It’s funny how all it takes to get your spirit up a little bit is to just sit down, turn off the television, and read the Word of God. What’s funnier is how long its taken me to try this as a daily routine in the form of a serious devotion. Of all the things it took to get me back on such a rigorous schedule, it was none other than my iPod Touch. When we were still living in Ohio, during our Thursday night LifeGroup one of our members Jared (who has unfortunately stepped into the darkness that is present of an Apple fan boy… – walk back into the light buddy, it’s not too late! :-P) would consistently use his iPhone as a source for his Bible instead of carrying around the big Book itself. Though some might argue whether or not that’s acceptable, I’m finding myself that it is an appropriate form of media in this day’s age. The app is simply called “The Bible App” and was created by YouVersion. On it you can view online most translations of the Bible for free while having the option to download some translations onto the actual device itself so that you can quickly read up on any scripture even if you don’t have wi-fi or a data signal available. (I for one downloaded the offline version of the new 2011 copyrighted NIV free of charge due to a promotion YouVersion was having.)
Anyway, it’s a great little app and as long as you are carrying your iPod Touch or phone with you, you always have your Bible on you whenever you get the urge to sit down and read some Scripture. It also has a whole slew of daily devotional plans that are sure to fit one of your reading styles. A month or so ago I started the “Blended” reading plan which although will eventually have me reading the entire Bible, it makes doing so a little more bearable by mixing up the Scriptures between the Old and New Testaments. (For i.e, reading through the entire book of Genesis while reading passages that relate by mixing it in with chapters from Romans.) Some plans do have devotional text to go along with your readings, but if not you can also access notes which provide various other resources related to the text you’re studying.
Like the example I gave above, I’ve actually just today finished reading through both Genesis and Romans. Although I know I’ve gone through these books before in my life, I think I’ve finally reached a level of maturity where I can really take them slowly and try to study its meaning and message while taking it to heart. Specifically in Romans this week I’ve really hung on to the commonly quoted verse in Romans 12:2 which Paul writes:
Do not conform 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.
If you read through Romans, Paul spends a lot of time speaking about this transformation and how it relates to sanctification. Sanctification is one of three aspects that break off from the gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. The three points being that (1) we are all sinners who are worthy of God’s wrath, (2) all sinners can be declared righteous or justified by repenting our sin and putting faith fully in Jesus Christ, and (3) being sanctification itself, which is the ongoing process of actually becoming righteous in God’s eyes. I see this as the actual transformation of yourself to be more Christ like, which can be summarized as an ongoing battle between your old sinful self whose habits lead only to “death”, in comparison to your new sinless self that leads to “life” because you are now declared justified thanks to Jesus who paid the penalty for all past, present, and future sin by dying for us on the cross.
We are all free from sin and guaranteed eternal life once we put our full faith in Jesus, but even with that guarantee alone, God wants us to be more like Him so that we stop sinning, so that in turn he is able to get us into a position where we are listening to Him and able to find out what his Will is for our life as stated in the end of verse 2 of Romans chapter 12. As a real world example, I am fully confident that at the time Lindsey and I felt God was calling us to adopt internationally in 2009, we were only able to hear his word because at that particular time in our lives we were surrendering all of our selves over to him at that time and were not letting our old habits die hard by focusing our energy and time unto earthly things that only satisfy us in the short term. Remember I just stated these earthly things only lead to death without salvation in the picture. Why live in your old ways even if you are free from condemnation once you are saved?
Sadly though, this is how a whole lot of Christians live their life. They spend a lifetime trying to find a rescue from this world, and even when they do put their full faith in God, they still go back to their old ways and refuse to glorify His name to the fullest. I am happy for these people who are saved, because I know in their hearts they have Jesus and will live eternally in heaven, but I am saddened at how much a person will miss out in their lifetime here on Earth to be an agent of God in helping Him carry out his “good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I need to make that statement carefully though as no one is perfect. I constantly myself do go back to my sinful nature and way of living and do not take God and my faith seriously. I am just as guilty as the next person, but the point I’m trying to make is that some people let themselves get so drowned up in their old ways, it’s hard to even get back to a point that is purely devoted to God. I pray for those people today, and also that I will not let myself to conform back to the ugly patterns of this world that are so far from any good result. This is important to me personally today, because with our move to Indiana Lindsey and I are at a point where we need to listen closely to God’s next steps. We have full faith he has us here for a reason, but it hasn’t all been revealed quite just yet.
However, we are making progress. We’ve tried a certain church a few times now and are considering making it our home. Choosing a new church is hard work, so I am thankful to everyone who has offered suggestions to us. I don’t think we are going to find another “NewLife”, but the more we’ve prayed about God’s selection for a church family for us here, he’s revealing that specific elements we needed and enjoyed at NewLife might not necessarily be the kind of teaching, atmosphere, etc. that we need now. (However, we really loved NewLife, and this church is similar in enough ways that are important to us!) It will be exciting to see how God will grow us spiritually if we settle in with this new church we are trying. The hard part is, besides a few friendly people we’ve talked to, we’re not really connected as of now and have not “plugged in” quite yet to a Bible study group of some kind. With tax season in full gear we are waiting a little bit longer so that if we join such a group we can go into it full time together as a family so that we can start building good relationships with other believers.
So to end this post, I pray that God will continue to transform me to be more like Him, so that I can continue to be used as his loving servant to carry out his will, whatever it may be here in Carmel, Indiana.
If you are interested in the Bible app I mentioned earlier, download it today by clicking here.