Sunday, March 29, 2020

Romans 12:14-21

Romans 12:14-21

Rom. 12:14 - Bless, don't curse.  (can be a hard one)
Compare to Jesus' words - Matt. 5:43-48 - love your enemies
Note:  Jesus' example - Luke 23:34 - even while hanging on the cross

Example:  if you stub your tow - is the rest of the body aware of it?  sympathetic to it?
So.... how should we respond to people who are hurting?  or are happy?

Rom. 12:16 - Practice humble harmony.
Compare with Rom. 12:3 - think of 'self with sober judgment.  Not more highly than ought.

We are ALL created in God's image.
We ALL sin and some short.
Christ died to redeem ALL of us.

Therefore - treat others accordingly.

Rom. 12:17 a - Don't Retaliate!!  See Prov. 20:22

Rom. 12:17 b - instead, respond in a way that causes onlookers to say "he (or she) did the right thing"
      See:  1 Thess. 5:15 - don't pay back wrong for wrong.

Rom. 12:18 - Be a Peace MAKER!!    Not just a peace lover, but a peace MAKER!
Matt. 5:9
ie:  Actively Pursue that which leads to peace!  - Rom. 14:19  ie:  sometimes have to "bite your tongue"!

Rom. 12:19 - Leave Paybacks to God!!
Why???   See James 1:19-20 - man's anger does NOT bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Rom. 12:20 - On the Contrary - what does this mean???
A.  you'll cause your enemy the pain of shame?
B.  you'll leave your enemy to God's (painful) punishment?
C. Kindness is as powerful as fire?

Pastor's short answer - "I don't know".
But, CLEARLY, we are to leave paybacks to God!!!

Rom. 12:21 = summary of this passage.   Don't be a Victim of evil. Be a Victor over evil ... by doing good!!!!
See:  1 Pet. 3:9 - to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Christian Guidelines for Dealing with Coronavirus Pandemic

Study of Romans - continued:   Rom. 12:9-13

Love must be sincere, ie:  love for God and love for man..  See Matt. 22:34-40
How can this be applied to this Coronavirus situation?

#1.  Hate evil - all sin

#2.  Cling to good.

Now more specific:
#3.  Be devoted - to one another

#4.  Honor others above self - ie:  "don't be SELF-ish!!  (plenty of examples)

#5.  Keep Spiritual fervor (zeal in serving the Lord)  Don't let it subside.  2 Tim.1:6. (fan into flame the gift of God)

#6.  Be joyful - in hope.  Things (for OUR blessed community) are not THAT bad, and - things are going to get better.  (Christians can be sure of that).

#7.  Be patient - in tribulation!  Is that relevant today??  (Biblical cncet of parience includes endurance)

#8.  Be faithful in prayer - James 5:16 - prayer of righteous man is powerful and effective!

#9.  Share with those in need - (does this include TP???)  Heb. 13:16

#10.  Practice hospitality - Greek word is philo (love) + xenos (strangers).  Matt. 25:35-40 - (when you did this to the least of these, you did it to me.)

The challenge for the week - 
How to do #10 without violating social distancing.
Get creative.  In this day and age - texts, video messaging, phone calls, waves from a distance.  All can brighten the day of someone isolated or just staying in.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Faith & Practice

Rom. 1 - 11 = the foundations of our faith  (doctrine)
Rom. 12 - 16 = the practice of our faith  (application)

"Faith & Practice" - what we should do - practice
                               why we should to it - doctrine, believs - knowledge of why we do what we do.

'Specific practices' begins with (1)  self-assessment
                                               (2)  Spiritual gifts

Rom. 12:3-8
Broken Down:
Rom. 12:3 ..... 'by the grace given me".... = Apostolic Office and Authority - talks about how God gave him these.
".... I say to every one of you..." = applicable to ALL Christians!!!

#1)  Don't be high-minded - PROUD!!
      ie  think more of 'self than should.
From online dictionary:
PRIDE = (1)  a feeling or deep pleasure derived from one's own achievements, or qualities, or possessions  (that are widely admired)
               (2)  confidence, self respect - as expressed by members of a group; based on a shared identity, culture, experience  Example:  proud to be American, Okie, etc.  (Dictionary illustration = LGBT pride!!!)
               (3)  conciousness of one's own dignity
And, lastly!!  (4)  the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one's importance.

Interesting!  Put last in dictionary definition, BUT Bible never uses it in a Positive sense!!

Old English = PRUD - an exaggerated opinion of oneself;  pride and disdain
Listed as 1 of 7 deadly sins.
The sin that caused the fall of Satan!

On one hand, there is clearly a place for Positive Pride
However, many, serious warnings in scripture on the danger of "think more highly of 'self than ought!"

#2.  Assess yourself with Sober-Judgment!
Sound, proper, realistic - Contrast the # of beers = ______!  1 = witty, 2 = charming, 3 = tough, 4 or more = invincible.

#3.  (pastor's paraphrase) measure yourself....taking into account....what God has (graciously) given you!  

Point:  IF you have achieved, acquired, accomplished ... THEN it is largely due to what God has GIVEN you!!
Examples:  ball player, business owner, family, citizenship, etc.
1 Cor. 4:7

"This does NOT Downplay ... hard work, self-discipline, self-development
Merely Recognizes the Sourse of Abilities, opportunities, etc.
ie:  the Raw Materials of a successful life!!

Augustine (on Pride) - "the love of one's own excellence"
instead of ... the appreciation of one's giftedness!!
Example:  Paul - 1 Cor. 15:9-10

(interestingly) Paul starts "practical application" with Self-Assessment and goes immediately to Spiritual gifts!!

Definition  (Spiritual Gifts) =  Spiritually enhanced abilities by the Holy Spirit to do God's work.
Rom. 12:4-8 with 1 Cor. 12:1, 4-7, 11, 27

2 primary points of the passage = (1)   measure yourself properly
                                                   (2)  Use your gifts accordingly

Some Additional observations from these 2 passages:
If you are a Christian ....
#1.  You are gifted!! - every individual

#2.  You are gifted according to God's wisdom - s He determines.  you don't get to choose.  
       Add:   (a)  And your personality  (temperament)
       but ... (b)  NOT according to your Preference!!

#3.  Your gift is a GIFT!!  graciously given without merit!!  - we do not earn it or choose it!

#4.  It is to be Used!!  to benefit others
                                  to develop the body  (church)
                                  to promote the Kingdom

NOTE:  your gift probably won't be spectacular!!!  Example:  problems in Corinth.  Spectacular gifts often lead to pride.

NOTE:  Your gift will be in accordance with (a) God's Wisdom, (b) your temperament, AND  (c)  the Body's Need!!
Which means ... IF called to a particular church and IF not using your gift ... THEN the Body suffers that's partly your fault!!

Also means ... IF the body suffers.... You (as a member) Suffer!!

#5,  The Scriptural lists are (probably) NOT inclusive.  example:  gifts test

#6.  You don't need to know your spiritual gifts to exercise those gifts - doing what comes natural ... within the parameters of scripture!!

#7.  When you exercise your gifts ... God USES YOU!!!   1 Pet. 4:10

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 13: 20-21


Monday, March 2, 2020

Hinge Vs. Rom. 12:2

Rom. 12:1-2 = hinge verses.  Are transitional.

In order to properly practice the Christina lifestyle ... you'll need ...
(1)  Salvation - new creature in Christ
(2)  Submission  (surrender ... the Christ as Lord)
(3)  Information  (what to do/ How to do it!!)  - have to know this!
(4)  Transformation  (to Become what you are called to be) - not just outward change but inward as well.

Salvation - covered in Chapters 1 - 8
Submission (surrender completely) - covered in Rom. 12:1 - (last week)

Today will look at .... Information  &  Transformation
Rom. 12:2 NIV, Rom. 12:2 KJV, Rom. 12:2 NLT
Makes it easier to live the Christian lifestyle if you know the "whys".

Passage divided into 3 parts:

I)  Don't Conform  (to this world)
II)  Be Transformed  (by Renewing your mind)
III)  Know God's will (so are able to do His will)

I.  Don't Conform - copy, imitate, pattern self, fashion self ..
Point:  don't embrace the commonly accepted ideas, opinions, social customs of this world .... WHEN they are contrary to God's will/word/way(s).

at issue here = Moral Conformity  (issues of right & wrong) - not concerned about food, clothes, music, etc.

Observation:  we all have a natural tendency to conform to the group.  Examples:  Woodstock, NHS Rodeo, SEC - in each case, most everyone dressed the same.
Where the issues are Amoral (without morals) ... is No Problem!!!

BUT ... we've also a tendency to conform to group MORALS and ... where God has drawn the line on Right/Wrong... we must NOT CONFORM!!!
Example:  1 Pet. 1:14
Therefore, we need an Informed Mind - need to understand
           informed by  A)  Divine Revelation
                               B)  Divine Reasoning
which leads to

II.  BE Transformed - BY renewing (changing) your Mind!!  (metamorphosis)
Compare  Matt. 17:2

So, what's the differences between conform and transform?

(1)  conform = primarily our own doing  (we do it ourselves)
      transform = cooperative effort of the Believer and the Holy Spirit - God plus self

(2)  Conform = result of common thinking  (natural thinking)
       Transform = result of Renewed thinking - Eph. 4:17-24

(3)  Conform addresses (primarily) outward behavior  ("do")
       Transform focuses on inner being  ("are") - 1 Cor. 6:11

A changed mind = result of New or Re-Examined information.  (Can't just choose to change your mind.)
Example:  belief in Big Foot - if don't believe in Big Foot, can't just decide one day TO believe without some additional or new proof (information)

So what's the new information?  perspective?
Answer:  (1)  God's Word
and primarily, (2) Holy Spirit's Presence  (indwelling) - Enlightened Reasoning - 1 Cor. 2:6-10, 12-16

New information leads to changed mind which results in changed Heart, leads to changed character which results in changed behavior that leads to changed lifestyle.

Objection:  doesn't always work that way!!!  Example:  Jesus and the Pharisees.
Answer:  transformation = the Cooperative Effort of the Believer AND the Holy Spirit!!  Very important.

Quote by Alex McClaren - "Truth professed has no transforming power.  Truth received and fed upon can revolutionize a man's whole character."

Which leads to:
III.  Knowing God's Will  (hence being able to DO God's will)
Point = "don't conform ... Be transformed!!! Then you'll be able to discern God's will!  (Know what He desires OF you and FOR you!)

Words used:  "test", "approve" = find out, discover, be sure of ...
in other words  ... "IF .... THEN ... you'll develop an (increasing) ability to discern (perceive, intuitively know) God's will for you!!  Compare:  Heb. 5:13-14

idea = Know God's will so you can DO God's will!
(additional interesting twist)
On one hand, we discover God's will in order to do God's will.
However, we Do God's will in order to discover His will!!
Example:  John 7:17

Additional note:  Knowing God's will is not always pleasant!!  (example:  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo)
But knowing/doing God's will always be right, best!!

Summary ... Paul could have said ... "submit to God and change"

Instead he said (more radically)  "Sacrifice yourself (total surrender) and be transformed"

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 13:20-21