Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
November 7, 2021
  • In The Garden
  • Beautiful Jesus
  • Romans 12:2 NIV
    2 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.

    Early Christians struggled with thoughts

    We struggle with thought life like never before

    Paul for Everyone, Romans Part 2: Chapters 9–16 The Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1–5)

    we are to be transformed; our minds need to be renewed. We have to set the pace ourselves, and work out what sort of people we should be. The basis for this is not what the surrounding culture expects of us, but what God in his mercy has done for us.

    Paul for Everyone, Romans Part 2: Chapters 9–16 The Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1–5)

    Christians are therefore in the position, not (to be sure) of a new executive learning the job, but of someone who needs to stop letting the world around dictate its own terms and conditions, and who instead must figure out how to think, speak and act as is appropriate not for the present age but for the new age which is already breaking in

    We don’t realize it, but simply by watching other people live, we are learning. So we have to be careful. Too many people get caught up in the drama they see on TV and end up emulating it. If the character on your TV show makes big angry speeches and then stomps out of the room and this is presented as true personal power in action, do you just swallow that situation whole? Many people do, and so you see it. Or maybe they trick their rival and then betray them at a crucial moment to get revenge. It seems so cool on the screen. What the screen doesn’t show you is how it poisons the soul of the deceiver, damages everyone around them and greatly affects their ability to have any normal trusting relationships.
    Are you saying I can’t watch TV? Well I’m not saying one way or the other. But I am saying when you do watch TV you can’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. You can’t let your Christian convictions be damaged or lessened. You can’t let the bonds of love in your own family be eroded by visions of distrust and betrayal constantly laid before you.
    The Christian views entertainment with discernment. My wife and I will sometimes pause a show and discuss the decisions the person is making. No, don’t believe that lie! No, don’t betray that trust! One time recently my wife turned to me and said, I’m glad our life hasn’t been like that. We affirm our commitments and values as we watch.
    If we find it continues to present an upside down view of morality and doesn’t display the consequences of that behavior, we stop watching. Or, if we find our own convictions wavering or feel too disturbed by what we’ve seen, boom. That show is off the list.
    This is one way to keep the world from squeezing you into its mold. But you have to be aware of your personal fault lines. What influences you toward faith and away from it; toward God and toward self; toward the love of the church family or away from it. You may stumble and fall. But don’t stay down there. Get up, be renewed. Get your mind refocused on God’s ways.
    It’s a daily battle. But it’s one we don’t fight alone and shouldn’t try to do in our own strength.
    Romans 12:1 NRSV
    1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
    The key to what makes the Christian life different is outside of ourselves. Sure, as I said last week, people notice our way of life and hope to see Jesus. But if we just focus on behavior improvement we won’t experience true change. God is the one who can transform us.
    I once heard a nazarene preacher say transformation is natural. But I’m gonna push back on that and say according to the Bible and my experience transformation is supernatural. It only happens with God’s help and when we submit to God’s help. This is the foundation of John Wesley’s teaching on sanctification. But you don’t have to go outside the Bible to see it. Here in this very passage, what opens the door is submitting our whole selves to God. NT Wright says it this way:
    Paul for Everyone, Romans Part 2: Chapters 9–16 (The Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1–5))
    Having the mind renewed by the persuasion of the spirit is the vital start of that true human living which is God’s loving will for all his children.
    We begin by presenting ourselves completely to God as a living sacrifice. This is what makes our worship spiritual. It opens us up to the deeper work God can do. It’s not some dark ceremony. Its simple. You can do it anywhere. But every Christian needs to go through this step to move on toward maturity in Christ. Present your body or your whole self to God. A living sacrifice isn’t a rag or a carcass. Instead our lives can be filled with the Holy Spirit. With what Paul would later write:
    Ephesians 3:19 NRSV
    19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
    God does this deeper work in us. This paves the way for our minds to be renewed. When our minds are being influenced freely by the Holy Spirit, we can see things more clearly God’s way.
    Sometimes we overthink things when God’s ways are simpler: yes or no.
    Sometimes we don’t slow down enough to catch the nuance of what we should do. Such as when we forget more than one issue is in play. We may be focused on God’s guidelines and have a quick thought to judge someone harshly. But the law of love would have us slow down and understand the person and why they may have made the choices they did. That would not mean that we condone bad behavior. But it also means we aren’t free to act in unloving ways toward the person.
    At other times the Spirit may advise us to simply be patient and wait for God to work things out, drawing others into his plan. If we get impatient, we may get in God’s way and prevent growth in someone else’s life.
    These are just a few examples of situations where we are unlikely to see God’s will without submitting ourselves fully to God’s presence and work in our lives.
    Paul for Everyone, Romans Part 2: Chapters 9–16 The Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1–5)

    It begins in the glad self-offering of one’s whole self to the God whose mercy has come all the way to meet us in our rebellion, sin and death. Within that, it involves the renewal of the mind so that we are enabled both to think straight, instead of the twisted thinking that the world would force upon us, and to act accordingly.

    This is a tricky time in our culture and in God’s church. For too long we haven’t paid enough attention to justice issues and things have festered. Too many of us have become aligned too heavily with conservative politics, which is different than following Jesus. The pendulum swung too far. So now we see too many Christians running full sprint to identify too closely with the Democrat party. And it’s here we go again. Divisive politics in the other direction. That’s letting the world squeeze us into its mold. God wants to transform us. Not from one party to another: but from one Kingdom to another. The Kingdom of Worldly powers to the Kingdom of God.
    Personally I haven’t enjoyed the leadership style of either recent resident of the White House. I think executive orders have been abused by both parties for decades and its eroding something important.
    But I’m not gonna pick a donkey or an elephant and go ra ra ra. I’ve already picked a team and Jesus is Lord of that outfit. I’m going to look to please him. Pleasing Him won’t make any political leader happy.
    I want to see the church unified again. Standing for moral righteousness but also standing for love and justice. Not compromising either for political expediency. I believe I can see this clearly because the Holy Spirit has made me see it this way. I used to be quite partisan. God has shown me a better way. Did you vote Republican? I can love you. Did you vote Democrat? I can love you, too. Did you not vote because it only encourages them to do more of the same? I can even love you. My hope and my future are in God not in getting everyone to agree with my politics, amen?
    It’s a battle in our minds. It’s so easy to get sucked in. So easy to think it’s all about the right person in office. It’s all about the right person on the throne of your heart and mind, Jesus.
    Paul for Everyone, Romans Part 2: Chapters 9–16 The Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1–5)

    The world around us loves to force us into disunity. We must once more be transformed by having our minds renewed, not least through the self-offering of worship. That way, as we learn the lessons of unity, we may perhaps discover how to put them into effect.

    Let’s switch gears: fear

    We can’t know God’s will if our minds are overtaken by fear

    There are so many reasons we could all be afraid right now. I don’t even need to list them. They are obvious.
    We are told we should fear God.
    Proverbs 1:7 NRSV
    7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    It means that we have a healthy sense of respect for God’s authority and power. We aren’t dealing with a pushover, just because he is kind and gracious and longsuffering. Don’t take advantage of knowing about God’s mercy. That would be foolish.
    But it doesn’t mean to live in fear of punishment with God as a Christian.
    1 John 4:16–18 NRSV
    16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
    If you find yourself doubting God’s love for you, those thoughts are not from God. This is another example of how our minds try to figure it out in the flesh, rather than relying on the Spirit and trusting what we know from the Scriptures.
    God will convict you of sin. He will show you what needs to change. And he will lovingly help you make those changes. He won’t make a spirit of dread and hopelessness hang over you. If this is happening, then you’ve either been resisting God for so long that you’ve wandered from from his loving path, or you are just under attack. Either way, the answer is to run to your loving heavenly Father and be done with sinful ways.
    But once you are forgiven leave it with God. If you need to go to another and apologize, don’t delay. Forgive yourself while you are at it. But demonstrate that you respect God’s grace. Let the love of God train you to trust God. God is not out to trap you. God is out to save you and to fill you with perfect love.
    Did you catch that line: perfect love casts out all fear. While the love of God is filling your mind and heart there’s no room for fear to stay. So believe it. Trust it. Tell the devil to go bother someone else.
    Romans 8:1 NRSV
    1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    Paul had been writing in Romans 7 about feeling defeated in his struggle with sin. But then he remembers that it’s God’s battle. God gives us the power to change out of love. God does not give us a hopeless dread or condemnation. So don’t let it have a foothold in your life as a believer. Fight the good fight in your mind.
    I’ll have more to say in a couple weeks about this battle in our minds. But this is where it all begins. We go to God and surrender our whole selves: body. mind. spirit. This means rejecting the worlds’ categories and the divisiveness of the world. We don’t bring that stuff in here to the family of God. Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.
    Instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind as the Spirit does his work. The best way to get rid of old patterns is to establish new ones. God will help you do that. Your part is to let it happen. Let your mind be renewed.
    As fallen human beings our default will always be self-defense, wanting revenge, giving the cold shoulder, doubting God’s grace, living in fear. These might help us survive in an extreme circumstance. But they don’t help us one bit to move forward in life and thrive in the love of Jesus.
    The Scriptures will renew your mind. Prayer will renew your mind. Worship is like a reset for the week. Bible Study with others lets it all converge in wonderful ways. Serving others will also take it to another level. As we’ve been saying since the summer: acts of piety and acts of mercy. These are our part to help our lives be renewed. But these merely open us up to what only God can do for us.
    Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Be filled with all the fullness of God. Fight against the world squeezing your mind into its mold. Don’t abuse social media. Only watch the news enough to know what’s happening, not enough to be overly burdened by it. Make sure you’re focusing on God’s kingdom rather than partisan politics.
    But then actively be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Let the Spirit influence your thinking. Acts of piety and acts of mercy show you the way and imprint good things in your mind. Let God’s perfect love cast out the fear of man and an unholy fear of God. Experience forgiveness and mercy and share it with all around you.
    It’s a battle. It’s mainly the Lord’s battle if you will let it be. It’s a battle you can win daily as the Spirit leads.
    Romans 12:2 NRSV
    2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
    God’s best. God’s will. That’s what your renewed mind can discern. It leads to so many good things. Let’s pray.
      • Romans 12:2NRSV

      • Romans 12:1NRSV

      • Ephesians 3:19NRSV

      • Proverbs 1:7NRSV

      • 1 John 4:16–18NRSV

      • Romans 8:1NRSV

      • Romans 12:2NRSV

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