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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 12:3’

Biblical Faith

July 22nd, 2015

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV.

Biblical faith is central and requisite to the Christian life.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Biblical faith.”

Life is difficult without a healthy measure of faith. Faith is natural unless compromised by opinions and circumstances. Disappointing experiences, damaged trust, and resultant doubts are usually the product of insincere promises or insufficient abilities to fulfill promises made. Yet your Christian life is completely dependent on faith. Paul reminded the Corinthian believers, “We walk by faith not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Your life in Christ begins with the gift of faith, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Your spiritual life grows by faith’s increase, “. . if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you heard.” Colossians 1:22. Faith sustains you during and at the end of your journey, as faith did for “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:11-12.

And how is this journey of faith successfully accomplished? It’s simple really. “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith . .” Hebrews 12:2. Faith is neither something you create of yourself nor can you sustain apart from Jesus, alive in your heart. “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NKJV. “Faith is not a mere sterile, intellectual belief, but it is that which confirms the heart, clarifies the mind, and controls the affections.” (Barnes’ Notes).

(1) Biblical faith is central and requisite to every aspect of the Christian life. Citing the example of Enoch, “as one who pleased God,” the Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:5-6 NIV. Faith is essential, not optional. Biblical faith is described best in Hebrews 11:1.

(2) Biblical faith is: “the substance of things hoped for.” English lacks the breadth and richness of the original Greek text, in which the New Testament was primarily written. As used in this verse, “Substance” is closest to our word, “foundation, that which stands underneath to provide support.” Biblical hope is not at all wishful thinking; it is a spiritual reality established upon the solid rock of God’s Word. Read Matthew 7:24-27. The “things hoped for” are as certain as the singular character, absolute authority, and unchanging reliability of God. If God said it, I believe it. And that settles it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing [comes] by the Word of God.” Read Romans 10:17.

(3) Biblical faith is: “the evidence of things not seen.” As used in this verse, “Evidence” is “the irrefutable proof and unchangeable conviction.” The “things not [yet] seen” are envisioned in one’s heart and accompanied by unshakable conviction of their certainty. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV. Abraham is a great example of this principle. Read Romans 4:19-21 NIV. You don’t choose what you believe; you choose who you believe and that determines what you believe. Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” See Matthew 11:22-24. I believe God.

Jesus used the example of a tiny mustard seed to encourage faith and demonstrate its power, “the smallest seed, when planted it grows and becomes the largest of plants . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . nothing will be impossible for you.” Read Mark 4:31 and Matthew 17:20 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that your faith grows strong and rests fully upon God and His Word.

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Lifestyle Issues

March 11th, 2015

“We urge you to live in a way that pleases God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NLT.

Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lifestyle issues.”

EDL pix walking with God

If you try to please everyone, you will ultimately please no one and make yourself miserable in the process. Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone. Neither is practical or achievable. Life is simpler when you finally decide who you are going to please. And the worst possible alternative is to live to please no one but yourself. The Bible warns, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead be modest in your thinking.” Romans 12:3 TEV.

Many things pressure you to conform to others’ demands and expectations. Resist the temptation of doing so. The Apostle Paul offers a practical self-inventory, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV. Obviously, Paul recognized a previous time when he was “still trying to please men,” and the inconsistency that resulted.

The proper conclusion is this: when you can serve both God and man, do so. When you cannot, serve and please God above all others. “Our aim is to please Him always . . for we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NLT. Never forget the One to whom you owe first allegiance.

The surrounding culture may press you to conform your attitudes, values, and conduct in less than exemplary ways; live as unto the Lord. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV. Current circumstances might seem to impose an urgency of attention they may not warrant; live above your present circumstance. An unhealthy family history may have enslaved you in habitual behaviors, struggling to please people who simply refuse to be pleased; live free of unjust expectations. Some have had the unfortunate experience of working for a boss you could not please, a relative from whom you never gained their approval, or a parent or spouse who never affirms you. That is sad, but not uncommon. Such experiences present lifestyle issues.

Ultimately, the only hope of pleasing others is to confidently know that you have first pleased God. Here is the Bible’s definitive guideline: “Finally, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You are doing this already, and we encourage you to do so more and more.” Read 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:1 NLT. After struggling unsuccessfully to please others, maybe your question would be, “How then can I please God?” Pleasing people is complicated; pleasing God is not. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV. See Romans 14:17-18 NIV.

The task is not yours alone; God gives you all that is required; you supply obedience. “May God equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:21 NIV. Paul’s answer was this, “. . we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way . .” Colossians 1:9-10 NIV. Paul then elaborates on what pleases God, “. . bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, strengthened with power, having endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks, brought into the Kingdom, and having redemption and the forgiveness of sins.” Read Colossians 1:11-14 NIV.

I love the simplicity with which the Bible described ancient Enoch, a man that walked with God, “Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Read Hebrews 11:5-6 (See Genesis 5:21-24).

Today, my prayer for you is that at life’s end, His testimony and yours will be that you pleased God.

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Originality and Humility

April 19th, 2013

I say to every man . . not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.Romans 12:3 NAS.

You are an original, uniquely crafted by the genius of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “originality and humility.”

Life is not static; a successful life is lived with dynamic balance.  By that I mean: a dynamic balance requires subtle adjustments to a present reality. People who never adjust break; people who never change never grow. Our great granddaughter, Kaylee Grace, is one year old and walking – everywhere! With newly discovered mobility, she is adventurous. Have you observed a toddler’s first attempts at walking? There seems to be quite a trick to it that you may have forgotten. The challenge is accomplishing a dynamic balance that shifts your weight safely from one foot to the other.

Walking is such a common part of everyday life that I hardly gave it any thought, until I read an explanation of the intricate processes the body constantly performs in the act of walking. Since it happens so naturally, even automatically, you take it for granted until something happens to impair your ability to do so. Each and every step requires an immediate and delicate adjustment to your balance. Each foot shifts the center of gravity ever so slightly from one side to the other, and the rest of the body has to anticipate and accurately adjust. Failure to do so results in a fall.

The idea of balance that intrigues me today is about the life-balance of having confidence in your God-given originality balanced with common sense humility. Your walk in Christ necessitates that you understand the delicate balance of both, knowing the profound uniqueness of who you are in Christ and how and when to walk in humility before others, and certainly before God at all times. You are an original, uniquely crafted by the genius of God. In some ways, you are one of a kind, but that was never meant for your pride, but always and only for the glory of your Creator.

In other ways, you are not so different from every other person. You have every reason to walk in true humility. Apart from God’s grace and gifts to you, of what can you boast? Blending those two realities and balancing the need and occasion for each is the challenge you must master to experience and enjoy your greatest success. How you live compliments your Creator.

You have seen examples of the worst of either of those extremes – the person so impressed with themselves they are unenjoyable if not unbearable – or the person so self-deprecating they are uncomfortable to be around, excusing themselves from any effort or expectation. Either is an unhealthy imbalance.

Here’s the Bible formula for a Godly life of spiritual balance, “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NAS. How beautifully and practically stated. Think of yourself no more highly than you ought to think, and just as importantly, think of yourself no less highly than you ought to think, according to the grace of God that is upon your life and the gift of God that is within you.

My prayer for you this day is that you enjoy who you are, and fully credit God Who made you.

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A Growing Faith

May 25th, 2012

“Faith comes by hearing . . the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 NKJV

Faith is a spiritual seed that holds a miraculous potential.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a growing faith.”

As oxygen is a basic, physical necessity for your everyday life, faith is absolutely essential for spiritual life. In fact, the Bible explains that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV. The good news is that we all have faith; you have faith because “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NKJV. The question becomes this: what are you doing with the faith you have been given?

Faith us not a static quantity, this much and no more. Faith is a spiritual seed that holds a miraculous potential for life and growth. Jesus spoke of individuals who had “little faith,” and of others who had “strong faith,” and ”sincere faith,” and even “great faith.” Your measure of faith grows when it is invested in matters serving the Kingdom of God.

I was recently asked about learning to hear the voice of God. I think sometimes a person is looking for some mystical experience, and I certainly believe there are such moments when God speaks sovereignly to listening hearts. But how do you train your heart to listen?

I have observed that the more familiar you become with a specific voice, the more readily you learn to recognize and respond to that particular voice even in a mixture of noises and voices. Children learn to identify a parent’s voice quickly, just as a mother can hear the cry of her child above the playground noise of other children. I think the same is true with hearing God’s voice. Familiarity is central to knowing God when He speaks. And spiritual discipline and practice are required.

First of all, busy and noisy lives are not conducive to spiritual clarity. God is not silent; people are easily distracted. The issue is not so much about God speaking, as it is about your hearing. God can and will speak to you in your daily chaos; the question is whether or not you can hear in such surroundings. You do not summon God to fit your schedule and convenience; you make your heart available to His presence if you are serious about hearing His voice and doing His will.

Instead of listening for God to speak singularly to you, could I encourage you to take advantage of reading your Bible to know what God has already spoken? Paul explained, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing [comes] by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 NKJV. Now, I recognize that the context of this verse is describing the place of God’s Word introducing a person into initial faith in Christ for salvation; then would it not be consistent that the same Word of God, essential for one’s spiritual birth, would also be necessary for spiritual growth and maturing?

Peter confirmed this relationship between faith and familiarity with God’s Word. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3 NIV. My summation of thought is this: the more time you spend with God’s Word, the more clearly you will hear God’s voice in your listening heart, and the more vibrant faith you will experience and express. See 2 Peter 3:18/Ephesians 4:11-15 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you learn God’s Word so you will know and hear God’s voice.

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Identity

January 3rd, 2012

“If you’re content to be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” Matthew 23:12 The Message

“Spiritual growth and development rests upon the holy potential God offers you.”

My thoughts today are about “identity.”

When you consider the issue of personal identity, there are three possible factors – the person you present yourself to be; that’s image – the person other people believe you to be; that’s reputation – and the person that God knows you to be; that’s identity. Identity is not about externals and posturing; identity is about your inner life, about character, spiritual integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. See Psalm 15:1-5/24:3-6 NKJV. The latter is the most important because God’s opinion matters most and that’s where you truly discover who God means you to be and who you can fully become. What others believe about you is of lesser importance, except to your sense of well-being. It isn’t so bad when you are not sure of other people’s real identity but if unsure who you are, that’s a problem.

Know this; a healthy sense of identity is important. “If you’re content to be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” Matthew 23:12 The Message. A more familiar translation of Jesus’ words is: “Whoever exalts Himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Humble yourself and leave it to God and others to exalt you, if they choose.

Here’s the Bible’s advice: “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3 NLT. God has an accurate knowledge of exactly who you are now and a correct understanding of the unimagined potential you have. You usually have an estimate only; so be honest with yourself and others. People seem inclined to some measure of the extreme, either creating a false exaggeration of their own importance or self-imposing a devalued estimation of themselves – neither of which would be accurate.

James, the early church leader and brother of Jesus, described people who are, “like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James 1:23-24 NKJV. He described a person observing then forgetting the reflection they saw, because their reflection was without real regard for the amazing original God designed them to be. This verse always encourages me: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12 NKJV.  Power to become! That’s what God offers. That’s what I need; that’s what I want.

Everything about your journey of spiritual growth and development rests upon the holy potential God offers. It is not so much about who you are presently. Who and where you are now is just a place from which God begins your exciting journey to His image and likeness. See Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV/Romans 8:28-29/Colossians 3:8-10 NKJV. Image suggests appearance, which is outward resemblance; likeness suggests attributes, which are inward realities. Being a copy of anyone else never works out very well. Don’t settle for being a cheap copy of anyone or anything rather than the original God made. It takes courage to be yourself. Be yourself, as God made you. God says you are “children of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ.” Romans 8:16-17 NKJV. That’s why “your life will count for plenty.”

My prayer for you today is that you allow God alone to shape who you are becoming.

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