Monday, October 30, 2006

Place Your Life Before God

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

~ Romans 12:1-3 (MSG)

I was asked to read this passage of scripture during church yesterday morning. I agreed right away...Romans 12 is one of my most favorite passages of scripture. It speaks of how we are supposed to live in this world as a Christian and about how to live a life full of God's grace and love.

When I began reading the first line of verse 3 (the second paragraph), I was completely blown away as I became overcome with emotion...I was not prepared for the fact of having to choke back tears and try to keep it together as I continued through the passage. That line is powerful in a variety of ways...

"I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you."

I don't share enough about the deep gratitude I have in my heart for all that God has done and is doing in my life. Sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in the busyness of this world and life and to forget about who put you here and what His plans are for you. I don't think enough about the responsibilities I have in relation to the people I come into contact, in person or via the web. I have the responsibility to act in a Godly manner matter the circumstances, how my day's going, how I feel, what might have been done, etc. I have the responsibility to be lifting the people around me up in prayer stand in the gap for them on a continual basis. I have the responsibility to always give them the benefit of the doubt, to not be judgmentalal hypocrite, to love them even when they don't really want me to, to be there for them even when they might give a cold shoulder, etc.

Do I do this on a daily basis? I am so guilty of not giving deserved gratitude enough and just not always being as responsible as I'm called to be in my relationships. I tend to sometimes 'play with fire'...before we moved I had an informal accountability partnership, but since the move, I haven't established this. I know I need to do it, but because I've been 'burned' times before, I have trouble letting down my guard and letting people in. I know I might do it here, but I find it easier to allow things to fly off my fingers, then sometimes speaking it in real flesh and blood.

Basically though, the fall's been a circus for us and I'm guilty of not always laying everything down at His surrender or as an offering. I have been too busy and/or consumed with things to truly sit back and embrace what He does for me.

I didn't necessarily realize how crucial it was to as my friend says, "Breathe in the breath of God", until my life entered a time where it seems there's been no 'breathing room' at all.

"The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him."

The hardest thing for me, is that when there's no 'breathing room', it seems I have trouble understanding things in general. I am thankful for the fact that, despite this, He's still there and speaks in whatever ways necessary. We have just went through a few major changes in our family...ones which will bring better health to our family and me a lot closer to finding the 'breathing room' I need to so desperately have. We have went from a home schooling family of three, to a home schooling family of one, with two in the school system. One child wanted into the school system and prayer consideration revealed that it was best for another to go as well.

Do I feel guilty about this? No, I feel a huge sense of relieve. Our kid's lights will shine strong for Christ in their mission-field and our family will become stronger and closer as a result of the decision. Most importantly...I will find the essential down time and 'breathing room' that I need to draw closer to Him and know more closely what He's doing and planning to...and as a result of that, gain a better understanding of myself. I know this has been long.Probablyly one of the first times I've actually sat down and the words flowed freely out of my brain. I love the remainder of Romans 12 as much as the part I've quoted and therefore am going leave you with that further 'food for thought'.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

~ Romans 12:4-21 (MSG)

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