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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #44 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 16

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, and to bless those who persecute them.

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 15.

The sixteenth critical imperative is —

16. Believers are to USE THEIR EMOTIONS FOR THE LORD . . . AND FOR EACH OTHER (v. 16)!

“Feelings, nothing  more than feelings . . .” A popular song reminds us that we are often victims of our own emotions. “You can’t help how you feel!”, I’ve heard Christians say. No? We can’t?

The emotional life of the believer is very important. The Lord Jesus displayed various emotions in His earthly life — and we are to model every aspect of our lives after Him. Perhaps we can’t help our initial emotional response to something, but we are to have control over continuing emotions.  And we can choose to identify with other believers in their joy and sorrow. This assumes that we are attentive to their emotional state and that we want to encourage them in their circumstance, whether that circumstance is joyful or mournful.

What control do we have over our emotions? From this critical imperative we must conclude that we can identify with those who are rejoicing — and join them in their pleasure. We can empathize with those who are grieving — and join them in their sorrow.

Today’s Challenge: Think of a specific believer that you know right now who is going through either joy or sorrow. How might you express your identification with that person?

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! GET BUSY GETTING GODLY! (Part 2)

In Colossians 3 we read about how we should get busy getting godly. Let’s look at the first two challenges in this passage:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We are commanded in verse 1 to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is.” And in verse 2 we are again told to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Setting your heart and setting your mind are not automatic choices the believer makes. We need to be challenged to emotionally and intellectually focus on things eternal.

Why should we “set our hearts on things above”? Because that is “where Christ is.” Now, I don’t understand God’s omnipresence (as one theologian put it, “Wherever there is a where, God is there”), but the divine Son of God can be (and is) both in the believer and at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. But we are not commanded to set our hearts on the Jesus who lives within us, are we? The emphasis is on His location — “seated at the right hand of God.” His atoning work was accepted by the Father and His glory and honor (veiled during His incarnation) are fully restored or made manifest.

Why should we “set our minds on things above”? Because we naturally give our best attention to “earthly things.” But we have died to this world and its “things.” Our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God.”

This does not mean we are to hate this world. This is, after all, “our Father’s world.” But our primary attention — both emotionally and intellectually — is not to be given to the finite, fallen, fractured system which so easily distracts us from our new status in Christ. Choose to set your hearts and your minds today!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2019 in focus

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 38)

Isn’t it just like the Lord to provide comfort for His people, even when His people are angry and anxious for God’s judgment — on others?  Jonah has settled into his shelter, enjoying its shade, waiting for God’s wrath to fall on Nineveh.

We read:  “Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort”! (v. 6).

God provides an additional level of comfort for Jonah beyond his self-made shelter.  God cares about His servant’s discomfort.  How ironic that the Lord would do such a thing for rebellious, unforgiving Jonah.

Then we read, “and Jonah was very happy about the plant” (v. 6).  An interesting study of this book would be the emotional life of Jonah.  What made him angry?  What brought him happiness?

But there he is.  In his double-shade, half provided by his own hands; the other half providentially provided by God the farmer.  But Jonah’s comfort, as he will see, is far from being a permanent condition.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon: Men and Their Emotions!

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in emotions

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! (apathy)

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Our church just held our missions conference with the title “WHO REALLY CARES?” In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, a visiting missionary to France challenged us to genuinely care about world missions.

But apathy seems to be our default setting in spiritual matters, doesn’t it? Our affections Screenshot 2015-11-16 05.58.26are all messed up. We care deeply about things that don’t matter and little about things that are eternal.

I recently unit-read the book of 2 Corinthians and was impressed by the statement in chapter 10 verse 5- “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Screenshot 2015-11-16 05.57.08God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Might we paraphrase this verse for today as “We demolish apathy and every emotion that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every feeling to make it obedient to Christ”?

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in apathy

 

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Time for a Great Picture: Venting!

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Okay, okay. I admit it.  I sometimes take pictures of other vehicles when I’m driving.  I usually wait until I’m stopped at a stoplight, but I can’t resist a good sermon illustration.

You’ll notice that this tanker truck has a sign on the back that read:  “TANK VENTING IS NORMAL.”  I’ve enlarged the sign in the 2nd picture.

Venting dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere is normal?  Although this tanker says it is carrying carbon dioxide, I wonder if tankers carrying dangerous chemicals have the same sign?

It’s sometimes dangerous when we vent, isn’t it?  But we need to express ourselves, Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 7.18.38 AMto put into words what we are going through, what we are feeling.  As I read through the book of Psalms, it seems to me that the Lord gives the Psalmist a lot of freedom to express exactly what he is feeling.  At times, he speaks of his discouragement as he sees the wicked prosper, his fear as he is being chased by his enemies, his sense of abandonment when he feels the Lord is not acting on his behalf.  And yet, the Lord does not strike him down or even rebuke him for his “venting.”

Do you feel free to vent before the Lord?  He will not break when we express our honest feelings to Him.  He is not a porcelain God who is fragile and needs our frustrations sanitized before we share them with Him!

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 7.22.48 AMDo you have a human friend with whom you can share your deepest feelings?  I love this quote by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans):  “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Do you feel “safe” with the Lord?  Free to share your deepest feelings?  Any friends come to mind who provide you with the same kindness?

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in emotions

 

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Time for a Great Quote! (Piper on our feelings)

“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 4.48.26 PMGod’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”
John Piper, Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again?

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in feelings

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 44)

Psalm 44
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.39.47 AMKorah. A maskil.[b]

1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.

4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.[d]

9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.42.55 AM
you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.

13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

17 All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?

25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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