August 22 – August 28, 2017

WORD

1I 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.  2Do 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.  3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.  6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Romans 12:1-8

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: 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.

Last week we discussed what it meant to decide with our hearts to follow God and love others.  This week, we hear the call to join that decision of the heart with a renewal of the mind.  When we offer ourselves to God, choosing God with our hearts, then God will purify our minds.  The love that flows from God’s heart into our hearts embraces our mind and turns our thoughts to God and God’s will.

When our hearts are out of line with God – when we choose to follow, worship, and desire things that are not God – then our minds can become disordered.  We can confuse our will for God’s will and our choices can reflect this confusion.  The great sin of humanity has always been to trust our discernment over God’s discernment (see Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:1-5).  Most of the time our sin finds its root in the unbalance between our hearts and minds, between knowledge and will – either we know what is right and we choose wrongly, or there is confusion as to what is right or wrong because we have allowed our desire for God to grow cold.

The reality is that the world is filled with hearts and minds out of balance and disconnected from God.  Therefore, if we depend on the voices speaking loudly in our world – media, politics, business, fashions – to form the foundation of who we are, we will easily be deceived.  All of those realities want to profit off of us and do not care about our souls.  God, though, knows what is “good, acceptable, and perfect” for us.  God is not trying to profit off of us or use us for personal benefit.  God has instead offered Godself to us for our benefit.

So what or who is it that forms the foundation of who you are?  What brings balance to your heart and mind, your will and wisdom?  How might God be looking to bring your heart and mind into communion together through the good and holy love of God?  How do you make choices in your life and decide what is right for you and the world?  Offer God your heart and mind and be renewed and empowered to live a kingdom life.

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.

Humility is a tricky virtue.  As soon as you think you have it, you have lost it!  It is also difficult to have proper humility, because when we think of being humble we often equate that with self-deprecation.  But humility is actually rooted in love for the self.  Humility means to love others as you love yourself and to not love yourself more than you love others.  Those are the two boundaries lines of humility – love for self on one hand and temperance on the other.  Pray for a deeper understanding of humility this week and ask God to give you this pure love for self and others.

Meditation Focus: 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.

How are your body and spirit connected?  One of the great truths of the Christian faith is that we are whole people and are called by God to honor God with our whole selves.  There is no separation of heart, mind, body, and spirit, no dualistic philosophy that would claim that one of these is inherently good while the other is inherently evil.  God has created every part of us as part of God’s good creation and when we are redeemed from sin we are redeemed head to toe and heart to spirit.  The resurrection powerfully demonstrates this – our bodies are brought into the final consummation of God’s kingdom along with our hearts, minds, and spirits.  As you meditate this week, think about the wholeness of your being and how God communes with each element of who you are.  However you can, imagine your heart, mind, body, and spirit surrounded by God’s love in union with one another.  What will it mean for you to offer each part of you to God as an act of worship?  How will you honor God with your body?  How will you honor God with your mind?  How will you honor God with your heart?  How will you honor God with your spirit?

Journaling Focus: We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

You are gifted!  God has given each one of us gifts that empower the work appointed for us in the kingdom of God.  How has God gifted you and how does God want to use those gifts to further the kingdom of love and grace?  Spend some time reflecting on the gifts you have and why God might have granted you those special gifts.  Where are you needed in the economy of the kingdom?  How might your giftedness transform the world around you?

Holy Action: 

Take care of your mind this week!  Read a good book that will expand your understanding and appreciation of God’s world.  Spend time to think deeply about a topic that interests you.  Research an element of God’s world.  Be a philosopher for half an hour and ponder the big questions of the world.  Have fun honoring God with your mind!

Breath Prayer: Father, renew us.

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