Do not conform 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. Romans 12:2
Meet God and be transformed agents of His Work!
Nehemiah 8; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 3:12-13; 4:1-2; 5:11-6:3; James 1:22-25
We have the incredible privilege to here and know God personally through His Word! The Bible is our principle platform for our encounters with the Almighty Who has something precious to say to us, and we must hear it excitedly! We are to get into God's Word because it is the framework of the Living God. His principles, calls, and plans for us to know, grow, prosper in our lives and churches are in its pages. We must do our best to immerse ourselves to meet Him, to know Him, to internalize His precepts and live them out for His glory and our mutual benefit. Therefore, we must listen, learn, and do (James 1:21-27).
How do I meet with God? Simple. How do you make friends?
How do you get to know them?
How do you nurture your rapport and build a relationship with them?
This is one of the applications of Romans 12, which is pretty much the same way we grow in Christ. To build friendships, we spend time with people to listen, learn, experience, and discover; our trust builds and our relationship builds. We do this also with God, spending time to nurture our relationship, in person to His Person by reading the Bible, studying His precepts, worship and praying amongst other spiritual disciplines. Why? God wants us to know Him, and to do this we need to meet with Him. God wants you transformed and renewed. This means we must be in transformative engagement with Him through His Word to do this building and nurturing! We are to know Him, grow in Him by our adoring engagement with Him by listening so that we will be learning His calls, commands, instructions, history, even His poetry--all from in the Bible, in His Cradle of Instruction. To do this, we learn to trust and grow to obey; this is the essence of being a growing committed Christian and collectively as a vibrant church!
Meeting God is up to Him. Meeting with God is up to us. There are certain things that must take place to know Him more. First, we believe. We accept. We have faith. Then, we cultivate to make the application of our faith real and effectual. What a cultivation tool? The Gospel is. The Gospel shows how we shall live in faith-from doctrine to duty-from what we glean, learning and living. This is the cultivation process of getting to know God. This translates our faith to the practical aspect of the Gospel. As Christians, we have received the greatest gift conceivable. We have been saved, not of any effort or reason on our part except by faith. What do we do to live fully in Christ? We meet with Him! We do this not by osmosis, birthright or wishfulness; rather, this faith-this beautiful and complete relationship with our Father-is cultivated by our due diligence in connecting with Our Lord, building relationships and increasing trust-just as we would do with any trusted friend.
Get into the Bible for Transformation
We meet with God to know Him; we open the Bible and read its words with anticipation and wonder as we commune with the Creator King of the universe who wants us to know Him. The relationship building doesn't stop with heeding the simple glorious message of the Gospel; we must continue on, delving into God's Word. It is through this intentional learning that we capture His principles, letting us ponder His Truth and begin to apply ourselves to Him, conforming to His Word. Literally in John 6, we are called to 'feed' on Christ; we are to consume His work and principles both for living now and for eternity. This helps us have real meaning and a purposeful life by building our new life (2 Tim. 2:15).
Meeting with Our Lord is so important; it is how we are to grow in Christ! It is how we build our faith and spiritual formation in order to be our best for His Glory. To do this, we must think beyond ourselves, beyond our past hurts, beyond past experiences and move from perception to concrete, living in the present. If we remain in our material thinking, only seeing what affects us personally or what hinders us or not seeing above and beyond where we are, we will remain in the world of selfishness and absurdity; life will not make sense, and we are left with only stress, despair, anxiety, and boredom. All this will be attributed to our alienation from God and/or our refusal to put our faith into a real able practice when we do know Him. When we 'feed' on our Lord, we will live an abundant and fulfilling life; only then, we can cross the obstacles and overcome life's ills and sin ( John 6:52-71; 14:17;16:1-15; Rom. 5:4-5; 7:21-25; 8:14, Gal. 4:6; 2 Cor. 3:18).
We commune with God to give Him our burdens and concerns. Think about these questions as you seek to deeper connection with the principles of God's Word into our lives, thinking, and behavior.
Seek Him and ask, what is my problem?
What am I doing wrong?
How can I be corrected?
What must I learn to grow in Christ?
We are enabled to grow By the Holy Spirit when our lives are transformed because we feed off Christ's precepts and life and get away from ourselves and the distractions that block our nurture of Him in order to apply ourselves to Him as He applied Himself for us (Neh. 8).
As we meet with God, we glean what He wants us to discover, know, internalize and apply. W e can take more confidence in Him and cultivate our faith and learning; finally, we can live out our conviction and faith, bringing the incredible peace and joy of Our Lord and Savior to all facets of our lives. Sadly, most Christians respond with a rear end firmly planted in a pew that goes nowhere in service or glory to Christ. They hold on to a will that will not allow conviction or change to their routine or life or to grow beyond ones hurt or experiences. Because of this unwillingness, these people rarely meet with God. Because of this, we stagnate; we become the problem--not the solution-in building vibrant spiritual lives and a healthy church.
When we meet with God-separately or collectively-for worship, the church is no longer "just a place to go". Church becomes the training and worship center. To use a football term, we are the "huddle." In the huddle WITH Our Father, we receive HIS instructions, review the plays, and go forward for victory in our Christian lives upon receiving the Word from Our Coach.
To make this take hold of us, we must let the reality be a total dependence on Christ's Work and sacrifice so we can have union with Him, a personal relationship for now and eternity. Our devotion to Christ must be rooted in our mind and then let His principles translate to our heart and then feet and the rest of our bodies, the body of us as a human being and a body of believers in relation to all those around us, as our duty, from our gratitude. This is what is means to ' being' in Christ: He is forever, everlasting, unbreakable, and real--a contrast to what is fleeting, temporary, and shallow. Our due diligence in His Word transacts to how we think, how we relate and what we do. If in doubt, consider what Jesus gives is far more important.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world
When we meet with God, we change. We move beyond ourselves so that our minds and thoughts are based on Christ and Scripture, which the Holy Spirit guides us in. If not, the culture and pleasures of life as well as our fears, doubts, hang-ups, and distractions will compound as Satan and his "evil powers" and "amoral acts" fill us with the worldly sinful temptations that take the place of our meeting with God. Tradition, custom, ritual and rationality can blind and deceive us. All this will synergistically sweep us away from God's best for us. To meet with God moves us away from the world's influence to be the world's influencer, as our Christian life and purpose!
If we chose not to be transformed, we will be doing the very opposite of obedience. I'm not talking about just selfishness or laziness; rather, in choosing not to transformed, you choose to create your own opportunities with zeal in order to sin instead of loving principles of our Lord's. We are making a choice to follow ourselves, others, even Satan. That is, misplacing our passion on the wrong things. We are to cling to His highest standard, not compromise to the flow of the group we hang out with (peer pressure). The question to us all is, will you obey (1 Sam. 15:22; John 7:17; 13:17)?
To not conform to the world requires our effort to conform to Christ. It also requires the realization that we are standing before our Lord solely upon His mercy, thus we are to reciprocate it. To put into practice; such as since God forgave us we need to forgive others. Do not just ask God to use you, but rather give yourself to Him to use. We cannot do this unless we give up our selfish will over to His. The incentive for us to surrender to Christ is that His Way is better than ours. He gave us a gift we cannot fathom, yet alone earn the gift of grace and eternal life, so why would we not seek to please our Living Loving Lord? This is accomplished when we are on guard, that the distractions of the sinful life to not entice, motivate or divert us from Him and His plan for us. The call is simple, as we meet with Him, we are to be willing to allow God to transform us and not the ways of the world. Simple? Yes, but it takes the diligence all of our efforts from the trust we have in Christ to prompt us to succeed. When we do this, our thinking, attitude, mindset, all that we are in thought, will change and then impact all that we do in life (John 3:30; 2 Cor. 4:18; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14; 1 John 2:17).
The application of our non-compliance to the world and our surrender to His Word requires, as this passage in Romans 12 so eloquently states, being a living sacrifice. This is a key aspect into maturity and growth in the faith. The purpose of doctrine is not just the knowledge, (which is very important), but it is what we do with that knowledge, how it affects us to effect us, that is our supreme goal. A living sacrifice, for the ancient Jews, meant to praise God as a continual lifestyle of worship. This motive continues and refers to the fact that we belong solely to God, not to ourselves or anything else, His shed blood paid for us! We are to dedicate ourselves to God. We are to give Him our all. It is easy to die for a cause, but are you willing to live for Him? In perfect obedience, so your life is poured out, that your strength is gone and you rely on His (Rom. 3:25; 6:12-17; 8:13; John 15:13-15; 37-38; 1 John 3:16)?
The bottom line of why we are to study the Bible is so that we may know God, His Way, and grow in our knowledge and faith in Him so we can then be better used by Him. We are called to spiritual growth-that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We can't do this when we bring what we want into Scripture and not take out what God wants us to have! We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation. Instead, we will experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (James 1:2-8; Heb. 6:13-20).
What is the point of desiring to be a musician if you never intend to learn music and/or practice your instrument? What is the point of doing church if we do not equip the people to learn what we are about and what we are to do from the Bible? What is the point of being a Christian if we never read the directions to know what we should be doing? What point is there to the Christian life without the life-changing transformational life we can have through His Word, Work, and Holy Spirit? There is not much point without it. How do we achieve the transformation? The answer is simple: get into the Word! We have the tools to help you do this--Bible reading charts, plans, and insights for those just starting out to prepare sermons. You can, indeed, do it and remove Bible illiteracy from your life and church!
God desires us to be His, to listen to Him, and to trust and obey Him; He has designed us to be with Him in personal relationship, to seek Him and place Him first so that we might be more like Our Lord. We can meet with Him, we can trust in Him, we can expectantly be learners and doers of His Word and build an effectual church and life (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4)
© 2012 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org