Wednesday, October 7, 2015

worry about nothing, pray about everything

artwork by Tamara Peterson

Tamara Peterson’s beautiful work of art inspired me as I worshipped with our worship leader Conrad Johnson singing You Can Have It All, Lord …You can have it all, Lord, every part of my world. Take this life and breathe on this heart that is now Yours. My heart was drawn to a word study of the word, prayer, from Philippians 4:6

Amplified: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

Lightfoot: Entertain no anxious cares, but throw them all upon God. By your prayer and your supplication make your every want known to him.

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.

Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.

Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God.

Young's Literal:
For nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer, and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

Prayer in Greek is the word, proseuche from pros which means toward or immediately before and  euchomai which means to pray or vow. Proseuche is the more general word for prayer and is used only of prayer to God. The prefix pros would convey the sense of being immediately before Him and hence the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship.  The basic idea is to bring something, and in prayer this pertains to bringing up prayer requests. In early Greek culture an offering was brought with a prayer that it be accepted. Later the idea was changed slightly, so that the thing brought to God was a prayer. In later Greek, prayers appealed to God for His presence.

The Apostle Paul is saying believers are to present worries in prayer, going to God with a sense of conscious dependence upon Him, like the psalmist in Psalm 84...Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage…They go from strength to strength…Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty.

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest explains, “By prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion,” the idea is setting one's focus on God and exhibiting a worshipful attitude. The first priority when we find ourselves worrying, should be to get alone with God and express our love, and adoration to Him, focusing on His glorious and majestic attributes such as His unchangeable character, His sovereign control, and His omnipotence. Then God is seen as Jehovah, the great "I Am"..."I Am anything and everything you will ever need!" Too often we rush into His presence, blurting out our supplications and requests, instead of approaching His throne of grace with the sense of wonder and reverential fear pictured by the use of the noun proseuche. So the first thing Paul instructs the saints at Philippi to do is focus on God. We are to worry about nothing because we can pray about everything.”

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon
succinctly summed up Paul's words saying that we should have...”No care but all prayer. No anxiety but much joyful communion with God.” Spurgeon goes on to exhort us...”Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and, therefore, thank God for His grace.”

Pastor Ray Stedman
writes, "In everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." I love that word "everything." That means there is nothing too small to bring to him. Someone asked, "Is it all right to bring small things before the Lord? Is he concerned about the small things in our lives?" The answer is: is there anything that looks big to God? Everything is small to him, so take everything to him in prayer. Prayer is the expression of our dependence upon His promises. It isn't necessarily on your knees, or in the closet, but it can be just that quiet, arrow prayer of the heart, in continual recognition that you need to lean back upon His grace and strength. In everything constantly relating to that indwelling life of God the Son in you. Whenever problems develop, lean back again in prayer to the one who is able and competent within you through His indwelling life. Thanksgiving is that forward look of faith that thanks God for the answer before you see it. Knowing His character, you know something will be done. There are things for which we can immediately ask, and know that we will receive. His grace, his strength, insight, wisdom, patience, love and compassion. And as we lean back upon him in that inner dependence of faith which is prayer, we can also begin to give thanks that the answer has come, and in our thanksgiving we discover the experience of it as well."

Pastor Stedman continues: "As in everything we let our requests be made known to God, the result is peace. The peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Just the other day a new Christian, a business man, was telling me of the peace that he is enjoying in resting upon the competency of Christ within to handle his problems. He said that the one thing an American business man fears more than anything else is a call from the Internal Revenue Department. He said the other day the phone rang, the secretary picked it up and said, "It's the Internal Revenue Department. What will I tell them?" He said his immediate reaction was what he once would have said: "Tell them anything-tell them I'm not here, I'm out of town." Then he remembered Christ within, and that he was there to meet the problems of life through him. He said his second reaction was well, what an interesting time this will be to see how he solves this problem. I don't know what they will ask me about, but it will be interesting to find out. So he took the phone, and when he did he found it was a friend playing a joke on him. He said if he hadn't taken the phone he would have been all week dodging up alleys and hiding behind cars, afraid someone would put a subpoena on him. Ah, but you see that rest upon the One who is adequate brings peace. Sometimes it is a peace that grips you in the midst of the most distressing circumstances, and you ask, “How can you explain it?” The answer is, you can't. It's a peace that passes understanding. I don't understand it. I've experienced it many times. There is something about it that undergirds, sustains, and strengthens, and the heart is quiet and peaceful even in the midst of the pressures, demands, and harassments of life. It comes from committing our way unto Him."

HOLY SPIRIT, here is my worry. Here is my need. I give them to you, and ask you to calm my anxious heart and quiet my racing thoughts. Center them on Jesus Christ and on His power and sufficiency today. Set my heart ablaze for the pilgrimage You have for me. Because of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the Cross, taking all my sin, all my pain, all my worry, it is by His stripes that I am healed—physically, emotionally, and relationally. I belong to You, I know that Your peace will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, in Whose powerful name I pray, amen.

Recent Posts…

the river of the Holy Spirit…

Philippians 3:10…that I may know Him

Romans 12:1-2…flawless…transformed by the Spirit

Romans 12:18-21…overcome by a Good, Good Father

Weekly LinkUps…

Sunday, October 4, 2015

the river of the Holy Spirit...

What an honor and a blessing!  LifeLetter Café selected me to be a featured contributor on a recent “Find It Only Here On Friday"…


Beth Willis Miller, M.Ed., writes articles on a variety of topics to inspire and encourage others. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, blogger, and works in church ministry. Beth shares articles at beth willis miller’s blog where she is a Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member. Beth is also an inspiring regular contributor (LifeWriter) here at LifeLetter Café and is today’s featured contributor to “Find It Only Here On Friday.” Her Café exclusive “The River of the Holy Spirit” can be found below…BUT FIRST…the Café thought you just might want to know how an Encouragement Leader like Beth Willis Miller has herself been encouraged in her own faith recently. In her own words…

Recently, God has refreshed my faith with a new visual image of the Holy Spirit flowing like a river through me, through my family, and through my church. What if the Holy Spirit is like a river, constantly available and flowing?

As John 7:38 states, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

What if our job is just to jump in the river? When the Holy Spirit is in us and we are in the Holy Spirit, how do we connect and live in the flow of the Holy Spirit at the present moment? I ask myself, “How’s your spiritual life going? Am I growing more or less irritable these days? Am I more or less easily discouraged these days?  In what ways do I demonstrate the “L-effect”—taking what I have received from God vertically, and extending it horizontally to people in my everyday life?”

“Today's Find It Only Here On Friday"...
"The River of the Holy Spirit” by Beth Willis Miller

I experience the River of the Holy Spirit flowing through me as I pray God’s Word…

Thy will be done—Matthew 6:10
Not my will, but Thine, be done—Luke 22:42
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.—Psalm 23:1
Each morning, and throughout the day, when I pray, I picture Jesus, my Shepherd, in the green pasture of the 23rd Psalm. I take whatever concern I have, or person for whom I am interceding by the hand. I walk out to the meadow, the green pasture, and I place my concern, or the hand of the person for whom I am interceding, in Jesus’ hand…knowing that He is sovereign, He loves me, and He loves the person for whom I am interceding more than I do. He has a plan, a hope, and a future for each of us. I walk away, thanking God for how the river of His Holy Spirit is flowing through me and how He is at work in my life and in the lives of those for whom I am interceding. I experience His peace. Praying as Catherine Marshall prayed, “Lord Jesus, I trust You, You know what You’re doing, I relinquish my will to Yours.”

In prayer, I ask God to reveal to me the spiritual mile markers in my life…broken places, hurts, disappointments, accomplishments, and joyful times. The river of the Holy Spirit helps me see that God had been there all along and His grace is sufficient. I have learned that the Hebrew concept of time is like a person rowing a boat. We see where we have been, we back into the future. I can clearly see that God has been there with me all along. I am not stuck in the past. Flowing with the River of the Holy Spirit, I am rowing into the future, moving forward, proactive, with my focus, my mindset, on God, who is sovereign. He sees the end from the beginning. Morning after morning in my quiet time, I bring myself back to the Cross of Christ. As I bow before Him, I experience anew His mercy and grace, as I sense His blood dripping over the Crown of Thorns pressed into His brow, onto my heart, covering all my sin—past, present, and future. I get up from my knees wearing His Robe of Righteousness as I face the day ahead…rowing into the future.

“My determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.”—Philippians 3:10

Lord Jesus, without You, I can do nothing. May the River of Your Holy Spirit so flood my soul--the seat of my emotions, and my body--my fleshly desires and appetites, that only You remain and I remain in You. My determined purpose is that I may know You, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing, perceiving, and understanding the wonders of Your Person more clearly and more strongly. I am resting in Who You are and who You say I am—blessed, accepted, adopted, chosen, redeemed, forgiven and loved with an everlasting love and underneath are Your everlasting Arms. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

After my post appeared on the LifeLetter Café’s “Find It Only Here On Friday,” a writer friend, Susan Chamberlain Shipe, replied to my post with a comment asking if I had heard the old hymn by Andy Park, The River of God (The River Is Here)  I listened to it here for the first time and heard such sweet lyrics and rhythm to the visual image God has been using to refresh me. Take a moment to listen to the sweet rhythm of these lyrics and see if you experience the refreshing flow of the river of the Holy Spirit…

Down the mountain the river flows, and it brings refreshing wherever it goes. Through the valleys and over the fields the river is rushing and the river is here. The river of God sets our feet a-dancing, the river of God fills our hearts with cheer, the river of God fills our mouths with laughter, and we rejoice for the river is here. The river of God is teeming with life and all who touch it can be revived, and those who linger on this river’s shore will come back thirsting for more of the Lord. Up to the mountain we love to go to find the presence of the Lord, along the banks of the river we run. We dance with laughter giving praise to the Son.

12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…

Sunday, September 27, 2015

that I may know Him...

artwork by Tamara Peterson

Tamara Peterson’s beautiful work of art, which she posted on her Artful Story—Journaling Facebook page, brought to mind sweet memories of unconditional love and wide open arms of love from my childhood. My sweet Daddy, Eston Willis, went home to be with Jesus in 1989. He was such a powerful influence in my life, he loved Jesus, his family, and sharing his faith with others. He led me to a saving faith in Jesus, I watched him prepare for his Sunday School lesson all week, and learned so much from his teaching. When our son, Jason, was born in 1991, two years after Daddy went home to be with Jesus, I longed for my children to know him like I knew him. One night in 1992, I had a dream, so real, so vivid, I can remember every detail. Daddy was walking toward me, smiling his big, warm smile, but younger than I ever knew him. No glasses, no wrinkles, so alive. Then, we were sitting in a living room, he was holding Jason and rocking, and then my dream ended. But when I woke up, I was inspired. I wanted to capture memories of Daddy for my children to read. I mailed letters to everyone I could find in our friends and family network. I asked them just to write what they remembered about Daddy. I collected all those letters in a book we still have today. One letter was from Marci Clements, a friend from our church in Sebring. She commented on how much Daddy loved to sing the old gospel song, “Without Him,” as his confession of faith…Without Him I could do nothing. Without Him I'd surely fail; Without Him, I would be drifting. Like a ship without a sail. Jesus, Oh Jesus, do you know him today? You can't turn him away, oh Jesus, oh Jesus. Without him, How lost I would be. Without Him I would be dying. Without Him I'd be enslaved;  Without Him life would be hopeless. But with Jesus, thank God, I'm saved. Jesus, Oh Jesus, do you know Him today? You can't turn him away, oh Jesus, oh Jesus. Without him, How lost I would be.

Do you know Him today? Those lyrics led me to a word study of the word, know, from one of my favorite verses… Philippians 3:10a Amplified:  [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]

Know in Greek is the word ginōskō, which usually speaks of the attaining of personal or experiential knowledge. In other words, ginōskō is not just an intellectual knowledge of the facts, but is a personal experience of something or someone, in this case a knowledge of the Person of Christ. Ginōskō means to acquire information through some modality, as through sense perception (hearing).  Ginōskō involves experiential knowledge, not merely the accumulation of known facts. Ginōskō is one of the major verbs of the Bible and because of its numerous uses, Greek lexicographers ascribe a number of nuances of meaning including to get to know, come to understand, to ascertain, to have intimate relations with another, etc. The basic meaning of ginōskō is to know by experience. Knowledge possessed through the intellectual process of learning is one thing. However, knowledge gained by experience, by an active relationship between the one who knows and the person or thing known, is far superior to the former.

Pastor F. B. Meyer wrote, “We may know Him personally intimately face to face, Christ does not live back in the centuries nor amid the clouds of heaven, He is near us, with us, compassing our path in our lying down and acquainted with all our ways. But we cannot know Him in this mortal life except through the illumination and teaching of the Holy Spirit. To know Christ in the storm of battle, to know Him in the valley of shadow, to know Him when the solar light radiates our faces or when they are darkened with disappointment and sorrow, to know the sweetness of His dealing with bruised reeds and smoking flax, to know the tenderness of His sympathy and the strength of His right hand, all this involves many varieties of experience on our part. But each of them like the facets of a diamond will reflect the prismatic beauty of His glory from a new angle. Paul’s emphasis here is on gaining a deeper knowledge and intimacy with Christ.”

Pastor Charles Spurgeon writes, “Then it is clear, if I know him I shall have a very vivid sense of his personality. "That I may know Him." He will not be to me a myth, a vision, a spirit, but a person, a real solid person, as real as I am myself, or as my dearest friend can be to me. My soul, never be satisfied within a shadowy Christ. My heart, be thou never content until He hath embraced thy soul, and proved to thee that He is the lover of his people. This knowledge, then, must be a knowledge of Him in His personality. Then, beloved, it must be a personal knowledge on our part. I cannot know Christ through another person's brain. I cannot love Him with another man's heart, and I cannot see Him with another man's eyes. Heaven's delight is, "Mine eyes shall see him and not another." These eyes shall behold the King in His beauty. I am so afraid of living in a second-hand religion. God forbid that I should get a biographical experience. Lord save us from having borrowed communion. No, I must know Him myself. O God, let me not be deceived in this. I must know Him without fancy or proxy; I must know Him on mine own account.”

Do you know Him? That is the refrain I remembered from S. M. Lockridge (born Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, March 7, 1913 – April 4, 2000). He was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African American congregation located in San Diego, California, from 1953 to 1993. He was known for his preaching across the United States and around the world. He is well-known for this magnificent six-and-a-half minute description of Jesus Christ, known as “That’s my King!” ...
My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews—that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel—that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King. Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing. He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s Savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That’s my King. Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King. His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you… but He’s indescribable. That’s my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible. I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King. He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King! Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We’re around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but in the end all that matters is God’s power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever…And when you get through with all of the ever’s, then…Amen!

Oh Lord Jesus, how I thank You for my heritage of faith…for my Daddy who loved You with his whole heart, and introduced me to You...Thank You for filling me with the desire of my determined purpose is that I may know You, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of Your Person more strongly and more clearly…thank You for the many ways You reveal Yourself to me through Your Word, for Your Holy Spirit flowing through me, like a river...filling me with knowing You, washing away all my unbelief; filling me with Your glory, washing away all my pride; filling me with satisfaction in You, washing away all my idolatry; filling me with experiencing Your peace, washing away all my prayerlessness; filling me with enjoying Your presence, washing away all my legalism. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You...In Your precious name I pray, amen.

Previous word studies…

Romans 12:1-2…flawless…transformed by the Spirit

Romans 12:18-21…overcome by a Good, Good Father

9 word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…

Saturday, September 19, 2015

overcome by a Good, Good Father

artwork by Bonnie Miller

I pondered this colorful work of art by Bonnie Miller on our Artful Story—Journaling Facebook page, while listening to the anointed new hymn, Good, Good Father by Housefires II featuring Pat Barrett…I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like, but I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night, You tell me that you're pleased and that I'm never alone. You're a Good, Good Father, It's who you are, It's who you are, It's who you are, and I'm loved by you, It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am. I've seen many searching for answers far and wide, but I know we're all searching for answers only you provide, because you know just what we need before we say a word. Love so undeniable I can hardly speak, Peace so Unexplainable I can hardly think, as you call me deeper still…into love, love, love…You are perfect in all of your ways…You are perfect in all of your ways to us…this drew my heart to a word study of the word, overcome, from Romans 12:18-21:

NASB: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Amplified: If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.

NLT: Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” (Deut 32:35) says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” (Prov 25:21-22) Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Phillips: As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone.
Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’.... these are God’s words: ‘Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head’. Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil by good!

Wuest: If it is possible so far as it depends upon you, with all men be living at peace.  Do not be avenging yourselves, beloved ones, but give place at once to the wrath, for it stands written, To me belongs punishment, I will repay, says the Lord.  But, if your enemy is hungry, be feeding him. If he thirsts, be giving him to drink, for doing this, you will heap burning coals of fire upon his head.  Stop being overcome by the evil, but be overcoming the evil by means of the good

Young’s Literal:  If possible—so far as in you—with all men being in peace; not avenging yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it hath been written, `Vengeance [is] Mine, I will recompense again, saith the Lord;' if, then, thine enemy doth hunger, feed him; if he doth thirst, give him drink; for this doing, coals of fire thou shalt heap upon his head; Be not overcome by the evil, but overcome, in the good, the evil.

Overcome which in Greek is nikao from nike, means victory, to get the victory, overcome, conquer, or subdue. Nikao means to conquer, to be victorious or to prevail in the face of obstacles. The verb is in the present imperative and thus is a command to keep on overcoming. May we be empowered by His Spirit to stand firm against the onslaught of evil, being supernaturally enabled. Overcome describes the quality of a true saint who may stumble and fall, but who God always picks up and he continues onward and upward in the power and motivation of the victory Christ has already won for us on the Cross. The only way to overcome evil with good is to do it in reliance of God, motivated and enabled by His indwelling, empowering Spirit.

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe has said, “As children of God, we must live on the highest level—returning good for evil. Anyone can return good for good and evil for evil. The only way to overcome evil is with good. If we return evil for evil, we only add fuel to the fire. And even if our enemy is not converted, we have still experienced the love of God in our own hearts and have grown in grace.”

Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes: “As to heaping coals of fire on the head of the one who has injured one, that is equivalent to satisfying his hunger and quenching his thirst. The latter two actions meet a desperate need of that individual, and are an outstanding kindness shown him. Heaping coals of fire on his head also meets a desperate need. In Bible times, an oriental needed to keep his hearth fire going all the time in order to insure fire for cooking and warmth. If it went out, he had to go to a neighbor for some live coals of fire. These he would carry on his head in a container, oriental fashion, back to his home. The person who would give him some live coals would be meeting his desperate need and showing him an outstanding kindness. If he would heap the container with coals, the man would be sure of getting some home still burning. The one injured would be returning kindness for injury, the only thing a Christian is allowed to give back to the one who has injured him. This act of kindness God could use to soften the heart of the person and lead him on to repentance and the offering of a recompense for the injury sustained. In this way the Christian would overcome evil with good.”

Pastor Ray Stedman states, “You say, "What do you expect me to do? Somebody hits me—do you expect me just to sit there and do nothing? Oh, no. There is something you can do. Look what it is: "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.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Two things will happen if you refuse to avenge yourself and let God do it: First, you will be enabled to act positively instead of negatively. That will result in what Paul, quoting Proverbs 25:21-22 calls "heaping burning coals on his head." This doesn't mean that you are going to get even by another process—burning his head. No, this refers to the ancient way of lighting fires. They didn't have matches in those days, so if you wanted to light a fire in your home, you couldn't go and borrow a match. But you could go and borrow some coals from your neighbor. Of course, you took along an earthen jar that would not burn. Then you would ask your neighbor if you could borrow some coals to light your own fire. Now, if he was a good neighbor, he would fill the jar and you would carry the padded jar home on top of your head. This became a picture of an ample, generous response to a neighbor's need. Because of that, it became a metaphor for responding so generously to your neighbor that it made him ashamed of himself for his attitude toward you. That is what Paul is suggesting here. The second result of leaving vengeance to God is that you win the battle. If there is a conflict going on, you will win it if you respond with doing good instead of evil.

Pastor Ray Stedman continues: “I was reading one day a story about a boy who was in the army. He was a Christian and had formed the habit of praying beside his bed before he went to sleep. He kept up this practice in the army, but he became an object of mockery and ridicule to the entire barracks. One night he knelt to pray after a long, weary march. As he was praying, one of his tormentors took off his muddy boots and threw them at the boy, one at a time, hitting him on each side of his head. The Christian said nothing about it, and just took the boots and put them beside the bed and continued to pray. But the next morning, when the other man woke up, he found his boots sitting beside his bed, all shined and polished. It so broke his heart that he came to that boy and asked him for forgiveness. That led, after a time, to that man becoming a Christian. This is what Paul means when he says you overcome evil with good. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "The best way to overcome an enemy is to make him your friend." Three times in this passage the apostle has stressed the fact that you are not to return evil for evil. In Romans 12:18-21 he states it. So, throughout this passage it is underscored that the major way we express love in the world is by not reacting in vengeance when we are mistreated by the world. Can you imagine what would happen if Christians would begin to act this way? How many times we turn people away from Christianity by assuming the same attitude the world around us has. Surely, this is a practical way Paul has of reminding us that we are not to be conformed to this age. We are not to think like they do. What a testimony of grace that would be!

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon states: “Beloved, this spirit of forgiveness is the Spirit of God, and he that hath it becomes like to God. If thou wouldst rise to the highest style of being, rise thou to the condition of a being who can be injured, and yet forgive. To be just is something, scarcely for a righteous man would one die; but to be merciful and kind is much more, since for a good man some would even dare to die — such is the enthusiasm which a loving spirit will kindle. Rise above mere righteousness into the divine atmosphere of love. But whether men love you or not is a small matter; whether you conquer them or not is also a little matter, but that you should conquer evil, that you should be victorious over sin, that you should receive from your Lord at the last the “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and that you should be like to God in your nature, this is of the utmost importance to you, for this is heaven. Heaven is to have self dethroned to be purged of all anger—to be delivered from all pride. Heaven is in fact to be God-like. May we be made so through Jesus Christ our Savior, by the work of his Holy Spirit.”

Heavenly Father, You’re a good, good Father. It’s Who You are. Thank You for Your
tender whispers of love in the dead of night, when You tell me that You're pleased, that I'm never alone, and I'm loved by You…It's who I am…You give me my identity…who I am in Christ. You know just what we need before we say a word. Your love is so undeniable I can hardly speak. You give me a peace so unexplainable I can hardly think, as you call me deeper still…into love, love, love…You are perfect in all of your ways…You are perfect in all of your ways to us. May we trust You in the big plan you have for our lives. May we yield to the empowering presence of Your Holy Spirit in the innermost part of us, taking authority over our soul—the seat of our emotions, and our body—our fleshly desires and appetites, so that You overcome us with Your love, so overwhelmed by Your grace, that all we can do is say, Thank You, as we shine the muddy boots thrown at us.

Previous word studies…

Romans 12:1-2…flawless…transformed by the Spirit

9 word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…

12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…

Weekly LinkUps…

Sunday, September 13, 2015

flawless...transformed by the Spirit

artwork by Kimberly Simmons

I pondered this beautiful, bold work of art by Kimberly Simmons while listening to the anointed new hymn, Flawless, by MercyMe, There's got to be more than going back and forth, from doing right to doing wrong, ‘cause we were taught that's who we are. Come on get in line right behind me, you along with everybody thinking there's worth in what you do. Then like a hero who takes the stage when we're on the edge of our seats saying it's too late, well let me introduce you to amazing grace. No matter the bumps, No matter the bruises, No matter the scars, still the truth is the cross has made, the Cross has made you flawless. No matter the hurt or how deep the wound is. No matter the pain, still the truth is the Cross has made, the Cross has made you flawless. Could it possibly be that we simply can't believe that this unconditional kind of love would be enough to take a filthy wretch like this and wrap him up in righteousness, but that's exactly what He did. Take a breath, smile and say, right here right now I'm ok because the Cross was enough…No matter what they say, or what you think you are, the day you called His name He made you flawless…this led my heart to a word study of the word, “transformed,” from Romans 12:1-2:

NASB: 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.

Amplified: 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. 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].

Living Bible: And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.

Phillips: With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

Wuest:  I therefore beg of you, please, brethren, through the instrumentality of the aforementioned mercies of God, by a once-for-all presentation to place your bodies at the disposal of God, a sacrifice, a living one, a holy one, well-pleasing, your rational, sacred service, [rational, in that this service is performed by the exercise of the mind]. And stop assuming an outward expression that does not come from within you and is not representative of what you are in your inner being but is patterned after this age; but change your outward expression to one that comes from within and is representative of your inner being, by the renewing of your mind, resulting in your putting to the test what is the will of God, the good and well-pleasing and complete will, and having found that it meets specifications, place your approval upon it. 

Young’s Literal: I call upon you, therefore, brethren, through the compassions of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice -- living, sanctified, acceptable to God -- your intelligent service; and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what [is] the will of God -- the good, and acceptable, and perfect.

Transformed is from the Greek word, metámorphoo from metá, which denotes change of place or condition and morphoo which means to form, from morphe which means form, shape referring to the essential form of a thing. It has the basic meaning of changing into another form and is the term from which we get metamorphosis, which in biology denotes the amazing change of a lowly worm into a beautiful butterfly.

Metámorphoo describes the process by which that on the inside shows forth to the outside such that that everyone can see. It describes an inward renewal of our mind through which our inner spirit is changed into the likeness of Christ.

The verb morphoo does not refer to what is outward and transient, but to what is inward and real and thus that which produces an outward expression which proceeds from and is truly representative of one’s inward character and nature.To be transformed describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside.

Pastor John Stott explains how metámorphoo takes place, noting that, "Although Paul does not here tell us how our mind becomes renewed, we know from his other writings that it is by a combination of the Spirit and the Word of God. Certainly regeneration by the Holy Spirit involves the renewal of every part of our humanness, which has been tainted and twisted by the fall, and this includes our mind. But in addition, we need the Word of God, which is the Spirit’s sword, and which acts as an objective revelation of God’s will. Here then are the stages of Christian moral transformation: first our mind is renewed by the Word and Spirit of God; then we are able to discern and desire the will of God; and then we are increasingly transformed by it."

Pastor Stott continues, "A transformed mind produces a transformed will, by which we become "innervated" and "energized" (enabled), with the Spirit’s help, to lay aside our own plans and to trust and accept God’s will, no matter what transpires. This is not easy nor is it the natural response which means it has to be a supernatural, God-driven response, and yet we are not puppets and thus must make the choices for or against the will of God. There is really no middle ground. The eyes of the Lord are searching to and fro throughout the earth for men and women who will not be conformed, but rather transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Jesus Christ. Beloved, there is no "middle ground", no neutral territory—if you are a follower of Christ, you are either a conformer or a transformer. Your life is being changed either by pressure from without (conformation) or by power from within (transformation). As we yield in Romans 12:1 and meditate on His Word, God's Spirit transforms us into living sacrifices with renewed minds, God-saturated people who radiate His glory. May God be pleased to raise up a generation of transformers, not conformers, men and women whose lives are controlled by a Divine Power from within, not worldly pressure from without. Beware of the subtle trap of seeking to avoid all manner of worldly behaviors and influences and yet failing to be transformed by the Spirit, for this is simply another form of legalism. To keep out the weeds of the world, seek continually to yield to and walk by the Spirit Who produces the fruit that effectively strangles the weeds."

Pastor John Piper says it this way...“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The focus is not first on getting the outside of the cup cleaned up, but on getting the inside cleaned up. In other words, transformation and non-conformity on the outside must flow from a new mind. Be transformed in the renewing of your mind."

Pastor Harry Ironside said, “In Romans 12:2 we are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our minds; that is, as the mind is occupied with Christ and the affections set on things above, we become like Him who has won our hearts for Himself. As we walk in loving obedience, we prove the blessedness of the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."

Pastor Ray Stedman writes, “The only way to not be conformed is to seek Jesus first and as His presence and power become more experientially intimate in your life, the things of this fallen world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. The right order is the Spirit of Christ first, then the lusts of the flesh. The opposite of being conformed
to this world is being transformed by the renewing of your mind. The battle ground between an evil conformity and a good transformation is within the mind of the believer. Note that transformed is the passive voice which indicates that this process is being performed by an outside force, the Holy Spirit and God's Word, not a change produced by our self effort. We must be (passive) transformed by God, trusting Him to do in and through us what only His Spirit can accomplish."

Pastor Keith Krell illustrates the passive voice this way: “If I said to you, ‘I’m going to the store’—that’s active. If I said to you, ‘I was taken to the store’—that’s passive, someone else drove me. Paul is saying once we become living sacrifices something beautiful happens—someone else transforms us. The word translated, “transformed,” is a word that has been brought into the English language without translation. It’s the word, “metamorphosis.” When a tadpole is changed into a frog or when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, we speak of it as a metamorphosis. That is what God wants for each of His children—for us to be transformed from the spiritually defeated, dull, and depressing existence so many endure, into the victorious, vital, and enriching experience that is available to the believer in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, transformed is present tense, signifying that this is not a one-time event, not a single crisis experience, but a transformation that is progressively realized, a gradual process. In addition, “be transformed” is in the imperative mood (command), which indicates that believers have some responsibility in this transformation. How so? We are to have tender hearts and obedient, submissive wills so that we might allow the Spirit to do His work within our hearts and lives, and not quench, grieve or resist Him."

Farmers in Zentsuji, Japan, are preparing full-grown watermelons for shipment—only these are no ordinary melons, they're square. They were placed in tempered-glass cubes while they were still growing. Why would anyone want a square watermelon? They're much easier to store in a refrigerator! It's interesting to think of how a naturally round watermelon can become square because of the shape of the container in which it's grown—just like the forces in the world that exert their influence on us and attempt to shape us. That's why in Romans 12:2 we are told not to be "conformed to this world," but to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind." We are to allow the transforming Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to work within us and produce outward results, instead of permitting external pressures to shape us.

Heavenly Father, may we yield to the power and authority of the Spirit of Christ, Who dwells in the innermost part of us. May we submit and surrender to the river of transforming power from the Holy Spirit flowing through us, washing away our unbelief, pride, idolatry, prayerlessness and legalism, and filling us to the brim with Your presence—believing You, glorifying You, finding our satisfaction in You, experiencing Your Peace, and enjoying Your presence—believing that the Cross has made us flawless. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Previous word studies…

9 word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…


(in)courager community group 21 Stories of Generosity 31 days of encouragement A Feathered Nest A New Song Abba able absolutely certain abundance mentality acceptance accepted accepted in the Beloved adopted adoptee adoptees adoption adore agape all is grace All-Adoptee Growth Group Almighty Alone Yet Not Alone alpha waves Amazon Best Seller Ranked #1 anthology approval Armageddon Ash Wednesday ask atmosphere attitude attune senses author authority baptism Be Still My Soul beautiful beauty Because He Lives Bedouin Dinner beginnings ended beholding believing Believing God Beloved Beth Moore Beth Moore Bible study Bethany Hamilton Bethlehem birth blessed blessed assurance blessing blood of Christ blue Schwinn bicycle book launch Boot Camp Broken Vessels butterfly effect Caesarea called Capernaum care cared cares Central Park centurion Challenger change chosen Chris Tomlin Christ Christ Jesus Christ-centered coffee for your heart Colton Michael Duncan comfort connect-the-dots count it all joy creating change creative creative problem-solving creative thinking creativity critical thinking crown of thorns crowned Dan Brawley Dancing With The Stars darkness dawning deeply loved delight desire determined purpose divergent thinking do the next thing Easter eastern hills education El Shaddai elaboration Elijah Ellis Island Emmanuel emotions empty nest empty tomb encouragement encourager encouragment Ephesians epiphany essay eternity everlasting love Experiencing God extravagant extravagant grace face-to-face faith fasting Father favor fill finding patterns fixing our eyes on Jesus flawless flexibility fluency Forever forgiven forgiveness future Garden of Gethsemane Garden Tomb generosity giveaway goal-setting God God is sovereign God with us God's love God's presence God's sovereignty God's will God's Word Good Good Father Good News gospel grace greatly blessed grief guarantee Harold Edgerton He lives heal healer healing heart heaven held hemisphericity highly favored His glory His Presence holy ground Holy Spirit hoop skirt of light hope I AM identity imagination imagine in Christ inheritance innermost Inspire Intensive Tutorial intercede intimacy Israel January 28 Jerusalem Jesus Jesus at the center Jesus Christ job interviews John 3:16 Jordan River joy Judean Desert justifies knock know Him known Lamb of God lavish learning life Living Bible location Lord Lord Jesus Christ lose loss love love of God loved Matthew 7:7 Mediterranean Sea Memorial Day memories memory mercies mercy Metropolitan Museum of Art milk drop coronet miscarriage modalities moment in time mother mother and daughter Mount Carmel Mount of Megiddo Mount of Olives Mount Tabor move forward multisensory mysteries mystery Nathaniel National Prayer Breakfast new song New York City Niagara Falls no condemnation nonfiction One Thousand Gifts originality overcome overwhelming obstacles panorama panorama. sovereignty panpharmacon past peace perception periwinkles positive relinquishment power praise pray prayer present preserve Press On proactive problem solving problem-solving prodigal prodigal son providence Psalm 23 Psalm 37:4 purpose questions redeemed Redeemer redemption reflecting Rembrandt remembered remembering renewing the mind resting resurrection righteous righteousness Rock of Ages Roman Amphitheater Romans Chapter 8 ropes of grace sandwich generation Savior Scripture Sea of Galilee searching secure seek self Sermon on the Mount servant leadership seven habits Shepherd's Fields small thing that makes a big difference snow patterns social media Solomon's Temple soul sovereign sovereignty speak speaker Spirit of Christ Spirit wrought STAR format stewardship story Strawberry Fields strength Sulphur Springs sunrise sunset to sunrise superabounding grace supernatural synagogue synergistic synergize Tampa targeted selection testimony thankfulness thanksgiving the blood of Christ the empty tomb thief on the cross think forward to the future thinking thoughts Throne of Grace time timeline timeline template timelines transformation transformed trust trusting Truth Truth of God's Word Twenty-third Psalm unconditional love Under His Wings unforced rhythms of grace Valley of Jezreel vision visualization wait walking waterfalls weakness Western Wall when God ran wife win a free book win/win without Christ I am nothing Word word study worry wound writer writing written Yardenit You Already Have An A you are free indeed You're Going To Be Okay you're loved Young Life

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews