Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And find out what pleases the Lord...

I can't believe that January has come and gone... just like that, in a flash, the sun has risen and set 31 times. I am thankful that I have two beautiful verses from the Scriptures embedded in the cells of my brain, and I hope that's where they will remain forever. I have enjoyed focusing on their words, the meaning in my life, and the hope found in them. Now ~ on to verse three.

Therefore, I urge you, {Tamara}, in view of God's mercy, to offer {your body as a living sacrifice}, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

I wanted to personalize the verse for myself, so I inserted my name. I like to do that sometimes, especially when the verse says something lovely or hopeful, but this time I did it as more of a challenge to myself. My second verse choice ended with"... and find out what pleases the Lord." So I have thought a lot about those words and what they meant and how I could find out. And, I'll be honest, I think I know what doesn't please Him. We all know, whether we choose to admit and live by or not.

I'm in a phase of my relationship with the Lord that I actually want to please Him. I am not a child anymore spinning like a flower in the field with no concern or care for my salvation. I am no longer the rebellious teenager of faith who desires to test the love of God ~ will He love me even if I do this or that? I am growing and maturing in my faith, finally. And now the one thought the permeates through my day to day is, "So how can I better please Him? How can I take what I've got and honor the Lord?"

Romans is my favorite book in the New Testament. I remember the first time I read it. I saw so much grace, Holy Spirit, power that it made my heart swell. On the other hand, there's this immense responsibility expressed in Romans that was challenging to me ~ one to live a life as a child of God. It's the thought of the two MEs... the earthly me and the holy me and the great chasm in between with the lovely long bridge of grace in between. I find myself these days wanting to live more on the side of holy, to draw nearer to God, to please Him in every way possible, to be surrounded by His love, glory, mercy and spend less time around the crap of the world.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...

We are all creatures of pattern. We can't help it. Even me - as disorganized and scatter brained as I am - have patterns about me, but most of those are habitual in nature and actually help to keep us sane and on target. But what God says is don't conform to the ways of the world, and boy have I fallen into that trap. This verse makes me stop and look at my life, my day to day, and wonder, if I were looking in on me, would I see something different or would I see worldly? If I am stressed out, do I turn to food or alcohol to cope with my frustrations? If I am angry at my kids, do I yell at them in irritation? If my feelings have been hurt by my spouse or family member, do I lash out in anger? If I am overwhelmed by the bills, do I allow myself to be overtaken with anxiety? Do I have a Godly response to the problems and frustrations of my life, or do I conform to the pattern of this world?

Excuse me for a moment while I tend to my wounds. My own typed words just pierced my soul.

... be transformed by the renewing of your mind...

I want to be transformed. I want to be renewed. I want to act, react, live, and love in such a way that people think, "Hmmmm... she's different. Wonder what it is that enables her to be that way?" There are three people in particular that I want to see it, and they all happen to live in my home. I want them to see God in me, through me, changing and perfecting me, making me more like His splendorous version of me. Changing me so much that the people around me can't help but move closer to God just by witnessing the change.

... his good, pleasing and perfect will.

What God desires for me is good, pleasing and perfect. Anything outside those realms is not of God. Stress over the bills - not so perfect. Hang over on Wednesday morning because I was irritated with the kids and poured a few margaritas on top of it - not so perfect or good or pleasing. Spewing angry words forth and hurting my spouse's feelings - not what I would call goodness. These are the big areas I need to work on. Some days, all three. Other days, just one or two. But I've got to learn to hit the pause button and ask myself before I simply conform to the ordinary and less-than-pleasing-and-perfect ways of the world, "Is this really what God would have me do?"

So, that's what I'll be focusing on for the next two weeks. To be non-conforming. To live with a renewed mind. To live as a sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. I think I have my work cut out for me...

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