1/31/17 Weak Or Strong In Our Faith, We Are All Worshipping Jesus

“I know that among you are both Jews and Gentiles, and each person comes to his salvation from a different background. As a Jew myself, I understand very well how deeply engrained the Jewish practices and rituals are, and I’m sure many Gentiles come from cultures which have their own deeply held beliefs and practices. These things are difficult to part from, because they are not just religious practices, but part of your culture, part of who you are at your core. Those of you who have held your faith in Jesus for many years now and have studied both the Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus may have a much deeper understanding of what is an acceptable practice in Christianity and what is not. Others, who may be new to the faith and not yet strong in it, may feel that they need to continue certain practices to assure themselves that they are not leaving anything out that might be important. It is in this light that I call attention to something that has come to my attention – arguments among you regarding food and the observance of holidays. Those who are stronger in the faith seem to be looking down at those who are weaker for their insistence on keeping the traditions of their old lives, and the weaker disdaining the stronger for their insistence on throwing out the old ways and fully embracing the freedom that Jesus brings us. Is this what we should be doing as Christians? We are commanded to love one another, to live at peace with one another, so that we may be an example to the world of how God’s people are meant to live and to treat each other. Now, to those who are strong in their faith, who have no qualms about eating any kinds of meat, clean or unclean, and who no longer observe the Jewish holidays, but treat each day the same as another, I commend you for the strength of your faith, but I caution you to accept those whose faith may not be so strong. Do not treat them as lesser Christians because they are not in the same place as you. We know that Jesus has redeemed all things, so that there is no longer anything forbidden because of uncleanness. But many of our brothers and sisters are not comfortable with this yet. If they stay away from certain kinds of meat in deference to and reverence for God, is that not worship? If they choose to rest from their work and celebrate the old holidays, do they not do so to remember God’s goodness and provision for us all? No matter how strong or weak we are in our faith, we all worship and honor God through faith in His Son, Jesus, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Instead of berating each other for differing beliefs within the same faith, we must come together and embrace each other, learning from each other and growing in faith as one.”

 

Romans 14:1-7

1/30/17 If Jesus Returns Today, What Will He Find You Doing?

“Consider that at any moment, Jesus may return.  Do you want Him to find you awake and alert, engaged in the battle against Satan and sin, or dormant and sleeping, sliding back into old habits of sin?  Every day brings us closer to that moment, and I would hope that each of us grows closer to Jesus every day.  The dark night of Satan’s control over this world is soon to be gone, replaced by the sunshine of Jesus’ rule.  So let’s get everything sinful out of our lives and surround ourselves with what is good, as if we were putting on armor to fight Satan.  Sinfulness belongs to the night – intoxication, lustfulness, wild parties, sexual sins.  Let’s get out of the dark of night and start living in the daylight, because the Holy Spirit has removed the blindness from our eyes so that we can see these things for what they truly are.  Instead of indulging in the sinful desires of our bodies, we must walk in the light of Jesus, wrapping goodness around us like a shield.”

 

Romans 13:11-14

1/29/17 A Debt Of Love

“Do not go into debt to your neighbor in order to pay your taxes.  Work hard so that you will not be indebted to anyone.  The only debt you should owe to anyone, and this is one that you should pay immediately, is that of love.  Because love is the fulfillment of every commandment in the Law.  God commanded that we should not steal, cheat on our spouses, murder anyone, desire that which is not meant for us to possess, or lie against anyone.  All of these can be fulfilled with love, as Jesus taught us when He commanded us to love God with all our hearts, souls, strength, and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, using love to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.”

 

Romans 13:8-10, Exodus 20:13-15, 17; Deuteronomy 5:17-19, 21

1/27/17 Good Triumphs Over Evil

“When you are met with a difficult person or situation, instead of growing angry and responding in hostility, respond calmly, rationally, and out of a sense of sympathetic love for the person, even when it seems that person’s only reason for being is to make life difficult for you.  Respect and honor that which is good, and use good to overcome evil.  If it is up to you, live in such a way that you are at peace with everyone around you, instead of stirring up trouble or rising to meet trouble with trouble of your own.  When someone hurts you, don’t look to get even.  Give it to God, and let Him make things right, because you know that He is the only one who is truly just.  In the book of Deuteronomy, God tells us, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ and so we follow the words of Proverbs, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’  If you always come at evil with evil of your own, evil will overtake you.  But if you meet evil with good, you will be victorious.”

 

Romans 12:17-21, Deuteronomy 32:35, Proverbs 25:21-22

1/26/17 Forgiveness, Love, Sincerity, Humility

“When people try to hurt you, don’t try to hurt them in return.  Pray for them and do good to them.  Work on being sincerely sympathetic to everyone around you.  When someone is celebrating joyful news, celebrate with them.  If someone is grieving a loss, mourn with them.  Live together in peace, working to resolve conflicts among you instead of to create more of them.  Don’t try to act as though you are better than everyone around you, but instead, be humble and be friends with those who are humble.”

 

Romans 12:13-16

1/25/17 Love & Serve One Another

“Do not love hypocritically.  Love with all your heart, fully and deeply, as God loves you.  Hate all evil things, but hold tight to all that is good.  Show love to each other as you would the family you were born into.  Do what is right and honorable immediately, as soon as you get the chance to do so, instead of waiting for the other person to make the first move.  Serve God with all your heart, working hard with your spirit and your body, never giving up, taking joy in the hope that is yours through Jesus, patiently enduring all trials, praying consistently for everything and everyone, giving what you have to serve those who are need, and offering a safe haven for brothers and sisters who have been driven from their homes because of their faith.”

 

Romans 12:9-12

1/24/17 Honest Self Esteem

“God has given me so much grace, and because of it, I have a much clearer picture of myself and all my own shortcomings.  Each one of you should examine himself carefully in light of God’s perfection and the grace that He has given to each of you, so that you do not consider yourselves better than you are.  If you truly have, in all sincerity, great faith, then use that great faith to do great things for God’s Kingdom.  And if your faith is small, begin with small things until your faith can grow.  Remember that we are all one body in Jesus, but made up of many different members, each with his own gifts.  Each of us must use our gifts to bring glory and honor to God, and in proportion to our faith.  Examine your gifts, whether they be prophecy, ministry, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, or showing mercy, and employ those gifts with all your heart, doing everything as if you were doing it as a gift for Jesus.”

 

Romans 12:3-8

1/23/17 Give Your Whole Selves To God

“Since God is so good to us, giving mercy and grace to the worst of offenders when they turn to Him and ask, I would implore you, as those who are now God’s children, to keep your bodies from slipping back into their sinful nature.  Instead make yourselves into living sacrifices to God – not in the way that animals are sacrificed to atone for sins, but sacrifice your fleshly desires for the good that is awaiting you from God.  Do not give in to the temptation to use your bodies for sinful purposes, but instead offer yourselves to God as His instruments, so that He might be able to do good things through you.  Just as the Jewish people were required to present only clean animals without any defects for sacrifices to God, cleanse yourselves from sin so that you are set apart from the evils of the world.  Then you may give your whole selves to God, knowing that the gift you give Him is worthy of Him.  In this way, you can show your devotion to Him and your gratitude for the new life He has given to you.  Don’t allow yourselves to be swept up in the day to day gossip or trends that the world esteems, acting as though you still belonged to the world.  But instead, commit your whole being to the new creation you have become through the Holy Spirit.  Don’t let your eyes and ears take in the evils of the world, but instead concentrate on that which is good and holy, so that your mind will be filled with good and not evil.  Then you will be able to see God’s will for you more clearly, and live it out for all the world to see.”

 

Romans 12:1-2

1/22/17 God Has A Perfect Plan For Everything

“Remember that before we came to you and told you of Jesus, you wanted nothing to do with God.  Now, it is Israel who is turning away from Him, but He is allowing this for you, so that by His gift of grace to you, Israel will see what they are abandoning and turn back, and will also be given that grace.  His grace shines brighter in the darkness of disobedience to Him.  His grace and mercy will be given to many more people because He is allowing them to turn away for a while.  God’s wisdom and knowledge are rich and deep, too much so for us to understand.  How could we, as fallible humans, ever hope to understand His ways or His judgments?  Both the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah wrote, ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has become His counselor?’  And Job wrote, ‘Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’  Everything comes from Him, and all that we have belongs to Him, to God, whose Name will forever be glorified.  Amen.”

 

Romans 11:30-36, Isaiah 40:13, Jeremiah 23:18, Job 41:11

1/21/17 Israel Will Return

“I want you to understand this mystery that God has revealed to us, so that you don’t grow too proud because you have been granted admission into the family of God through your faith while Israel has been excluded because of their rejection of the Messiah.  It is not all of the Jews who have hardened their hearts against Jesus, and this hardening of hearts is only temporary, until all of the Gentiles who are to be included in God’s family have come.  When the right time comes, God will open their eyes to the truth so that all of Israel will be saved from the death penalty that their sins hold.  As Isaiah wrote, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’  Regarding Jesus and His message, Israel is your enemy right now.  But even if it is only for the sake of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their love for and obedience to God, the people of Israel are still and will always be God’s chosen people.  When He calls someone, when He chooses someone and bestows His gifts upon him, it is a permanent calling and a permanent gifting, and it cannot be taken away.”

 

Romans 11:25-29, Isaiah 59:20-21