Today’s scripture: Romans 12: 1-2 (The Message) So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for (God). 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. Readily recognize what (God) wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
My thoughts (David Zier):
I recall a few Golden Girl’s episodes where Blanch makes a pact with God. One was where Rose had a heart attack and almost died –
“Oh, but, dear God, I do have a favor to ask. Could you please spare my friend Rose? Now, I know I haven’t been perfect, but if you can just let her live, I promise I’ll try to be a better person. And if, in your infinite wisdom, you decide to start the aging process on me, I will understand. And I promise I will not have sex with anyone unless they really, really need it. Amen.”
The other episode where Blanch makes a pact with God is where she meets a blind man in the library who asks her out, but it turns out he was married …
“I swear with God as my witness, I will never pick up another man!… in a library… on a Saturday… unless he’s cute… and drives a nice car… Amen.”
Yes, we laugh, but let’s face it. Sometimes we make deals and pacts with God on a whim’s notice to get something a little easier than we ought. This is NOT what Paul is talking about here in Romans 12. Yes, miracles happen, and yes, prayer changes things. Easy? I don’t think so.
The translation here is The Message Bible. It provides a rich meaning and gives action to this verse. Approach prayer as if we are each offering our life before God. It is as if Paul is saying, “put ourselves out there, all of who we are, each one of us! If we each give our self as an offering to God in order to fix our attention on God, or to “stay” on God, we will each see ourselves more clearly. We will change. We will become the better person God intended. We will mature spiritually.”
Do you buy that?
In Creating a Rule of Life, Stephen Macchia tells us that a Personal Rule of Life is a holistic description of the spirit-empowered rhythms and relationships that create, redeem, sustain and transform the life that God invites us to humbly fulfill for Christ’s glory. So let’s continue to work on our Rule of Life – Our Rhythm of Life.
Begin with some prayerful Self-Assessment – Where Am I? How Am I Doing?
Prayerfully consider the following questions and jot a few notes to yourself.
- How do I feel about my spiritual life right now and why do I feel that way?
- What’s going well?
- Where am I feeling most challenged or distressed?
- What do I want more of? What do I want less of?
- If I could hear my own eulogy, what would I want to hear? Am I on track?
- What do I sense God most wants for me right now?
With the foregoing thoughts in mind, begin to create your own Spiritual Action Plan for 2019.
My Spiritual Action Plan – My Intentional Spiritual Goals and Rhythm
Remember: Be realistic, especially if this is your first Spiritual Plan. You can build on it in years to come. Rome was not built in a day. View this as Phase 1. With each practice or goal you set, be sure to say how/when you will do it.
- What spiritual practices are most life-giving to me? What spiritual practices do I feel God calling me to stretch and grow into? (Examples: daily prayer and Bible meditation, participation in weekly group worship, finding a spiritual small group, listening to worship music as I drive to work, giving thanks for 5 simple things every day, making a service commitment, developing a breath prayer, tithing my income, etc. For more examples and think more deeply about this, take the Soul Care Survey found at http://lifejourney.church/soulcare or pick up a hard copy of the Survey at the Welcome Desk at church.)
- Given the foregoing, what will my spiritual rhythm be? In other words, what specific spiritual practices am I going to weave into the fabric of my life – when and how often?
- What additional life practices and goals do I feel called to commit to? These goals go beyond specific spiritual practices and address the growing edges in life God is calling us to tackle. Examples: Love rather than analyze God, replace anger with grace, work less hours, exercise, eat better, spend more time with loved ones, develop a new hobby or recreational outlet, embrace my job as service to God, be less materialistic, be less judgmental, forgive my greatest enemy, let go of self-interest, see Jesus in the faces of the people around me, make a career change, etc.
- Are the goals I’m setting responsive to my self-assessment above?
- Are the goals I’m setting realistically attainable this year? Am I stretching myself too far to fast? Am I stretching myself to little?
What Will Be My Form of Accountability
What steps will I take to remind myself and hold myself accountable for keeping my Spiritual Action Plan for 2019? Some possible options are:
- Promising myself to re-read my Plan weekly and prayerfully until it becomes second nature and habit.
- Sharing my Plan with a good spiritual friend and asking him/her to pray for me and to ask me, monthly or quarterly, whether I’m keeping my goals and rhythm. (This can be a verbal ask/response or an email ask/response.)
- Have occasional conversations in my Oasis Group or other spiritual small group to discuss and share our experiences with our Plans.
- Programming my Google calendar (or similar system) to prompt me with questions/reminders about my Rule of Life.
- Creating a Vision Board.
- Other creative ideas?
Note: Begin sketching out your Plan, but don’t finalize it yet. The sermons over the next few weeks will challenge us to think about specific areas of life that we often find challenging – things like relationships, finances, body care, mental blocks, etc. These sermons may help you identify areas for growth that you want to incorporate into your Spiritual Action Plan.
At the end of the New Year’s Sermon Series, we’ll have a chance to finalize our Plans, and those who wish will have an opportunity on a Sunday to participate in a prayer for God’s help in living into our Plans.
Thought/Question for the day: So where do you find yourself today? What is going well in your life? What needs work, or a little more attention? Take some time with the questions. Pray with them. Here is a Link to the online Soul Care plan that may help gather your thoughts — soul care link.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.