Monday, March 30, 2015

Devotions Notes // Romans 12

Scripture Reference / Romans 12


Content:

Paul starts off with a plea for believers: "give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you" (12:1) "All he has done for you" refers to the offer of His mercy and salvation plan. The true way to worship God is to give myself fully to Him, not copying the behavior and customs of the world but allow Him to transform me and change the way I think. (12:2)


Paul aimed to break away the mode of comparison from person to person by warning the people "not to think you are better than you really are."  (12:3) God has bestowed different gifts and abilities to each person, and I am to use my gift for it's intended purpose; not as a boasting factor to claim that I am more spiritual. (12:6-8)


Interpretation:

God will change the way I think to be other-worldly so that I am able to know His good and perfect will for my life.

The practice of the world has been that of a selfish nature. Eg. "I only care for myself. If anyone is in trouble, it's their trouble; not mine." In it's practice brings forth self-centeredness. Allowing God to change the way I think brings forth a mindset of Christ: to be others-centered, other-worldly, living with eternity in mind. I will know God's will for my life and live for Him.

The honest evaluation of a person is not based on comparing with another person; but by faith. (12:3)

Comparison comes from a heart of pride and insecurity. When I measure my spirituality based on another person, I am not able to genuinely love the other person since I am always aiming to be better than him/her. I can only evaluate my walk honestly based on what God says - I can only become better by walking with God and allowing Him to change me.

To break comparison is to develop humility, and humility starts off by remembering that every growth I have received in my walk comes from God alone - even my faith. I am not able to have faith unless God had initiated His redemption plan. Humility acknowledges that everyone needs each other, and I can only remain in the function that God has given to me. While I can desire for God to use me like someone else, I cannot become someone else. (12:4) Humility brings other-centeredness. I will begin to think of ways that I can help others, bring glory to Jesus, and trust Him with the results of the initiatives He has called me to kickstart on.

When I use the gift God has given to me with it's intended purpose, it brings forth fulfillment of God's commandments.

Jesus mentioned that the law can be summed up in these 2 great commandments:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  - Matthew 22:37-40

God gives me gifts not because I can fulfill my self-serving needs; He gives me gifts so that I can become a blessing toward others. When I use the gifts to bless others, I am fulfilling the commandments of loving God wholly and loving my neighbor as myself. Gifts, then, should not be taken for granted, but used excellently. (12:6-16)

"Never pay back evil with more evil." (12:17) Leave vengeance into God's righteous judgment.

Humans have this sense of justice. When someone did something wrong towards them, their first instinct would be to fight for justice and pay back the person their just desserts so that they would learn from their mistake. However, taking vengeance in my own hands would ultimately lead to hurt, and people will judge my testimony. Therefore, "never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God." (12:17-19) "Conquer evil by doing good." (12:21)

Application:

1. Commit myself once again to give myself wholly to God, allowing Him to renew my mind so that I can become more like Jesus.

2. The only way to become better is by walking with God closely and remain teachable to changes. Allow God to bring forth that humility. Evaluate myself: What does God say about me?

a. I am a child of God. I am made in His image.

b. I am essentially worthy. I am part of the plan of God.

c. I am filled with the Spirit of God. I can be more than conquerors, and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

d. I am one part of the Body of Christ. I need people; they need me too.

3. Endeavor to use every gift and opportunity God has given to love and bless others. Serve with excellence, not taking things for granted.

4. Whenever I feel angry and wish to take matters into my own hands, remember: "In your anger, do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26) Act honorably, willingly forgive, and move on. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Deeper Healing

There was a man who had been an invalid for 38 years, sitting in the pool of Bethsaida. Jesus walks along, and asked a simple question: “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5). A response to the question would have been a simple yes or no, but the man complained about how he wasn't able to get into the pool. He placed his faith so much in luck and in the pool till he missed the fact that the Healer who could bring total restoration into his life was there.


Jesus wasn't just offering the power to heal him physically as he asked, “Do you want to get well?” He was also offering the power to change his heart so that he would break away from his victim mindset and follow Jesus. Jesus was most interested in changing the man from the inside out, but all the man wanted was Jesus's power to heal his condition, and that was all that he received. The fact that his heart wasn't changed was seen when he went to tell the Pharisees that it was Jesus who healed him. There wasn't a hint of gratitude from his part. He would rather walk more to tell the Pharisees that it was Jesus who healed him, getting Him into trouble.


For one's spirituality and standing with God is not dependent on the miracles and blessings they have received [it's all due to God's grace, goodness and love that we are able to receive all these]; it is dependent on our hearts - whether we are willing to let God change our hearts, adopt His value systems and walk in faith.


We will not be made righteous through mere works, for no one is good - not even one. By the holy standards of God, all have missed the mark. We are made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ, believing in the power of His resurrection and allowing the Spirit to change our hearts. Works are the fruit of our faith, coming naturally like a snap of the finger.


Many would want Jesus's Hands, but few would want His heart. Allowing your heart to be changed by Him would bring forth a change forever. Jesus would not just offer you a physical healing when you need one; He will also offer you something far greater and more impactful in your life: the power to change your heart so that you will have total healing [physically, emotionally and spiritually]. For those who have been willing in letting God bring forth a heart change, guard your heart from evil, seeking after Jesus wholeheartedly.


Proverbs 4:21-27

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.


Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.