More To Know
The previous post (Paul’s Letter To the Church at Rome) expounds on Paul’s extensive teaching through the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans. In chapter twelve, Paul adds a layer of information in the form of instructions for practical application. His writing is clear, expressive and direct. For those who are eager to learn and know the Word of God, Romans is a powerful book! In chapter twelve, Paul offers direction on how to live what he has taught in the letter or book up to that point. He is thorough in his foundational instruction. This is a great book to be studied for all those who have a desire to know and to do the perfect will of God. While we are not without flaws, the Word of God is flawless. The Word will guide us as we seek to live in faith, holiness and righteousness. Reading Romans and saturating our spirits, minds and hearts with this Word will strengthen our spiritual core. We will be stronger and gain unwavering stability in the Lord through Paul’s teaching.
The first three verses speak to the conduct of the believer. Paul touches on physical, moral, ethical and humble behavior and thinking.
Romans 12:1-3 AMP - Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.
2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
3 For by the grace [of God] given to me I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].
Paul starts with the center of the challenges we all face. If we are able to master physical discipline, moral discipline and ethical discipline, humility will naturally follow. No one who has learned to reign and control natural human tendencies sits on the throne of pride. Battling the flesh, ego and sin will keep a fresh slice of humble pie right before us on a daily basis.
After Paul hits the middle of the target in verses 1-3, he addresses the next most troublesome factor for many believers. It is recognizing and genuinely appreciating the differences in other people. Most of us have a distinct set of likes and dislikes. We seek to be influenced, entertained, comforted, taught and socialized by our “likes”. Many of us are so expert at doing this that we are quite uncomfortable in an atmosphere or setting that does not primarily consist of our “likes”. We turn our noses up if the food is not exactly how we like it. We snub people who aren’t quite our “cup of tea”. We avoid places where we don’t shine or aren’t sure of the social norms.
In verses 4-8, Paul is promoting unity instead of division. In his day, just like in modern times, there was a lot of division. The believers carried their prejudices and biases right from the world and into the church. They looked sideways at those who didn’t meet their standards. They saw themselves as separate and better than some of their brothers and sisters. In the church we are all sheep with one Shepherd. We are to appreciate and celebrate our kin. We are all of the family of God. Regard and enjoy your brothers and sisters. Recognize and value their part in the family. God made them just like He made you. Honor the handiwork of God in others.
4 For just as in one [physical] body we have many parts, and these parts do not all have the same function or special use, 5 so we, who are many, are [nevertheless just] one body in Christ, and individually [we are] parts one of another [mutually dependent on each other]. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them accordingly: if [someone has the gift of] prophecy, [let him speak a new message from God to His people] in proportion to the faith possessed; 7 if service, in the act of serving; or he who teaches, in the act of teaching; 8 or he who encourages, in the act of encouragement; he who gives, with generosity; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy [in caring for others], with cheerfulness.
Verses 9-12 are about passion! Paul uses strong, expressive language to convey his thoughts. The Romans, in general, were forceful and direct people. They were not mild and passive but operated in an atmosphere of accelerated achievement and performance. Paul was spurring them on to seek to let their zeal for God be as intense as His care and love for them warranted. Is your commitment and dedication to God reflective of His consistency and faithfulness to you? Are you yearning for Him and His Presence in a manner that is commensurate with how He has cared for you and provided for you and protected you?
9 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; 11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; 12 constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength],
It is evident that our Father God has no tolerance for “lukewarm”. Be cold or hot. Take a stand one way or the other. Know what you believe and why. Be firm in your convictions.
Revelation 3:16 So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust].
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. 7 For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].
If you don’t have what you need, ask for it, look for it, find it. Someone else has it. Find out how they got it. Ask questions. Spend time with people who have the spiritual strengths and disciplines that you desire. Their maturity will affect you in positive ways. Then you can go and do likewise: help someone else to be better, stronger and more secure in the Lord.
~~Live Like You Mean It!~~
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is a thorough dissertation of God’s vital truths to the believer. If believers obtain a clear understanding and acceptance of Paul’s teachings in this letter, it is easy to walk securely in the glorious light of these principles. The teachings that Paul shares cover and explain doctrines that are essential to our faith.
In the first eleven chapters of Romans, Paul spreads a delicious and nourishing table of spiritual truths. They are the pillars of our faith. He delights the spiritual senses by describing the character and power of God. He strongly encourages the believer to know who we are in the Lord. Our positioning “in Jesus Christ” gives us an identity that we didn’t earn and can never merit. Paul lays out the rewards of righteous obedience and the penalties of willful disobedience. The Apostle wrote extensively about the differences between Law and Grace and what each “can do” and “not do” (Romans 4:16; 5:20; 6:14-15). He comforts the hearts of his audience by contrasting the strictness and tightness of the Law against the broad, flowing ease of Faith. Paul edifies the readers and hearers through his scope of Faith coupled with Righteousness. He incites their hope in the eternal future by sharing the importance of Water Baptism and the reality of the Resurrection. Paul paints a glorious picture as he reminds of Abraham’s spiritual journey and lasting legacy. He rouses their expectations by citing the Power and the Work of the Holy Spirit! These truths were left on record for our learning, comfort, instruction and warning.
Then in chapter twelve Paul adds a different layer to what he has just presented. He gives very practical instructions on how to live out or demonstrate the truths of God in everyday living. He tells his audience how to live what he has taught in the previous eleven chapters. Why is this important? Because it is useless to know the truth in your head but not embrace it in your heart. Just knowing what God said and wants for and from His people is not enough. The Truth must be implemented. It has to be put into play. It must be lived consistently and honestly. Doing this does not come naturally. We have got to be taught to live out the Truth of God’s Principles. There is no power in “knowing” unless “doing” is woven in with it so the believer’s life looks like one harmonious flow of God’s Goodness. The Word, the Truth, has to be practically practiced in order to yield maximum effectiveness.
Romans 12 is an excellent blueprint for how to put the teachings of the prior chapters into practice: let the Truth live through you and in you! Paul tells how to demonstrate daily, the righteousness of God in us. Once we give our lives to Him, we are not our own. We are to live like Jesus lived, talk like Him and love like He did.
The next post will offer a brief review of Romans 12 and the practicality of its message. We pray that every believer will “eat the whole roll”. Ezekiel 3:1-3 AMP
“He said to me, Son of man, eat what you find [in this book]; eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.
So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat the scroll.
And He said to me, Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.”
Colossians 1:9-14 NIV
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a]10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Why is prayer so emphasized even to the point that disciples or followers of Jesus are instructed repeatedly to keep on praying? There must be something about prayer that differs from all other spiritual exercises and disciplines.
Prayer is unique among all Christian spiritual activities.
For instance, teaching and learning the Word of God are absolutely beneficial but there have to be some qualifications. Both teaching and learning require a good amount of study. The one teaching or ministering must have a clear understanding of the subject matter in order to effectively share with others. The learner must have an interest in learning what is being taught. Focus and diligence are necessary.
In somewhat of a contrast, prayer can actually produce better results when we acknowledge that we don’t know all the answers, When we don’t have all the facts and when we don’t know the best outcome for everyone involved. When we don’t know we are more inclined to totally rely on the Spirit of God to direct our prayers.
In preaching and teaching, it is advantageous to be very familiar with the topic. In this manner, a person led by the Lord, will preach and teach what they have studied and been inspired by the Spirit of God to share. They depend on the Holy Spirit to give illumination and understanding to the hearers. The one sharing must have some foundation relative to the topic.
In prayer we want to pray from the Spirit more than from the mind. The mind or the intellect will limit or restrict or minimize the prayer based on the known facts surrounding the situation.
This is an example of what can happen when a person prays through the mind instead of the Spirit. Suzy is in the hospital. She has been diagnosed with what the doctors have said is an incurable disease. You are in deep, serious prayer on Suzy’s behalf. While petitioning the Lord concerning her situation, you are impressed by the Holy Spirit to pray that Suzy will be released from the hospital in three days and that she will be totally cured, healthy, whole and disease free. If you listen to your mind you may be hesitant to pray this prayer or to believe what the Holy Spirit is saying. Our minds function based on known facts. When the Spirit communicates something to us that doesn’t support the facts there is often a struggle between the soul (which is the mind, the will and the emotions) and the spirit. The spirit of a person is the real person. This is the part of us that is hopefully, sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord. From the time we are very small children, we are taught to develop and trust the capabilities of the mind. We are seldom taught, as youngsters (and frequently not even as adults) to develop a ‘spiritual ear’. To be able to hear the voice of the Lord speaking on the inside of us. Many people have trouble determining whether the voice they are ‘hearing’ on the inside is their own human spirit and desire or if it is the wisdom of the Lord speaking to them.
In this example of praying for Suzy, the known facts, as reported by the medical personnel, may have more influence in the mind than the wisdom of the Lord speaking to the inner man in prayer. The person praying may begin to rationalize and insert logic into the prayer instead of moving forward with what the Lord has said. People talk themselves out of the blessing that the Lord has for them because they believe a professional instead of God. They trust the opinion of a specialist or an expert rather than relying on the Word of the Lord. Don’t let your mind get all caught up in the FACTS. Which are greater, the FACTS or the LORD? Which is more reliable, a FACT or the Risen Savior? Remember this - our God can change the facts, but facts can never change our God.
There is a biblical account recorded in Acts 12 that records something similar to what we just shared.
Acts 12: 5 - Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
The church was praying for Peter. The Lord sent an angel to release Peter from prison. But when Peter showed up at the prayer meeting they didn’t believe it was him. Their prayers were answered but they didn’t believe the answer!
Not every believer is called to preach or formally evangelize or walk in the office of an apostle. But everyone can pray.
Luke 18:1 And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
There are some sermons in the Bible and there are some messages of exhortation but there are many, many more prayers and all types of situations where people prayed. Jabez prayed. Gideon prayed. Daniel prayed three times a day. Paul and Silas prayed at midnight. Jesus prayed in the garden, on the mountain, by Himself and with others. Mary, the mother of Jesus, prayed. Anna the prophetess prayed. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prayed. The disciples prayed. Kings prayed. We are not told to always lay hands on the sick, or to always cast out devils, or to always prophesy. But always pray. Never forsake communication with our Source, our loving Heavenly Father.
Preachers must be sent. Prayers only need to be bent or humble, submitted to the Lord and His Holy Spirit. Anyone can pray: any age, any time, regarding any topic or situation. Prayer is always in season. It can be applied to any circumstance: personal, professional, community, national, global, health, finance, fatigue, stress, joy, thanksgiving, sadness, lack and prosperity.
What else makes prayer unique from all other forms of spiritual pursuits? Prayer can be silent or vocal. We can pray out loud or silently with our inner voice. God hears both. A silent sermon on Sunday morning is not effective. A whispered teaching is not very beneficial to the listeners. That’s why talking movies replaced silent films pretty quickly. Messages of preaching, teaching, prophesying or exhortation are conveyed better, quicker and more accurately with words that can be heard by the intended listeners.
Quite often with prayer, the only One who needs to hear it is the One who will answer: our Heavenly Father. But we do know there are times when the people need to hear the prayer. John 11:41-42 records one such instance.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
There are times when there is a purpose for praying out loud. Sometimes the person or people being prayed for need to hear it to increase their faith and strength. Praying out loud, when the prayer is unctioned by the Holy Spirit, releases the will of the Father into the atmosphere and gives His angelic beings something to work with. He has given us dominion in the earth. We have a responsibility to exercise the authority delegated to us. Prayer is one of the ways we utilize this power. In prayer we also receive. Through prayer we gain the Lord’s perspective, which is essential. We need to see and understand the way He does. His vantage point is perfect and unflawed. Ours is limited, faulty and biased. We need to see what He sees, the way He sees it. Prayer is one way to do this.
We get instruction through prayer and anything else we need can be requested through prayer: wisdom, provision, healing, deliverance, more time or an extension, favor, comfort, direction, understanding - - ANYTHING!
Communion and fellowship are developed and strengthened through prayer for both natural and spiritual relationships. The family that prayers together stays together. We can work out our differences more easily when we pray together. There is no bond like a prayer bond.
Finally, prayer is unique because it is a journey, not a destination. We are not desiring to get so far in God and then stop…thinking we have ‘arrived’. There is no such place in the Lord. We are to be continuously forging ahead with power, with confidence, with humility, with authority until He says, “It’s enough.”
According to the book of Revelation, our prayers have more power and are more effective than most of us realize. Activity in the heavenly realm includes and is partly directed by our prayers! Many of us have an attitude of hoping for the best but fearing the worst instead of having unwavering confidence in the Word of the Lord.
8 And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb (Christ), each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of fragrant incense, which are the prayers of the saints (God’s people).
3 Another angel came and stood at the altar. He had a golden censer, and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints (God’s people) on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 And the smoke and fragrant aroma of the incense, with the prayers of the saints (God’s people), ascended before God from the angel’s hand.
Prayer is often neglected because people fail to grasp the emphasis placed on prayer in the spiritual realm. Prayer is a weapon. We are in a battle. We don’t want our weapon to be immobilized, getting dusty laying on a shelf somewhere when we need it! Many people hope to win but they don’t expect to win and their prayer life shows it.
So why should we be even more diligent in prayer? Why are we instructed to never cease to pray?
Romans 8:18-19, 22
18 For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us! 19 For [even the whole] creation [all nature] waits eagerly for the children of God to be revealed.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now.
There is a glory that is to shine forth from the people of God. All of creation is in distress and ill at ease waiting for us to assume our delegated positions of authority in God. We can only do that through close and regular communication with our Lord. We are required to submit to and yield to everything He is. We find out what those characteristics are through relationship. Relationship is developed by spending time with Him and His Word. We are responsible for finding out what His will is and then doing it. This is one reason we keep on praying. This is what the Father says in Jeremiah 29:13.
And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.
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Thank you all for your prayers, support and participation. May the blessings of the Lord overtake you and magnificently enrich every nook and cranny of your life.
Numbers 6: 24-26 AMP
The Lord bless you and watch, guard and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you;
The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).