CLCSB 2022 Fasting & Prayer Devotion
Day 1: A Transformed Life
Today marks the beginning of our 7-day churchwide time of fasting and prayer. We are grateful for everyone coming into agreement with this endeavor to consecrate ourselves to the Lord and seek Him with our whole hearts for His direction for this New Year.
Our theme for this New Year is “Healthy Minds Grow”. With the rising cases of mental health issues in our world today, much of which has been caused by the CoVid-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that we are sensing the Lord directing our theme for 2022 to be heavily focused on developing healthy mindsets and healthy mental attitudes.
In addition to bolstering healthy new thinking patterns, each word in this phrase has its own theme. Yes, God desires us to be healthy (3 John 1:2), have renewed minds (Romans 12:2) and to grow (2 Peter 3:18). So, throughout this year, we will share messages and offer tools to help us develop in each of these regards.
So, let’s begin with what is likely the most familiar passage of scripture concerning a renewed mind, Romans 12. Each of these daily devotions for our week of fasting and prayer will come from a portion of Romans 12. Today, we’ll begin with Romans 12:1-2. Here is how it reads from the New King James Version:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
When the Apostle Paul says in this text, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God…” he is making a very strong concerted plea for the reader to seriously consider being a partaker in what follows this statement. What we read after this is basically a challenge to each of us to examine where our lives presently are and very purposefully drive them towards “…our next place in God”.
Paul first encourages us to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God”. Because this portion of the verse focuses on presenting our body, this relegates the adjoined commands to be performed outwardly.
It begins with presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, which simply means living our lives in a way that sets aside our own will and desires for the purpose of obeying the will of God and serving the needs of others. In Philippians 2:3-4, we encounter yet another epistle written by the Apostle Paul encouraging us to direct our behavior to model that of Jesus Christ.
The passage reads as follows from the New Living Translation: 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Paul reminds us here that two major components of our Christian life are humility and servitude, which are contrary to how our natural minds think. When we allow God to transform our lives, these are the areas where we begin to see changes.
These character traits represent the mind of Christ that we are encouraged to have in Philippians 2:5. It says to let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. If we are to exhibit this type of character, our minds need to be transformed. We need God’s help, whether through His Word or by His Spirit, to help us to think (and ultimately behave) this way.
Paul continues in Romans 12:1 exhorting us to not only present our bodies as living sacrifices but also to present them as holy unto the Lord. The word holy simply means to be without sin. This of course begs the question that if we were all born in sin and none of us are perfect, how do we present our bodies as holy, or sinless, before the Lord?
This is one of the primary reasons why we need to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. When Jesus was crucified, He fulfilled two very important requirements for mankind: He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the Law and He paid the debt incurred due to our sin.
By fulfilling these two requirements, Jesus provided all that every human being would need to be made right (or holy) before the Lord. However, just because these requirements have been accomplished doesn’t mean that they have been applied to our individual lives.
For that to happen, we must personally receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for ourselves. When this happens, we then have the righteousness of Christ and the payment for our sins applied to our lives and we can now present our bodies as holy before the Lord.
Paul concludes verse 1 by admonishing us to present our bodies as acceptable to God. As Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
In short, what this verse describes as acceptable to God is simply to put our best effort into doing what is good and right, have mercy for every person, including ourselves for our flawed nature and be humble in the process of it all.
God is not expecting perfection from us. He’s not even necessarily expecting our proverbial best. He’s only expecting us to recognize our flawed human nature and to humbly interact with Him and mercifully embrace each other despite our broken human nature.
All of this is what Paul describes as our reasonable service. But as Paul continues into verse 2, he sternly admonishes us not to have the same thinking as those that are unsaved, whose minds have not yet been regenerated by God’s saving grace. The unregenerated mind thinks very differently than how Paul encourages us as believers to think.
Our human nature is very prone to judgment, both to others and ourselves. We don’t naturally think from the perspective of mercy or humility. We tend to be selfish and prideful in our thinking. These natural traits are major hindrances to thinking the way God would want us to think. Thus, Paul writes to us to be transformed by having our minds renewed.
This means that we willingly undergo God’s process to think completely differently than how our natural minds are prone to lead us. To think differently, we need new thoughts. This is why studying the Word of God becomes so important.
In several verses of the Bible, we are encouraged to study and meditate on the Word of God, both day and night. The more God’s Word saturates our minds, the more our thinking becomes conformed to God’s way of thinking, which eventually shows up in our actions.
What results is a transformed life with new thinking that produces a new way of living. It culminates into what Paul describes as proving what is that good acceptable perfect will of God. By perfect, Paul does not mean without error. He simply means a mindset that is mature enough to understands man’s imperfection and fully accept God’s grace as the answer to our flawed nature.
These first two verses in Romans 12 work together to provide an opportunity for all of us to have a new beginning, a fresh start from where we are to where we need to go in God. Transforming our lives by changing the way we think is a great way to begin the New Year.
Yet in all of this, it’s important to realize that transformation takes time. It’s also important to realize that transformation is about becoming something different rather than simply behaving differently. We all need God’s help to be renewed in our minds. And this mind renewal will help us to live better for the Lord. May the Lord grant each of us the grace in each day of this New Year to patiently and faithfully take the next step towards a wonderfully transformed life.
Day 1 Fasting Item: Video Games/Phone Games
Daily Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Those “in Christ” have become something they were not before. Their identity has changed from being the fallen version of themselves, to being associated with the righteousness of Christ. That’s who they are now. In fact, the old version of a Christian, who they were before they were “in Christ,” is not recoverable. The old is gone, Paul writes. The new has come. All the old dreams and ideas and agendas and purposes have ceased to exist and have been replaced by Christ’s ideas and agendas and purposes in an entirely new creature called “Christian.” Write your reflections.