I recently became convicted about the amount of stuff I'm reading and the fact that I haven't been diving into scripture as much. What I'd like to do is take you through one of my favorite scriptures, Romans 12 (R12). The scripture is referenced in the bi-line "Random musings from a Christian Workoholic driven to fulfill Romans 12". R12 plays a big part of who I am. Allow me to elaborate. I'll pick out key verses along the way. Today, I'd just like to look at R12:1
R12:1- Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.
I've known this scripture for years. I've lived it. As someone who is called into serve God with his vocation, I could have recited it to you over and over again, without missing a beat.
But I read this about a year ago, and it hit me. In view of God's mercy. I really do think someone wrote that in my Bible. I've never seen it before. And it's so minor. Five words. Yet, to me, it made a huge difference.
I've got the "offer your bodies part". I understand that as a living sacrifice I'm giving all to Him, allowing Him to take control of my life. While that is a difficult concept for some to grasp, I've found in my life it's easier to let Him deal with the high-pressure situations, and I can relax knowing I've got the Creator of the Universe in my corner. While I am not wholly holy, I know that I am constantly striving to live a life of holiness, so that the output of my life on this earth can be handed to my Father where I will be able to hear Him say "Well done thou good and faithful servant".
For a good part of my life, I had the "what" part down. It was the "why" I had forgotten. Why am I going through all of this? Why am I offering my life as a sacrifice? Why does God deserve my spiritual act of worship?
Mercy. When in view, it's a beautiful thing.
As great as I think I am. As holy as I portrayed myself to be. As proud I was that my "living sacrifice" was better than others, I needed a reminder that the reason that God desired this of me was because I am not capable of living my life w/o His Mercy. I owe Him.
In the time since then, I'd be lying to you if I told you things were always easy.
That I always felt that my sacrifice was being used by God.
That my worship to God was suspiciously looking like my worship of me.
That no frustration or temptation ever came my way.
But those moments were different than before. Rather than doing God's work blindly, I had five words that gave my life purpose, meaning.
Why am I doing this? Why would I give God complete control? Why do I strive to please Him? To present myself wholly holy before Him.
Five of the most beautiful words I've ever heard. In View of God's Mercy
After getting back into the country, I spent some time in Colossians.
(1:16) || If all things were created by Him and for Him, does that mean the bad things too? Hitler? Stalin? Bin Ladin?
(1:22) || I love how Paul basically equates the salvation of the world down into a simple equation. Christ body + Christ death = Holy You.
(1:22-28) || I've blogged on this several times, but the idea that Paul is a workaholic who struggled to understand the power that God gives him is a huge encouragement to me. Knowing that he "struggled" to preach the "fullness" of the gospel shows me that even successful Christians wrestle with their calling!
(2:1) || Paul uses the same word again... "struggling". I always thought of Paul as this confident, demanding go-getter type, not someone who struggles...
(2:20) || I had a Matrix moment reading this verse. Since you died to the world, why do you still allow it to control you. I pictured Neo getting the snot beat out of him by Morpheus in "the Matrix", having a hard time breathing. Morpheus ends up saying "why are you breathing hard? do you think that's air you're breathing?"
(3:8) || "rid yourself of anger"... how does this differ from Jesus' flipping over the moneychangers table. "filthy language from your lips"... I never really understood who defines "filthy". Is it Biblical? How does God keep up with cultural changes. What's God's opinion of fo' shizel. I am only half-kidding here. How is filthy language defined?
(3:17) || "whatever you do, work or deed"... sounds like another one of my definitive verses. It's okay to be a workaholic as long as you do it for the Lord "giving thanks to God the Father".
(4:5) || "Make the most of every opportunity" - yet another challenge. This book really challenges me to go harder.
(4:12) || "wrestling in prayer". Ever have one of those prayer sessions where you break a sweat? I think that is just the tip. Man, how great would it be for Paul to say of me, yeah, that guy goes to the mat when he prays. Good job Epaphras!
In Ukraine I finished my personal study on the book of Mark. Here are some of the highlights.
(1:17-20) || Look at the caliber of people Jesus recruited for disciples. Working class on practically all of them! What does that say about his leadership style? He wasn't looking for someone qualified with plenty of references. He was looking for a simple block of clay that He could mold however he wanted to.
(2:13-17) || I love the fact that "many" "sinners" were having dinner with Jesus. And they were comfortable around Him. And He was comfortable around them! We can learn a lot about ministry if we can only figure out how make people "comfortable" around us while not being "in the world". I would have loved to have been at this party!
(4:30-34) || Jesus tells the Parable of the Mustard Seed to a large crowd, but doesn't explain what the parable means until the disciples are alone with Him. Why would he have not explained that to the entire crowd?
(5:1-20) || The "Legion" demon-posession story always fascinates me. What jumped out to me this time was 2 things: 1) v15-17... when the townspeople saw the demon-posessed person healed and dressed neatly, they FREAKED OUT and kicked Jesus out of town. 2) v18-19... man formerly known as "Legion" wants to travel with Jesus, who told him no. Instead, the man ends up shariong his story with 10 cities worth of people. Another great example of God telling you "no", or waiting for God's timing.
(6:1-6) || The Hometown Prophet story always hit close to home (since I serve in the church I grew up in). If I understand right, Jesus could not do many miracles because people's faith in Him was small. Why could He not just do something outrageous to prove to them that He really was God! Is "faith" really required, like physically required, for Jesus to do miracles? Could He heal someone that did not believe?
(6:22) || Does it disgust anyone else that Herod has his step-daughter performing as a "stripper" at his birthday party? Call me crazy...
(6:51-52) || The disciples just saw a crazy miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people, yet v52 "they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened." What don't you understand? How can you have a hardened heart after seeing that?
(7:6-13) || Anyone who ever says that God doesn't care about "traditions" needs to read v9 "you have a fine way of setting aside the comands of God in order to observe your own traditions!"
(7:33) || Jesus heals a deaf mute by spitting on his tongue and sticking his fingers into his ears. Did He physically have to do this or is he putting on a show?
(9:29) || Jesus says (of a demon): "This kind can come out only by prayer." - Question: how many kinds are there? What are other ways, other than prayer, to get a demon out?
(10:17-22) || "One thing you lack". I have read it, many times lately, about this whole idea of sell everything and give it to the poor (v21). Jesus said to this man, who already knew the commandments, that he basically lacked faith? Is wealth to be given away so that we can strengthen our faith?
(11:12-19) || Jesus clears the temple - yet another reliving of my fear of tables.
(12:36) || Jesus says that King David speaks "by the Holy Spirit" in Psalm 110. I thought that the Holy Spirit didn't come to earth until Pentecost... what's he doing down here during Old Testament times. (For the record, my "theology" knowledge on the Holy Spirit is at best weak._
(13:37) || I pay no attention to the end of the world stuff. Jesus says "Watch"! Maybe I should pay more attention.
(15:37-39) || The physical attributes of Jesus at His death was so unique that his mind was changed, and he was led to say "surely this man was the Son of God." Mark says that the centurion was led to make that statement because he "heard [Jesus'] cry and saw how [Jesus] died." All this time I thought the centurion made that statement because of the temple curtain.
(15:43) || Joseph of Arimathea, whose tomb Jesus was buried in, is described as a man "waiting for the Kingdom of God." I hope to be worthy of those words as well.
Next up, a break from the Gospels (I've done Matthew and Mark recently). I'll have Colossians posted soon.