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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #40 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 12

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. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 12.

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, and to be patient in affliction! Wow!

The twelfth critical imperative is —12. Believers are to BE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER (v. 12)!

This imperative is, for me, rather painful. I am not a prayer warrior. I’m not a prayer conscientious objector. I’m what might be called a prayer pacifist. I’m usually at peace that I’m such a pathetic pray-er! And that’s SIN.

There is so much that I need to learn about prayer. I need to learn that having God on speed dial when I’m in trouble is, at the very least, insulting to Him. I need to learn that prayer is often a missing weapon in my spiritual arsenal, and that’s lethal. I need to learn that I rely way too often on my own strength and forget about GOD! And that’s just dumb.

This critical imperative is not worded as “PRAY!” But rather “be faithful in prayer.” Faithful to what? to Whom? It certainly means that I keep my word when I promise others that I will pray for them. It certainly means that I will trust God’s faithfulness to me — and rest on His promises. It certainly entails a discipline of getting on my knees (spiritually, not physically [I’d have trouble getting back up!]) and getting serious about my walk with Him, others’ struggles to do the same, and the raw truth that He knows far better than we do. About everything. So I need to do more faithful praying!

Today’s Challenge: How would you rate your prayer life? Would “faithful” be the adjective that immediately jumps to your mind about this critical discipline? Why or why not? And . . . what are you going to do about it?

 

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — The GIFTS of God the Holy Spirit! (Part 4)

Some Christians seem to overemphasize the Holy Spirit, while many of us overlook Him. We need to biblically relate to Him. We can speak to Him because He is personal and, because He is God, we can (and should) worship Him. Neither of these actions are intended to minimize the primacy of the Lord Jesus, for the Spirit of God’s primary job is to glorify the Lord Jesus.

The various ministries in the church are not all to be performed by professional clergy, because every believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit to be used to build up the Body of Christ and to serve a broken and needy world. The four major passages on spiritual gifts are Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4. Let’s look at the last of our four passages, I Peter 4 —

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

What do we learn here about God the Holy Spirit? Actually He is not specifically mentioned in this last text on spiritual gifts, but we may infer several truths:

1. We are told to “use whatever gift you have received to serve others” (v. 10). And we know from our other texts that the Spirit is the Giver of the gifts.

2. We are to be “faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (v. 10). It is the Spirit of God who is the grace-giver, “grace” referring to the gifts themselves.

3. One question would be: Who is the “God” being referred to in verse 11? We read, 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Could “God” in this verse be referring to the Third Member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit? If so, the one who has the gift of speaking should do so as one “who speaks the very words of God” (the Holy Spirit). After all, it is the Spirit who led the Apostles to write the New Testament. Now, it does not appear that verse 11 is saying that new revelation is being given or that it should be added to the divine canon of Scripture.

Further, the one who serves should serve “with the strength God [the Holy Spirit?] provides.” Why? “So that in all things God [the Holy Spirit?] may be praised through Jesus Christ.” Could this be another reference to the Third Member of the Trinity? He is worthy to be praised and to receive “glory and power for ever and ever.”

The Challenge: In all four of these texts on the spiritual gifts, it appears that much of the work which the Spirit of God is doing in the church and in the world is through God’s gifted-people. What enablement or gifting do you have to serve the Lord?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel (chapter 12)

In I Samuel 12, we have Samuel describing his readiness to die. He has helped Israel find a human king, and now he wants to know if he has been honest in his dealings with God’s people (vv. 1-3). The people respond that Samuel has been honest in his life with them (v. 4).

Samuel gives a history lesson, reviewing the “evidence” of “all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors” (v. 7). He reviews the stories of Jacob entering Egypt, the sending of Moses and Aaron, the deliverance out of Egypt, and the settling in the land of Canaan (v. 8).

But Israel forgot the Lord who then turned them over to the Philistines and the Moabites (v. 9). God answered their cry for rescue by sending Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah, and Samuel, granting His people safety (v. 11).

But then Israel demanded a human king. Samuel then warns the people to obey the Lord or “his hand will be against you” (v. 15).

Samuel then tells them to stand still and see a great thing that the Lord will do before their eyes. Samuel calls on the Lord who sends thunder and rain, showing that their demand for a king was “an evil thing” (vv. 16-18). Thunder and rain come and the people ask Samuel to intercede for them so that they will not die! And they say, “for we have added to all our others sins the evil of asking for a king” (v. 19).

Samuel agrees with them, but challenges them not to turn away from the Lord to idols, but to serve the Lord with all their hearts (v. 20). Idols will do them no good, cannot rescue them, “because they are useless” (v. 21). He then says, “For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.” (v. 22).

Samuel then says, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (v. 23). He then issues a warning: “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”

Some takeaways from this chapter:

(1) It is critical that spiritual leaders lead lives of integrity! (vv. 1-5).

(2) It is beneficial to do a history review of all the Lord’s “righteous acts” which He has done in our lives! (vv. 6-7)

(3) God is certainly capable of punishing His people when they forget Him (vv. 9-11).

(4) We need to warn ourselves and others not to turn away from the Lord to idols. Idols can’t rescue us (as God can) and they are useless! (vv. 20-21).

(5) God was pleased to make Israel His own people (v. 22).

(6) I sin against the Lord when I fail to pray for the ones God wants me to pray for (v. 23).

(7) We need to hear and to heed warnings about not serving the Lord faithfully with all our hearts (vv. 24-25).

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in I Samuel 12

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! (Secret of Happiness)

Screenshot 2016-01-05 20.01.10

Our lives are made up of a multitude of “moments,” aren’t they? Some are pleasurable, some — not so much. You may have heard the story of an elderly sister in Christ who was asked the question, “What is your favorite Bible verse?” She thought about her life and the many deep waters the Lord had taken her through, and she said, “My favorite verse is ‘And it came to PAST!”

Are you going through some moments now that you wish would become the past? I was greatly encouraged the other day by reading through the book of Lamentations. In the midst of all of his legitimate complaints, Jeremiah writes —

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions [mercies] never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

My problem is that I sometimes live on what a Screenshot 2016-01-28 05.51.36preacher called “stale mercies.”  When I was a kid, every morning was an adventure of reading the cereal boxes when we had breakfast.  Sometimes they were fascinating; sometimes they held the promise of a prize at the bottom.  My brother and I would occasionally fight over which cereal box each of us got to read.

I think we Christians have had too many breakfasts of God’s “stale mercies.”  His mercies are NEW every morning, waiting for us, reminding us of His compassions and His greatness.

Your thoughts?

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2016 in happiness

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 117)

Psalm 117Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 6.24.24 AM

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
    extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 6.28.17 AM

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 85)

Psalm 85

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 6.44.45 AMKorah. A psalm.

You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
    and covered all their sins.[b]
You set aside all your wrath
    and turned from your fierce anger.

Restore us again, God our Savior,
    and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
    that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 6.46.42 AM
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
    and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
    and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
    and prepares the way for his steps.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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