google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2015 January

Archive for January 2015

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 27: Be a peace-doer


v18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

As part of bringing honour to God Paul now says that followers of Jesus are to do all they can to live at peace with everyone! It isn’t possible to live entirely at peace with everyone! Why do I say that? Evil and evildoers must be opposed, as must be those who are oppose Jesus – very difficult to be at total peace with everybody, particularly those who oppose the work of Jesus and the work of the Church for God’s glory!

Many people endeavour to oppose Jesus and His Church and want to block the work being done by you and I to bring honour and glory to God. And that is the key – the glory and honour of God. As much as we are cajoled to compromise our faith, we are to resist. We can resist in the power of the Holy Spirit within us – resisting temptation to capitulate to sin.

We are to refuse to inflame quarrels. We are to take the initiative towards positive peacemaking with those who are against us. But sometimes people are either uninterested or unwilling to be at peace with us! How do we overcome those people with good – particularly those who insist we compromise our faith and our morals? Ask the Holy Spirit for help and guidance! He will help in the most surprising of ways!

When peace is broken or unattainable, is that because of the other person or is it because of our own action or inaction? If you have done all you can for peace, then your conscience is therefore clear. You can leave it with God and let Him handle the situation. It is by His grace and His grace alone that the most difficult of tasks can be overcome.

Within the Church itself however, there is always to be peace between the Christians. Part of being at peace with others is encouragement and edification of others and of self. There is to be no quarrelling accusations, prejudice and judgmentalism with the church as we have seen previously in these studies. For sure, people are to be allowed their opinions – otherwise the Church will be operating as a brainwashing Cult and not a Jesus-centred, God-glorifying Church.

Go! Be a peacemaker and as far as you can, be at peace with others – inside the Church and outside it.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 26: Be honourable

v17 Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable.


As we saw in our last study, we are not to pay back evil with yet more evil. We are to retaliate against others with love to those who would wish us harm. We are to behave in such a way that we are above and beyond reproach – that is being criticized for our behaviour! That is what Paul means by honourable here. We are to refrain from doing what is evil and wrong but we are also to do what is right.


As Christians we are to act in such a way the people will ask the reason why we are so different. They will ask why you do what you do – particularly if you do the things that Paul has been talking about in this chapter! You will be seen to be living a life of honour which reflects your relationship with God. As you do this you show to others that you are a Christian – a child of God – who is in an exciting and dynamic relationship with God. People will ask why are you so different from us – giving you honour! But not only that, even if they are atheist or agnostic, they will be giving honour to God because you are His child.


Can you imagine if more people took seriously what Paul is writing here in Romans 12? The world would be turned upside down and a revolution would be in evidence! Not a revolution borne from violence but a revolution of loving God and loving others! That is what the Church is supposed to be like – harmonious communities of Christians proclaiming that they love God and showing that they do that by loving other people. Christians doing things which bring praise and honour to God and people outside the Church remarking how honourable they are! Imagine!


Can it be done? Yes! If we as Christians asked the Holy Spirit to help us as He empowers us!


Go! Live your life in such a way, that you are seen as honourable and therefore the God you claim to love is also honoured. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you – He will help if you ask!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 25:

v17 Never pay back evil with more evil.

I wonder if you have ever been hurt by somebody else. I know that I have. I also know that not only have I been the victim, I have also been the one to inflict and hurt others. So how are we to respond to those who would wish us harm? After all, we are commanded to love those people.

Paul here commands that we don’t pay back evil for evil. That will just perpetuates a circle of evil in our life and prove to be a distraction from living a life that is honouring to God – living a life of worship and devotion to Him.

What does this mean in practise? We know we are to love our enemies. Jesus taught it and Paul also. We are to do good to everyone, including those who are against us. We are to actively bless our enemies and repay that way! WOW! That goes against our culture, which usually dictates either at best to ignore or at worst to retaliate!

Our natural reaction, if we are honest, is to retaliate against others. Either with evil against the perpetrator or by simply just ignoring them. But that is not what Paul suggests! We are to desire to win them over for the glory of God! WOW! Let us as members of His Church retaliate that way. We are to show mercy and forgiveness to those who would harm and hurt us in anyway - – physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally. After all, God has done that to us through Jesus Christ despite all we have done against Him! If He can do it, so can we!

Remember, as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living within us! How easily we forget to ask Him to help us do things what humanly speaking seems impossible – including repaying evil with good. People maybe able to harm our bodies but they can never harm us spiritually. Sometimes those within the Church, including the Church we regularly attend, seek to harm us in some way. Let us win them over too – for the sake and glory of God! We also need to seek forgiveness of those we have done wrong as well as forgiving those who have wronged us? Again, this is possible when done using the power of the Holy Spirit.

Go! Do good to all, bless them, forgive them if necessary – including those who would seek you harm.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 24: Humility of mind and spirit

v16 - Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Here are two of the main reasons that churches lack harmony – pride and know-it-alls!! Do you think that may describe somebody that you know? Or even yourself?

There is to be no place in the Gospel, and therefore the Church itself, for pride and conceit. There is to be no favouritism within the life of the Church. Love does not show favouritism or partiality but love treats all people equally. The best person for the job, is the best person for the job – not the one shown favouritism. That isn’t to say we can’t have some people as friends and others not! But we are not to make differences between people based on things such as bank balances, social status, education, birthplace etc. Let not the educated look down upon the uneducated. Let not the financially rich not look down on the poor & homeless. Let males not look down upon females or females look down on males.

Structure within Churches is important or there would be chaos. Remember a Church is to be harmonious – and those of higher importance in Church structures are to associate & work with those of the least importance in Church structures. Why?

Because of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, being the Son of God, made Himself nothing in order to become a human being. Jesus, the Lord of the Church, was willing to do everything possible, so that you and I may be able to become children of God. Jesus Christ, and therefore God Himself, treats equally all sections of society, and so must those who claim to follow Him.

And we all know somebody who is a know-it-all – they have an answer to every question and like to let everybody know that they do! Now it is good to be wise in the ways of God but let not that lead to pride! Such a person is hard to teach – hard even to God. Wisdom comes from studying God’s word, being willing to be changed by the Spirit who lives within all believers without distinction. The so-called uneducated are usually more willing to be wise from this method than the educated.

Go! Be practical in your love of God to all people without partiality or distinction. And don’t think you know it all – coz you don’t!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 23: Be Harmonious

v16 Live in harmony with each other.

I can hear you saying to yourself “Yeah right, Paul! Get a life, mate! Me? Live in harmony with that person over there? No way!”

Yet to live in harmony with each other is to be our goal says Paul. If we were loving God and loving others as we ought, in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within ALL believers in the church community – then believers should be able live in harmony with each other!

As we have seen earlier, any group of believers in one location has spiritual gifts! No gift is more important than the other, yet I know from experience, that some Spiritual Gifts are lifted up more than others! The local church with its people is akin to a human body. Can a foot say it is more important than the brain? No! The brain controls the foot! Can the brain say it is more important then the heart? No! The heart pumps the blood which keeps the brain alive! Can the heart say it is more important than the foot? No! Because without exercise, the heart grows weak! That is what it is like in the church – local, national and worldwide!

To live in harmony is to live in agreement with each other! We are united with other Christians whether want to be or not! We all have the one Spirit living within us. There was only one Cross, therefore there can only be one Kingdom and church. There is only one God, therefore there could only be one people and one church known by its unity. Jesus Christ is the one Great Shepherd and there is only one flock, when referring to Himself and his followers the church (John 10:16).

Unity however does not mean uniformity. With the proviso that core beliefs are maintained, there appears to be room for some digression regarding secondary beliefs (Paul alludes to that in Romans 14:1–15:13). Individual churches have different local needs to be faced, and have therefore dissimilar requirements. Tomorrow we will see one of the main reasons churches don’t have harmony! But for now, go! Do all you can to be harmonious with others and show Church unity to the world!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 22: Rejoice and sorrow

v15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

I wonder if some times you are like me –you are sad when people you know have reason to be happy! We are like that as people! Jesus in Luke 15:25-30 indicates that this behaviour comes from envy! Or you are happy when people have reason to be sad or in trouble – your attitude is “They deserve it!” This is nothing short of malice. And unsurprisingly, it can come quite naturally to us! Paul here challenges the Roman readers and by proxy, us, with something totally alien to our natural way of behaving! Paul goes “be happy to the happy and weep with the weeping!”

That is a counter to the way the world we live in operates. Sure some people who are not Christian may do it Paul’s way but in general they don’t. But that is not the way it is to be with the Church! We are to love others as we would want to be loved. Love is not detached or ignorant of other people’s joys and sorrows. Love does not simply ignore or bear malice. Love lifts, encourages, embraces and emboldens! Love in action is offering a shoulder to cry on to somebody in need of help. Love in action is rejoicing with that brother or sister who has cause for celebration. Love offers solidarity with the other person, regardless of mood or emotion.

So how can we show this love to others? We maybe able to do it in our own strength, but we assuredly can by using the power of the Holy Spirit! Oh how easily we forget He is living within us! WOW! If we ask for His help, He will help – often in the most amazing ways. Let the Holy Spirit stimulate your imagination as to how you can practically rejoice and be happy with those who are rejoicing or to show you how you can weep with those who are weeping and in sorrow. And if we have reason to rejoice, let us not forget to be so overcome that we neglect to weep with those who are weeping. Or conversely, if we have good reason to be weeping, let us now forget to somehow rejoice with that brother or sister who has reason to be happy!

Go! Let your love for others be practically seen – whether with smiles or with tears!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 21: Bless and pray


v14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.



Paul here seems to have had some teaching about what Jesus taught for here he echoes Jesus, who is now His master. (Matthew 5:43-44 and Luke 6:27-28.)


To bless means to show kindness and love. Do you have enemies – people who don’t like you or loathe you because you are a Christian or for some other reason? I know some people who have been totally disowned by their own families because they became Christians. How are we to react? Paul here, echoes Jesus, commands that we are to show kindness and love. That is what bless means here - seeking the welfare of those that would cause us harm. It is a challenge to us because our natural reaction is usually to fight back or to ignore - that is curse. But we are challenged to pray for those who would wish us harm. Praying for their welfare is showing love for those who wish us harm. How can this be done? It can only be done using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within us rather than attempting to do it in our own strength.


Paul here is a good example. Just a few years ago, Paul was going around persecuting the church. The first Christian Martyr was Stephen, as told to us in Acts 7:59-60. “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”


Saul was standing there watching. Saul who we know now became Paul – our writer! Shortly after this event, Saul was arrested by Jesus whom He was persecuting. Paul has changed! His motto now is “bless those who persecute you.” Whereas his motto before was “Love your neighbour but hate your enemy!” What a change under the power of the Holy Spirit!


This is of course a picture of the Gospel. God showed love for His enemies, by sending His Son Jesus to die, so that all of humanity could change from being enemies of God to being friends of God.


Go! Bless others who are against you. Go and also pray for the persecuted church around the world – for they are your Christian family.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 20:

v13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Here in v13, Paul is referring to helping other Christians in need, as and when we can. Note I said need and not want. By helping other needy people in the Church, such love reflects God’s love. As well as evangelism, the Church also has a social mission – to help cover the needs of those outside the Church.

Part of that need would be giving hospitality to people. We should be looking to pursue opportunities to give hospitality and not just when we want to. If I came to your door, cold, hungry and thirsty, would you feed me, give me a drink and put me near the heater? Jesus taught in the parable of the sheep and the goats from Matthew 25 that any act of love and mercy we do for others, was also an act of love and mercy toward Him.

When we provide the needs of others and practise hospitality we are reaching out to others – just as God reaches out to humanity with a free offer of salvation. Perhaps one of the great sins of our generation is the neglect to do good to others – doing good by supplying needs and practising hospitality. For you see, sin is not just doing bad things, it is also not doing good when we have the opportunity.

Over the last 2 months, my wife and I have been in need. Almost every day of those 2 months, somebody we know has helped us out in helping alleviate that need. We may well be in need for a little while longer, but it is a comfort to know that people care and will help us out at our point of need. Praise God for them!

We Christians show that we love God, by practically loving others. Helping the needy and doing hospitality, not as a means of salvation (for that is by grace alone) but as a means to show our salvation to those in need of embracing Jesus’ love for them. Go and help those in need and practise hospitality. Not just to your friends but also those you don’t know.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 19: Persevere and Pray

v12 Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

As part of our having a confident hope, Paul now commands these Roman Christians to be patient during trouble and to keep on praying. Because we have this great hope in the return of Jesus Christ and the fullness of our salvation, we can be patient in trouble and persevere. That doesn’t mean we won’t have trouble in this life, but it does mean that whatever we face, God is with us. Remember God is a personal God and if you are a Christian, then His Holy Spirit lives within you! WOW! God Himself helps you to persevere as He sustains, carries and empowers you! Whatever trials and troubles we are going through, we are not alone – God is with you! Don’t listen to anybody who tells you differently – including satan who will tell you lies in order for you to give up on God.

Another reason we can be patient and persevere is God perseveres with us! He does this through the continuous work of the Holy Spirit in your life if you are a believer. As a Christian, you will never perish, and nobody or nothing can snatch you out of His hand. Nothing can separate you from God’s love for you as you are shielded by God’s all mighty power. That is part of your confident hope, which is why you and I can persevere with patience through all types of trials and troubles.

Another part of our hope is that God’s whole purpose for you is to transform you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God may well use some form of temporal suffering in order to achieve it, but in the light of eternity, it will not be for long!

And we keep on praying to God earnestly! It is one way the Spirit empowers us! As we pray, Jesus also prays for us! WOW! Prayer is to have a high priority in our life – and not just half hour in the morning. Maintain a prayerful attitude throughout the day. As the conflicts and troubles come upon us, we can persevere in prayer because God perseveres with us. We are engaged in spiritual warfare. Satan will use all means to bring you down. Go and persevere with patience and prayer – for you will receive the fulfilment of your hope - the reward of your salvation.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 18: Rejoice!

v12 Rejoice in our confident hope.


Why can we serve the Lord with zeal and enthusiasm in all things we do, as we looked at last time? Because we have an assured and confident hope which should be a fantastic cause for joy and celebration! What is the assured hope for the Christian? Here it is! Peace with God takes care of the past - He no longer holds our sins against us. Access to God takes care of the present - we can come to Him whenever we desire. A glorious hope takes care of our future - which is the expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes again, there will be an amazing time of glory to follow. An amazing time of glory to come, when Jesus, the Son of God, comes back for His people. Hope is the glory of salvation for all those who call Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour! Our hope is in Him who is the object of our faith and life! WOW!

We rejoice by filling our minds with the hope of the glory to come! But as we looked at previously, don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly use! You are called to be growing and maturing in a process that is called discipleship. This will inevitable lead to your being asked the reason for which you have your hope in Jesus Christ. This hope is an unending hope, which will enable you to endure to the end and run the race marked out for you. How can you run this race? By having your focus set on Jesus Christ. Keep him in focus each day, by living each day for Him and let Him get all the glory and honour in all things you do!

Rejoicing doesn’t necessarily mean going around with a big silly grin on your face! Rejoicing is also have a quiet confident and sincere hope. Why can we be confident of this great hope? Because God is faithful and He is always true to His word! Just as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead with a new body 3 days after his death, so will all those who are Christian have new bodies! WOW! Go forward in this great hope you have with confident rejoicing! Thank you.


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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 17: Enthusiastic Zeal

  

v11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Paul here commands Christians not to be lazy but to work hard! Is Paul talking about work outside the church or is he referring to work for the church? Quite possibly he means both! Remember those gifts we looked at earlier in the series? How are you doing with them? Are you being lazy and neither developing or using them as you ought? Get up and use them and develop them – work hard at them ensuring your service of God is with great zeal and delight!

Perhaps Paul had heard that some of them were just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back again and were neglecting their care and duty to work - and therefore their families!. So Paul has had to command them to get about their work with due diligence and attitude.

We are also to work hard at loving others and particularly loving those other believers that we know – as they are our family because of Jesus Christ! That is the immediate context. We are to work on our Christian lives utilising the power of the Holy Spirit as He changes us into the image of Jesus Christ! Yes that can be hard work too, but don’t give up! It will be worth it! You and I will be held accountable by God for the use and development of the gifts He has given us! Were you aware of that?

I wonder why you do, what you do and when you do it? In everything we do, we are to do it with zeal as we serve our God – regardless of what we do! We are to do all things as if pleasing to our God. Have you been doing the same job or role for a while now and feeling a bit underwhelmed with it all? Let the Holy Spirit excite you, invigorate and enliven your attitudes and behaviour. Perhaps you are unemployed and looking for work? Do all you can to find a job and ensure that your conscience remains clear! Serve enthusiastically the Lord well in what ever you do – whether for the church or for you and your family! Let the world who is watching you know you are a Christian by the way you do things!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 16: Be family!

Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.

Paul we know is writing to all believers in Rome, those who are called by God and loved by God (Romans 1:7). So Paul here commands that the Roman Christians are to love each other with genuine affection. Yes Christians are to love all others, including those who are not believers, but are to love especially other Christian believers. After all they are all Christian! There is only one Saviour for believers, Jesus Christ, and there is only one Holy Spirit living with believers and there is only one God! So be as one family!

Paul instructs these believers to be totally devoted to each other, having the welfare of others on their hearts and minds. For example when one believer is weak, the other believers are to act and strengthen that weak member. They are all to hold onto each other as family through their committed love and faith in Jesus Christ. That genuine family affection and love between them all – without division.

How is this genuine affection for each other seen? It is seen as each believer holds in honour all other believers. Honouring others is where the interest of others comes before self-interest. However, not just honouring but delighting in the other. Where there is family love and honour, there can be no division, arguments or strife! WOW!

Could that describe the group of believers you are attached to with your church or all the believers in your town? Are they a church or group of believers who all hold each other in genuine affection, devotion and honour? Are there believers know to you, that you are not loving with genuine affection and delighting honourably? Part of loving others is to hold them in high esteem – having their interests at heart and not your own. What are you doing for the fellowship of believers you are a part of? Are you jealous of somebody else who is getting more attention than you? Are you taking pride in your own work of ministry but looking down on the work of another believer? If you are, then you are not taking delight in them and honouring them!

Go! Love affectionately all believers – not just those who are your friends or those in your own church, but all believers everywhere and take great delight in honouring them above yourself!

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