(Newest ones are last)
|Part 1: The Body of Christ|
|You Aren't So Special|
|"For I say, through
the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of
himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according
as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."
|Well, at first I chose
verse two for the Bible study but realized we've studied that one a couple
of times already. We've also studied all the other verses up to verse
eight except for this one. So, let's tie it all together, shall we?
The chapter starts out saying we need to offer ourselves to God as a sacrifice. We don't have anything else that God needs or wants. He wants us. He has things He needs us to do so we must give Him what it takes... ourselves.
Secondly, we must make sure we separate ourselves from the world. We must not get stuck in worldly ways of thinking or else our minds will be closed to the supernatural things of God. Our minds must be renewed on a regular basis. It is just too easy to slip back into the "normal" worldly mind-set. It is too easy to go along with the easy road and fit in with everyone else in the worldly mind-set. We have to transform (change) and renew (refresh) our minds.
Now, our verse is the third admonition. This is probably the hardest one to do. We have to be careful not to think of ourselves as being too special. The hardest part about that is that we live inside of ourselves. We automatically tend to defend, protect, and promote our selves just because that's who we see in the mirror and that's who feels heartache and physical pain when we are hurt.
Going back to the previous verse we are reminded that the world accepts it when we think highly of ourselves. Most other people in the world do the same. We are not to be the same. We are to be different. We are to be God-pleasers and not man-pleasers. We are peculiar people (Ti 2:14 and 1Pet 2:9) and need to do the naturally impossible (but not spiritually impossible) thing and get out of ourselves.
As we continue on we see that these scriptures are teaching us how we are to act and be in order to be a functioning member of the Body of Christ. God has equipped us with the necessary talents and faith to do whatever it is that He has called us to do.
We don't all have the same job to do so it is important that we follow these guidelines laid out for us. We must lay ourselves on the altar and then not keep taking ourselves back off the altar every time that someone insults us, takes advantage of us, or makes us feel inferior. We must renew our minds in the spiritual realm. We must allow God to work in our hearts and minds so we are prepared to do the things He gives us to do.
Like verse four says not all members of the Body have the same office (job to be done). So, stay sensitive to what God shows you. Don't assume that, just because you are good at teaching, that He wants you to be a Sunday School teacher. Don't assume that, just because you have led a few people to the Lord, that you are to be a missionary or a television evangelist. There are many many many more jobs than we can see with our human eyes. There are jobs within the Body and outside the Body. There are many sub-jobs within jobs. There are many combinations of jobs. There are so many differences and details that God needs to be the One that does the assigning.
The gifts (jobs) mentioned in the following verses are: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, ruling, and showing mercy. In my concordance the meanings of those are:
In order to be fully used it is important that we demonstrate humility and meekness, just like Jesus did. We need to lay our "lovely" SELF on the altar and allow it to burn. We must resist the urge to blow out the flame to rescue a portion of our self, too. We must be empty of self to be full of God.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
A "branch" in Jesus that doesn't bear fruit is removed by God. So,
what does that mean? Does that have to do with losing one's salvation?
I don't know. All I know is I don't want to be removed from Jesus!
If I stop bearing fruit I will be removed. Even though I hadn't been immersing myself in my Bible I must have still been bearing fruit. I'm certain He hasn't removed me. I know I would feel very empty and almost like I was a kite that had lost its string. I'm sure it would be worse than that, but I don't want to imagine it in full.
I have learned a lot from God. He has shown me how to hold my tongue (which I still do.... most of the time), how to promote others above myself, and more. I have still been doing those things. I still keep Him in my mind and know that I have to answer to Him for my actions.
Could I choose to stop doing those things? Yes. I could get selfish and only think about myself. There isn't fruit to be borne while helping only oneself.
God put us here to make a difference in the world. The only way we can truly make a difference is to do things that benefit others.
Actually, I even do things for others in a game I play. I play Restaurant Story on my phone. I go visit my "neighbors" and post funny messages on their walls just to make them smile. It makes a difference because some people have nothing they feel they can smile about. Then they get a small smile from something silly I wrote.
Now let's talk about the purging part of the scripture. Purging is pruning. All sorts of plants look better and produce more/better fruit and flowers if they are pruned. A pruned plant often looks bad until the new growth comes out. It's the new growth that bears the fruit and flowers.
Purging hurts. God does the purging. He causes pain by removing things that we have in order for us to grow and improve. I'm going to give some examples.
Comfort zone: God knows you will not grow if you stay within your comfort zone. You won't want to step out of it to do the things He wants you to do. Don't be surprised if things keep happening that throw you out of that zone each time you crawl back into it! That's purging!
Something you hold more dear than God: It could be television, video games, your job, or any other thing in your life. When your life gets shaken and you end up not being able to do that thing, that's purging.
Your own self: Things you think you do well might end up falling apart. If you take pride in the way you look physically you might end up with scars or disabilities. That's purging.
I've been purged over and over and over and over. When God wants to take something away from us it is best to let go. When it seems that God has removed His protection from us it is time to sit up and take notice.
We are to be members of the Body of Christ. That's the same as being branches growing from the Vine, which is Christ. Members of the Body of Christ aren't meant to sit around and do nothing. We each have a job to do. If we aren't doing that job we will be purged so the new growth will come.
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