Friday, August 24, 2012

Renewed Mind

“…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).

The world’s ways are opposite of the way of God. As we see in verse 2 of Romans 12, the world is out to influence the fruit of our desires. The human tendency is to please the flesh to find happiness. Most people in the world have been convinced, and wrongfully so, that they can live the Christian life without any changes at all in the way they act, think and talk. But if we are truly converted to the way of God then change is inevitable. Not because the Christian is a better person, but because his or her influence is now the power of God and not the weakness of the world. Coming to a realization of this fact is part of the transformation of the renewed mind.

Renewing of the mind begins with a renewed vision of self: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Living as a Christian causes us to look out for others as well as ourselves. It is a different life because it is driven by love and seeks the welfare of those around us. To have this kind of lifestyle requires a complete overhaul of the thinking process. It takes a renewed mind.

Renewing of the mind also gives a new vision of sin. Although most in the world see sin as bad, most have not gone through the renewing of the mind to see it as bad enough to change their lives. Some live in a way that shows God as obligated to forgive their sin without true repentance. But God has proven through the Scriptures that forgiveness is an opportunity not an obligation. He has offered us the way out of sin and the way is through repentance. When sin causes the heart to break we can look to the Scriptures to find the way to forgiveness: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Although baptism is essential to having sin washed away; the first part of Peter’s answer is to repent, to change the way we view sin and to see the severity of sin and the separation it causes between us and God (Isaiah 59:2). Once that realization sets in the desire to repent, or change, is overwhelming and causes one to seek the only way to salvation, God’s way (Ephesians 5:24-26). Love for God is not enough to enter salvation. One must also hate sin.

Renewing of the mind will also change how one views salvation. The biblical view of salvation is not something that comes through the wisdom of man. It has been delivered through God’s grace that teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). There are some that believe salvation is accepting the Lord in their hearts, but without the washing away of sin through the water, one cannot enter salvation. Salvation from the biblical standpoint is having been forgiven of sin. And since it is God who must do the forgiving, submission to His plan is essential. When we study the idea of salvation we can only come to the conclusion that forgiveness only comes to those who have died to self, died to sin and now live through the serenity of God’s forgiveness. The Ethiopian Eunuch went away rejoicing after he was baptized because he knew his sins had been washed away. He knew this because it was shown to him through the suffering Savior of Isaiah 53 (Acts 8:36-36). Obviously this man’s vision of salvation had changed because when he saw water, he saw the way to forgiveness and salvation. You can rejoice also with a renewed mind.

In His Grace,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Godly Leadership

“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).

Every congregation of the Lord’s church will have to face a time in which they will have to “select from among you… men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge…” (Acts 6:3). This passage is dealing with selecting qualified servants to accomplish a specific task, but this is the same principles we will face in selecting elders. As sure as the sun moves across the sky, time will affect our lives. Every day brings change in many different ways. When elders are chosen we all know these men will not hold that office forever. Such is the case here in Maryville as one of our elders is retiring from his secular position and will relocate to a place where he and his wife can be closer to their physical families. We have been blessed by their service and we will miss them dearly, but now we must face the challenge of selecting a godly man, or men, to step up and serve in the eldership, a task worthy of prayer.

When selecting elders discretion must be used because not every man is qualified to carry out the responsibilities of an elder. We must be careful not to allow our feelings to hinder our decision because our feelings can and will sometimes deceive us: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Just because we like someone doesn’t qualify them for the eldership. We must examine the fruit of his life and make a decision based on what is revealed. Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20). Taking the time to make sure of the men we are choosing will benefit the church for years to come. We must trust God’s word to guide our hearts and minds in this decision.

Using Joshua as an example, we can see some godly characteristics of a true leader. First, we can see a good leader is strong and courageous (Joshua 1:8). A godly leader knows his strength comes from God and he is courageous because he has faith in God’s promises. He is able to overcome enemies and their attempts to discourage his faith because he believes in the success promised by God. He will not allow fear to prevent him from being faithful. He will not be intimidated by those who oppose the church because his focus is on the Lord.

Also we can see that a godly leader is a man whose life is built on the word of God: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8). The church needs leaders who trust in God’s word to bring them the success God has promised. They will not get impatient for results but will “wait on the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31) to give them the power, purpose and privilege of being a leader of God’s chosen people. He will be someone whose life reveals the words he speaks.

Finally, we see from Joshua that godly leaders are men who will encourage others to serve God (Judges 2:7). Getting people to follow you is a tough task because sometimes God calls us to some undesirable places such as suffering and sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). But elders will face these obstacles in faith and will assist others in their journey also. And if the need arises, they will not be timid in admonishing those who are not staying in step with the Lord’s will. They will not be afraid to confront the disobedient, yet compassionate enough to encourage the weak. These are some characteristics we should seek in the men we are choosing to lead us.

In His Grace,