No Higher Than I Ought to Think

I watched a documentary a few years back on the real Band of Brothers. One soldier humbly stated he only did what others would have done. That statement really stuck with me. His “the greatest generation” must have all been imbued with some kind of inner code calling them to deflect any and all self-aggrandizement.

In the same vein, many times Paul recalled and gave credit to the grace of God in his ministry (Rom 1:5; 12:3; 15:15; 1 Cor 3:10; 15:10; Gal 2:9; Eph 3:7) He did not think more highly of himself than he ought to think. It was only sound (sensible, sober) judgment based on his faith that got him through.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

It seems that what is done today is only to maximize one’s presence on social media. It’s mostly I did and said this and you didn’t. I was here and you weren’t. I understand the complexities of the world and you don’t. He’s a reprobate and I’m so much better than that.

Maybe the response to our extraordinary activities should be that I was only doing what others would do, only if the frame of reference is what other mature Christians would do, or better, and not to sound cliche, what Jesus world do..

That’s what Paul is alluding to, but in the context of using one’s spiritual gift or gifts.

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Conformed or Transformed?

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. Romans 12:2

Conformed or transformed? This is an excellent question. But what Paul is saying is not put in the form of a question but a command. The only way we can prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God in our lives is “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5

They call the world the “the great unwashed.” It is not so with us. The same spirit that was “moving over the surface of the waters” as recalled in Genesis 1:2 resides in us! This is mind boggling to say the least. But since this is the case, why do we consult the world on what we should do rather than the Creator of the Universe? Who knows better?

Our transformation comes when we, like the transfigured Jesus, manifest our true regenerated form in a worldly situation, and shine forth God’s perspective on a matter that emanates from his spirit within. Fathom the thought of all of us doing this with regularity!

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Know it All

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33 (NASB)

We are reminded in this great passage that it’s impossible to know the ways of God, or to fathom his riches. Yet he has given us the wisdom to know this, and as such, to know that we can’t know is to know all. If we understand that “from him and through him and to him are all things,” (11:36) we know all that we need to know.

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Crossing Over

Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6

There are some key words in this account which teach us how to apply dynamic faith. The first is that we must “cross over” into the great unknown. Nothing is ever done without moving forward. Crossing over is accomplished in two steps, the decision to do it, and then doing it. The second step of course is the hardest! In Jonathan’s case it was taken with the manifestation of a certain sign.

But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hands; and this shall be the sign to us.” 1 Samuel 14:10

On the issue of signs, in my mind, tactically it would’ve been better to cross over if the men came to them, but Jonathan set the go signal on them saying to come to them. I would say signs should involve the highest degree of difficulty and require from us the most courage. Then you know.

Some might say that the setting of signs is not for this day and age, and I would agree. (1 Corinthians 1:22) But why would God constantly use signs in his story and deprive us from the same kind of direction in some cases? It would seem right in a case where faith is being exercised in an attitude of prayer and dependence that “putting out a fleece” as Gideon did might serve as a tiebreaker. I do know that a clear sign will serve as a signpost as we look back after we cross over. It’ll provide assurance and confirmation.

Here’s a practical case of calling for a sign. My wife and I were contemplating a trip to Canada, but were taken aback by the cost of airfare. I hesitated because times may get tight in the future. To be absolutely sure of God’s will, my wife set out “a fleece.” If the airfares dropped to $325 a piece, down from the $600 range, this would be a sign unto us! The fare: $323. So we’re going. The cost went up the very next day well over $600.

Back to our story. In Jonathan’s assessment of the situation was God’s view of the enemy, i.e. “these uncircumcised.” We have confidence in crossing over when we’re on God’s side. This may take the form of acting on one of his many promises. In fact, his promises are essentially signs themselves.

To me the key word in this whole passage is “perhaps.” In it is the essence of faith. He may or he may not act as we wish, as Daniel’s three friends exclaimed on the way into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:18). Jesus thought the same way in the garden (Matthew 26:29). His fate was in God’s hands.

A second factor here is that God is not restrained or constrained as we are. He can muster a host of angels or use one pair of human hands.

 

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God’s Way

To realize the promises of God, and to understand his purpose for your life, using his power, relying on his mercy, walk the path that is set before you, as did his son Jesus.

Inspired by Romans 9.

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At His Mercy

Some of us raised in another day were constantly preached at that you get nothing in life without hard work.

Here we read that we can will it so, or run hard at something, and still fail, that it’s only by God’s mercy that we succeed.

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. Romans 9:16 (NASB)

Therefore, I’m at the mercy of the God of the universe.

It’s good to know he ended up extending mercy to people who were not even his (the Gentiles), and to a remnant of  his own people (the Israelites) who went their own way.

What we should pray for is to become a suitable vessel for his mercy, ready to receive a full portion.

[Romans 9:23, 24, 27]

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We are the Champions–Romans 8:28-39

There’s nothing we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love. This impenetrable bond was established by God before the foundation of the world (v. 29) while we were “yet sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

There’s nothing others can do either, because God has justified us (v. 33) and Christ intercedes for us (v. 34) on an ongoing basis.

If this is not enough, there’s no created thing (v. 39) that can pry us away from God’s love, no, not one!

He’s got us covered every which way to Sunday, and on that day too!

And it’s all credible because God allowed the ultimate sacrifice to be made by using his Son. The logic goes like this, if “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (v. 32)

So “We are the champions, my friend, and we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.”

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