Friday, July 29, 2011

Faith: Trust in God

Faith and Trust Best Defined
The word "believe" when used in the bible is best defined as "trust" or "to trust." The word "faith" is best defined as "trust." These words we take as mysterious spiritual words are in fact, for the most part, simple relational words.

Faith, Belief, or Trust biblically speaking in regards to God is
    Trusting the person of God in a relationship the same way we would trust a friend or family member
    Being convinced that God is trustworthy, worthy of trust
    Entrusting yourself to God, putting your security in God
    Trusting that what God has said is true, taking God at His word
    Knowing that God loves us and loves giving to us

Trust and Grace
Grace is what God has for us. Trust (faith) is what we have for God.
Trust is measurable (faith of a mustard seed, you of little faith..). It is measured by the quality of relationship. The better a relationship the more trust there is. God is the most trustworthy being that exists. When scriptures say that God is faithful that word faithful can also be translated as trustworthy. God is worthy of our trust. Our recognition of His trustworthiness is more important than our recognition of His praiseworthiness. It is by God's grace that we are saved through trust.

Although trust is measurable we shouldn't think of it simply as something we wield or use nor should we think of grace as something that God simply wields. They are both things that can be given but more so than that they are defined relationally. Grace is a favorable disposition that God has for you. It is His loving kindness towards you. Trust is the confidence you have for Christ and the security you feel you have in Christ. The more you doubt Him the less you trust Him. The more insecure you feel the less you trust Him.

In the Greek a root word for Grace means "I am happy." When you receive grace from God by trusting in His Son Jesus that means God is happy with you. Through trust and grace we are made righteous which means "right with God." We are right with God from the moment we first trust Jesus and forevermore after that. Being right with God means He is always happy with us.

Is Faith Blind?
Trusting that God exists is as simple as trusting that someone we've talked to only over the phone exists. Trust/Faith is not blind. It's object is just not available to view at the present time. We cannot see God but our trust causes us to act confidently as if we can. We cannot see the future but our trust in God's promises causes us to act as if we have seen the future.

Further and obvious evidence that faith is not blind is that Jesus' disciples walked with Him as a man and still trusted Him. In 1 John 1:1 John speaking of Jesus said, "We have heard, we have seen with our eyes, We have looked at and our hands have touched Him." Jesus often told people who could see Him to trust in Him, to believe in Him, to have faith in Him. While God the Father is still invisible Jesus said in John 14:9 "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We live by trusting not by seeing." It does not say we cannot see but that we don't rely on our sight. We rely on, we trust, God. Faith is trusting God as a being and trusting what He says.

Is Faith Fact Based?
Believing is almost universally thought to be an unsure "maybe." Such as "I believe it may rain today." Saying, "I believe so" leaves the idea of "I think so, I'm not sure, I could easily be proven wrong." One mainstream definition of belief found on is "mental acceptance of a claim as truth regardless of supporting evidence."

Faith/Trust is an utter confidence in some one's or some thing's trustworthiness. Trust that there is such a place as London leads us to act as if this were so even if we've never seen London. Trust is very much based in facts.

In some sense it doesn't matter if I get facts wrong. It does matter who I trust. If you as my friend have some wrong information about me that doesn't mean I will disown you. Neither will Jesus disown those who trust Him if they are wrong concerning facts about Him. God values our relationship with Him more than us knowing a checklist of facts about Him. Of course it is better to know the truth (facts) about the Truth (Jesus) but we must remember that the Holy Spirit promises to lead God's children to all truth as long as they are willing to follow.

Believe Falls Short of Biblical
Personally I think the word believe has no place in the bible as it falls miserably short to capture the meaning of the underlying Greek word. Believing is usually thought of as impersonal, distant, and unsure. Trusting is personal and confident. My discovery that "faith" means "trust" and "to believe" means "to trust" has greatly improved my relationship with God and my understanding of His scriptures. It reveals that God wants us to draw close to Him and not for us to learn facts about Him from a distance. God is our Father not a book of guesses. Relationship is the purpose of faith. It is truth in relation to God not true statements alone.

Words are nothing to fight about but having weak or incorrect words causes our perceptions to be shaped and thus affects how we live our lives day to day. If the word tolerance had been used instead of the word love in the bible our perception of God towards us would be greatly changed. I would think that God just puts up with me, doesn't care for me, and has little to no kindness towards me.

I have already shown how the word believe differs from trust. The word faith is unclear and has been given improper definitions by many. It gives us little to no idea of the relational intent that the word trust expresses. The prevalent idea is that believing or having faith is something I muster up on my own. Trust is something I put in someone else. God's trustworthiness is in focus rather than me and my effort.

Trusting God is the Will of God
Jesus said in John 10:10, "I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Jesus said in John 6:47 "Truly, truly I say to you, He who trusts in me has eternal life." Jesus said in John 6:40, "This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and trusts in Him will have eternal life."

I encourage you to read that last paragraph again, as there is tremendous truth there. Now what then can we say is God's will for you and I? God's will for us is to trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God. God's will for your life is to love you as much as you will let Him. You let Him love you by trusting Him.

Remembering that Jesus is life (John 14:6, Colossians 3:4, 1 John 1:2) let's look at the scriptures from above with a more personal wording. Jesus said in John 10:10, "I have come so that you may have me, and lots of me." Jesus said in John 6:47 "If you trust me you have me forever." Jesus said in John 6:40, "This is the will of My Father, that you trust me and have me forever."

Finisher and Beginner
"Let us focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith/trust" (Hebrews 12:2)

God is the originator and the one who will complete our trust in Him. He is the one who matures it. The one who tops it all off and makes it all that it is supposed to be.

Our trust in God is won by Him over time in relationship with us. As He goes with us through our circumstances He proves Himself to be interactively trustworthy in those circumstances.

God may prove His trustworthiness by giving you unexpected provision when you face financial trouble. He may prove His trustworthiness by giving you miraculous protection during an accident. He may prove His trustworthiness by comforting you in your heartache. He may prove His trustworthiness by laying a promise on your heart that He later fulfills. He may prove His trustworthiness by healing you or answering your prayers. He may prove His trustworthiness by revealing truth to you at a time which you would understand and accept it that you know you couldn't have handled in the past.

God has done every single one of these things for me. May we not take God's trustworthiness to love us for granted! What aspect of God's trustworthiness should be most prevalent to us? That He is trustworthy to love you!

Faith/trust grows by learning more about who God is, getting to know Him, and growing in our relationship with Him. The more truth we learn about God and the more we get to know God the more trustworthy and loving we will find Him to be thus our trust (faith) in him will increase.

Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you is faithful/trustworthy to complete it." Most people interpret the Christian life as "Ok God saved me and now I've begun a good work in myself and I'm going to try as best as I can to be faithful to complete this so that God will finally accept me someday in heaven." That mindset also says, "I'm trying to do this great work for God, and achieve holiness, and stand strong and firm in doing all the right things." The truth is that it is God who began a good work in us. It is God who is trustworthy to complete it. We're His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). Our job is to trust God enough to simply rest in the work that He is doing in and through us.

Faith and Works
Works are a showing that you have trust in God. You can work without trust but you can't trust without it leading to works. These works are as simple as loving people God puts in your life or following God's leading into the unknown.

The life I live in the body, I live by trust in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
We don't live our lives by trying to be good. We live our lives by trust in Jesus Christ; relational trust, putting our security in God, and trusting what He tells us is true to the point of being willing to act it out. Just as I trust my legs to be capable of allowing me to walk in everyday life I must trust Jesus Christ to be capable of allowing me to walk in love so that I may benefit God and others.

Faith is not based on commands. It is based on living your life day by day and doing the things you find to do as a result of trusting in God. To live by trust is not a matter of living by rules. It is a matter of living your life everyday trusting in God, knowing that He is good to you, and knowing that the things you do as a result of your trust are simply walking in a trustful relationship with God.

The more you trust the Father the freer you will live the way He wants you to live in the world. The reason we don't live the way He wants us to live in the world is because we ultimately don't trust Him and therefore feel like we have to do it all ourselves or we have to do things to earn His grace or earn His love.

Christian transformation comes not because we conform our lives to God's supposed standards and find out the rules and follow them devotedly. It comes by my growing relationship with God, and my growing affection for Him, and my growing trust in Him. He displaces the things in which sin takes its hold on my life.

God wants our relationship with Him to be based on growing trust and friendship. God doesn't base our relationship with Him on how much we obey Him or how many good things we do vs. how many bad things we do. The relationship God wants to have with us is the same kind we want to have with others, one of love and acceptance. Jesus doesn't want our relationship with Him to be burdensome but brotherly.

The Christian life is Christ's life, His works in and through us, His blessings, His ability, His direction, it is about His works not our works. If we could get that into, not simply our minds but our mindsets that our response to God is to simply rest and to trust Him then we will begin to see true fruit, true works that are really of God and not of ourselves.

Trusting God is the Work God Wants from Us
They said, "We want to perform God's works, too. What should we do?" Jesus told them, "This is the only work God wants from you: Trust in the one he has sent." (John 6:28-29)

What is the work of God? To trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
How can we do the works of God? Trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
How do we do the works of God? Trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The very work of God is trusting in Jesus! Once again because this is important, Jesus said in John 6:29, "This is the work of God: to trust in Jesus Christ whom God has sent." If we work for God without trusting in Christ we don't do the work of God.

In Philippians 2 there is the well known scripture that says to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." The Greek word for trembling is defined as: "used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but devotedly does his utmost to fulfill his duty."
Philippians 2:12-13 (with trembling substituted for its definition):
"Work out your own salvation with reverence and an anxiety that distrusts your own ability to completely meet all the requirements; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure and purpose."
We most certainly must distrust our own ability to meet all requirements, and, as we saw earlier, our "duty" is to trust the God who is at work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. We are indeed His workmanship and "in deed" His workmanship.

Faith without works is dead (James 2:17) but remember Jesus said that the work is trusting in Him. The works James talks about then are actions produced by trust and performed with trust. They are God bred, God lead, and God fed. Without love (God) we are nothing. Without trust we act as if God is nothing, we don't know Him, and we can do it all on our own.

Faith as Currency
Often we put our trust in the amount of faith we think we have instead of putting our trust in Jesus Christ. We look at faith as a currency. "Alright God I've paid you with faith now you owe me." But faith is trust in God and His work. Faith is not a bribe we slip to God through prayer to get Him to serve us. Faith says, "Lord I trust you know what is best for me and when it is best for me and I will receive what you give with thankfulness."

You see faith as currency instead of trust if you're keeping God's rules because you think God is a bean counter and it takes so many good acts to get a particular blessing or if you think God is somehow obligated to bless you because you behaved and obeyed His rules. Step back and say, "Lord, I trust your decisions for me better than I trust my own. It is so much more beneficial on every level when I get something that you've given to me in your time frame, under your terms."

Trusting the Wrong Things
The opposite of biblical faith is trusting in something to the exclusion of God. Trust is only as good as what it is placed in. If you have faith in yourself in place of trusting God or even have faith in faith itself, your faith is in vain. Those who thought they could keep the law trusted in themselves rather than God.

We are not to count on our own good behavior. We are not to put faith in our amount of faith. Trust God to fulfill what it is that He wants to do instead of feeling like you've got to take on that responsibility by yourself. Base your faith on what Jesus did not on what you do.

We don't need to get our facts/truth straight we need to get our faith/trust straight. God will get us to the facts in His wise timing if we go to Him in trust. It is to your detriment to make trusting in God into trusting in your own faith. Faith is trust that Jesus Christ is trustworthy. The more we humble ourselves and seek to know Him the more we will trust Him.

Entrusting Yourself to God
It is not enough to have knowledge of God's love. It is better to also have security in His love. That security comes by trusting Him (faith) because trust (faith) is placing your security in God, entrusting yourself to Him. Trust is deferring your security to someone else.

When scripture says "love believes all things" we know that "believes" means "trusts." We can rightly say that "love entrusts all things (to God)." Remembering that God is love, this is evident in the Father entrusting everything to Jesus and Jesus entrusting everything to the Father. In the same way we show God that we love Him by entrusting everything to Him. This entrusting is sometimes called submission. Where you trust Christ you have life in His name. Where you don't trust Him then you get the anxiety of life, fears, and doubts.

Jesus said in John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled trust in God, and trust also in me." Jesus' cure for a troubled heart is trust in God and Himself. Just as when we were children we trusted our parents to take care of us and comfort us when we were troubled or afraid so we should trust God enough to go to Him when we are troubled because we realize that with Him is the safest place to be.

Choosing to Trust
One definition of faith I've heard is "the will to trust, the decision to follow the best light you have about God and not quit. Trust is a decision of the will won by the trustworthiness of its object."

Trust is still a choice. Logically trusting God is an easy choice but trust doesn't come just by knowledge of propositions, it comes by observation and experience. We humans are quick to doubt and slow to trust. This is for a good reason as there are many falsehoods and untrustworthy people in this world. God takes the wisest relational step of proving Himself trustworthy to us. If our trust is based only on propositions with no observation or experience then when difficulty comes we will trust God very little and likely not at all.

Trust is a natural byproduct of relationship that leads to a willful choice. Trust is the expression of the maturity of a relationship. Trust is not something you can demand from someone. You trust someone to the degree that you perceive them to be trustworthy. Sometimes we trust people who deceive us or claim authority over us and that trust is misplaced. Other times we refuse to trust someone who is trustworthy, or even God who is fully trustworthy. We do this because we don't perceive them correctly because we do not know them well enough. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know that you are loved. God empowers our decision to trust by revealing His love for us. Doubt is conquered by Jesus as He captures your heart!

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  (1 John 4:16)

Friday, July 22, 2011

God Abounding in Grace

"It is the grace of God that trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives" (Titus 2:12). It is the grace of God that does this, His favor, His graciousness, His loving disposition toward you as His child.

Be careful to note what does not do this. It is not accountability, aim, best efforts, behavior, the bible, chastisement, church, conduct, confession, conformity, commands, dedication, desire, discipline, doctrine, ethics, expectations, failure, fear, fervor, gifts, greatness, guidance, guilt, hell, helpers, information, institutions, instruction, law, legislation, manners, morals, obligation, opportunities, preaching, prescriptions, principles, procedures, programs, ramifications, rituals, rules, sermons, shame, signs, songs, standards, structure, threats, trials, troubles, turmoil, ultimatums, urging, want, or worry. God uses some of these things but the only thing that offers real change is God's grace!

God's grace is His permanent attitude of loving-kindness that causes Him to be gracious. If you do not understand God's permanent loving-kindness towards you then you cannot change for the better, you will not have peace. You will burn out, cry, complain, fear, and get depressed. The only thing that transforms us is knowing how loved we are by Him and learning to live inside that reality. WITHOUT HIS LOVE WE ARE NOTHING!

Psalm 103:8 says, "The Lord is compassionate and gracious and abounding in loving-kindness."
Abounding means a present and continual abundance. If I had an abundance of food that would mean I have more than I need, more than I can eat. God has more love for you than you can handle! You want to talk about a love story? God wants to be with you forever! And He did everything He could to make that happen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Which is better to live by the law or the Spirit of God?

The law cannot give life. God said if the law could give life He would have given a law that did. Jesus Christ is life. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says that Jesus is now a life giving Spirit. The New Covenant we are under is based on the Spirit that gives life not the law which kills. It is based on better promises than the Old Covenant which said "If you do then God will.." & "If you don't then God won't." The New Covenant says "God has finished everything. Trust Him to experience His loving life in you now and forevermore."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Called to Be Cherished

God's will for your life is to love you as much as you will let Him. You let Him love you by trusting Him.

The Christian life isn't an occupation of "What work should I do" or "what position should I hold" or "what ministry should I have for the rest of my life?" The Christian life is relating to Jesus everyday and letting Him lead you everyday. Whether they realize it or not some people hold a mindset of "Now that I have my calling I can stop walking with God day by day and just do my assignment. What I do is important and who I do it for is important but it is not important that I live day to day WITH God." 99% of the time the scripture talks of "God's calling" it refers to God calling someone to be saved not God calling someone to do a specific long-term work.

Instead of doing something for God why not be someone with God?

Did God Desire for All of His Laws to Be Obeyed?

In the Old Covenant God commanded sacrifices & offerings but in Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10 God said that He does not desire such offerings and sacrifices that He commanded.

In John 8 a woman was about to be put to death for adultery as the law said to do in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-24. Jesus did not condemn the woman.

If God did not desire the sacrifices He commanded in the law perhaps He did not desire other commands He gave in the law. Jesus is the exact representation of God so we are to look to him for the character of God. In John 8 Jesus did not desire to kill the woman even though the law said that is what should be done.

Often we try to justify the Old Covenant laws with logic but perhaps these laws were to speak to the people's hearts about the need for forgiveness. Jesus said the second greatest law was to "love your neighbor as yourself." If you were caught in sin that was punishable by death you would want to be forgiven. You would not want to have stones picked up by others to kill you. If you love your neighbor as yourself you wouldn't pick up stones to kill Him. You would instead say, "Lord have mercy on us all!" Ultimately in Jesus God did show us all mercy and He freed those who trust Him from the law and its penalties.

For those who think that the story from John 8 should not be in the scriptures based on it not being found in the earliest manuscripts consider that in John 4:18 Jesus knew the woman at the well's heart and revealed that she was an adulterer. He did not take the woman at the well and stone her! Jesus fulfilled the whole law yet He did not come into the world to condemn the world.

Related Posts
The Purposes of The Law & Its Punishments
What if The Story of 'The Woman Caught in Adultery' Never Happened? Examining John 7:53-8:11

The Devil Has the Power of Death

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From the Heart to the Mind

We often think that we need to take what is in our head and put it into our heart. It is much easier to let the heart convince the head than to get the head to convince the heart.

Think of falling in love. Your heart's desire to be with the other person will cause your mind to think of anything you can do to be with them. Now imagine you have no heart's desire for a person but you logically see how they would be good to marry. You have to put a whole lot more effort in convincing yourself to be with them. If someone came along who captured your heart you would be much more inclined to pursue them rather than the person who is the "logical" choice.

Love and Trust Speak Heart Language.
Love and trust speak heart language. We are saved through trust for Jesus in our hearts not facts about Him in our heads.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one trusts and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. For the scripture says, “Everyone who trusts in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13)
Those who are perishing found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
Set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts (1 Peter 3:15)

God Captures Our Hearts!
God captures our hearts! We cannot know God by simply considering certain facts about Him to be true in our minds. I can know things about my uncle but that does not mean I've met him. If I have never encountered him I cannot trust him. I can hear things about him that make me think he is trustworthy but I cannot place my trust in someone I have never encountered. "Calling on the name of the Lord" means I am calling on a being. We are saved when we trust with our heart not when we think with our head. We are saved not by saying "I agree with the facts of the story." We are saved by saying "I want you Jesus! I need you God!" The key facts of the gospel concern God's love for us. We need to be aware of His love for us to be saved but we can't be saved by simply being aware, we must encounter God and experience His love first hand.

"With the heart one trusts." We can now see that trust or faith is a matter of the heart. A baby trusts whoever shows it affection. It knows little about anyone or anything but it can recognize love when someone shows love. Whoever shows the most affection the baby trusts the most.

We are very much like this baby even when we are grown. Whoever shows us the most affection we tend to trust the most. People can show us affection and then hurt us proving themselves untrustworthy. But God is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is worthy of our trust. He is fit to have our trust. He is suitable for our trust. He is deserving of our trust. He is honest. He is dependable. He is desirable. We can rely on Him to love us. God is love. He speaks the universal language of love. God captures our hearts!

For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the person of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who cries “Abba! Father!” (Philippians 4:6)
The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Mind vs. Heart
God pours His love into our hearts. We need to get the knowledge of that love from our hearts to our heads. Our minds are often deceived with false teachings and assurance of falsehood.

My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable. (Colossians 2:2-4)
I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity relating to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

When the mind is deceived it fights off honest feelings and discounts the heart. Untruths always burden you or harm others. The mind holds to supposed facts, often from misinterpreted or out of context scripture, so tightly that when desires for the simplicity of being loved by God come it dismisses those desires and replaces them with guilt and obligations. Through the misery of falsehood the heart is never convinced, it is only oppressed and wishing things were different or there was something more. The mind runs with the heart toward love but the heart suffers and is drug along when the mind runs to falsehood.

The mind does not trust. It operates in logic, plans, propositions, and doctrines. When the mind faces the uncertain, it fears. The mind fears in order to protect its beliefs, ideas, and plans. It brings the heart along with it into fear. The heart doesn't want to fear, it wants security, comfort, and affection. Trust is putting your security in someone else. When our minds are led astray our hearts still cry out for the love of God just as Philippians 4:6 says, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who cries “Abba! Father!”

The mind cries out for certainty and validation. Certainty does not equal truth. Certainty means your mind thinks it has found truth and must protect that truth. It wants validation; for people to agree with it, but does not care about genuine relationship. The heart longs for someone it can trust who offers protection. You can use the mind to love but love comes from the heart.

Love comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere trust. (1 Timothy 1:5)
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in the assurance that trust brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works. (Hebrews 10:22-24)
Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

The mind is often the one that stands in the way of us being with our true love Jesus Christ. It convinces us of guilt, though we are forgiven, cleansed, and made right with God. When we are not convinced of our right standing with God (righteousness) our relationship with God is broken in practicality, meaning our mind will not let us relate to Him until it thinks we have been good enough to do so. Offering our body or mind to sin does not break our fellowship with God. The only thing that disallows fellowship with Him is not being convinced of our right standing with God. But just as God pours out love into our hearts and places the Spirit in our hearts to cry out to Him in love, He also convinces us of our right standing with Him (see John 16:7-10).

As Hebrews 10 points out our hearts are clean. We do not have the deceitfully wicked heart mentioned in Jeremiah 17:9. We have the Spirit of God in our hearts. God does not dwell in wickedness. Our hearts are, as Luke 8:15 says, good and noble. The Christian heart is not deceitfully wicked! Be bound by the lie no longer. Know that God has created a clean heart in those who trust in Him.

Renewing the Mind
Our hearts are now good but scripture says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and thus prove what the will of God is, good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

The verb "be transformed" is in the passive voice (E.g., in the sentence, "The boy was hit by the ball," the boy receives the action). This means the transforming is done to you by God. You don't have to work to renew your mind but the verb is still also a command. So we are to let God transform us. We let Him transform us by offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God. The wording from the Message for Romans 12:1 explains what "Offer your bodies as living sacrifices" means:

"With God helping you take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him."

Knowing and Doing God's Will
Once our mind is being renewed we will be able to know God's will & show that it is good, well-pleasing, and perfect.

Jesus said, "My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and trusts in Him shall have eternal life. Eternal life is intimately knowing God." (John 6:40, 17:3)

You do not have to discern God's will for your life. God's will for all of His followers is for them to trust Him. All of life springs from relying on God and being confident in Him. Life in Christ is walking with God and letting Him love you. He will show you as you walk with Him who to love & when. Ephesians 6:6 says we do the will of God from the heart.

Jesus said, "This is the work of God: to trust in Jesus Christ whom God has sent."  (John 6:29)

I will briefly break down how this trust plays out. The work of God (doing good/loving) is: Reliance On God (to show you when, where, who, and how to love), Compliance to God (doing what He has said), and Reliance On God to be able to do what He said to do (with His love, wisdom, strength, courage, etc).

Peace in Our Hearts and Minds
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and humble asking with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Here God promises that peace will guard our hearts and minds. But what is the condition? Talking to God. That's it! Talking to God and being thankful. When? All the time, in every situation. Well that is a relationship. Telling God what is on your heart at any given time. The more you trust someone the more you are willing to confide in them. The more you are willing to entrust yourself to them. Of course it is like this with God also. When we trust Him we have no problem with being open and honest with Him. Colossians 3:15 says to "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." How do we do that? By being open and talking with God with gratitude.

Scriptures Speaking of Love and the Heart
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know. But if someone loves God, he is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:1-2)

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him. The eyes of your heart have been enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who trust, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms is the same power that is working in you. (Ephesians 1:17-20)

I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through trust, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Community vs. Prescriptions

Community is created by communication and unity. There is no unity without communication. The appearance of unity without communication is actually conformity. Conformity is impersonal and often comes from the fear of communication.

Prescriptions (such as typical Sunday morning meetings having the same order of events and the few performing for the many) kill the personal and remove Christ as the Head by not letting Him lead. Prescriptions instead go through the motions of tradition or through the agenda of those in charge.

Everyone is to freely participate in a meeting of the body of Christ like in 1 Corinthians 14. Why not have this type of meeting every time you get together? Why stop love, communication, brotherhood, and freedom just to have someone speak a non-interactive monolog we call a sermon and move us through the motions of the traditional order of worship?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prayer - Opportunity Not Obligation

Genuine prayer comes from genuine love. When you are forced to talk to someone it can be difficult & awkward, possibly even resulting in you not wanting to talk to that person again. Many Christians sadly have that sort of forced prayer relationship with God. They are told they have to pray to be a good Christian & they force themselves to pray when they wouldn't otherwise want to.

We think of "have to" instead of "get to" & "want to" usually because that is how prayer is presented to us. We get to talk to the God of the universe who loves us & wants us to experience His love. Prayer is not an obligation to fulfill. Prayer is communication in a relationship that has such depths of love we can literally spend forever searching through them.