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Showing posts from February, 2020

Romans 13:7: Pay To All What Is Owed To Them

Romans 13:7 [7] Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV) A theme that the Apostle Paul has emphasized through the book of Romans is the difference that Christ makes in our lives. Before we became believers in Jesus Christ we were rebels at the very core of our being. We lived to please ourselves and not to please God. Our ability to please God only comes after he has given us a new life in Jesus Christ. Christians and unbelievers will continue to live together in the same society. In this scenario all are being required to follow the man-made authority of the government we are all subject to. Paul's instructions on our relationship with governmental authority have everything to do with the testimony we have for Christ in our community. There were those in the time of the Early Church that tried to portray the Christians as rebels. It would have been e

Romans 13:6: For Because Of This You Also Pay Taxes

Romans 13:6 [6] For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (ESV) One of the least favorite topics one can talk about is taxes. The saying goes that the only thing certain in life are death and taxes. How should the Christian view the paying of taxes? After all, the government is a man-made thing, isn't it? If government is man-made then why should we be obligated to pay taxes to it? We belong to God, not man. As we have already discovered, the government gets its authority from God ultimately. The very concept of having authority over others for the purpose of caring for their peace and prosperity is something that comes from God himself. When we obey the government we are also giving glory to God by honoring the authority he has allowed to be in our place. Do we pay taxes? Yes we do. If you decide not to pay your taxes you will find that there are consequences. The government will find a way to either g

Romans 13:5: Therefore One Must Be In Subjection, Not Only To Avoid God's Wrath

Romans 13:5 [5] Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (ESV) Obedience. It's a word that we probably do not like very much. That is the word that appropriately defines this idea of being in subjection. It is like a soldier's relationship with their commanding officer. Total obedience. Submission. Subjection. The Apostle Paul is describing our relationship with our government as one of us being in subjection. Now, as hard of a pill as that might be to swallow, I want to give you another one to swallow. God wants us to be concerned with our attitude in the process. Consider the fact that both an atheist and a Christian can follow man's law. Both can be in total subjection. Christ wants his people to be obedient, but not just to avoid wrath, but for the sake of conscience. This speaks to our attitude. Have you ever seen a child who obeyed their parents, but grumbled the whole time while doing it? Ma

Romans 13:4: For He Is God's Servant For Your Good.

Romans 13:4 [4] for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. (ESV) Paul makes a statement in the beginning of this verse that might have been hard for the people in first century Rome to accept. When he says, "He is God's servant for your good," he is referring to the government official who is meting out justice. Rome was filled with corruption. They were not a "Christian" government. How could Paul say that Rome was  God's servant? There is a generalization here for all followers of Jesus Christ to understand. The general role of governments are to promote the health, safety and prosperity of their citizens. Does this always happen effectively? Of course not. Should we live our lives in opposition to the government over us? Of course not. If we do wrong we can expect judgment to be carrie

Romans 13:3: For Rulers Are Not A Terror To Good Conduct, But To Bad.

Romans 13:3 [3] For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, (ESV) I can remember that as a child I had a good level of respect for my father's authority. I am not suggesting that I never disobeyed that authority. On the contrary, the way I learned to respect my father was a result of how he handled my disobedience. My father's punishment was firm, consistent and loving. One thing I knew about my father was that he meant every word he said. If he told me not to do something or there would be a consequence I could be sure that was what he meant. I tire of watching parents threaten their children with endless empty threats. The child does not respect authority because the parent has never kept their word. When it comes to earthly authority, primarily governmental authority, we should make the assumption that the government means what it says and we

Romans 13:2: Therefore Whoever Resists The Authorities Resists What God Has Appointed

Romans 13:2 [2] Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (ESV) Have you ever felt that as a Christian God's laws are so far superior to human laws that you do not really have to obey human laws? It is true that God's kingdom is far grander than man's kingdom. It is also true that man is by nature ungodly and unjust. It would stand to reason that we could simply ignore man's laws. Hold that thought! The Word of God speaks something very differently to this line of thinking. Paul is telling us here that if we are rebelling against the laws that have been put into place by human authorities we are actually sinning against God. God himself is the one who has established authority that man has put into place. This verse tells us that those who resist man's authority will incur judgment. What judgment is he speaking of here. Paul is speaking of the judgment that will come from earthly aut

Romans 13:1: Let Every Person Be Subject To The Governing Authorities

Romans 13:1 [1] Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (ESV) Let's be honest. We have a problem with authority. There is something deep within us that has a natural tendency to rebel against authority. The heart of mankind before being regenerated by the power of God is wicked. We are rebels to the core. Paul is speaking here to those who now belong to Jesus Christ. We are instructed to be subject to the governing authorities. We tend to be ok with being subject to governing authorities whom we like or trust. What happens if the governing authority is a President whom we did not vote for? What if the governing authority is a boss who treats people unfairly, especially you? How about if the governing authority is corrupt; completely lacking in godly character? The Scripture does not give any qualifications for the governing authorities. It does not say that we ar

Romans 12:21: Do Not Be Overcome By Evil, But Overcome Evil With Good.

Romans 12:21 [21] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV) We live in a world consumed by evil. In the Garden of Eden mankind was warned of the death that would come to them if they sinned against God's command. Man's sin brought death, not only to the first couple, but to all of humanity for all generations. Spiritual death is the root cause of all the trouble that we encounter in the world. This instruction that Paul gives to us in Romans 12:21 is for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. We know that our faith in Jesus grants us forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life. In the meantime we still have to deal with the effects of evil that are all around us. As Christians, how we deal with evil is very important to how effective we communicate the Gospel. We are not to be overcome by evil. A life lived for Christ is going to be a life in which we will suffer persecution. Those who are evil are ultimately doing the bidding of t

Romans 12:20: If Your Enemy Is Hungry, Feed Him; If He Is Thirsty, Give Him Something To Drink

Romans 12:20 [20] To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (ESV) We have learned in this section of Romans that God has a plan for us in how to deal with those who mistreat us. We are not to take vengeance upon our enemies. We are to leave vengeance in the Lord's hands. This is difficult for us. This is not how the world operates. We are not of the world so our actions should reflect that we have a changed heart. While we know that we should not retaliate against our enemy if he has done us wrong, how should we treat our enemy when they are not acting aggressively towards us. Suppose that in the course of life we see that our enemy is experiencing hunger or thirst. Should we ignore them? It would be easy to do so. After all, we know that they do not deserve to be treated fairly. Paul says that we are to feed our enemy when they are hungry and give our enemy

Romans 12:19: Beloved, Never Avenge Yourselves, But Leave It To The Wrath Of God

Romans 12:19 [19] Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (ESV) If you have ever been betrayed by someone the words of this verse might very well be challenging to you. When someone does us wrong, our natural instinct is to fight back. We want to make the one who hurt us to feel hurt in return. Somehow, we convince our selves that if we can just bring vengeance against our enemy it will make us feel so much better. Revenge is not as sweet as we may think. The reality is that we cannot change the heart of the person who hurt us. We might be able to hurt them back, but that only makes two people hurt instead of one. It does not solve the situation. God is very aware of the situation. He knows how to mete out proper justice and repaying those who have engaged in evil behavior. Paul is a great person to be delivering this message to us from the Lord. After he had been radically saved

Romans 12:18: If Possible, So Far As It Depends On You, Live Peaceably With All.

Romans 12:18 [18] If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (ESV) As believers in Jesus Christ our lives have been invaded by the Prince of Peace. Jesus comes to cleanse us of our sins and grant to us his perfect peace. In His presence we have perfect peace in our hearts. There is just one problem. We are also living in the world. This world is devoid of peace and there is going to be a constant battle to maintain any kind of peace in our darkened world. The only peace that we see in the world is temporary. Nations will make peace agreements. They will be broken. Wherever there are people gathering in any capacity there is likely to be a lack of peace at some level or another. Your work environment likely is lacking in peace. Your family is possibly even lacking in peace. What is the solution? The Scripture would admonish us to do our part. We cannot control how others act. We can control ourselves. If there is going to be a lack of peace in a relatio

Romans 12:17: Repay No One Evil For Evil, But Give Thought To Do What Is Honorable in The Sight Of All

Romans 12:17 [17] Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (ESV) The longer you live in this world the more you are exposed to greater levels of the evils of humankind. Just when you think that man cannot get any more depraved some deviant accepts the challenge that you did not offer. We know that evil exists. What are we to do when that evil hits home and affects us directly? The Christian ideal is one that challenges every sensibility that we have. We are instructed to do the very opposite of every instinct we have. When someone acts in an evil way toward us our natural response is to return the favor. God has a different plan for us. He wants us to show mercy instead of wrath. At first glance this seems like a terrible idea. We could well wonder that God having us respond to evil in such a passive way goes against his nature which is one of justice. In fact, we probably feel like we are helping God out. He does not have to b

Romans 12:16: Live In Harmony With One Another.

Romans 12:16 [16] Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (ESV) It is fascinating to me that the Apostle Paul would have to tell Christians to live in harmony with one another. You would think that simply being a Christian would be enough to help us to live in harmony with one another. However, Paul did not see it that way. Neither does the Lord. Clearly, we need some reminding that harmony is an ideal we should be striving for in the Family of God. I have been in churches where sweet harmony helped people to sense the wonderful presence of God. I have been in churches where people treated one another with such contempt and hatred that you could here the hissing of the Enemy of our souls. We need to make a conscious decision which of the two we are willing to permit in God's Kingdom. It starts with each one making that decision. We are told not to be haughty, but to associate with the lowly. This

Romans 12:15: Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice, Weep With Those Who Weep.

Romans 12:15 [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (ESV) The true believer in Jesus Christ knows what it means to offer sympathy to others. When we think of sympathy it is easy to think of a sympathy card. When someone is going through a difficult time it is a common practice to send a "Hallmark" card to make someone feel that they are not alone and that someone cares for their situation. Our modern understanding of sympathy might be severely lacking. In some ways we want to feel as if we are being sympathetic towards someone, but we do not really want to get tangled up with their problems. It is very easy to send a card. It is quite another matter to have genuine feelings of sorrow for those who are in distress and to truly rejoice with those who are celebrating. Paul demonstrates for us the standard of genuine sympathy for the believer. We weep when others weep. We rejoice when others rejoice. When was the last time that someone's tear

Romans 12:14: Bless Those Who Persecute you; Bless And Do Not Curse Them.

Romans 12:14 [14] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (ESV) This is one of those verses where you might wonder if the Apostle Paul had lost his mind. He was a great thinker. He had studied under the greatest of the Pharisees. He had argued philosophy with some of the greatest of the Greek thinkers. Surely he could not possibly have meant that we are to bless those who persecute us. Could he? This is one of the most fundamental Christian behaviors that we struggle with. When someone does us wrong, our first instinct is to do them wrong. In fact, we probably want to up the game a bit. If they do us wrong, we will do them even more wrong. After all, we not only need to even the score, we need to teach them a lesson as well. Jesus came and showed us a different way. He was falsely accused, falsely persecuted, and falsely executed. What did he do in response? He prayed forgiveness for his accusers. He blessed and did not curse. There was no one who was more

Romans 12:13: Contribute To The Needs Of The Saints And Seek To Show Hospitality.

Romans 12:13 [13] Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV) We are the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. Perhaps you have heard that concept before. We sometimes feel overwhelmed with the task of bringing God's love to a lost world. We wonder how the job will be done? Some of the most powerful ways the message of God's love is delivered to the world is through the genuine, practical ways that we meet the physical needs of others. Paul instructs us to contribute to the needs of the saints. This principle has in mind that we share what we have with one another. The church should always be a place where those who have the greatest need find a home. People who are the "least of these" are representatives of Christ himself. We are to share all that we have so that they have their needs met. We also see a command to "seek to show hospitality." It is interesting that Paul tells us to seek this action. We may or may not

Romans 12:12: Rejoice In Hope, Be Patient In Tribulation, Be Constant In Prayer

Romans 12:12 [12] Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (ESV) It seems that we spend much of our time on trivial things. The Apostle Paul was a man who could not afford to be wasteful with the time that was given to him. As an Apostle to the Gentiles he was caring for churches all over the Roman Empire. God chose a great spokesman to deliver the message of how we should live our lives daily for the Lord. Rejoice in hope. What is your hope that you look forward to? If your hope is found in anything that this world has to offer you are not placing your hope in the right thing. We are to rejoice in the hope of the Lord's appearing. We have given our lives to Jesus Christ. We have gotten a small taste of his wonder and majesty. We place our hope in being with him forever. Patience in tribulation. I do not know about you, but this phrase is difficult for me. I am not a patient person. It is bad enough trying to be patient when life is going well, b

Romans 12:11: Do Not Be Slothful In Zeal, Be Fervent In Spirit, Serve The Lord.

Romans 12:11 [11] Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (ESV) What do you think you will be remembered for when your life is finally over? If you look up the name, Joe Namath, in YouTube, the first listing you will see is of his embarrassing drunken incident on the sidelines of an NFL game. This horrible incident is listed before his Super Bowl victory or videos of other great accomplishments of this NFL Hall of Famer. We tend to focus on things in life that, in the grand scheme of things, just aren't that important. Do you want to know what is most important for you to leave as a remembrance? Only what you have done for Jesus Christ. All that you do in this world will perish. What you do for the King of Kings has lasting value. The following is from a poem by C. T. Studd: "Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life; Only one life, ’twill soo

Romans 12:10: Love One Another With Brotherly Affection. Outdo One Another In Showing Honor.

Romans 12:10 [10] Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV) Have you ever been in a church fight? I know, churches are not supposed to fight. Sadly, there are church fights that happen all the time. What if I told you that there is a kind of church fight that would be great for every church to have? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? I believe that Paul is telling us in this verse of a fight we should have in every church. What kind of fight am I talking about? Outdoing one another in showing honor. Can you imagine a church fight between two deacons going like this: "You're doing a better job of serving the body." "No way, Man. You are clearly doing a better at serving than I am." "No, seriously, you are better." "No, you are better."? Ok, I am being very facetious, but Paul is actually describing for us an attitude whereby we delight in showing honor to one another. It seems that it is so

Romans 12:9: Let Love Be Genuine. Abhor What Is Evil; Hold Fast To What Is Good.

Romans 12:9 [9] Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (ESV) In this next section of Romans 12 Paul is describing what a godly life should look like. One must always read his words of instruction of what a godly life is to be like over and against the standard that the world has. The Christian should always live according to a higher standard than those who are still in bondage to the Enemy. Love is to be genuine. This understanding of love is far more than that which appeals to our senses or emotions. True love puts the needs of others before one's own. Consider how different that understanding of love is compared to what the world offers. The worldly understanding of love is selfish at its core. It only does things for others if there is something given in return. Abhor what is evil. Sadly, while most Christians would tend to agree that this is an ideal that they should hold, their daily practice would imply otherwise. One of the greatest at

Romans 12:8d: The One Who Does Acts Of Mercy, With Cheerfulness.

Romans 12:8 [8] the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV) Have you ever considered that doing acts of mercy is a spiritual gift? We should all be doing acts of mercy towards other, regardless of whether or not it is considered our gifting from the Lord. However, those who do have this spiritual gift are given extra admonition to do so with cheerfulness. There is a reason why the Apostle Paul includes these words. The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the Jewish people. The Pharisees would have instructed the people to give "alms" to the poor and needy. Alms were gifts of food or money given to the poor. When the Pharisees gave alms they did not do so with cheerfulness, but with the intention of being seen by others. God calls us to do acts of mercy. How we do these acts of mercy is just as important as t

Romans 12:8c: The One Who Leads, With Zeal

Romans 12:8 [8] the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV) Today we look at this idea of leadership. Paul says that the one who leads should lead with zeal. Have you ever felt inclined to follow someone who is unsure of where they are going and are not sure what they are going to do whenever they get there? I imagine not. Leadership is the very thing that requires confidence if we plan on having anyone follow us. The word in the New Testament that Paul is using for "leading" is often used in the illustration of  guiding a ship. I want to dwell on that imagery for just a bit. Consider that a leader might be the one at the helm. But there are many other leaders who are with him. Every person on a ship has a part in making the ship get to it's proper destination. If you are the primary leader of anything it is imperative that you consider the

Romans 12:8b: The One Who Contributes, In Generosity

Romans 12:8 [8] the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV) We are going to look at this phrase, "the one who contributes, in generosity." What kind of contribution are we talking about in this verse? Primarily, Paul is referring to a financial or material contribution. In the setting of the body of Christ it would involve sacrificially giving to help meet the needs of another. Do you have the gift of contribution? Do you want that gift? There are some who have achieved much in this life. God has blessed them with a good income. They work hard. They save well. They choose not to waste their money on frivolous things. Paul is saying that it is possible that if you have a good income then you might have a gift of contribution then you should give generously. It seems that in the body of Christ we can err in two ways when it comes to our understan

Romans 12:8a: The One Who Exhorts, In His Exhortation

Romans 12:8 [8] the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV) I would imagine that you have probably used the word, "exhortation," in a sentence recently. Other Bible translations translate this word as "encouragement." I think that encouragement is definitely an exhortation, I believe that to exhort another person can go far beyond just encouraging them. In fact, not everyone may want to be exhorted, but we all need it. Let me explain. The word exhort carries with it the ability to speak into someone's life words that will encourage them when they need encouragement, but also tell them that their life is going in the wrong direction and that they need to make a change. We seem to enjoy being told that we are doing well. I do not know to many who like to hear that they are erring in any way. It takes a special person to be an exhort

Romans 12:7b: If Service, In Our Serving; The One Who Teaches, In His Teaching

Romans 12:7 [7] if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; (ESV) We are in the middle of a list of spiritual gifts that God has given to the church. As you will discover with each one there are some aspects in which the gift that is listed can be a specific minister and position. Additionally, there are aspects in which we all have an element of the gift that is mentioned. For example, lets look at the gift of teaching. There is a gift of teaching that is a position in the church. One who is a Pastor must be one who is able to teach. His role is an equipping role. In order to effectively equip believers the Pastor must teach them. He must have a thorough knowledge of Scripture and have the ability to communicate that truth to people at all levels. There is a gift of teaching that is used by people that does not necessarily warrant a title be given to them. We all teach in one way or another. In fact, the most effective teaching is by modeling. Our life

Romans 12:7a: If Service, In Our Serving; The One Who Teaches, In His Teaching

Romans 12:7 [7] if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; (ESV) Paul continues in this section of his letter to the Romans in describing the gifts that God gives believers in Jesus Christ. Everyone gets a gift. Spiritual gifts are not just for the super spiritual. If everyone in a church was using their gift for the furtherance of God's Kingdom we would be seeing incredible results in our local body as well as in our community. If your gift is service, you should be serving! Have you ever noticed that in most churches the majority of the work is done by a small number of people. Not only is it a small number of people, but it tends to be the same group of small people. Have you ever wondered why that is? There are many reasons to be sure. I want to just look at a couple. One reason that many people choose not to serve is that there are those who are currently serving who make it abundantly clear that they view their area of service as their own per

Romans 12:6: Having Gifts That Differ According To The Grace Given To Us

Romans 12:6 [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; (ESV) Imagine a Christmas morning. The kids have probably started the effort to wake up their parents at around 3 AM. It's now 7 AM. You cannot hold off the kids demands any longer. You gather around the tree and start handing out the gifts. Your ten children are a little bewildered. Every box is the same size. When they open their gifts they discover that they are all exactly the same gift as well. Sounds like a boring Christmas, doesn't it? God is a great gift-giver. He gives different gifts to his children. Paul tells us here that each one in the body has different gifts according to the grace given to us. These are spiritual gifts that Paul is talking about. These are not gifts that are to be put on a shelf when received. Rather, he says, "let us use them." The first of the gifts that Paul is mentioning is the gift of pro

Romans 12:4-5: For As In One Body We Have Many Members

Romans 12:4–5 [4] For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (ESV) We know that it is true that we have many members in our physical body. We know it in theory. We know it to be even more true when just one of those parts of our body decides not to work like it was designed to. If one side of your heart stops working you are going to be in serious trouble. Perhaps a thyroid gland, a kidney, or a kidney? If one of these members stops working we know about it. Every part of our body is important. Paul uses this wonderful illustration to remind us that every part of the body of Christ is important. Think about the woman who is in her senior years in the church. She does not have much money to put into the offering. She cannot sing or preach. What we may not realize is the hours she spends on her knees praying over the needs of the church. Ever

Romans 12:3: I Say To Everyone Among You Not To Think Of Himself More Highly Than He Ought

Romans 12:3 [3] For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (ESV) We have one Bible. We have the revelation of God to man that the Creator wanted us to have. In this wonderful book we come to understand who God is, who we are, and the way for that relationship to be made right through the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. There is certainly far more that could have been included in the Bible, but it was not. Understanding that we are limited in what Scripture tells us should cause us to ask the right questions of the text that is included for us. For instance, when I read this verse, one of the first things that comes to mind is, "Why is Paul saying that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought?" "Do Christians tend to struggle with this problem?" If Paul addresses