It’s been a while since I’ve written much in this WORD category, which is a little disappointing…
So let’s start in the hope to continue on strong from here on in, but by all means, keep bugging me about doing so more often!!.
This week at St Pauls Carlingford we’re having a conference called January Ministry Conference. John Chapman will be speaking at 9:30am each morning from Isaiah and Simon Flinders will speak from Romans 12 each evening at 7:15pm.
Seeing as I’m at work during the day, I’ll only be heading along to the evening sessions. I’m hoping to get a summary of them down here, so keep checking back. Hoping to see you there!! and here!!
- Monday Night
Simon opened with the first 3 verses of Romans 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. 2 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. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12 is a turning point from the previous 11 chapters of Romans which detail what Christ has done beforehand. There were several key points that Simon spoke of that stuck with me:
- God does not expect anything of us that he’s not already done for us.
- Worship is giving God his worth. It is not in part, at a certain time(s) or in a certain place(s), but of our whole selves, everywhere and at all times. It is like breathing.
- The renewing of minds means that Christians live differently because we think differently, however, it is not that we ask for it, but act on it by reading and studying God’s Word in order to continually transform our life so that we may treasure God’s will.
In summary: Be surrendered to God, by the mercy of God. He knows your heart & He wants your heart. Live a life surrendered to Him, every moment of every day.
Continuing on Simon went on with a talk entitled The Life of Service from verses 4-8 of Romans 12:
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
This section talks primarily of gifts, Simon went on to define what was meant by gifts in this section. In this day and age, gifts generally refer to an ability of some sort that people praise a person for having, however it misses the fundamental fact that gifts are given, not something that is generally deserved. Therefore the credit should actually be to the giver. In this passage, God is the giver, and he does so by grace. We are to think of gifts as an opportunity or responsibility. And we are to use them for the benefit of others as tools rather than trophies. So questions to ask when using gifts are
- Where can I serve?
- What are ____’s needs??
Something that’s possibly surprising in the answer is that it may not necessarily play to your abilities or talents, but something that you’re mediocre or even poor at doing.
How does this all work out in The Life of Service? Well as part of the surrendered life, we give ourselves to God by giving to his body, ie those that are Christians. We’re not to be consumerists or individualists as that is against what Paul is saying, rather we are to demonstrate reciprocal service. Failure of one affects the whole, so we are to be a member of a body, with a function, alongside others. As ALL serve, ALL are blessed.
A really enjoyable, encouraging and challenging talk from Simon. The title of the talk was The Life of Love from verses 9-13 of Romans 12:
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
The main encouragement for this section of the text is verse 9. Simon mentioned that the word genuine here is more correctly translated as un-hypocritical, that makes sense; true love being genuine, wanting what is best for people, and not necessarily what they think is good for them. That linked in really well with the next part of the text; to be concerned with good and evil, loving what is good, but with a genuine love, the love of a married couple, and fleeing from that which is evil. This verse underpins verses 10 to 13, which is essentially Paul, and Gods, top ten in living the life surrendered; helping to clarify the exhortation in verse 9 and how that is lived out. We are to think, pray and immerse ourselves in these things as part of the surrendered life.
The final talk in a fantastic series of four from Simon Flinders that have been eye-opening, damning, rebuking and encouraging. This final talk was entitled The Good Life and was looking at responding to evil from Romans 12: 14-21:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
There is plenty to be unpacked here in these verses, the first vital point was that ALL will respond to evil; it will distinguish us from the world and allow us to influence and affect the world in a sense. Verse 14 puts out a very tough and challenging exhortation, further emphasizing that given in verse 9, yet extending it by application to those against us.
Verses 15 & 16 are also hard to live by, and all impossible without the genuine love previously mentioned… Simon explained that this is more than just empathizing with people, but a genuine sharing of feelings. It is both relevant within the Church, which would result in an absolutely amazing community (something that we should plead God for), and to do for those outside of the Church; a HUGE challenge… It is something we need to carry out humbly.
The last 4 verses of this chapter exhort the readers to live honorably and peacefully with all, emphasizing those that do evil to you. We are to be known for doing what’s honorable; rising above evil with stunning goodness. We are not to take action in avenging ourselves, but to let God do so as he is the only just one to do so, rather we are to do good to our enemies.
Overall the week of JMC was enjoyable and challenging. For me it was a bit of a rebuke about how I go at work and respond to some of the injustices I face there. I’ve actively made some changes there, ask me how they’re going sometime.