21.5 Romans – Go where?

In the first 2 sentences of Romans 12, we find ourselves fully connected and fueled up.  The next step, logically, is to GO!  To do!  To put into action!  But what is our path, our direction, our mission?

Not to sound like a line from the Blues Brothers movie, but we, each and every day, are truly called to “be on a mission from God.”  We are not an accident, we were created on purpose and for a purpose as part of God’s plan.  In the same way there is no co-incidence, there are truly only God-incidents, since He is in control of all things and works all things for the good of those who love Him.  And, as part of that plan and that work, God has a calling for us each and every day and every moment of that day.

So, what is your mission?  With all this mercy and power and connectivity and communion and fuel, what are you, yes, you, called to do today?  Here is what we know:

  1. It will be for something good
  2. It will be for something pleasing to God
  3. It will be for something that is part of His perfect will
  4. It will involve loving the Lord, your God, with all your heart and soul and strength
  5. It will involve loving your neighbor as yourself
  6. It will be in absolute conformity with the scripture
  7. It may be painful and involve hardship
  8. It may be something you don’t want to do
  9. It may take you to places and people you don’t want to love
  10. It will require you to rely on God and not yourself
  11. It will be done best when done fully with God
  12. It will be done best with praise and glory to Him

As for the specifics of what that means for you for today, you have to ask God yourself.  For most of us who feel lost and off-mission, it isn’t because God won’t tell us, it is because we do not truly invest the quiet time in reading His word, meditating on it, fasting, and praying to ask Him.  If you don’t show up prepared for the mission briefing, it is really hard to get the message and understand the mission!

There is one other note that Paul makes in this sentence.  It says we won’t only be able to test God’s will (something Paul explains to Timothy in his letter to him about how we can use the scriptures, but he also notes that we approve God’s will.  When we pause and think about it, who are we to “approve” God’s will.  That is like approving the decisions of your boss’s boss.  But, I think, that term is less meant to convey that we sign-off on God’s will as we sign-on with God’s will.  God’s Will will be accomplished with or without us.  But we are given the grace and opportunity to sign-on with it to be part of the mission.  We are not drafted, we are called and we are given the ability to respond.  We also are given the opportunity to thoroughly examine each mission and after testing to affix our name, our stamp, our seal to it as well.  To test and attest.

My Answers:

13.
renewing of your mind to test and approve what is God’s will; comes from the Lord who is the Spirit; for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose

14.
Reading scriptures, meditation, fasting, prayer, worship, being trained, sharing with others in Godly fellowship.
Through teaching, preaching, prayer and worship

15.
good, pleasing and perfect

16.
J14: If you love me, keep my commandments
2C10: take captive every thought to make us obedient and demolish every pretense that is against
1T4: Be sanctified; avoid lust and temptation
J5:Confess and turn to God in all afflictions, physical and spiritual. The prayer of a righteous is powerful
1P2: by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people
1P3: it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil
1P4: Live for God in all things – do not live like the rest, be alert and of sober mind; PRAY

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21.4 Romans – Fueled up

I remember one fateful vacation when I was growing up.  We had driven down to the very southern parts of Texas to visit family and had a great time, playing on the beach, eating and just enjoying being together for a few short days.  We took off to drive back home and started our trip back by filling up the gas tank of my dad’s car.  I remember the tanker was at the station and had just begun filling the underground tanks and I watched the big hoses being put into place.  As we drove through downtown Fort Worth, our car all of a sudden began to make horrible jolting motions and sputtering noises.  These continued for a short period of time and then the engine just stopped.  My dad was successful at pulling the car to the side of the road, but it would not start again.  After some time, stranded on the side of the road, we received help and had it towed to a service center and learned that we had gotten sediment in the fuel line that clogged the fuel filter and so the car wouldn’t run.  Unfortunately, the part wasn’t available and we spent a long weekend with an unplanned stay.

The ways of the world are like that sediment.  It is everywhere.  It is dirt and grime and dust that are the physical equivalents of lust and greed and sin that permeates life on this fallen world.  And just as the tanker stilled up the sediment in the tanks of the service station, the world and satan love to stir up lust and sin all around us.

Paul calls on us to not conform but instead be transformed.  Our fuel comes from God, but the world wants to corrupt that fuel.  Paul says, don’t allow that to happen.

But how can we do that?  We start with the source of our fuel.  Are we in the word?  Are we meditating and fasting?  Are we disciplined in prayer?  Then we apply filters. Are our thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy?  Are we applying filters to what we allow to enter our eyes and ears?  Do we limit and filter our websites and the shows we watch and the things we listen to, both music and pundits?  Do we limit contact with the negative influences of gossiping and negative friends, neighbors and co-workers?  Do we avoid places and events that promote temptation?

God provides us with the purest and highest octane fuel.  As we look at our own lives and the times we’ve been broken down along the side of the road, we can often see the ways we let the “ways of the world” clog up our lives with impurities.

My Answers:

10.
sin

11.
If anyone loves the world they do not love the Father. The lusts of the world do not come from the Father. The patterns of this world are the scars and burn marks of sin

12.
greed, the temptation of gain through lack of honesty, laziness and indulging in food and drink

21.3 Romans – Fully Connected to God

When we contemplate the attributes of God, his might and power and creator and glory, it is amazing that we can even think about having a personal relationship with Him.  The people of the old testament took these attributes far more to heart than we do, today.  They knew reverence for God and while they desired to see Him directly, they also shook in fear when they heard the rumbling of His mountaintop presence and fell to their knees and face.

God did not decrease in His attributes.  He is immutable, He doesn’t change.  But the death and resurrection of Jesus tore down the curtain of separation and allows us, in Christ, to be in communion with our creator and Father and friend.  It is an unimaginable relationship and it is one that is impossible save for the mercy of God.

In the first sentence of Romans 12, Paul addresses this fact.  He urges, he directs, he encourages, he implores the believers in Rome (and us via proxy) to participate in “true and proper worship” with God.

How are we to do this?  Paul, knowing His audience, calls on what they know – the sacrifices of the law – as the example, but with a new twist to reflect the new state.  When we think of the sacrifices of the law, they were things, the best things, that were fully and completely given over to God.  When a Jew brought a bull or a lamb or a bird to be sacrificed, it was all in, fully given and fully consumed.  They were not leaving with a t-bone or lambchops.  This was fully and completely given over to God.  In the same way, Paul explains that communion with God is based on fully and completely giving over our lives to Him.  The payment of death is has been fulfilled.  Christ paid the price.  But, we still have a hunger to see and know and commune directly with God through worship.  We want that connection through Jesus.

We do that by fully connecting with God.  Jesus is our port, our outlet, our connector, that has, through mercy, given us the ability to connect in a way that was not available to the patriarchs of the old testament.  We don’t connect through death, we connect through life in Christ.

Unlike salvation, this connecting is a day by day, moment by moment thing.  When we accept the gift of Jesus, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, but God gives us the free will every minute to commune with Him or to pull the plug and go off on our own.  He doesn’t hold us hostage, but accepts us as His children.  To make it easier to stay connected to Him each day, He shows us His mercy each day.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  You may remember the old Hymn, “morning by morning, new mercies I see” based on these verses.  Every morning God shows us new mercy so that every day we can choose to stay connected with Him, for Him, through Christ.

My Answers:

6.
9:15 I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and compassion on whom I have compassion
9:23 riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory
2: because of His love, God rich in mercy made us alive w/Christ, by grace you have been saved
1:3 In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the rez of Jesus Christ

7.
Innumerable – the time and location of life, the blessings of family and church and work, the gift of education and knowledge and Godly mentors and friends

8.
Sacrifice is to give something fully and completely for the glory of God. The old testament was a sacrifice of death. The one Paul discusses is a living sacrifice.
Lev: day of atonement
Heb: Christ’s Sacrifice once for all
Rom: We participate in Christ: baptized into His death, buried and raised from the dead through glory

9.
tithing of time, service to others, teaching and preaching. Some serve in dangerous lands or put themselves in harms way for the spreading of the gospel or to serve others

21.2 Romans – Call to Action

Therefore… The close of Romans 11 is the close of Paul’s doxology of praise to the Lord.  It is an acclamation and affirmation that God is engaged in everything.  Everything is from Him.  Everything flows through Him and, everything is for Him.  To him be all glory.

So?  What do we do with that?  Do we sit and ponder it?  Do we wilt away in insignificance?  Do we shy away in awe?

While there is great benefit in meditating on the word of God and the attributes of God, there is also a time for acting on that word and those attributes.  As Paul opens Romans 12, he begins with the “so what”, the “therefore”, the call to action.

What a blessing that this week we focus only on the first three sentences of this chapter.  To me they cover 3 key things that we’ll discuss in our lessons this week:

  1. Being fully connected to God
  2. Being fueled up by God
  3. Being on a mission for God and with God

My Answers:

3.
His doxology and the verses before when he was discussing God’s provision for gentiles and Jews

4.
Commit themselves to God, praise and worship Him. Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God

5.
God’s mercy, our worship of Him, the renewing of our mind, the ability to test and approve God’s will – My wife and her commitment to prayer

20.5 Romans – Cheering

The third reason we praise God is to cheer.  Have you ever been so engaged in watching a game or athletic performance that you are propelled to stand up and just start yelling and screaming encouragement?  I know people who do this even when they are watching it on television!  We shout, “go, go, go, watch out, keep going, way to go, yes, you can do it, you are great, wow, yes!”

This is also an element of praise.  It does two things.  First, it is a way of praying for what we want and need.  “Over here God, look at this big opening, God help block that evil.”  God want to answer our prayers and this is one way we can shout out the goal-lines we want God to take us across.  The second is that it allows us to take part in God’s glory.  While God doesn’t need our efforts, He blesses us by letting us be part of the team.  We aren’t just cheering from the stands, we get a front row, on the field, opportunity to run alongside God as, well, as He is being God.

In Paul’s doxology we see this in verse 36.   “For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen.”  It may not translate well from the Greek, but I hear Paul shouting that out every bit as much as the cheers from any proud teammate running along the sideline as the star player takes the ball all the way down the field.

One last note on verse 36.  A couple of weeks ago, I focused on the prepositions in another verse about “faith”.  In verse 36, Paul points out that God is the source of all things (from Him), the channel of our things (through Him) and the subject of all things (for Him).  Isn’t it beautiful how this exactly matches the verse, “Consequently, faith comes FROM hearing the message and the message is heard THROUGH the word ABOUT Christ.”  God is in charge and control of all things.  Nothing happens without God.  That is not to say that God is a fan of our things, such as sin and evil, but He still is in control and He does not shirk this control.  We sometimes are tempted to think God is in charge of good things and the devil is in charge of bad things, but sin has no power outside of control of God.  While this is difficult for us to understand, it takes us back to Paul’s initial praise of God’s wisdom, knowledge and plans.  Amen!

My Answers:

12.
Salvation! Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness!. I will give Him praise with every breath

13.
Only what He gives us… LOVE

14.
“make a deal” God, if you… then I will..

15.
It means God is in the center and the whole. It also matches the “faith comes…”

16.
For His glory

20.4 Romans – Reminder

The second reason that we praise God is for us.  It is to remind us of our relative position in the grand scheme of things.

Paul does this through the questions he poses in his doxology.  Do we give counsel to God?  Does God need to repay us for something?  Do we even have the capacity to understand the degree of God’s knowledge?  These are all framing questions to re-orient our thinking to a right position in relationship to God.

Without this type of reminder in our praise, we can very quickly get big headed and fall into the most common sin of man, that we want to be god.  This was the temptation in the fall of man and has been a key temptation ever since.  Even when we make other idols in our lives, they are always ones that we have made placing us in a position above them.

As Christians, we can just as easily fall into this trap as anyone else and the demons take far more delight in seeing us fall.  We can say things like, “I’m doing this for God” or “I’m giving this up for Jesus.”  God doesn’t need your stuff.  He doesn’t need your money.  He doesn’t need your activity.  He is everything, He owns everything, He created everything including you and me.  We cannot do something to make God better off.  We also say things like, “I don’t want to let God down.”  Newsflash: You aren’t holding Him up.  God is perfectly able to stand without your support.

Understanding our position is not to be confused with the lie that we are worthless.  Sometimes in imaging the vastness and glory of God we start to feel a bit smaller than an ant.  However, in God’s eyes we are His precious creation, made in His image and He loves us so much that He offered His own Son for us.  We are not worthless, we are of immense value to God.  Not because of what we think, say or do, but because He is God and He loves us and we are His children.

My Answers:

9.
Who knows more than God or gives Him advice? NO ONE

10.
We “do things for God”, but He doesn’t need our help. We don’t “want to let God down” but we aren’t holding Him up. We think far more highly of ourselves that is right. God gives us talents and treasures and allows us to participate in His will. He is the creator and master of all. God is creator, we should repent. God gave man dominion over the world (not over God), He alone is majestic. the nations are as nothing, no one is God’s equal

11.
I get big headed and start to believe I have a job to do to “help God”, not that He has mercy to allow me to participate

20.3 Romans – Right and Worthy

The first reason we praise God is because it is right and He is worthy.  The verses telling us to praise God are all over the bible, Old Testament and New Testament, in the Law, books of History, books of Wisdom, poetry, prophets, gospels epistles even (and especially) in Revelation where we witness the praise that occurs in heaven.  If you get nothing else from these verses, understand that we are called to praise God.  It is our vocation in our spiritual life to praise God.

Fortunately, this vocation is not difficult because God is fully worthy of our praise.  Like Paul, our praise often starts with acknowledging an attribute of God.  Paul picks 2 right off the bat:  God is rich in Wisdom and Knowledge.  After the roller-coaster Paul has been on in the last couple of chapters about the current and then future relationship between the Jews and God, the gentiles and God, the Jews and the Gentiles and God and finally that all Israel will be saved, it is good to remember that God is wise and knows everything.  He adds to it that God has a plan for wise judgment and a path, and He is guiding and directing us on this path that is beyond anything we could understand and imagine.

We have lots of attributes of God that we can draw from.  The BSF school program has a different attribute every week.  If you need a starting point, this list is available.  By focusing around one or two of the true characteristics of God it helps take our praise from the general to the specific, from a broad-brush stroke to a single feature of our God.

My Answers:

6.
God’s wisdom and knowledge

7.
1K: God knows everyones’ hearts so He alone can judge , forgive or act
J9: Wisdom is profound and power is vast
J28: God’s wisdom and understanding, He alone in the world understands all
P147: determines the number of stars and calls them each by name
P3: wisdom: laid earth’s foundations; by understanding, set the heavens in place

8.
God has brought each of the right people in to my professional life at the exact right time to help me grow and to steer me on a path of using our business as a means of ministry