Archive for March, 2015

REFLECTION: Transformed by a Renewed Mind

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Have you witnessed a makeover?  You’ll normally catch a glimpse of one on a talk or a reality show.  Often times, the transformation is amazing and the individual’s self-esteem and outlook in life is heightened.  However, I’ve often wondered how long the effects of a makeover lasts.  When the individual returns home to his/her same old daily routine and the amazing haircut outgrows itself, the heightened zeal in life sadly fades away.

In Romans 12:2, we are encouraged “not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.”   I’m sure you’ve heard of this scripture many times, but what does it mean?

Well aware of what is going on in our world today, I wonder how anyone would consciously want to conform to this world.  We have physical, verbal, psychological and emotional bullying in schools, within families and in cyber space; swearing has now become a normal part of the everyday language for many;  respect is no longer given to elders or to authority;  infanticide and genocide take place quite prominently today;  our children, the leaders of tomorrow, are raised in broken families…  Should I say more?

I often wonder what goes on in the minds of others.  I wonder if they feel trapped within the ugliness surrounding them?  I wonder how many would like to run away and escape from the craziness of this world and find peace once again.

But how do you avoid being conformed to the ways of this world if you live in this world?  God has given us the answer…   by being transformed through the renewing of our minds.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, our minds have entered into a fallen state.    In this state, our mind rejects God and it cannot discern His spiritual truth.   This is who we are by nature.  We do not want to see and acknowledge God for who He is; as worthy of knowing, loving and treasuring Him above all else.

The solution?  The first step is to realize that we have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.  By acknowledging our sinful nature and repenting (turning away from our sinful ways) and freely embracing that Jesus took on the sin of the world when He died on the cross, we radically become dependent on Him and the works of the Holy Spirit.  When we repent, the Holy Spirit begins to renew our mind and it is changed (transformed) from our old ways to godly ways of thinking.

Unfortunately,  in spite of knowing and believing  that God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus, His son, to redeem us, (John 3:16) many times, the minds of believers continue to reject Him.  We do have to admit this to be true about ourselves because of how little effort we put out in getting to know Him and how much effort is needed to make our mind spend time in getting to know Him better.

Hence, the next step is to ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit on us on a daily basis.  “The Holy Spirit renews our mind.  It is first and decisively His work.  We are radically dependent on Him.  Our efforts follow His initiatives and enablings.”   Without this daily outpouring, the influences of this world could readily overtake us and we will not be able to withstand the arrows of the enemy.

As the Holy Spirit works in us, He works from two directions… from the outside in and from the inside out.  He works from the outside in by exposing our mind to the truths of God.  He leads us to hear the Gospel, to read, study and meditate on His Word in the Bible, to partake in the Sacraments, to read Christ-exalting literary work and to pray and spend time with the Father.  The Holy Spirit works from the inside out by breaking our hard heart that blinds and corrupts our mind and He brings about truth-embracing humility.

Do note that this is exactly what our great enemy, the devil attempts to keep us from.  “The god of the world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:4  “Because to see that for what it really is, Paul says, will renew the mind and transform the life and produce unending worship.”

If the Holy Spirit merely worked from the outside in by presenting Christ-exalting truths to our mind without breaking our hard heart and making it humble, then the truth would be despised and rejected.  If He merely humbled the heart without putting Christ-exalting truth before our mind, then there would be no Christ to embrace and no worship would happen.

What then should we do to “be transformed in the renewal of the mind”?  We join the Holy Spirit in His precious and all-important work.  We pursue the truths of Christ and we pray for truth embracing humility.  We read, ponder and soak ourselves in the Bible, constantly in search of the revelation of Jesus’ glory; we partake in the Sacraments; we form the habit of meditation on the perfections of Christ and we pray and pray and pray some more that the Holy Spirit will renew our minds so that we may desire the will of God and that our lives will become worship to the glory of God.

God bless,

Melissa – March 26, 2015

– from the teaching of John Piper; The Renewed Mind and How to Have It – http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-renewed-mind-and-how-to-have-it

REFLECTION: Broken hearted, no more…

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

 


Break my heart for what breaks Yours; Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause; As I walk from nothing to eternity.”  These are from the refrain of “Hosanna”, a song sung by Hillsong United.  I wonder how many realize what these lyrics mean when they sing along with the song?  In truth, I didn’t until I began to experience a deep grief that appeared to come from nowhere one day.

A few days ago, my heart broke again.  I had been interceding for a mother and daughter for a while now and of late, things have turned for the worse.  The news of an unsuccessful treatment that brought more harm than good brought along heartache, but it was these words that “broke” my heart… ”Although I know we both feel very unloved by God at times, I pray that He will see us both through this.” 

My heart anguished for them, especially since the daughter is the same age as mine.  My pleas before God became fervent.  I begged for ways to give them hope; I begged for ways to show that He had never abandoned them.  I begged for His words and for His ways because nothing of me could do anything, but I knew it was only He who had the wisdom and the power to accomplish anything.  I begged and I begged because I wanted them to receive the same comfort and reassurance God gave me at my times of distress. 2 Cor 1:3

As I prayed and as I pleaded, my anguish appeared to grow deeper.  I eventually realized that I was searching in the wrong place.  Although I was praying, I was still searching for solutions and ways of the world.  Romans 8:5-7 God had reminded me that the solution was in being transformed by the renewing of my mind.  Romans 12:2  Finally, I sought solace and comfort in His word and God gave them to me…

Psalm 116 I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”…  The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.

Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.  I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 118It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

13You pushed me violently so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation…. 17I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.  18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”

That evening, as many praised and worshipped God during our time of Adoration, I wandered off to the first five Stations of the Cross along the Parish walls.  I had just received a teaching on Simon of Cyrene, the one who helped Jesus carry His cross, and I knew God would communicate there.  The cross Jesus carried weighed about 300 pounds (1.36 kg).  It was not enough that Jesus was flogged with a leather whip with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs prior to carrying the cross, but the floggings continued while He carried it to its final destination.

To my surprise, the meaning of all these insights didn’t ring true until I shared them with the congregation.  I sensed our Father say that He is aware of what each of us is going through.  He knows that many times, our trials and tribulations feel like we are carrying a 300 pound cross and He is also aware of the added floggings we receive on top of that.  He reminds us that He has sent other “Simons of Cyrene” to help us carry our cross through their prayers, kindness and compassion.  But more importantly, He wants us to remember that Jesus is also there carrying the cross with us and He knows exactly what we are going through.

That wasn’t all… our Father wants to remind us not to focus on our problems.  Just as those who ski adventurously among the trees, if we focus on the trees (our problems), we will definitely ski right into one.  Instead, He invites us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  He calls us to rest and to be still before Him.  Transformation doesn’t come immediately.  It is a gradual process.  As we sit and wait, we rest.  As we delve into His word, we are “informed, conformed and then transformed”.

Father God, thank You for not leaving us orphaned.  Although You are exalted and on high, You continue to care for the humble and the lowly.  Although we walk in the midst of trouble, You revive us; You stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of those who persecute us, the wrath of our difficult circumstances and our diseases and Your right hand saves us.  Thank You Father that You accomplish what concerns us.  Your loving kindness, O Lord, is everlasting.  Thank You that on the day I called, You answered me. You, alone, make me bold with strength in my soul.  Psalm 138  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 24, 2015

REFLECTION: The invitation… (Part 1)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

Did you receive your invitation?  Will you be going?  The invite seems to be open to all.  Didn’t it say “Come…all who are weary and heavy-laden?”  I’m not weary nor heavy-laden at the moment, but can I still come?  I’ll let others with greater needs go ahead.   I’m fine at the moment, but eventually, I’d like to find that rest too.

If you received such an invitation, would you go?  I believe many would show interest, however, once people realize it is God who is inviting, many would reconsider.  Would you?  What stance would you take?

Father God, from the moment Adam and Eve turned their backs on You, You have been pursuing man.  You’ve been inviting each to a beautiful, intimate and loving relationship with You and yet many of us have chosen other lovers, other gods.  Forgive us Lord, we believe we know what we are doing, but the truth is, we really don’t.  Just as in Hosea 4:1, we have intentionally rejected knowledge of You.  We are so willing to listen and to respond to the invitation of all others, but when we realize it is You who is beckoning us, we respond with deaf ears and glazed eyes.  Have mercy on us Lord.  We do not know what we are doing.

Father, when we finally realize that it is You who we need, please let there still be time to find You.  Father, let the faithful remnants intercede for those who still remain blind.  Lord Jesus, please continue to intercede for mankind.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 3, 2015