Cling to What is Good

Romans 12

May 28

More than any other year, I have had conversations with other teachers about leaving our profession. If you have a teacher in your life, you’ve probably heard it before: low pay, no appreciation, kids are getting worse, and no support.  Teachers, by nature, are critical thinkers and problem solvers, which can also make them quick to complain.  Change their donuts to bagels in a staff meeting and a mutiny will form.  I do not say this as one who stands outside the circle.  I am equally guilty, although my frustrations are often internalized and turned into canker sores and headaches. For a reason I can’t quite pinpoint, it has been especially hard to keep my morale up these past nine months.  I took off every day I could this year because I just had to get away.  Not necessarily go on vacation, visit the doctor, or spend time with a chore.  I just straight up needed to walk away from my classroom because I could feel the souring of my attitude and the shrinking of my heart.  I admit it: there is a lot not to like about being a teacher, BUT, and this is a really big BUT (snicker), it is an unbelievably fun, challenging, and exciting profession.  If you place your focus on the good, it far outweighs the day-in-day-out demands and frustrations. The intrinsic compensations are great, and why, ultimately, teaching is consistently ranked as one of the most rewarding careers.

Now, I do have a pro-trip, a trick, a game changer when it comes to negativity towards your career, or being a parent, or living as a teenager, or any other stage or status in life.  It is delivered at the end of today’s reading in Romans 12: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  What a simple solution.  If we’d only heard that earlier, right?  Don’t do bad stuff.  Don’t let the bad stuff get to you.  You may have picked up that my commentary is laced with sarcasm.  However, for much of the chapter, this is the theme: something bad happens, do something good in its stead. Man, is it hard.  I mean, how is it even possible? Why would I reward someone for being bad to me?  Why should I indulge in any situation which makes me feel stressed?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Romans 12:9-11

There is a bleak backdrop to living in this world. There is war, famine, and disease.  There is poverty, addiction, and abuse.  There are shooting sprees, abductions, and pandemics, and we’re only beginning to list the atrocities of the present evil age. There is an onslaught of badness of the baddest worstiness.  BUT, and this is a really big BUT, there is good, and that good stems from our Heavenly Father, and with that good, we are triumphant. We can love those who have enslaved us, show mercy to those who have betrayed us, enrich those who have stolen from us, and give peace to those who bring war to us.  And with that good, the goodness of God, we win.  BUT, this time a slightly smaller one, we have to be ready to change our thinking.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12: 18-19

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. – Romans 12: 2

We cannot be conformed to the pattern of diseased thinking.  Although it is an easy path to follow, it is poisonous and breeds destruction.  We have to be ready to reframe and reform every situation, our own dire circumstance, into God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.  The arrows for this fight are fledged with praying for our enemies and those who persecute us.  I remember distinctly this year I was becoming increasingly frustrated with a student, when she shouted “Jesus Christ!” I responded by saying, “You can’t talk to Him right now because He’s busy talking to me about you.” Playfully intended, when I become frustrated with a student, an adult, family, or children, prayer is my weapon. Talking to God about it changes my heart and exposes my faults. As those who follow the Lord, we have the ability to test and prove what action we should take to demonstrate the Kingdom of God.  In the vast majority of cases, our fiery arrows are plunged with the fruit we bear when mangled and tangled amongst weeds and thorns. Don’t drop the ball. Hold on to to what is good!  Cling!  We must be stringent to live out His moral will (see: fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23) even if it causes our situation to deteriorate further. That’s hard, but this is when our testimony truly begins. Enemies and spectators, like Paul, and his jailer, and the thief on the cross, are actively watching and it changes their hearts. Don’t give your complaint a shelter to live in; give your life, your action, your attitude as the testimony to the Father.

-Aaron Winner

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What are the problems with negative thinking – for you and for others? Is there an area in which you get stuck in negative, stinking thinking? What gems in Romans 12 can help change this mindset? Write them out. How can you begin retraining the brain (be transformed by the renewing of your mind)?
  2. What evil will you work to overcome? How? Pray for God’s leading and strength.

Uzziah and I

2 Chronicles 25-26 and Romans 12

Good ol’ King Uzziah.  We’re told that he had a lot of livestock, and people working his fields and vineyards, for he loved the soil.  I can relate, because I too love the soil.  I have animals, an orchard, a garden, and am working on a vineyard.  Hey, here’s a guy I can identify with.

In 2 Chronicles 26:5, We read that king Uzziah, “… sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God.  As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.”

Nice, I’m trying to follow God too, and God is giving me success.  I’m still tracking with Uzziah.  I like this guy.

We see in 2 Chronicles 26: 15 that “his fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.”  Well, I wouldn’t say this is true of me quite yet, but maybe, given enough time…  maybe?

Then in verse 16, we read, “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.  He was unfaithful to the Lord his God…”  No!  He had everything going for him.  Life was good.  Why did he blow it by turning away from God?  And he was so much like me, too.  I could relate to this guy.  What happened?

But that’s the problem.  All of us are in danger of being a lot like Uzziah, too.  All of us need to be careful that we don’t fall, regardless of how strong of a Christian we perceive ourselves.  I’m reminded of Hebrews 3: 12-13, which says, “See to it brothers, that no one of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

And this ties into the Romans 12 reading for today.  Romans 12:1-2 says, “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.  Do not conform any longer 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.

Here we find the answer.  In Romans 12:1, we have to surrender our body to God.  And this means once and for all.  This is the right response 1) because of all that God has done for us (in view of God’s mercy), and 2) because it is the way we really worship God.

Then, in verse 2, we have to surrender our mind to Him.  The word here is metamorphosis, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.  It is a total and complete transformation, and there is no going back.  Only once we have surrendered our body and mind to God, God will transform our will, to make us want to live for him.  

And this is the only way we can avoid becoming another Uzziah.

So, now go build your crystalis and start your transformation.  Get into God’s word, pray, and emerge changed.


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 25-26 and Romans 12

Transforming your Mind

FREE THEME – Romans 12:9-21

romans 12 2 (1)

Every morning when I wake up I try to have my first thoughts be, “Thank you, God, for another day of life and the blessings you will give me today.” Unfortunately, often, my first thought is, “I have cancer” and I have a sinking feeling in my heart. I have to intentionally then redirect my thoughts to the first statement, put a smile on my face, remembering God’s goodness and mercy. I may have cancer, but God sent Jesus so I can be made right with him and live forever with him in his kingdom. That is worth far more than anything this life has to offer. 

But I have to keep reminding myself of this because the things of this life bring so much pleasure and that is what I know and want to keep knowing. I love my family, friends, church, God’s beautiful creation, vacations, sewing, art, … And it can go on. And now I am a grandmother as well! 

But even with these things that I love and know first hand, I don’t always appreciate or treat them in a way that would honor or please them or God. I have to be reminded again and again about having the right attitude, treating people right, and living intentionally. That is what Romans 12 helps us do.

 

Romans 12 is a chapter in the Bible that we as Christians would be wise to read every day. It reminds us of the practical, and yet profound, attitudes and actions we are to have in our relationship with God, fellow believers, and everyone we come in contact with. The following passage is verses 1-2 and then 9 and following. Read them carefully. 

 

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

  • “Let love be genuine. 
  • Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 
  • Love one another with brotherly affection. 
  • Outdo one another in showing honor. 
  • Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 
  • Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 
  • Live in harmony with one another. 
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. 
  • Never be wise in your own sight. 
  • Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
  • If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 
  • Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1-2, 9-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

You may not have to deal with all of these on any given day, but every day you will be faced with some of them. In keeping these instructions in our minds we will be ready when a situation faces us and we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, respond in a way that will please and honor our God and Maker. The bonus is that not only will the situation turn out better, but you will be happier, with an inner peace and joy, as you grow and mature into the person God has called you to be. 

Beth Mattison

Worship is Not a Song

Romans 12 1 (1)

THEME WEEK BREAK – WORSHIP .  (Next Sunday we will continue with our chapter by chapter New Testament devotions in the book of Romans)

Today’s Reading – Romans 12

The topic for this week’s devotion is one that God has been teaching me about for the last few years. That is the topic of worship. This is an immensely broad topic with many details and facets to it. But don’t worry, given the devotion format of this I will keep it concise, streamlined, and bring out only essential points. With that being said, I pray this will broaden our understanding of worship and convict us to live a more consecrated worshipful life for God and Jesus and live the best life God has for us!

What is worship? From what I read in the Bible and what God has taught me, worship is having the right heart condition that loves him and desires him to be glorified in every aspect of our life. Equally important is the understanding that biblical worship is worship that engages that whole person. This brings me to making a critical point. If you forget everything else or don’t read the rest of these devotions remember this: WORSHIP IS NOT A SONG IT IS A LIFESTYLE. Biblical worship engages the body, mind, heart, and soul. God desires his people to worship him and Jesus with everything they are in every aspect of their existence with the right heart condition motivating it all. This is what I believe biblical worship is.

Two foundational verses that speak to this topic are Deuteronomy 6.5 and Romans 12.1-2 (all bible quotations will come from the NASB) :

Deuteronomy 6.5:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”

Romans 12.1-2:

“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, and perfect.”

Take a moment to examine your understanding of worship. Do you think of worship as just a song or prayer? Do you worship God and Jesus with every aspect of your existence? Something I forgot to mention at the beginning was why should this matter at all? God has created us to worship him. Worship is central and essential in a believer’s life and walk. To live the best possible life God has for us in this lifetime is inextricably tied to worship.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

About Jacob: Jacob is an assistant pastor and worship pastor at Lawrenceville church of God. Currently he is engaged and will be getting married this June.

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