Walk It Out

Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

These are some of the most important and strategic words ever penned in human history. 

They serve as a halftime address—a coach’s “chalk talk.” Paul’s words in Romans 12:1-2are capable of leading God’s people to victory. But please don’t let your familiarity with these verses lead to passivity. Let’s Study them anew and afresh. If you do, God will transform you from the inside out. 

After devoting eleven chapters to heavy-duty theology, Paul transitions in chapter 12 from doctrine to duty, from creed to conduct, and from belief to behavior. 

He says, “In light of what God has done, here is how we should live.”

To put it another way, the apostle encourages us to turn our theology into “walkology.” 

In other words, we are to live out our beliefs. Paul uses the imperative thirteen times in the first eleven chapters of Romans; he uses it eleven times in chapter 12 alone!

In fact, this chapter has more commands in it than any other chapter of the New Testament. It is a chapter of action! Paul’s thesis is: Beliefs should impact behavior.

Present Your Body (12:1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship

This verse is one of the most important in the entire Bible and contains more key theological terms and truths for its size than perhaps any other verse of Scripture.

Verse 1 gives the “what” that we are to do in response to God. Paul opens this new unit with the word “Therefore” (oun).

What is the word “therefore” there for? “Therefore” looks back to all the doctrine that Paul has covered in chapters 1-11.

Paul believes that you haven’t really learned the Word until you live the Word. 

How well have you learned the Word? Have you been applying the truths of Romans? When you study the Bible on your own, do you bring it to bear on your life? Are you just a hearer of the Word or are you a doer of the Word?

Only when you become a doer of the Word, have you truly learned the Word.

Paul writes, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God.” Instead of a command or a demand, Paul urges, or better yet, exhorts his readers

Paul functions as a Christian coach who challenges and encourages us to reach a particular goal.  Paul speaks as a Christian brother to other Christian brothers and sisters. 

This is a family affair! The apostle exhorts us to respond to “the mercies of God.” 

Paul informs us that God’s love for His people is unconditional. Is God merciful? You better believe it! 

God chose us, called us, saved us, released us, and will one day take us home to heaven. Indeed, God’s mercies are past finding out!

That is why I’m convinced that the best motivation to live for Christ is a good memory of all the mercies He has blessed us with. 

Long-lasting change only occurs when gratitude for God’s mercies is the chief motivation. The Bible’s way of preaching holiness begins by reminding Christians who they are, what they are, and what they have. 

Who are we? We are the children of God with all of the power of God working on our behalf? 

Where are we? We are in the kingdom of God and have died to the dominion of sin. 

What do we have? We have the Holy Spirit, we have Jesus’ intercession working for us, and we have the power of God ready to come to our aid. 

The best way to motivate people is to show them what God has done for them and let them rise to the challenge of responding to that love appropriately.

In response to God’s mercies, Paul challenges us “to present” our bodies. 

Please note that Paul does not say “yield” or “surrender” your bodies but “present” them. Yield and surrender are biblical terms, but they imply a measure of reluctance or hesitancy. 

Present, on the other hand, implies a glad, happy, willing offering of oneself. If I yield or surrender a gift to my wife, she will not be impressed by my efforts. I mean, who does that?

Our presentation of our bodies to God as a sacrifice for His use, just like my presentation of a gift to my wife, is to be a joyous and spontaneous act. 

God is not asking you to dedicate your gifts, abilities, money, time, ideas, creativity, or any such thing. He is asking you to sacrifice yourself. 

Remember the clear words of our Lord in Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

This is an appeal to those who have been set free by grace to live under grace by presenting all that they are to God. 

Paul states that you are to present your body as a “living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.”

The words “living,” “holy,” and “acceptable” all follow the noun “sacrifice.” 

There are three qualities of our sacrifice: 

(1) Living: In the Old Testament believers were called to “make” a sacrifice from a dead sacrifice. In the New Testament believers are called to “be” a sacrifice from a living sacrifice. The point is: God wants you to live to die. Most believers could take a bullet for Christ in a moment of courage, but every believer struggles to die to self and live for Christ on a daily basis. 

(2) Holy: We are to be wholly dedicated, “set apart” from the world and belonging to God. The term speaks of being fully abandoned to God. This means that as individual Christians and as a corporate church, we must do all that we can to ensure that holiness is promoted. That is why we must exercise church discipline. That is why we must speak the truth in love. That is why we must disciple new believers. We are commanded to be holy as God is holy. 

(3) Acceptable: The term “acceptable” builds on the Old and New Testament concept of the sacrifice as pleasing God. When you present your body as a sacrifice that is living and holy God is pleased.

Paul states that when you present your body as a sacrifice you have fulfilled your “spiritual service of worship.” 

The Greek adjective translated “spiritual” is logikos, from which we derive the English word “logical.” 

Logikos pertains to reason or the mind, and therefore does not really mean “spiritual.” It is better translated “reasonable” or “rational” 

I think what Paul is saying is: “If you consider all that God has done for you—a sinful being—the only reasonable response is to offer Him your life.”

After all, this is the only logical response! Why would freed slaves continue to serve their old master?

Presenting your body to serve the interests of your new Master, on the other hand, is completely logical—very much in keeping with good sense.

 A response of sacrificial worship expresses a heart of gratitude. It puts feet to our faith. 

Beliefs should impact behavior.

Renew Your Mind (12:2)  Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

The world’s philosophy is pretty simple: If you want something, go get it (partners, possessions, and power).

In the worlds eyes, people are important primarily because of what they can do for you. If they can’t do anything for you, don’t waste your time on them. 

Nowadays the publics opinion defines the truth.

Popularity is more important than holiness. 

Faith and everyday living are unrelated. 

Live for the moment and don’t concern yourself with consequences…. 

You are the center of your universe; don’t let anyone push you around! 

Our world also screams tolerance (religions are the same; accept and affirm same sex marriage) and truth is not absolute (what’s good for you is good for you). 

Listen, you cannot not be shaped by these influences. You have to fight hard against the tide of sin, self, and Satan. 

Ask yourself, How much television do you watch in the course of a week?

How many movies do you watch in the course of a year? What type of music do you listen to? What magazines, books, and websites do you read? 

How much time are you devoting to social networking? Who are your friends? What type of influence do they have on you? What are your hobbies? How do you send your discretionary time?

Even though Paul is writing to the church, we are a group of individuals. These verses are speaking specifically to YOU. 

Will one diseased fish affect the whole tank? Will one mad cow infect the whole herd? 

Will one person conformed to the world have an effect on our church? 

YES! BUT I dare you to be different. Stand up for Christ. Don’t go with the flow; go against the grain. Rebel against the status quo—become a disciple of Christ. Your life will be an adventure!

Turning from the negative to the positive, Paul goes on to say, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  

The term “transformed” is the Greek word metamorphoo, which forms the root for the English word “metamorphosis.”When a tadpole is changed into a frog or when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, we speak of it as a metamorphosis. 

That is what God wants for each of His children. At what stage are you in this Christian transformation? Are you staying in the larva stage? Caterpillar? Baby butterfly? Full-grown butterfly? Where are you on the conformity to Christ growth chart? 

Listen, Before you were saved, you were so accustomed to sin that you wore a groove into your heart and mind, like a river cutting a gorge through rock. 

What you now need to do is make some new grooves. That’s why Paul says you must be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

God wants your body and your mind; He wants all of you. Is there anything or anyone that you are withholding from God? Is your marriage and family yielded to Him? Is your vocation His? What about your finances or hobbies? Will you present yourself to Him today and every day hereafter? If you will, your life will never be the same. 

Walk out that robust theology you know oh so well.

Behold the King!

You have probably had the experience that I have often had, where you are looking for something in the closet or garage, but you couldn’t find it because you had the wrong concept of what you were looking for. You thought that it was in a square brown box, but it really was in an oblong yellow box.

So you stared right at it, and perhaps even moved it out of the way, but you missed it because your mental picture of it was wrong.

Most Jews in Jesus’ day missed Him as their Messiah and King because they were expecting a different kind of Savior.

They thought that Messiah would be a mighty political deliverer, who would lead Israel to military victory over Rome. They were not looking for a lowly Savior, riding on the foal of a donkey. They could not conceive of a suffering Savior, who offered Himself as the sacrifice for sinners. And so, tragically, they missed the coming of their King.

Many people still miss Jesus because of wrong expectations. They’re looking for a Savior like Aladdin’s Genie, who will grant their every wish, but it hasn’t happened.

They want a Savior who will instantly solve their deepest problems, but those problems have not gone away. Or, they expect a church where everyone always loves one another. But a church member treated them wrongly, so they dropped out in bitter disappointment.

In order joyously to welcome Jesus as our King, we need to understand properly who He is. Our text is one of the great Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Even most Jewish commentators down through the centuries have agreed that this is a prophecy about the Messiah.

Zechariah 9:9-10 teaches us that…

Because Jesus Christ is King and He is coming to reign, we who are subject to Him should rejoice greatly.

The news that a king is coming is not necessarily a cause for great joy. The first part of this chapter predicts the coming of Alexander the Great, who ruthlessly conquered Israel’s neighbors.

The news of his coming would have struck terror into the hearts of those in his path. He often slaughtered all the men in a city and sold the women and children into slavery. He was not concerned about the well-being of his subjects, but only about his own power and dominion.

It is also difficult to accept the news of a coming king because there is a sense in which all of us want to rule our own lives. We can accept governmental interference to a limited degree, as long as it doesn’t get too close.

But if a king started trying to control every aspect of our lives—how we do business, how we relate to others, including our families, and even how we speak and think—we resist the very thought! We certainly would not rejoice at the news of the coming of that kind of king!

But that is precisely the kind of King that Jesus is! He is rightfully Lord of all people and of all aspects of all people’s lives. Regarding this King, Zechariah exhorts, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you.”The rest of verses 9 & 10 describe this King and explain why His coming gives cause for great joy. If we understand who this King is and what His coming will mean for all the earth, we will rejoice greatly at the news of His coming.

Jesus Christ is King.

The phrase translated, “your king is coming to you” can also be translated, “your king is coming for you,” that is, “for your benefit”. To receive the benefits that this King brings, we need to recognize our need. Israel was under the domination of powerful foreign rulers. They were incapable of freeing themselves. But this King had the power to deliver them and He had their best interests at heart. Spiritually, we must admit that we are under the domination of sin that will destroy us and that we are unable to free ourselves. Then we will welcome the promised King and the benefits that He offers. He comes for you! But who is he?

JESUS CHRIST IS KING OF AUTHORITY.

Authority is bound up with the idea of kings, at least in the ancient world.

Today, some monarchs, such as the Queen of England, have almost no authority. They function as official state dignitaries. Their wishes may have some weight with those who run the government. But they don’t have much authority.

But even in His first coming when He came as the humble, suffering Servant, Jesus Christ possessed a quiet but total authority over all people and events. Although the Jewish leaders hated Him because He threatened their authority, they could not lay hands on Him until His time had come (John 7:30; 8:20).

The chief priests and the Sanhedrin had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, they should inform them so that He could be arrested (John 11:57). Jesus’ bold action of riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, to the cries of “Hosanna” led to His arrest and crucifixion at the very moment that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in Jerusalem, in fulfillment of Scripture.

The uniform picture of all four gospels is that Jesus was firmly in charge of all these events. Jesus was not a helpless victim. No one took His life from Him. He laid it down on His own initiative (John 10:17-18). The point is, Jesus was clearly in charge of the events surrounding His death, including the triumphal entry, the betrayal by Judas and the death plots of the Jewish leaders. None of it took Him by surprise. He is the King of authority who controls all things according to His purpose, even the events of His death (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

Before we move on, we need to personalize it: Is Jesus the King your King? Does He rule in your heart and life? The idea that you can choose Jesus as your Savior now and consider whether you want Him to be your lord later if you wish, is nonsense!While submitting to His lordship is a lifelong process, it begins at salvation, and if it has not begun in your life, you have reason to question whether you are truly saved.

JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF JUSTICE.

Zechariah says that Israel’s king is just (some translate “righteous,” but the sense is justice).

The primary reference in this context is to a king who administers justice in his kingdom. He is not corrupt, like so many world rulers. I recently read a news article of a former president of a Central American country who siphoned off over $100 million into personal and family bank accounts. That story could probably be repeated in dozens of countries. Much of the poverty and suffering around the globe stems from corrupt leaders who have no regard for justice.But Jesus Christ will be just in the administration of His kingdom because He is righteous in His person.

He is not out to take advantage of His subjects for personal gain. He has their best interests at heart.

JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF SALVATION.

He is “endowed with salvation” (NASB). Jesus came to bring salvation to His people. For the Jews, the salvation that Messiah would bring had national political overtones.

For centuries, the Jews have been threatened by hostile nations that have sought to annihilate or enslave them (Ps. 129). Thus when God promised them a deliverer, they thought of one who would reign on David’s throne and bring “salvation from all our enemies, and from the hand of those who hate us” (see Luke 1:69-71). Yet at the same time, salvation for the Jew also had a personal dimension related to the individual’s deliverance from God’s judgment on his sins. Thus the father of John the Baptist prophesied that he would go before the Lord’s coming “to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:77). Or, as the angel told Joseph, “you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Zechariah 9:10 refers to Messiah’s second coming, when He will fulfill the national sense of salvation by ruling over all the nations.

But the New Testament makes clear (in conjunction with several OT prophecies) that in His first coming, Messiah came to bring spiritual salvation by offering Himself as the sacrifice to satisfy God’s justice against sinners. If God dismissed our sin without the penalty being imposed, He would not be just. God has declared that the penalty for sin is death, not only physical death, but also spiritual death, eternal separation from the holy God (Rom. 6:23). Through Jesus’ death as the perfect substitute, He paid the penalty we deserved, which allows God to be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).

There are two wrong notions that will keep many people out of heaven, and they usually go together. First, people wrongly believe that God is too loving to send decent, moral people to hell. But that kind of thinking grossly underestimates the serious nature of our sin. A single sin in thought, word, or deed is enough to condemn a person to hell! And it compromises God’s justice in favor of His love, which compromises His holiness. The second wrong notion is that most of us are good enough to qualify for heaven. Sure, we all have our faults, but we’re not like murderers, terrorists, and child molesters.

So we figure that the scales will tip our way when we stand before God because we were sincere and we meant well. Many Jews made this mistake. They thought that since they were descendants of Abraham, they observed the ritual law as prescribed by Moses, and they were better than the Gentiles, that God would not judge them. But their error was that it requires perfect righteousness to get into heaven.

That’s where Christ and the cross come in. On the cross, the perfect Son of God offered Himself as the substitute for sinners. He came “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Some day you will stand before God either clothed in your own goodness, which will condemn you, or clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. God credits that righteousness to you the instant you renounce all trust in your own righteousness and put your trust in Jesus as your sin-bearer (see Rom. 3 & 4).

Jesus came the first time bringing salvation, but He will come the second time as the judge of all the earth. If you have trusted Him as your personal Savior, then you can rejoice at the thought of His coming as the judge, because He has borne your sins.

JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF HUMILITY.

“King of humility” sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Perhaps we should say that He is the humble King. In contrast to the proud Alexander on his war horse, Jesus came as a servant on not only a donkey, but the foal of a donkey. The donkey was a lowly animal, used for peaceable purposes by those who were of no rank or position. By riding the foal of a donkey, Jesus was showing Himself to be the King, in fulfillment of our text, but not the exalted political king that the people expected. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Messiah who offered salvation and peace with God through His death.

The Hebrew word for “humble”can also mean poor or needy in an economic sense, and that was also true of Jesus, who had no earthly wealth or possessions (Luke 9:58). The word also includes the meaning of a righteous man afflicted by evil men. Jesus willingly laid aside His rights and took the form of a servant, becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Charles Spurgeon pointed out that no false Messiah has ever copied Jesus in this taking the low place of a servant (Spurgeon’s Expository Encyclopedia [Baker], 3:129). But our Savior commanded us to follow Him in this regard. After He took the towel and basin and washed the disciples’ feet, He said, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you”(John 13:15).

There are numerous commands in Scripture warning us not to think too highly of ourselves and to think more lowly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3, 16Phil. 2:3). I cannot find any verses that tell us to build our self-esteem. So we should learn humility from our Savior. He is the King of authority, justice, salvation, and humility. Finally,

 JESUS CHRIST IS KING OF CREATION.

This is evident from the fact that He rode into Jerusalem on an unbroken colt. I am no expert on horses, but I know enough not to climb onto an unbroken colt! Jesus’ riding on this colt shows His miraculous power over the creation that He spoke into existence by the word of His power. There was also a spiritual significance in the fact that the colt was unbroken. In the Old Testament, when an animal was put to sacred use, it had to be one which had not already been used for common purposes (Num. 19:2Deut. 21:3). Since this animal was now to be used for the Messiah, it had to be an animal that had never been ridden by man.

Only the Lord of creation could do what Jesus did.

If Jesus is the Creator, then certainly we should obey Him. This colt, like Balaam’s donkey, was smarter than people are. The colt received Jesus on its back without bucking, but He came unto His own people, and they cast Him off. If we see Jesus correctly for who He is, we will submit to Him as the Almighty Creator.

If Jesus Christ is the King of authority, justice, salvation, humility, and creation, then it makes sense that He is coming to reign.

Church, behold your King.

The Anxiety free life.

*Anxiety Disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). – National Institute of Mental Health 

*Of those 40 million people, almost 7 million of them suffer from GAD, with 15 million suffering from social anxiety disorder, 14.8 million suffering from major depressive disorder, and 7.7 million affected by post-traumatic stress disorder- National institute for mental health.

Worries. Pain. Fear. Frustration. Doubt. Stress. Faithlessness. Exhaustion.

All of these words paint vivid pictures of the complexities associated with “anxiety.”

If you are reading this right now, then no doubt you have experienced your fair share of anxiety from time to time. You may have even rented a room in the “Distress District” as of late, due to your workload.

We often feel anxious about our finances: How can we make this month’s bills? How will I be able to fix my aging car if it breaks down? What if I lose my job? How will we put the kids through college? How can we meet our medical bills? How will we ever save enough for retirement? What if the economy fails?

We feel anxious about our health, especially as we grow older: What if I get cancer or Alzheimer’s? What if I’m disabled or have to go into a nursing home? If we’re younger, we may have these same anxieties concerning our aging parents.

We’re anxious about our children: Will they turn out okay? Will they avoid drugs and sexual immorality? Will they be safe in this crime-ridden world? Will they be able to get into college and then get a decent-paying job? Will they marry a godly person and have a happy home? What kind of world will their children have to live in?

The lists could go on and on. Maybe you’re getting anxious just reading this as I give different reasons for anxiety! Sometimes we can’t identify any specific reason for our anxiety, but it’s there, nagging away at our insides. If we don’t learn to deal with it properly, it can cause all sorts of health problems, which in turn feed our anxieties. Few of us are strangers to anxiety. It creeps in over big and little things, gnawing away at our insides.

Someone graphically described anxiety as “a thin stream of fear trickling the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other things are drained” – (Arthur Roche)

Anxiety in the Greek is the word mermina” which translates as “care or worry,” which comes from the Greek root word, merminao which literally means dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts.”

There’s no wonder that worry and anxiety make us feel like we are literally falling apart.

Anxiety kills faith. Anxiety kills hope. Anxiety limits our devotion to God. Anxiety bogs down our prayer life. Anxiety places a wall between the factual, and the supernatural. Anxiety weakens. Anxiety distorts. Anxiety clouds. Anxiety is not from God. Anxiety is a swift attack on the mind, which then affects the heart, and ultimately affects the body. Anxiety must be understood, dealt with and removed in order to have deep and personal fellowship the Lord.  

I love how Dr. Tony Evans puts it: Worrying is interest paid before the trouble is due.

No one in scripture dealt with the reality of worry and anxiety more than the apostle Paul. He is arguably one of the most central figures in the growth of the early church, and an excellent example of how to proclaim the gospel with authority, conviction, passion, zeal and respect. Paul addresses the church in Phillipi while arrested after an incident we’ll read about in acts 16:20.

Acts 16:20-24

20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

Here we see Paul suffering at the hands of roman soldiers for what had happened a few verses earlier, driving a demon out of a girl who could for-see the future with demonic possession. Once the magistrates got word that this was taking place, they flogged both him and Silas and put them both in prison.

Paul had worries. I’m sure Paul felt a great deal of anxiety as a church planter, missionary and pastor.

Paul had much to worry about if he were to solely deal with the facts of his constant sufferings, but in the middle of a dark & dungy prison, Paul pens one of the most encouraging letters to believers. The letter to the Philippians. Paul uses what the enemy intended for evil and destruction to encourage believers to seek Christ’s joy in the midst of their most difficult times.

To those who follow Him, Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He spoke those comforting words on the most difficult night He faced on this earth, the night before His crucifixion. Seven times in the New Testament our God is called either the God or Lord of peace. That peace can be the constant experience of every Christian, even in the midst of trials

I want to focus our attention to the passage in Philippians 4:4-13 and draw 4 simple points to live an anxiety free life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Rejoice in the LORD.

The word “rejoice” means to be conscious and glad for God’s grace. To take it a step further, it literally means to “Hail” or bow down to God as a means to surrender any contrary feeling and subject it to the overwhelming reality of Gods goodness. Experience his joy & goodness and anxiety won’t take much part in our thinking. Notice how paul begins his letter in the fourth chapter, in prison. He says in simple terms: “First of all, you need to rejoice. Start with a spirit of thanksgiving and acknowledge Gods goodness”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that anxiety stems from a lack of faith and from a wrong focus on the things of this world instead of on the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:25-34, especially verses 30 & 33). If we excuse our anxieties by saying, “Well, it’s only human,” or, “Anybody would feel anxious in this situation,” we will not overcome it because we are not confronting the root cause of it, namely, our sin of not believing God and of not seeking first His kingdom and righteousness.

Pray constantly, and consistently. Phil. 4:6-7  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul says do not be anxious about anything. This shows us that the very act of worry and living in worry are sins! He’s not making a pledge here, or 5 steps to a better life. No. What he’s implying is that the key to even begin to rejoice in the Lord is found in the secret room of your prayer life.

Proverbs 15:8 says: The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
  It literally pleases the Lord when we take part in continual prayer, it is our very fuel for the journey.  Fuel your spirit with constant communication with the Lord! Constant! The promise is that HIS peace will be with you! This means that when it comes to the matter of dealing with our anxiety, we must, at the outset, confront our motives for even wanting to have peace. If our reason for wanting to be free from anxiety is so that we can live a peaceful, pleasant life, our focus is self-centered and therefore wrong. There are many people who come to Christ because they are anxious and they want the peace He offers. But if they do not confront the fact that they are living to please themselves rather than God, they will simply settle into a self-centered life where they “use God” for their own peace and comfort. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35). The peace Christ offers is the by-product of enthroning Christ as Lord and living for His kingdom. Saints, we must pray constantly & consistently.

When Paul says to make our requests known “to God,” the Greek word means “face to face with God,” to come directly before Him. This means that when we pray, we must stop to remember that we are coming into the very presence of the holy God, where even the holy angels cover their faces and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). Yes, He welcomes us into His presence as a father welcomes his children. Through our High Priest, the Lord Jesus, God invites us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). But we must remember that it is to the throne of the universe, to the Sovereign, Eternal God that we come.

This means, of course, that we must always examine our hearts and confess and forsake all sin when we come to God in prayer. The psalmist says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” my prayers (Ps. 66:18). But we also have the assurance that if we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us (1 John 1:7, 9).

Meditate on The Word.  Phil. 4:8-9  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”  

The God of peace will be with us when we truly learn to meditate on his word. (Ps. 119:9-16) This is an ongoing issue in the church. We are hearers of the word, but not many of us are doers. The issue lies with our lack of meditation in the Word. I personally know many people who can spit out Bible verses left and right but live their lives in constant worry, fear and anxiety. Sound like an oxymoron? That’s because it is! The bible is not a book of useful historical information. You and I are not historians merely scrounging around the texts trying to fit geographical/ historical issues together. You and I should recognize the bible for what it is; the unique story of redemption where we are united to a Holy God through the finished work of Christ. It is in his word that we get the nourishment for our souls, how to pray to our loving Father, how to appreciate and worship our redeemer how to live in holiness and oneness with God, and how to live a life full of spiritual victory over the powers and principalities of the airs! If you are living in worry and defeat, the bible is here to remind you to STOP!

Remember whom you serve: .Phil.4:11-13  11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Note that this peace stands guard like a sentry over our inner person, our hearts (the comprehensive term for our whole person) and minds (specifically, our thoughts which threaten to trouble us) in Christ Jesus. We are in intimate, permanent union with Him, and to get to us, anxiety must go through Christ Jesus!

So what God promises isn’t just a quick fix, where prayer is a technique that will bring you calm until you get through the crisis. Paul is talking about an ongoing, deepening, intimate relationship with the God of peace, where you seek to please Him with all your thoughts, words, and deeds. In a time of trial, you draw near to the God of peace, you focus on His grace to you in Christ Jesus, you pour out your heart to Him, and the result is, His peace stands guard over your heart and mind. Remember whom you serve! Do you know God’s peace in the midst of situations that the world gets anxious about? If not, examine yourself: Is your faith in Him and your focus on His kingdom, rather than on selfish pursuits? Have you drawn near to God in reverent, specific, thankful prayer? You can put your full weight down on Him, and He will bear you up and give you His indescribable peace. It makes the flight so much more enjoyable!

Words from Jesus:

Matthew 6:27-34

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Security for the Insecure

Security is a critical element in life. Unfortunately, it’s also very elusive. Recent world events, terrorist attacks, financial collapses and all of the woes that come from a fallen planet really demonstrate how insecure our world is.

On a personal level, perhaps you live in insecurity because you have been the victim of a crime such as robbery or rape. Maybe your spouse has threatened divorce and thus, you lack marital security. Your children may be struggling with physical or emotional ailments that have deprived you of security. Perhaps you’ve lost your job and your retirement has plummeted leaving you feeling hopelessly insecure. Reflecting on your life, you realize that you have little or no security in those areas where you crave it most.

Fortunately for the believer, in the single area that truly matters most—your relationship with God almighty—you can have ultimate security.

The Bible boldly declares that God offers believers His unconditional love, acceptance and security.

Yet many Christians still struggle with this notion. As a pastor, I hurt for those of you who cannot grasp the beauty of eternal security and that’s why I want you to know that God’s love for you is perfect and everlasting. I grew up in a Pentecostal home where I thought God to be a distant deity who was willing to smite me every time I listened to secular music or sat in a movie theatre. I truly resonated with Martin Luther when he came to the place where he admitted that he hated God for his holy requirement of perfection from us. “This word is too high and too hard that anyone should fulfill it,” But here’s the Biblical truth: The Lord yearns for you to have complete assurance and security in Him. Despite your imperfections.

This confidence is critical if you are to experience the Christian life the way God intended and worship Him the way He intended. Proper theology leads to proper doxology.

Romans 8 is regarded to be one of the best chapters in all the bible. Verses 31-39 may be the most comforting and encouraging verses in the Word. (In my opinion of course) These verses definitively declare thateternal security belongs to the Lord.

Paul offers three hopeful assurances: There is no opposition, there is no condemnation, and there is no separation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

There is no opposition: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a]against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Friend, God is for you.

In the beginning portion of 8:31; Paul writes “What then shall we say to these things?” This is the first of seven questions in this passage. Throughout this passage, Paul’s goal is to exhaust any and every objection.

What things is Paul referring to here? If we go back a verse, it ends with “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. “

This is implicitly telling us that God’s very work is effectual in its processes. It’s not anything you and I can muster up to do, but it is the very working of God that we are even called to believe in Him. Since He gave us Jesus, (The Son) how will he not keep us until the day of redemption? Salvation is a very gift. Paul is making that case crystal clear here. HE graciously, gives us all things including persecution and death. ALL things are expected, because God uses ALL things for His glory. Now it makes sense when we read Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these thingswill be added to you.

In 8:32 Paul answers the question of 8:31 with a rhetorical question: “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?”

Paul argues from the greater to the lesser. If God has done the big thing, delivering up Jesus, will He not do the little thing?

For God to give up The Son to death and then abandon you on the highway to glorification would be like a rich man spending a vast sum on a car and then leaving it on the roadside because he couldn’t afford the gasoline to run it. How absurd! That is the idea behind Paul’s argument here. Since God gave up His Son to purchase and secure your eternal life, He will certainly give you whatever you need to live for Him now. But this phrase “all things” (panta) does not include Rolls-Royces, mansions, expensive jewelry, and elaborate wardrobes. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel teaching is a false gospel which needs to be refuted immediately.

Paul’s assertion is designed to drive home the unshakable assurance that God will do whatever is necessary to guarantee your ultimate glorification.

And that there is good news for our souls!

There is no condemnation:   33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

The picture Paul paints here is one of a courtroom setting. He’s speaking in legal terms here. The imagery and thought process throughout is the idea that we are standing to be judged, but the accusations just don’t stick. It’s almost like having the perfect alibi during a courtroom questioning.

Let’s Look at the prophet Zachariah in chapter 3:1-4. This provides a great mental image:

Zechariah 3:1-4: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments” 

Because of what Christ has accomplished in redemption, we no longer stand condemned. A proper name for our adversary satan should really be “the satan.” The Hebrew word satan means “the adversary, or the one who resists.” It is translated as “satan” eighteen times in the Old Testament, fourteen of those occurrences being in Job 1-2, the others in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and Zechariah 3:1-2. This gives us a good understanding on who it is we’re dealing with here.

But there’s something else I want you to focus on, it’s the word interceding. The Greek Paul used here for interceding is:en tyn chanei”  and it means “to light upon a person or a thing,

to go to, or meet a person, esp. for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication. To pray, entreat, make intercession for any one”.

This helps us clearly see Christ’s intentional intercession on our behalf. He is for us, interceding that we would be freed from temptation and be sanctified in this life. He is on our side!

The Apostle John wanted to make this crystal clear in 1st john 2:1

1st John 2:1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

John here calls him our advocate. Again, speaking in legal terms. We are his “Elect” or his “chosen ones” handpicked for such a time as this to be conformed to the image of Christ! An advocate is “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.”

This shows us that Christ is our advocate, supporting us, constantly recommending us, interceding on our behalf, praying that we stay the course and win this race with victory because of what he has done. And let me tell you, when the trinity is praying, these are effectual prayers! Read this slowly, Romans 8:26 says it like this: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Wow! This should bring comfort to the troubled soul. Paul writing to the Galatians in chapter 4:4-6 goes on to cement this truth;

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.”

Don’t ever forget that!  It may be difficult to comprehend how this all works out, but this is the very means God uses to “keep us” saved and secure in him, its these beautifully complicated processes.

Jesus says in John 6:37-39: 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me but raise it up on the last day. (glorification)

Then he says in John 3:18;   17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

My friends, there is no condemnation!

There is no separation35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The verb “separate” (chorizo) bookends this section (8:35, 39), confirming that there is no separation in your relationship with God. Paul begins with the question that is potentially the most critical question a Christian can ask:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” (8:35) Of course, the answer is: No one can separate us from the love of Christ.

However, you may say, “But I don’t feel like I love Christ all the time.” No, you misread 8:35; It’s not who is going to separate us from our love for Christ, but who is going to separate us from Christ’s love for us. 

I don’t know about you, but my love for Christ can fluctuate between hot and cold. If my salvation depends upon the fervency of my love for Christ, I would have already been cast into hell. Thankfully, my salvation does not depend upon my love for Christ; rather, it depends upon Christ’s love for me. His life, death, resurrection, and intercession have secured my eternal destiny. The only reason that I will spend eternity with God is because of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to quote Psalm 44:22 which reads: Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But I’ll quote a few verses beforehand to give you a better context.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

In other words, we can expect to be killed or destroyed by God if we turn to other gods and idols, but it says for your sake we are persecuted, we are hunted down to die, regarded as sheep to the slaughter!

God is more concerned with our sanctification, and our glorification, so yes we will face many troubles in this life, but what did Jesus say about that?

John 16:33 (ESV)

33 have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So the very threat of death is not really a threat to us, because it cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Persecution cannot do it. Famine can’t do it. Nakedness can’t do it. Peril, or sword can’t do it. Angels, ruler’s powers and principalities can’t do it! NOTHING means nothing in Greek, Latin, English, Spanish, Creole, Afrikaans, Dutch, and you get the gist.

Paul reaffirms this when he says in Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

God’s love for his children in Christ is secure, effectual and everlasting. Take heart my friend. The Lord has gone great lengths to demonstrate that those who are in Him have no opposition, no condemnation and no separation.

Live by these truths. He is for you and will make sure that you are sanctified daily with the ultimate goal of salvation in mind: To be conformed to the image of Christ. Always remember: The father chooses, The son saves, The spirit preserves.

He offers security for the insecure. 

You are in His hand.