Current Series: Awake

9/17

Real Love in the Christian Community
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Romans 12:9-16

As Jewish Christians filtered back into Rome after expulsion by emperor Claudius, they found that their church was very different than when they left it. In Romans 12, Paul helps Christians from all backgrounds and personalities and socioeconomic status understand how to love one another as Christ has loved them. What is real love? Paul tells us it is authentic and discerning (9). And then he describes this agape love with very practical realities that are evidenced within the Christian community: real love is fiercely devoted like family (10), real love is patiently persistent (11-12), real love is completely generous (13-15), and real love is thoughtfully humble (16). We are reminded to look back to Jesus, for as we see his love for us, we too can begin to love with his agape love in the Christian community.

Other Scriptures Referenced: Matthew 22:37-39; John 13:34-35; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 Peter 4:8; Mark 3:32-35; Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; Romans 5:5, 8; 8:35, 37-39.

9/10

Grace in Action
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Romans 12:4-9

We are the Body of Christ and, like a human body,  there is an interdependency and connectedness, a oneness that characterizes the Church. We all belong to each other. We all contribute our part; If not, the body isn’t healthy. 

We all contribute through the variety of spiritual gifts; special abilities initiated by the Holy Spirit whose purpose is to strengthen others in their faith and advance God’s Kingdom and purpose. The Holy Spirit distributes gifts as He sees fit, but we have the responsibility to steward them well, to “administer God’s grace in its various forms.”

Other texts used: 

1 Peter 4:10-11

1 Corinthians 12

Quote from Leighton Ford (The Attentive Life):

“Grace opens my eyes as I wait so that I may see both Giver and gift, and be grateful. Each of us is called to a life patterned by Christ. A life not shaped by inner compulsions, or captive to outer expectations, but drawn by the inner voice of love. To listen to this voice, we need to pay careful attention to where our inner and outer selves disconnect and where they need to come together in a beautiful pattern that reflects Jesus, whose inner life with his Father and outer life of ministering to others were very much one.”

9/ 3

What do you think about you?
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Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

As we continue our study of Romans 12 Paul commands us not to think excessively about ourselves. He follows that command with another—that we are to think of ourself soberly, in light of what Christ has done for us.  We can tend to think of ourselves in two extremes, that we are super amazing and winning at life OR we never get anything right and are failing at life. Either way we are too often preoccupied with thoughts that revolve around us and Paul instructs us in verse 3 of chapter 12 to spend less time thinking about ourself (Philippians 2:5-8) and more time thinking about who you are in Christ, a son and daughter of the King of the Universe (Romans 8:12-17)!

8/27

Changed from the inside out
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Romans 12:2  “Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.

Romans 12:2 is a command, an encouragement to get out of the habit of letting the world keep squeezing you into its mold and instead be transformed, changed from the inside out through the renovation of our minds (the work of the Holy Spirit, but a work in which we participate). A bi-product of this ongoing process of transformation is a discernment about God’s will and the contrast between what the world calls good and true and what God calls good and true.

Quotes:

“Spiritual transformation is the process by which Christ is formed in us… for the glory of God, for the abundance of our own lives, and for the sake of others. - Ruth Haley Barton

“Spiritual disciplines are the main way we offer our bodies up to God as a living sacrifice.  We are doing what we can do with our bodies, our minds, our hearts. God then takes this simple offering of ourselves and does with it what we cannot do, producing within us deeply ingrained habits of love and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  - Richard Foster. 

Supplemental texts: 
1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

8/20

Worship With Your Eyes Open
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Our theme for the year is “AWAKE” which is a calling to pay attention to what God is doing, both inwardly and externally in any given moment; an invitation to worship, pray, serve, and live with our eyes wide open to how and where God is moving in us, around us, through us. 

Matthew 6:34
"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.”

To launch the theme we are spending a few weeks in Romans 12 which starts with a call to worship. 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

In view of and awake to the breathtaking mercy and grace of God (laid out so brilliantly in the first 11 chapters of Romans), Paul begs the church to bring our whole self (thoughts, actions, heart, mind, soul…) and present, offer it all to Him and that this is the only reasonable, logical, and spiritual response to such a lavish gift as God’s love. When we are awake to the grace of God, we can’t not worship with our whole life. 

A few questions to consider:

Awake to who He is, we worship.
What comes to mind when you think about God?
What has shaped your view of God?
Is that view rooted in the truth of what Scripture actually says?

Awake to what He’s done, we surrender.
How have I personally experienced God’s mercy and grace?
Is there anything in my life that is off-limits to God?
What will it mean to fully surrender my life to Him?

Awake to where He’s moving, we are to be still and move with Him.
Where is God moving in my life?
Where is God moving in the lives of those around me?
Can I pay attention to what God is doing both inwardly and externally moment to moment?

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