A Work In Progress

Along a busy highway I saw a sign reading: WORK IN PROGRESS.

I thought, “that’s me!” That actually is us, all of us.

Have you stopped part way in your spiritual pilgrimage?  Don’t stop half-way. Let our Lord finish the work He began in you the moment of salvation. Let Him free you from spiritual enslavement.

To carry your salvation to its logical conclusion God is willing to help. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2: 13)

Pray for Him to reveal His will to you, knowing He will, once He sees in you the will to do it. Pray:

“Lord guide me, the sea is so big and my boat is so small.”

Often God guides through long and uncertain pathways. However, if we will follow, He will guide.

“It is God who works in you both to will and to do…”  The same Greek word is translated “works” and “to do.” It is ENERGEIN.  In it we can hear our word for energy. This word is only used in the New Testament as a reference to action of God. It is effective action because it is action of God. His actions are not to remain half-finished.

We of our will must be willing to say, “Thy will be done.”  When we do, it is done by His enabling grace.

Without your consenting help even the actions of God are not completed. 

He enlightens and empowers us. He reveals His will and He gives resources for doing it. Therefore, don’t argue with God: “Do all without murmuring and disputing” (Philippians 2:14).

Instead of arguing with God, work with the conviction that the promises of God are true.

That depicts our biggest problem as Christians. We evidence an unwillingness to give up control of our lives, to abandon them in faith to become Christ-like. We give the impression that our lives can’t be good unless we control them. Our trust of Christ must bring us to the point where we are willing to be poured out as a sacrifice knowing the future belongs to God.

Don’t downgrade your responsibility as some do.  Some believers see themselves as passive objects, such as clay or branches, forgetting the Bible also calls us ambassadors, soldiers, servants, watchmen, and children of God.

God works IN us so that we can work OUT what He does inside us. Christianity isn’t a matter of ups and downs, but ins and outs.

It all begins with a thought and ends with a destiny. When inspired and aware of His will, do it. Your destiny is at risk.

Does God Judge Nations?

The question is often asked, does God judge nations? Let’s let the Bible answer this question.

Nahum was God’s oracle to write of His anger against Nineveh and illustrate it. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. One hundred years earlier the prophet Jonah had been sent by God to appeal to the people of Nineveh to repent. They responded positively and God blessed them. His blessings were abundant and they prospered. Soon their devotion evolved from gratitude to the One blessing them to the blessings and materialism set in again, followed by promiscuity and corruption. They once again evolved into a carnal city.

Nahum wrote to warn them of the result. Doing so was a “burden” for him. It wasn’t a feel-good message. Studying the book, though timely and expedient, isn’t a joyous study.

“Burden” translates the Hebrew word “massa” which can also be translated “load.” This is a weighty message.

The fact the message is for the city of Nineveh and the country of Assyria indicates God not only judges individuals, but nations. Three prophets wrote of three cultures God judged.

Nahum against Assyria, Obadiah against Edom, Habakkuk against Babylon.

Ezekiel Chapters 25 – 28 forms a compendium of nations God had judged to date. The Philistines are noted as an example: “I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I lay My vengeance upon them.”

It should be noted and God’s anger and judgment understood in light of a pattern observable in God’s judgement of nations.

God warns. They are without excuse.

God waits. Time to respond is always allowed so the people are again without excuse. The book opens with a revelation of the character of the God who will judge them.  “The Lord is slow to anger…” (vs. 3)

His wrath. If the response is not one of contrition, confession, and commitment then, and only then, God shows His wrath. 

Samuel warned that failure to respond positively to the Lord has serious consequences: “If you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”  (II Samuel 12:15)

The admirable response of God to those who repentantly turn to Him is found in II Chronicle 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Let’s pray America accepts this shield from judgment and discipline.

The Practicality of Patience

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father…encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”    (II Thess. 2:16-17)

This speaks of strength to face life in the good times and bad. There are hidden heroes and heroines who, by His strength, are facing suffering victoriously. Every day holds new agony and every night new torturous trials. At the end of life awaits dying grace. Others enjoy the bounty of life with a strong workable faith.

Encouragement follows strength as heat does fire.

There are people who would have been overwhelmed were it not for the strength supplied by the Lord. Some have had enough grief to overwhelm ten persons, but have been sustained by His strength.

Strength is found in being patient. Isaiah 40:31 verifies this.

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

Are you ever confronted by a situation that demands patience? The next time it occurs, think of it as an occasion in which our Lord is offering to strengthen you.  The capacity to relax and wait on the Lord should be thought of as a state of being you can access at any moment, and not just something reserved for later on. You can relax now.

According to 1 Samuel “lack of patience can cause you to miss blessings.” 

Being more relaxed involves training yourself to respond differently to the dramas of life. In doing so you turn your melodramas into mellow-dramas. You have trained yourself to respond like you do presently. Now you can engage in re-orientation and retrain yourself.

Consider life a classroom and patience the course of study.  Consider this process of developing patience.  Set aside a thirty minute period of time and say to yourself in advance, “During this time I won’t let anything bother me, I will be patient and wait on the Lord for solutions for everything that comes up in this thirty minutes.”  This will strengthen your ability to be patient.  This process is one where success feeds on success.  The more successful you are in stringing thirty minute periods of time together, the more successful you will be in exercising patience. You will develop strength through the Lord.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Why Suffering?

Jesus Christ has personally summonsed you to heaven. Not only does He want you to come to heaven, He proposes to give you strength for the journey. He has called us to His excellent glory, but en route we need strength for the journey. His involvement is in every area of life. Sickness and injury are often major speed bumps en route to heaven. 

The desire to live is a God-given instinct. Therefore, when life is threatened we reflectively fight back. It is a good preservative of life. There are few greater times in life that we draw on our faith to feed this desire. Faith! Does it work in healing?

With heaven as the ultimate backdrop, consider some of the blessed benefits that begin here and now.

One process for developing us is through suffering. This is God being honest with us. As a Christian or non-Christian, you are going to suffer.  If God were to immune believers from problems and exempt them from difficulty, people would turn to Him in faith to gain such. He doesn’t, but He does equip us to deal with it and uses it to your advantage.

In physiology there is a principle called “Fox’s Law.” In essence, it means exercise and pressure builds mass. Hard physical work or workouts build muscle and bone mass. The principal is basically the same spiritually. The exercise of our faith builds us up.

Recently health care professionals met at Harvard Medical School for a course called “Spirituality and Healing in Medicine.”  Their study centered around two groups in research regarding the faith-health connection. Ninety-nine percent of the doctors believe there is an important relationship between the spirit and the flesh.

The prayers of others for the sick was the subject of one study.  Nearly 400 people participated in a California study regarding the effects of the prayers of others for heart patients. Half of the 400 were prayed for by others and half were not. Neither group knew they were being prayed for. Those who were prayed for had half as many complications and a much lower rate of congestive heart failure.

Personal faith was the object of another study by Dartmouth Medical School. They tracked how patients’ personal prayer life influenced their recovery from bypass surgery. After six months a restudy was done. Among those who didn’t pray the death rate was 9%. Among those who did pray the rate dropped to 5%. None of those who had a deeply spiritual life died.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 1700 older Americans and discovered that those who regularly attended religious services had stronger immune responses than those who did not. Blood tests showed those who regularly attended had a higher level of immunity against disease. Thus faith is indicated to be good for one spiritually and physically.

Whether suffering or in health, faith helps us interpret life and live it to the fullest.

A Living Gift

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:1-2

Jesus Christ, who exhorts His followers to follow Him, was the world’s premier nonconformist. He didn’t fit the world’s mold. He established a new norm. He is our pattern. 

“I beseech you,” parakalo, primarily means “to come alongside.” This is a positive offer of encouraging help. It is physically illustrated by response to an injured teammate in athletics. Suppose a leg or ankle is injured. A teammate comes alongside, puts his shoulder under the injured friend’s arm and supports him. The word “beseech” speaks of tenderness.

Those beseeched are called “brethren,” a word that translated the Greek adelphoi. It denotes blood kin. The blood we have in common is the blood of Jesus. The basis of the appeal is “the mercy of God.” This is the highest motivation factor possible. This passage speaks of – – – 

I.   A CONFORMED BODY      (vs. 2a)    “Do not be conformed”

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.”

This is an appeal to avoid appearing to be something you aren’t. If you are a Christian, don’t give the appearance you aren’t.

“This world,” translates aion, meaning a social order contrary to God’s will.

“Be not conformed” is present passive imperative plus a negative meaning: “Stop being molded to the realm of worldliness.” Worldliness is a mental attitude.

Every act indicates whether we are controlled by the Holy Spirit or the old sin nature. 

This is an appeal not to use spiritual camouflage to blend into the world’s environment. We are to present our bodies as “living” sacrifices. In the Old Testament, dead sacrifices were made. This calls for a perpetual sacrifice. 

Such a life is “holy and acceptable.” “Holy” means set apart.


The world wants to control your mind, so it exerts pressure from without. The Holy Spirit wants to control your mind, so He provided power from within. 

If the world controls how you think, you are being conformed. If the Holy Spirit controls your thinking, you are being transformed. Stop being conformed and start being transformed.

The Greek word translated “transformed” gives us our English word “metamorphosis,” a total change. The change from a pupa in a cocoon to a butterfly is metamorphosis, a complete change. That is what God requires of us. This “renewing”  is to be life long, on-going. It is as radical as a tadpole changing into a frog.

III.  A REFORMED LIFE (vs. 1 & 2)

The appeal to “present your bodies” is a command deserving a definite commitment.

This gift of our self is “acceptable,” well pleasing, to God.

It is “reasonable,”  that which follows reason.

With the Holy Spirit controlling you from within the world can not squeeze you into its mold. It is an on-going life-long process.