Posts Tagged ‘Romans 12:2’

Culture Wars

February 19th, 2018

Cues from a wrong source are misleading.

“You ought to live holy and Godly lives, as you look forward

to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Culture Wars.”

There are things about the current, secular culture that disturb me. I am disturbed that we too often take our cues from unworthy and inappropriate sources, with neither discernment nor discrimination. Much of the surrounding culture has a far greater influence on the Church and its people than could ever be justified – whether speaking of morals, materialism, or immodesty as expressed in fashion, media, music, profanity, incivility, or self-centeredness. We seem to take our cues from those wrong sources without discernment that we are doing so. Apparently, we are afraid to look different as we mimic the surrounding styles of how we dress, how we talk, and to a greater degree, how we live.

The Bible provides clarity. “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.” Romans 12:2 NIV. When I was a young teen, the Church seemed to take a reactionary stance to the culture that appeared imbalanced and in clear opposition. Conversely today, we are too concerned about fitting in with the culture and too comfortable when we do.

Then, Christians seemed to consciously try to look, act, and talk differently. It might be wiser to just confidently and comfortably choose to be who we are always called to be, “Salt and Light,” in a deteriorating and darkening world. In retrospect, However, I believe my grandparents’ and parents’ generations chose a safer margin for error with less consequences than may result from our indecisive course today.

The Bible’s counsel is wise, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NIV. Be advised and wise and live successfully and effectively now and eternally safe forever.

Today, we seem to feel the need to apologize that our standards and expectations are other than the surrounding cultural norms. Because we are unclear about how to be Godly people in an ungodly age, a generation of young “teens and twenties” are confused, and thereby easily succumb to the bombardment of media, movies, music, fashion, and celebrities’ lifestyles to determine how they should dress, talk, think, and live.

The nature of the culture is not what disturbs me most. That is neither surprising nor redeemable except on an individual basis, never collectively. I am concerned about the secular culture’s influence and our naive approach to the lure of their example. Why mimic the opinions and lifestyle of celebrities because they have wealth or fame, lavishly granted from those whom they merely amuse and entertain? Except for few exceptions, they are in graphic contrast and conflict with what the follower of Jesus is meant to be, never examples to be esteemed and followed.

The Apostle Peter asked and answered a reasonable, but probing, question to the young churches and new Christians. “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV. You must ask and answer that question for yourself, “What kind of person ought I to be?” Life is best lived with a singular focus. As a follower of Jesus, I would suggest Paul’s words to you, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Choose carefully the people you admire and emulate, or you will find yourself in a gradual decline and indiscernible process of becoming like them. There is a clear and right choice to make. “Christ, is your example. Follow in His steps: He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when He suffered He did not threaten to get even; He left his case in the hands of God Who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 TLB. Yours and my goal should be to allow the Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit to make us a little more like Jesus every day.

Today, I pray for you to be a Godly example of a chaste and consecrated life of faith.

Christian Communications 2018

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The Will of God

March 23rd, 2016

“That you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 NKJV.

Lack of obedience impairs your ability to hear from God.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “the will of God.”

God’s will is not secondary to anything, but primary to everything. “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” Ephesians 1:11 NIV. Through obedience, God includes you in the accomplishment of His will in His world, as well as His will in your life. In his letter, Paul clarified the supreme priority of God’s will, “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Read Colossians 1:9-13 NIV.

The will of God holds incomparable, personal benefits. Paul continues, describing unsurpassed results when the will of God inhabits your heart and mind: (1) living worthily, (2) pleasing to God, (3) abounding fruitfully, (4) a growing knowledge of God, (5) strengthening in His power, (6) being patient and enduring, (7) rejoicing and grateful, and (8) sharing a Godly inheritance. The Bible describes God’s will in these words – “His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV.

I have found this to be true, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 1802-88. Jesus told a story of a father and two sons. Their father asked each of them to work in his vineyard. One son refused his father, then reconsidered and did as his father asked. The other son readily agreed to do what his father asked of him, but neither started nor completed the task. Read Matthew 21:28-31 NKJV. Jesus asked his listeners, as I ask you, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” The answer should be obvious. Obedience is not what you say you will do; obedience is altogether what you do. You and I are to be defined as, “bond servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Read Ephesians 6:5-8 NKJV.

More than once, I remember my Dad asking, “Allen, did you hear me?” He was not doubting my physical ability to hear. He was accurately questioning my willingness and intention to obey. Hearing presupposes obedience. When King Saul disobeyed the specific instructions of God, the prophet Samuel asked him, “Which does the Lord prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey Him than to sacrifice the best . . to Him.” 1 Samuel 15:22 TEV. For obedience, God offers no option, accepts no substitute.

“God listens to the Godly man who does His will . . The man who does the will of God lives forever” John 9:31/1 John 2:17 NIV. Maybe you struggle to know God’s will at times. Maybe you have not recognized God’s voice or have not listened carefully enough. Or maybe you have procrastinated doing what God has spoken previously. Lack of obedience impairs your ability to hear anything further from God. God will not move forward in your life when you have unfinished business with His will.

Today, I pray for you to do “the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” from your heart.

Christian Communications 2016

EDL hear the Word

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High Standards

August 28th, 2015

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17 NIV.

Passionately protest mediocrity.

My thoughts and comments today are about “high standards.”

Standards are important to a worthwhile life. Standards provide a benchmark – a standard of excellence against which similar things must be measured or judged – for what you deem acceptable or unacceptable. Using others as your standard is inadequate. If you don’t establish your standards, your friends or the surrounding culture will. “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV.

A person with low standards ultimately has no standards. The Father’s intention for us is clear: “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV. That is a high standard, fully achievable in Christ Jesus. Maturity is your destiny in Christ.

Some years ago, while teaching a Pastoral Counseling class to young Bible school students, I needed to define spiritual maturity in practical terms. This is my definition, “Spiritual maturity is rightly responding to life’s situations according to Biblical patterns of behavior.” That defines our Savior and should describe you and me. Christ-likeness should always be your choice. In any and every situation, you are presented with this choice, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV.

Spiritual conformation is the progression by which the Holy Spirit accomplishes that. “We know that when Jesus is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2 NKJV. Meanwhile, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV. Maturity is much more than increasing Biblical knowledge. Maturity is the embodiment of Biblical truth woven into the fabric of daily life – how you think, what you will sacrifice, what you believe, how you behave, what you value, how you live.

God’s Word and Christ’s example are high standards, not achievable apart from submission to the Lordship of Christ and dependence upon the indwelling power of the Spirit. Paul applied these high standards in simple, practical terms: bear with each other; forgive grievances; embrace love; let peace rule; be thankful; let the Word dwell in you; admonish with wisdom. Paul’s summary was, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Read Colossians 3:12-17 NIV. Passionately protest mediocrity; for me, that says it all.

Today, I pray for you that Jesus is the high standard to which you aspire.

Christian Communications

EDL PIX and quote standards

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Thoughts and Destinations

April 9th, 2014

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 NKJV.

Thoughts without discipline and direction produce regrets unforeseen.

My thoughts and comments today are about “thoughts and destinations.”

Your mind is a powerful force. Thoughts are the origin of attitudes, desires, beliefs, and behavior. The noblest acts of self-sacrifice, as well as self-centeredness, begin and mature in the mind. The mind is fertile ground for whatever is sown there. “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7 NASV. Years earlier, I read a simple but powerful statement, “Sow a thought, and reap an action. Sow an action, and reap a habit. Sow a habit, and reap a destiny.” Never start a journey in your thoughts that you don’t want to reach as your destination. Decisions and direction result from your deliberations.

Great achievements begin with a simple, compelling idea, just as unthinkable behavior can begin with unguarded thoughts. God’s indictment of Noah’s generation was severe but accurate, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great . . and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Read Genesis 6:5-8 NKJV. “Every intent of [their] thoughts . . was only evil continually.” Wicked men allowed God nothing He could redeem. Bad behavior and evil lives had its origin in their evil thoughts. Thoughts without discipline and direction produce regrets unforeseen. Noah was different and He found grace. Read Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV.

But there is reason for encouragement. The Bible offers an effective solution, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . He humbled Himself and became obedient . .” Read Philippians 2:2-11 NKJV. You will not achieve the mind of Christ by your best efforts. However, you can receive the mind of Christ by your sincere welcome. For this reason, Paul assured your victory, “[You] have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV.

In the Philippians verses, I see these spiritual elements of the mind of Christ you are to replicate: Godly submission, absolute selflessness, humble service, and willing sacrifice, from which come the promise of God’s recognition and reward. From Jesus, you can learn the joy of yielding your rights and embracing responsibilities. You have the Godly potential to become all that you were created to be. The process is not passive; it’s proactive. Read Colossians 3:1-3 NIV/Galatians 5:19-25 NLT.

The mind is not self-governing; your thought life must be righteously managed. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV. Recognize, then cast down and capture every thought process that misdirects you spiritually – such as self-pity, remorse, anger, unforgiveness, disobedience, or such like. Read Romans 8:5-6 NIV.

Here is God’s answer; it’s simple and effective but not easy. “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.” Romans 12:2 NIV. See Ephesians 4:23-24 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is for an uncluttered mind and thoughts obedient to Christ.

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Ruling Your Thoughts

June 20th, 2012

“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

God is with those in whose minds are thoughts pleasing to Him.

My thoughts and comments today are about “ruling your thoughts.”

Whatever dominates your thoughts eventually directs your life. You either rule your thoughts, or they will rule you. Your inner life consists of your mind, will, and emotions. And the mind often has a predominate role in directing your feelings and choices. Your thoughts act like a personal rudder that steers your decisions and directions you take. Though referring to the tongue, the Bible describes a ship’s rudder in ways that could also be applied to the disproportionate influence of one’s thoughts, “Ships . . although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.” James 3:4 NIV. A thought seems so small but it is far from powerless.

Direct your thoughts where they ought to go rather than allow their taking you wherever they seem to go. Make thoughts your servant rather than master. Some people’s thoughts are like a whimsical preschooler, extremely active but not particularly productive, unless properly, sometimes forcefully directed. In Peter’s first epistle, he links your mind and thoughts with your proper conduct. Read 1 Peter 1:13-15 NKJV.

Thoughts will dictate how you feel about your life, sometimes unnoticeably at the moment – coloring the memories of your past, interpreting and often misinterpreting present events, and projecting future expectations. That makes them important for you to manage. You need to guide your thoughts for them to be productive and carefully guard them to be profitable. Much hurt can result to you or others if your thoughts are not daily purified by the “cleansing with the washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26 NKJV), and daily “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 NIV.

The Apostle Paul often referred to your mind as holding the key to one’s happiness, “. . guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true . . noble . . right . . pure . . lovely . . admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things . . and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 NIV. The God of peace is with those in whose minds are thoughts pleasing to Him. “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Read Romans 8:5-6 NIV/See Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT.

Do you wonder how to accomplish that? I can assure you that such rightly directed thoughts do not come naturally. You have to do a lot of sorting and selecting. First, recognize the mind of Christ resides within you. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God . . but we have the mind of Christ.” Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 NIV/Philippians 2:5-9 NKJV. With the mind of Christ within you, you can choose truth over error, contrast right from wrong, crave purity over impurity, choose excellence instead of mediocrity, and recognize what is praiseworthy.

Ruling your thoughts includes you but begins with God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me . . For the word of God is living and active . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV/Hebrews 4:12 NIV. When God has done His part, you must then do yours. “Pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments . . bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV.

My prayer for you today is that your thoughts are of things excellent and praiseworthy.

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