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Romans 12.1- 2

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Thanks for helping me grow and learn

I’d like to share a recent experience -

Maybe you know – I’m a lawyer by trade.

This world trains “us” - lawyers

To argue/win – usually money

One wins/another loses

And, I know JESUS is LIFE

So, every day, living in this world

I need to lay down/give up – sacrifice

among other things – my self

my win - lose “worldly” trained attitude

But, this is easier said than done

With Him though – all things are possible.

Ex. recent call from really bitter man –

wanted to sue in an employment matter.

Complaining - not getting paid enough, felt disrespected, entitled to a better title, jealous of millionaire brother who wouldn’t help, etc. On and on.

He didn’t have a “legal” case; it was a spiritual battle. Just when I was inclined to tell him good bye and get on with “billable” work.  I was otherwise prompted to listen and talk about his family, college educated kids, wife, steady income, stable home, his trust/faith in Jesus, and his “rich” brother who didn’t know Jesus.

I asked if he’d trade knowing the Lord, for all his brother’s money/stuff? He came to his own precious conclusion.  Together we celebrated the Lord and prayed.  He went from complaining to rejoicing in those thirty minutes.  I received no money, but sure was greatly “enriched.”  Is not this our work – to believe in Him? John 6:29  AMEN! 

Lord, thanks, for helping me here

NOT conform to the patterns of this world,

and for transforming me and renewing my mind.

Process - Brook 


 

The Apostle Paul was a

Jewish, Roman citizen, tentmaker by trade

But, his life was a servant of the Lord

Jesus, whom Paul came to know is ALIVE

The Lord radically transformed Paul’s life

On the road to Damascus

When Paul personally met the Lord

He was already religious - zealous

Steeped in his tradition

Persecuted Christians - followers of “the Way”

His Jewish name was “Saul” of Tarsus.

He was well trained, educated and ambitious

And, had it all - “in this world”

When Saul met Jesus

He asked - “who are you, Lord?”

He knew - he was meeting the Lord

And, he learned

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”

In that instant, flash, Saul knew

Jesus of Nazareth - The Crucified One

Is ALIVE – WAY - TRUTH - Lord of All

He recounts (Philippians 4) –

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised … the tribe of Benjamin, … Hebrew of Hebrews; … a Pharisee; … as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

 

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

So, wherever we are, let’s recognize 2 things -

1.           Jesus is the LIVING Lord of ALL; and

2.           We’re all here now, very much still in this world.


Knowing the Truth didn’t make Paul’s life “in this world” – easier

Actually, Paul’s life “in this world” became harder –

Can we relate?

Ours does too

Paul was beaten, persecuted, and executed

For proclaiming to the world

Jesus Christ is The LIVING Lord of ALL

So, let us not be deceived in thinking,

knowing Jesus will make our lives - “in this world” - easier

We do know, and so did Paul -

Life “in this world” is temporary – so fast

Coming back from an Uncle’s funeral

A friend asked

If I knew how much time there is between

The ages of 20 and 60 –

I answered 40 years  - good at math

He said, about 20 seconds –

As we age, we understand how right this is


So, let’s consider (i) living “in this world,” and (ii) knowing Jesus Christ – the TRUTH

Paul, early Christians (and we) are in an obvious struggle & battle every day

As we live “in this world.”

They viewed themselves, and were seen as “alien citizens” –

We are in, but not of, this world -

In a letter written by an unknown author in the 2nd century responding to pagan curiosity about Christianity as a so called “cult.”  Christians are described as those who “set…little store by this world, and even make light of death itself” while displaying a “warm fraternal affection” for one another.  While in most respects no different from others, they renounced widespread practices of the Roman world and exemplify the Pauline paradox of strength perfected in weakness (II Cor. 6:1-10; 12:5-10) 

“Though they are residents at home in their own countries, their behavior there is more like that of transients; they take their full part as citizens, but they also submit to anything and everything as if they were aliens.  For them, any foreign country is a homeland, and any homeland a foreign country.

They were - we are – “alien citizens”

We are living sacrifices  - a paradox

Daily giving up old worldly ways

beliefs, thoughts, mind, body

And our natural born self - SAUL

And it was - is hard

As a 1st Century Jew – Pharisee

Paul struggled with

many traditions/rules he learned

many “religious leaders” he knew

His own past - persecuting the Way

As a 1st Century Roman citizen

He struggled with:

Those who saw Rome - as Greatest

Spiritual people – emperor worship

Worshipping false, unknown gods

Leaders – Caesar/Nero – worldly kings

People who “had it all” in this world

But, he knew, as we do – the Truth


So then, this Roman “alien” citizen, Paul wrote a letter to the Romans and all believers:

In about 57 AD, or 25 years after crucified

Paul had not yet been to Rome

but would go there

So, he thought it best

To provide first hand account of 

faith he proclaimed to world

Romans is a carefully worked out

statement of our Christian faith.

In the first half, (1-11) Paul explains -

What & in whom Christians believe

There is one true, holy, righteous God

He Created the world/all us

He has revealed Himself

While everyone is unworthy before God

Jesus Christ fixed this

Assuming for all of us, on the cross,

Our just punishment

So, now, Roman/Jew/all people

Can be with God through Jesus Christ

Who is ALIVE and the Risen Lord of ALL

The second half, Chp. 12 on, explains,

Knowing this - Him

THEREFORE

 

This is “how we behave” & live “in this world

He starts w/our responsibilities to God

(Rom. 12:1-2)

Then explains: Our responsibilities to society, government, neighbors and in our Christian liberties (Rom. 12:3-15:13)

What do we learn here about our responsibilities to God?

In Romans 12:1-2

*Therefore,* 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.*

2 */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.

Knowing HIM

and His mercy, and

what He’s done for us –

We’re all urged to Always

FOCUS on HIM & CHOSE:

1.           to offer our complete “self” to Him,

2.           to think/act in/on Him, not in/on our old self/ways - the ways of this world?

GREAT - How might we do this?

We love, trust and think – HIM/Jesus

W/ALL heart, soul, mind, strength

 

We chose to train our minds to HIM

 

A brother – terrible/golf shot – no anger

I asked how - simply shared 

2 kinds of thoughts - 1000’s each day

1. Those of/from/about Him -

2. Those not

#1 - we live in - those with/from HIM

#2 - we sacrifice - those not

Simplified it for me - less overwhelming

1 thought - moment at a time

2 Cor. 10:3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. … we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 

Paul also reminds us

Eph 4: 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

Another big choice we make is: to love HIM & others

Love is a choice – let us choose

To see & care for others w/His eyes/heart

(Romans 12 goes on)

9 Love must be sincere.

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.

Honor one another above yourselves.

11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you;

bless and do not curse.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice;

mourn with those who mourn.

16 Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.

Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,

20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil,

but overcome evil with good.

JESUS OVERCAME this world

We chose to trust HIM.

The Gospel

Is shocking - CONTRARY - Good News.

We preach “Christ crucified”

the foolishness of the cross

HE IS RISEN - ALIVE

“Foolishness” to this world –

Jesus - crucified, defeated, disgraced

For all who believe – God’s secret wisdom

HE Rose and IS alive,

victorious, exalted, glorified, hope

NT Wright says -

“God has reversed the world’s values”

Maybe - this world reversed God’s?

In any case, things are other than 1st appear?

Example – my kids once asked if I’d like to be the richest man in the world - Bill Gates - neighborhood?

Answer - I am the richest man in world - wouldn’t trade being your dad for anything.

They say, not what they mean –

But, this is exactly what

“this world” teaches us/them

Let us think - who really is –

“richest – poorest”

“leader - servant”

“first – last”

“success – failure”

Maybe it all depends on our measure?

WHO is our measure, if we know the Truth?


!!! C.S. Lewis said -

If Christianity true, it is of infinite importance;

If false, or no importance.

The only thing it/HE can’t be, is moderately important.

 

Paul too - I Cor. 15

 

So, now, as we conclude this class,

let us challenge ourselves

Knowing He is infinitely important

Let us all choose:

To follow Him

w/all our mind, heart, soul, strength

To not conform to the patterns of this world

But, like Paul & mature believers

To offer up our WHOLE self & thoughts

To be used and transformed by HIM

Every moment of every day

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