I bet that if you ask someone who you admire for their strong Christian walk, you’ll find out that a quiet time with the Lord is a vital part of their day. I discovered it as a young Christian over 36 years ago and it still remains a necessary part of my routine. When the Lord said, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” He was speaking to all of us. In this noisy, chaotic world we live in today we need those moments of peace and quiet to be renewed, refreshed and revived as we read God’s Word, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance. If you’re not already doing this, I’d urge you to start the practice of daily coming away with the Lord…it will change your life for the better.
This new life that Paul speaks of – is taking off the old and putting on our new self. But for many of us, this is a painful, almost impossible struggle. For when doubt and fear have our minds so conditioned, anything that’s new or requires us to be bold, will be met with resistance. We want to change, but fear has us so bound up – we can’t. And so we wrestle with God. But wrestling with God is a good thing. For God isn’t our opponent, it’s rather our old self and fear we’re battling against . And as long as we continue to grapple with God, we’re still engaged and interacting with Him…and hopefully listening along the way. In Genesis 32:28, after Jacob and the Lord had wrestled all night, God gave Jacob a new name. And God has a new name for you too, but it involves the renewing of your mind. It means taking on a new self-perception of who you are in Christ…and then accepting that daily restoration of your inner strength…so that you may be victorious over doubt and fear.
Even within my lifetime I’ve seen this huge shift of what we consider right and wrong. And with the advent of mass media, the Internet, Snap-Chat, YouTube, and Hollywood…we see our societal mores slowly morphing into something our Great-grandparents would be appalled at. But this blurring of ethical principles and practices didn’t happen overnight…for it relied on man’s pride, rebellion and apathy to flourish. So now we sit, so desensitized, we don’t even react anymore to what we know is wrong…but if we do, we’ll likely find ourselves being chastised for being intolerant and narrow-minded. Job 24:13 warns of this Spiritual blindness…of evildoers who rebel against the light, who don’t know its ways or stay in its path. I ask Heavenly Father, that we would be enlightened by Your Word, and that You would illuminate our minds with Your truth, that we may be able to discern right and wrong correctly. Amen.
I listened to a song the other day…its title a declaration that a lot of us might not say with any conviction…”I am ready for the Storm.” Now I realize that it’s not if but when trials will come into my life…but to proclaim that I’m ready for them gives me pause. So how can I prepare? The Psalmist here shows us that it’s the daily renewing of our heart and mind that will enable us to do this. Our faith is renewed and given new life daily…ever-deepening, ever-increasing, as we put more and more of our trust in the Lord. This divine restoration is spoken of in Isaiah 40:31, ” But those who put their hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” So I may not like it, but I can now say with certainty… Yes Lord, with Your help, I’m ready for the storm.
Everyday your character is being shaped… by the world or by God. We allow generational chains of bondage to influence how we think…molding us into people we don’t want to become. We allow the world’s dominance to sway how we behave around others…even when it’s contrary to how we really feel inside. Spiritual renewal of your mind is a determined process you must undertake yourself. It’s an evaluation of God’s Will – His good and well-pleasing Will for your life – as you allow your character to undergo a metamorphosis, a regeneration of how you think. Don’t be squeezed into the world’s mold for you. Decide today what’s going to be shaping your mind…the world or God.
Jesus spoke of this glory in John 17:22, when He said, “I have given them the glory that You gave Me that they may be one as we are one.” When we become Christians, we undergo a spiritual transformation…a invisible process, a metamorphosis if you will, where our very character is changed. And by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we become a mirror, reflecting Jesus to others. But you’ll also notice that this Scripture says we are “being” transformed with “ever-increasing” glory…which means His work in us will never be completely done until that day we meet Him face to face.
Philip, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had found a Ethiopian eunuch traveling the road between Jerusalem and Gaza. The eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah, but was perplexed, so Philip started with that scripture, (Isaiah 53:7-8) and explained to the eunuch the good news of Jesus. Later as they traveled together, they came upon some water and it’s here the eunuch asks, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” Now in some late manuscripts verse 37 is added which says, “Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ The eunuch answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ ” Baptism is the public demonstration of a personal decision…it symbolizes spiritual renewal, forgiveness of sins, adoption by God and eternal life. If you are a Believer but have never been baptized…ask yourself the same question the eunuch did, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”
If you think about it…we’re all like the prodigal son. We were all spiritually dead – separated from God the Father, with no hope of eternal life…when we were made live again, by the blood of Jesus Christ. For we all had wandered away from our Heavenly Father, just like the prodigal son…and just like the prodigal son, when we had come to our senses in the middle of that pig pen – we realized we couldn’t make it on our own. That’s when we returned. We returned to a loving Father with outstretched arms, rushing to meet us and draw us to Him.
Baptism…just as during the time of John the Baptist, is a public action, for an internal, personal decision for Christ. It symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through the forgiveness of sins to those who repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptism is part of the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:18, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” As a new Christian, you don’t have to be perfect before you can be baptized…you don’t have to have it “all together” and cleaned up prior either. Baptism is a public “Just as I am” coming to Jesus moment.
Here Paul is comparing the human body with the body of Christ…the Church. Just as the many parts of the human body work together in complete harmony…each with its own unique purpose, the body of Christ – the Church and its many parts need to come together in like-mindedness also. And just like the human body, one part cannot work in isolation from the rest. That would be like one Sunday morning your heart getting up and deciding not to be part of your body that day! You may think that your presence at Church doesn’t matter…but it does…the whole body suffers when one part is absent.