just the beginning of what it looks like to be a God pleaser.   I know people who are Christians that don’t have this figured out.  They are always busy with silly things  and don’t end up having enough time for church or Bible studies.  They do things because they think it wouldn’t look right if they didn’t, being more concerned about what others think than with praying and asking God what He thinks.  I don’t like being around them because I feel like they are trying to control me or that they have an agenda for me and I’m a pawn in that agenda.

There is a bondage connected to striving in the flesh to please others rather than God. Galatians 5:1 tells us that there is freedom in being a God pleaser, resting in His grace.  Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  Be free!


Destroying strongholds

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We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5

This verse is about destroying arguments.  Another word for arguments is strongholds.  Strongholds are belief systems, attitudes, ways of thinking, or opinions that are not of God.  They are from Satan and they keep people away from God or in bondage even as followers of Him.  Paul was dealing with opponents of Jesus and of the Gospel.   He was demolishing their secular or pagan world views and then taking their defeated thoughts captive for Christ so that they could understand the Gospel and obey God.

When we encounter people that are stuck on their philosophy, religion,  pet theory, or mental blocks of some sort  we can pray it down.  Pray and name the ideology that you are hitting up against specifically in prayer, asking God to demolish it in the heavenly places.  That would give you the Heavenly power you need to see that lofty opinion brought down.  Practically applied, if the person you are praying for is influenced by atheism, secular humanism (I can save myself), narcissism (stuck on self), evolution, or Eastern religions of some sort you can pray that down by name.  You can also pray against the addictions that bind people, breaking the power that it has over them–or over you if you have addictions in your life.

Praying specifically against the contrary mindset or thought pattern is one weapon.  The second is using Scripture.  The Word of God, the Bible, is the sword of the Spirit.  In Hebrews 4:12 we find that the Word is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword that can pierce through to thoughts and intentions of people’s hearts.  That means that if we use Bible verses in our persuading of people, the verses penetrate in ways that our own words don’t.  A third weapon is the Holy Spirit.  Ask Him to show you how to pray, to give you power in your words that are God inspired, and to do a work in others’ hearts and lives that you can’t do.

You can apply this to yourself too.  As you get into the Bible and it gets into you, you may encounter things in your life that contradict God’s ways.  Are you willing to ask God to destroy, demolish or dismantle any world view, opinion, or habit pattern that is in your life?  That would be called surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus.  It is telling Jesus that He is more important than the coping mechanisms and belief systems that you hold about life, and asking Him to destroy anything that isn’t pleasing to Him.  Ouch.

We need to guard, strengthen and renew our minds because that is where lofty opinions and things that raise up against the knowledge of God begins.  In other words, the battle against sin starts in the mind.  We can have attitudes that are ungodly, or have worry, guilt, fear, resentment, insecurity and a host of other things take up residence that need to get kicked out in the name of Jesus.  Maybe the reason people live defeated and ineffective Christian lives is because they don’t know how to fight this battle for the mind.

But if you take this to heart, you can fight the battle for others’ minds as well as your own.  Use the divinely powerful weapons that are ours in Christ Jesus.


Grab a hold of the God of hope and the Spirit of power

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Are you ever short on hope? God is the God of hope.  Have you ever thought of that?  Turn to the God of hope!  You may look back on your life and feel deep regret for things that you have done that has caused great pain.  Or, you may look ahead and not feel hope, just tiredness and pessimism.  If you belong to Jesus, the good news is that you can rewrite your script.  God holds the key to hope and  when you cry out to Him, you can grab a hold of things you never imagined.

Our hope isn’t built on fantasy.  It is built on God’s promises that are true.  He has delivered on them in the past and He will in the future.  His character backs that up.  Our hope is based on a God who can do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,” as Ephesians 3:20 proclaims.  We are placing our trust in the same God who made the lame walk, fed 5000 people with a bag lunch, and  raised Jesus from the dead.

As we place our faith in the God of hope, He fills us with joy and peace.  I can’t think of any other thing that can promise and deliver true joy and peace.  Drugs and alcohol offer a temporary blast of elation, but they are soon followed by regret and an emptiness that only magnifies despair.  In Romans 5:1-5, Paul describes how God has accomplished peace with Him through the blood of Jesus and how the Holy  Spirit  pours His love into our hearts.

It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to abound in hope and to have the faith to believe in this. It is His power that pours so much hope into our hearts that it overflows into others’ lives.  Our faith is in the God of hope and in the Spirit of power.

Put into the context of our lives, this means that all of the things that lie behind and before you are covered by the God of hope and the Spirit of power.  It could be lack of money, uncertainty of health, troubling relationships, or fear and anxiety that keep popping up.  Call on the power of the Holy Spirit today to give you the faith to trust that God will pour His hope, joy and peace into your heart.  Give Him the specifics of your life today, and picture God taking a water bucket and pouring His living water on them.

(The studies that I have been posting were originally written to send to some women in prison that I correspond with. They get a more in depth study to go with each devotional thought.  I connected with them at our county’s jail Bible studies that I lead.  They have invited Jesus into their lives, but struggle to break free from the things of the past, old habit patterns and ways of living, and to walk victoriously. As you read these posts, please pray for them–Tina, Arlene and Randi–that they would grab onto Jesus because He has grabbed a hold of  them–Philippians 3:12.)

 


Inside Out

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Romans 12:1 is urging us to live differently because we have been rescued by God’s mercy.  In view of that, we are to put our lives on God’s altar.  When we purpose to be a living sacrifice, our lives become a worship song to God.  Verse 2 tells us more of what that looks like.

First, we are not to be conformed to this world.  “The world” is that body of beliefs that stands the opposite of what we now belong to.  In John 15:18, Jesus started using it to tell His disciples about the bumpy road ahead: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”  To conform means to ‘comply with rules, standards or laws, or to behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards,” according to dictionary.com.

Put into what God is asking us to be like, that means we don’t follow the crowd or subscribe to ‘group think.’  We have been delivered out of the world system of thoughts and actions and now belong to the kingdom of light. That doesn’t mean we go out of our way to be different, thus being obnoxious.  We just are different become of Who we belong to.  John Piper said, “We are useless as Christ exalting Christians if all we do is conform to the world around us,” in his sermon on Romans 12:1-2.

Instead of being conformed to the world that we don’t belong to anymore, we are to be transformed.  Back to dictionary.com, to be transformed is defined as “to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.”  Transformation isn’t accomplished by following a list of do’s and don’ts.   It is accomplished by at least two things.

The first is accomplished by the Holy Spirit inside of us, not just when we become Christians, but throughout our Christian life.  In Titus 3:4-5 Paul describes how the goodness and kindness of God has come into our lives, saving us by His mercy and “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

Piper continues in his sermon on the renewed mind: “It is the triumphant power and transformation of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ — our Savior, our Lord, our Treasure. [God] has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). So transformation is a profound, blood-bought, Spirit-wrought change from the inside out.”

Second, the Holy Spirit works inside of us as our minds renewed and changed by the Word of God. Our minds are changed from being like the world to being like Jesus when we bathe frequently in the Bible.  As you do this, you will think and act differently.  Being in the Bible ignites the work of the Spirit in your life.

Finally, as we do this we are going to find out, or prove,  God’s acceptable and perfect will for our lives.  We will be who He designed us to be, doing what He has saved us for.  Ephesians 2:10 proclaims, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.”  Do not be conformed by the world, but be transformed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.

This is a link to Piper’s excellent sermon on Romans 12:2 (click on it)