|(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)|
Believing And Obeying God
Lesson 38 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
Today we’ve reached the conclusion of the book of Romans, the final words of Paul’s letter that punctuate his goal for writing it. These words also underscore the purpose for which God wants to renew your mind: so that you might believe and obey Him. Here’s what Paul said:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).
Paul often concluded his letters by giving praise to God, just as he did in his letter to the Romans. Sandwiched in between his words of praise, he also mentions the purpose for which the mystery of Jesus Christ has been revealed: so that all nations might believe and obey Him. This is God’s desire for all people in all nations, including you and me-that we would believe and obey Him.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier devotionals, there’s a difference between believing inGod, and believing God. You can believe in God, yet still not believe Him–still not be convinced about who He is and what He can do in and through your life. God wants you to believe in Him, for sure. But He also wants you to believe Himwhen He tells you something regarding your life, and He wants you to take action based on that belief.
This is a major part of renewing your mind as well. God wants you to renew your mind so that you can bring your thinking in line with His. When you do this, you’ll be better able to believe and obey Him, regardless of whatever life may throw your way.
I’ve been praying quite a bit this week for my wife Lana, who as many of you know, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer a few months ago. Apart from a miracle, the doctors say that this type of cancer is incurable and will shorten her life considerably. As you can imagine, our faith has been put to the test on a daily basis regarding what we believe about God and what He is doing through all of this. Yet with all that’s going on, we continue to find God’s peace in the midst of it.
How? Because God has spent considerable time and effort over the years filling our minds with His thoughts about us, that He is for us, not against us, and that He will work all things for good, even in this.
At the risk of being extra-vulnerable, I’d like to share one of my journal entries with you from earlier this week. I often write down my questions for God in my journal, and then listen for what He might be saying in response. While I’m not always sure if the thoughts I attribute to God are really mine or His, they do give me a starting point for helping me think through what He might be trying to say to me. With that disclaimer, here’s what I felt God was saying to me earlier this week regarding His will for Lana and her healing, most of which are based firmly in what He’s already written in His Word:
“Eric, you know my will is that she be healed, that she have no more pain, and that she never be separated from you. You also know that in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. Peace I give you, peace I leave with you, not as the world gives, but My peace I give you. I know you believe I could heal her in an instant. But I also know that you believe I can work all things for good, ALL THINGS, no matter what happens. Eric, I have prayed for you that your faith may not waver. Yes, I do give, and yes, I do take away, but I know and I trust that you will still praise Me. Your faith is, of course, more precious to Me than gold. Yes, pray for her healing, but also pray for her heart to be at peace. Pray that she will continue to know that I am walking through this with her every step of the way.”
At that point, I asked God for a verse that might help me express this dichotomy I feel inside me, that while I trust in God fully for Lana’s healing, I also trust Him whatever the outcome may be. The verse that came to mind was from Job 1:20-22.
While I sometimes think it’s cliche to think of Job when things are going bad in life, I also realize there’s a reason people turn to Job when things go awry: because no matter what happened to Job, he still gave praise to God!
The Bible says that Job was the greatest man among all the people of the East. He was blessed with seven sons and three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants.
He was upright and blameless in all he did, even praying for his sons and daughters on a regular basis, offering sacrifices on their behalf in the early morning, just in case they might have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.
Yet for all his faith, and all the good that he had done, tragedy struck. In a single day, he lost almost everything with which God had previously blessed him: from his sons and daughters to all of his livestock and servants. Overwhelmed with grief, Job tore his robe and shaved his head.
But what encourages me about this passage is that through it all, Job still trusted God. The Bible says:
“Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:20-22).
Job still gave glory to God, even when life turned against him. I can see why people might lose their faith when tragedy strikes. But I can also see, from this story of Job, that it doesn’t have to be that way. Job had no guarantees of what the future held, but he knew who held his future, and he trusted Him implicitly.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he didn’t know what his future held either. As we learn from the book of Acts, it had a fair share of tragedy as well. But through it all, Paul trusted God implicitly. He knew that God was able to strengthen him through Jesus Christ for whatever he might face, and that God would be glorified through it, no matter what happened. As Paul said in his closing to the Romans:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you [to strengthen you] by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ… to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen”
I don’t know what you’re going through today, but whatever it is, don’t let fear and doubt overtake you. Take it all to Christ instead. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“…take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b).
No matter what comes your way, take it to Christ. No matter what people say, take it to Christ. No matter what life throws at you, take it to Christ. Let Christ speak to you in all situations, overriding anything that anyone might say that is contrary to His Word.
The truth is that God loves you. He is for you. And He will work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Whenever a thought comes your way that goes against what God says in His Word, ask Him to establish you, to strengthen you, through Jesus Christ. Ask God to renew your mind, to fill your thoughts with His thoughts, to give you faith to believe His Words, and to walk in obedience to whatever He calls you to do.
Through it all, trust that it will bring glory to God, and help you to enjoy Him more fully. This is, according to the historic Westminster Confession of Faith, the chief end of man:
“To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
As Paul said to the Romans, let me say to you:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ… so that all nations might believe and obey Him-to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for being able to establish us in our faith and help us to be obedient to You. Renew our minds again this week, and help us to take every thought captive that sets itself up against You. Fill us with faith, help us to walk in obedience, and may your name be praised through it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. Next week, I’ll be sharing some final thoughts on the book of Romans as we bring this series to a close on Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind. Then, in the months ahead, I’m looking forward to starting a new study with you focusing on how to make your prayer life more effective called Psalms: Lessons In Prayer. In the mean time, I’d like to ask you for prayers again for me and my family in the days ahead, that God would be glorified in all that we do. I’ve included a picture of our whole crew from Mother’s Day last weekend that you can click and print to use as a reminder to pray for us. And if you’re ever needing prayer, please know that you can always post your requests on a special prayer page on our website. Although we’re not able to respond to every prayer request personally, please know that a team of volunteers is praying for every prayer request that is posted, by name and by need. To post a request, or to view and pray for the requests of others, just use the link below.
Questions for Reflection
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