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29 August 2012

Listen to God - 29 August

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2  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 12:1-2 (ESV)

Our last study, worship, reminded us that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection took away the need to worship by blood sacrifice at God’s temple. As Christians, we are the temple of God and our bodies are to be a living sacrifice to God.

We know that we have many failings and that in most ways we are completely unlike Jesus, yet we want to be like Him. When we really notice our faults, it’s God calling to us! We need to respond by asking God to make us more Christlike.

Have you ever read a passage and seen that you don’t live up to the words you’ve read? When that happens, you have a choice to accept or reject what you’ve read. Many times we hear people justify behavior by saying “it was a cultural thing back then” or “it applied only to that time” or my favorite: “it’s not a clearly stated position”. All of those excuses, or whatever excuse I choose to use, is simply a way for my sin nature to keep me conformed to the world. I can choose to keep going my way, or I can accept God’s prompting and challenge and tell God that I want to be like that – not like I am now. God will then work in my life to transform me. sometimes it’s an instantaneous process, but most often it’s a long process with many failures. The bottom line is that we listen, acknowledge what God has to tell us, and work with God to do His will.

What do you think Paul means by renewal of your mind?

How do we test to discern the will of God?

The only available source we have to know God’s will is the Bible. We can plainly see what He expects of us when we read His Word. That’s the way we discern His will, but what do we do with that discernment? I believe that this is a part of renewing our mind. When we read our Bible, we get rid of the junk that the world offers us and fill our mind with the goodness of God. That’s why certain Bible verses are so popular. When we get stressed, we can renew our mind with a verse like:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (KJV)

When we want to yell and scream at our boss, our co-worker, our loved one, we might recall:

Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 (KJV)

Or when we’re tempted to curl up in a ball with fear, God’s promise to Jeremiah might come to mind:

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8 (ESV)

Once you are able to recall specific promises, your communication with God will improve! You can “pray the Scriptures”:

…Lord, I’m afraid of my boss. He always seems to be out to get me. He constantly attacks me in front of my co-workers, and I just want to defend myself. I know that what I say to him wouldn’t be nice, and so Lord I pray that you set a watch before my mouth, Lord and guard my lips. Make my words to him be what you would want me to say and not what I would want to say. You’ve promised that you would deliver me, Lord, and I’m taking you at your word.

If you prayed that prayer, and your actions reflected those promises and desires, what might that do to your situation? As you act more Christlike, your coworkers would see Jesus in you. Might that be a way to open a conversation of your faith?

How would your prayers be hindered in that boss situation if you were conformed to this world? What steps would you need to take before you could have a conversation with God if you “gave him what he deserved”? How would those words affect your witness to your co-workers?

We’ll talk more about the issue of communicating God’s truths on Friday.

I try to end all of my prayers before I interact with people with “let the words I say be that ones You’d have me say and not what I’d come up with”. It’s based on  Psalm 141:3. I find that it’s easier to keep my emotions in check when I pray that particular verse.

We all have verses that are special to us. We may use certain verses for peace, or calm, or to remind us how to behave. I would love to know what some of your favorite verses are – and why! If you’ve ever used a verse to help you though a specific situation, could you please share (no names or revealing details please. Focus on how the Word helped you!). We can all find help from different verses and it will be interesting to see what you use.

See you Friday!

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