Top 10 Things That Make Me Wonder

What are the things, memories, observations, dreams, or experiences that fill you with amazement, awe, reverence?

For me:

  1. Seeing the birth of my children.
  2. Watching someone transform spiritually.
  3. The changes in my wife during pregnancy.
  4. The fact that people sometimes follow me as a leader.
  5. The four seasons.
  6. Love–particularly agape.
  7. Watching/experiencing true teamwork where my unique significance makes a difference.
  8. Contemplating the incarnation.
  9. Studying the hand of a baby or young child.
  10. The rhema/pneuma of God’s Spirit in my life.

What would you add?

How to Overcome Spiritual Stagnation

Romans 12:1-2 helps us with this too.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1. View the mercies of God. If we lack passion or interest in being holy, it comes from a failure to contemplate God’s mercies toward us!

2. Remind ourselves that the only rational response to Christ giving us all of Himself is to give all of ourselves to Him.

Our Obedience Is Not The Basis For The Relationship

God’s commandments, and our obedience, rest on that loving relationship; they do not form the relationship. We obey because we are loved; we are not loved because we obey. The love of our Father precedes and stimulates the obedience of His children. We are to forgive and live and love as dearly loved children, imitating the One who already is our Father, not performing to bribe God to become our Father.

Two Things which are central to Following Jesus

Paul gives us a springboard for the Christian life in the simple phrase: “Therefore…in view of God’s mercy.” And then he urges us to do two things which are central to following Jesus.

#1) (vs. 1) In view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. This is temple terminology. The confusion is that there were several different kinds of offerings.

  • Sin offering: But Jesus is our sin offering.
  • whole burnt offering: It had to be without defect (holy and without blemish). Why? Such an animal was expensive. It showed that all you had was at God’s disposal, not leftovers. To be a “living sacrifice” is to be fully at God’s disposal.

In mentioning our physical bodies Paul is saying that God does not want a purely inward and abstract worship, but a practical and total one. He wants us to give him everything we do.

#2) (vs. 2) In view of God’s mercy…Renew your mind. That’s how the Christian life occurs. It is the way we are to be transformed into Christ-likeness. He doesn’t define this but probably means more than just thinking true thoughts, but that the governing influence of our mind is reoriented. We could say that our imagination is captured by Christ. Who he is and what he did fires the imagination and controls our minds.

Four Signs of Weak Faith

4 Signs of weak faith…

  1. Demanding visible proof (John 4:48). We desire to see and yet we may be deceived through sight more readily than through almost any other sense. Faith based upon sight is weak. “The devils believe and tremble (James 2:19).” It is really unbelief which demands visible proof (John 20:25, 29). People who will not hear God as He speaks through the Bible will not hear Him when He speaks through miracles.
  2. Driven to God only by overwhelming need. Now, such faith is better than no faith, but it is not so good as the faith that draws us to God by gratitude and love. It is better to be driven than not to come at all; it is still better to be drawn.
  3. While it prays it dictates to God. Strong faith prays out of humility which allows God to guide and dictate rather than the folly of thinking vice versa. Those of weak faith have the impression that they could do better than the Lord, if THEY had the whole thing in hand.
  4. Impatience with God.  It is comforting to know that Jesus honors even faith like this. Though impatient and dictatorial, driven by need and seeking visible evidence, He answers the prayer. He pities our weakness. The fire of trust doe not blaze up; He sees more of the smoke of impatience and unbelief than of faith, but He will not allow the sparks to be trampled. Indeed, He fans the sparks into a flame.

 

Fear-Based Obedience in the Christian Life

Romans 12:1-2 are a summary of the whole Christian life.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

What is our motivation for Christian living? “Therefore in view of God’s mercy.” This indicates we give ourselves to God because of all Paul has been saying up to that point in chapters 1-11, that we are justified by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.

This is especially true in light of Romans 8, Paul’s treatise on why we can’t lose our salvation. If a Christian could lose salvation, then surely the overriding motivation for obedience would be fear.

If fear is the primary motivation for obedience, we should see the following effects:

  1. Our motivation will lose its power over time. It moves you to great feats at first, but eventually it is exhaustion. People who live in great fear experience a numbing effect after a while.
  2. Fear-based obedience has a great deal of trouble with repentance. When we are motivated by fear, we believe somewhere there is a “line” that if we cross because of too much sin, that God will condemn us. But we don’t know where that line is! We don’t have the security to admit our sins for fear of reprisals from God, so we do a lot of rationalizing and blaming.
  3. Fear-based obedience will always make it difficult to endure suffering or trouble. The fear-based person will either think: God is paying me back! God has abandoned me! OR, This isn’t fair! I obey so that God will bless me. In other words, despair or bitterness will be the result of suffering if we live the Christian life with fear as our motivation.

We WANT MORE! We’ve Already Been Given So Much

Jesus said, “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.”  (Matthew 6:31 the Message)

We want more; we’ve been given so much.

We give so little; but the needs are so great.

We’re truly blessed when we live at the intersection of “Recognize we are blessed” and “Be a blessing to others.”