Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 6”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 6. Last week, in chapter 5, Paul talked about a case of incest in the church and how God gave them authority to judge the one caught in sin.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

In chapter 6, Paul continues addressing problems that were not being dealt with and judged by the church. Instead they were taking their cases against one another to the world’s court to be judged by them. They trusted the authority and judgment of unbelievers over believers.

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

v. 1-11 (NASB)

Paul points out the fruit of the unrighteous (those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus) and reminds the church that they have been sanctified in Christ. He’s exhorting them to lay aside their old unrighteous ways and put on their new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

He continues:

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.  Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.

v. 12-14 (NASB)

Paul said that all things were lawful for him because he was not under the law. However, he knew the deception and power of sin and would not allow himself to be a slave to it, as he explained in Romans 6:11-14, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (NIV).

Paul closes exhorting the Corinthians not to offer their bodies to sin, but to Christ as a living sacrifice to God.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

v. 15-20 (NASB)

The Greek word translated above as “immorality” is “porneia,” which means fornication. We are instructed to flee from sexual sin, because it is not something that we can stand up against and resist. Ask any brother or sister who has fallen into sexual sin and they will tell you they never intended to give into the temptation. The amplified Bible says to flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed. They fell into it because they didn’t flee from it. They didn’t flee when the lustful thoughts began (thought). They didn’t flee when the flirting began (word). And they didn’t flee from the act (deed), because by that time the temptation was so strong they didn’t want to flee.

God always provide a way out to flee from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). In sexual sin, He gives us plenty of warnings and chances to flee from it, because He knows how damaging it is to us. Of course, when we do fall and turn to God for help, He can lift us out of any sin and heal and restore us back to holiness.

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James 1:14-15 (NIV)

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:24 (KJV)

 

Heavenly Father,

Praise You that with every temptation You always provide a way out. Help us to take Your way out and flee from sexual immorality in thought, word, and deed. Help us to lay aside deeds of unrighteousness and put on our new selves, created to be like You in righteousness and holiness. We praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 7. Have a blessed week walking with the Lord, taking His way out of temptation.

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 5”

We continue our study of Paul’s letter this week with 1 Corinthians 5. It was reported to Paul that there was sexual immorality, incest, going on in the church and nothing was being done to stop it.

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 v. 1-5 (NASB)

Last week, in 1 Corinthians 4, we read how Paul instructed the Corinthians not to judge: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes” (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, NASB).  In chapter five, Paul tells them he has judged the man who committed incest and he instructs them to do the same.  We know that God’s Word does not contradict itself, so the judging mentioned in these chapters has to be two different types—unrighteous and righteous.

In the last chapter, after Paul told them to judge nothing, he explained that the Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. I believe unrighteous judging is when we judge what we can’t see. Unrighteous judging is when we judge people’s hearts and are critical and condemning. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV).

Righteous judging, as Paul explains in chapter five,  is when we are clearly led by God with the purpose of leading someone out of darkness and into the light. Leading them out of sin and into freedom.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Galatians 6:1 (NIV)

Paul explains in the rest of chapter five why they were to judge the sexually immoral man.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

v. 6-13 (NASB)

Leaven and unleaven figuratively mean “corrupted” and “uncorrupted.” Paul was warning them that if they allow and are proud of sin in the church, it will spread to and corrupt the entire church. A little leaven (corruption) leavens (corrupts) the whole lump of dough. Paul said to “clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.”  We are uncorrupted in Christ. We are a new creation. The old things passed away, and new things have come (2 Cor. 5:17). We must stand guard and not allow the old things (sin) back in.

Jesus gave us clear instruction how to deal with sin in the body of Christ:

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Matthew 18:15-20 (NASB)

Jesus has given us authority to bind (declare to be prohibited and unlawful) sin and loose (break, destroy, annul) its power from spreading and contaminating the body of Christ.

Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.

2 Timothy 2:14-19 (NIV)

In church discipline, once we have followed the steps Jesus’ instructed us to take, when the man or woman repents, Paul instructs us to forgive and reaffirm our love for them.

Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

2 Corinthians 2:6-11 (NASB)

Righteous judging will always be for the good of the one who is being judged, and good for the body of Christ as a whole.

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You are our righteous Judge. Everything You’ve given us and instructed us to do and not to do is for our own good. Help us not to unrighteously judge ourselves and others. Remove the strongholds of sin in our lives. Remove the planks from our eyes so we can see clearly to help and lead others out of sin. Help us to use the authority Jesus’ has given us and bind-prohibit sin, and loose-destroy it’s power from corrupting us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 6.  Have a blessed week with the Lord keeping your hearts guarded against sin!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 4″

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 4. In the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said he had been informed there were quarrels among them about who they belonged to. They said they were either of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or of Christ. In chapter 3, Paul told them that the one who plants or the one who waters is nothing, but it is God who causes the growth.

Paul begins chapter 4 instructing them to regard him and his fellow workers as servants of Christ, trustworthy stewards delivering them the truths from God.

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

Paul gave warning against passing judgment, by giving special honor or being critical to others and ourselves. When we judge others or ourselves, we are making a determination based on our finite thinking, rather than relying on God’s infinite wisdom. Paul didn’t judge himself, because he knew God was more capable to judge him. If Paul had something in him that needed fixing, who would be better qualified to work on him than the One who created him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Look at verse 5 above, where Paul said not to pass judgment before the time, but to wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. Could you imagine the God who created you giving you praise! How incredibly amazing is that! That’s why we shouldn’t judge ourselves by our own wisdom. We couldn’t fathom that we would ever be good enough to receive praises from God.

Paul continues warning them against judging by thinking more highly of themselves or of one minister and teacher over another.

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

v. 6-7 (NASB)  

The Bible says that if anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Galatians 6:3). When we judge based on our own understanding, and compare and measure ourselves against each other, we deceive ourselves and fall into pride.

Paul closes admonishing the Corinthians to repent of their arrogance and pride, and to follow his example in humbly serving Christ.

You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

v. 8-21 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for teaching us through the Apostle Paul’s example to let You be our judge. Your Word is what we measure ourselves and others by, not by our own measurement. If You say we are approved in Christ and will receive praise from You, we joyfully believe and accept that as truth, regardless of our feelings of unworthiness. Help us to lay down our pride and arrogance and humbly follow and faithfully serve You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 5.  Have a blessed week knowing that you have been approved by God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 3″

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 3. In the last two chapters, Paul explains how the wisdom of the world is foolish. At the end of 1 Corinthians 2, he says that the natural (carnal, fleshly, worldly) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 1:14). This week, Paul explains that if we are walking in the flesh, instead of the spirit, we will not be able to understand and receive the things of the spirit.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

v. 1-4 (NASB)

The Bible tells us to walk by the Spirit, and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  An infant believer’s mind is set on the desires of their flesh. A mature believer’s mind is set on the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). I read a wonderful short commentary on what it means to be an infant in Christ. It shows the importance of renewing our minds to be mature followers of Christ. You can follow this link to read this encouraging commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:1 by Andrew Wommack.

Paul continues:

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

v. 5-9 (NASB)

It is okay to thank and acknowledge those who minister to us. But we must remember that it is God who causes the seed they plant or water to grow. We are nothing without God. There were times when God used me to meet a need, and the recipient saw me as the author of the blessing, rather than God.  That’s why I prefer to give in secret, as Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:2-4, so the recipient can give the glory to God instead of me.

Paul continues:

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

v. 10-17 (NASB)

Paul was giving strict warning against wrong teachings. He was warning those who were building up the church to watch the motives of their hearts. Our motives won’t be pure if our hearts are not pure. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and some of the teachers of law for their defiled hearts in Mark 7:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

 “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:8-9, 14-16, 20-23 (NIV)

If we allow our hearts to be hardened by continually feeding our carnal appetites, rather than following the Spirit, we will destroy the temple that God desires to glorify Himself in.

Paul closes the chapter reminding us once again not to depend on the world’s wisdom by walking in the flesh, but to rely on God’s wisdom by walking in the Spirit:

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

v. 18-23 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for residing in us. Remove everything that we have allowed in to defile and harden our hearts. Continually keep our hearts and minds pure so that nothing hinders You from glorifying Yourself in us. We praise You that we have this wonderful treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from You and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7).

In Jesus’ name, we praise You. Amen!

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 4. Have a blessed week walking in the Holy Spirit!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 2”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 2. Paul ended the last letter (1 Corinthians 1) exhorting the Corinthians not to put their faith in the wisdom of man, as the wisdom of the world is foolish. He expressed For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”

In chapter 2, he starts off reaffirming them not to put their faith in the wisdom of man, but on the power of God.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

I went to a friend’s church recently to hear her pastor preach. I had been carrying a lot of burdens and been praying for wisdom. I was hungry for a word from God and was hoping God would answer through this pastor’s message. At the beginning of the service, during the praise and worship, one of the worship leaders started praying. I don’t remember the words he prayed. But I felt the Holy Spirit move through him so powerfully that it instantly lifted all the weight I’d been carrying and answered my prayer.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

When I minister I often pray that God gives me the right words to reach others. But all I need is to allow the Holy Spirit to move through me, not my words, as this worship leader did. When I didn’t know Christ, the most powerful witness came through a woman who spoke not a word to me about God. I was a waitress at the time. Many customers gave me Bible tracts and preached the word to me, but none of them moved me to seek God. This woman was different from the others. She did not preach to me. But she did move me to seek God. I remember she was pleasant to wait on after a long stressful lunch rush. I waited on a lot of nice people, but this woman stood out above anyone else. She had a gentle spirit. I felt something touch me through her presence. She left a tip that was greater than her bill, but it was not the tip that moved me. It was the power of the Holy Spirit in her that touched me.

Paul explains in the rest of the chapter the importance of relying on the power of God’s Spirit and His wisdom versus our own:

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;

but just as it is written,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

v. 6-15 (NASB)

I couldn’t receive God’s Word when it was preached to me because it was spiritual and I was not. It wasn’t until God moved through His Holy Spirit in that woman to draw my heart to Jesus that He was able to reveal Himself to me and give me understanding of His Words.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Matthew 11:25-27 (NIV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for drawing our hearts to Jesus and giving us the mind of Christ to understand Your will and Your Words. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and remove everything that hinders Your power from being seen through us to reach others and to draw their hearts to Jesus. We praise You that You have so much more prepared for us than we can even imagine. Your wisdom is so much greater than our understanding. We Praise You in Jesus’ name, Amen!

 

*We will continue Paul’s letters next week with 1 Corinthians 3. Have a blessed week allowing the Spirit of God to move through you!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 16”

We continue our study of Paul’s letter this week with Romans 16. Paul begins with special greetings for his brothers and sisters in Christ:

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

v. 1-16 (NASB)

Let’s take a closer look at the men and women Paul mentioned above:

Phoebe (mentioned only in this chapter) was a servant of the church and a helper of Paul and many others. The KJV notes at the end the chapter that she sent this letter from Paul to the Romans.

Prisca and her husband, Aquila, were Paul’s fellow workers in Christ who risked their lives to help him. They also worked as tentmakers with Paul and ministered to others in their home (see Acts 18 and 1 Corinthians 16:19)

Epaenetus (mentioned only in this chapter) was the first convert to Christ from Asia.

Mary (not clear if she is the same as any other Mary mentioned in Scripture) labored hard for the church.

Andronicus, Junias, and Herodion (mentioned only in this chapter) were Paul’s kinsmen (not clear if blood related or related through Christ). Andronicus and Junias were notable among the apostles and fellow prisoners with Paul.

Urbanus (mentioned only in this chapter) was a fellow worker in Christ.

Ampliatus and Stachys (mentioned only in this chapter) were beloved (Agapetos: beloved by God) in the Lord.

Apelles (mentioned only in this chapter) was approved in Christ.

Aristobulus’ and Narcissus’ (mentioned only in this chapter) households were in the Lord.

Tryphaena and Tryphosa (mentioned only in this chapter) were workers in the Lord.

Persis (mentioned only in this chapter) was beloved and labored hard in the Lord.

Rufus (not certain if he is the son of Simon who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross in Mark 15:21) was a choice man in the Lord. Paul called Rufus’ mother his mother too. It is not clear if she was his birth mother or mother in the Lord.

Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas (all mentioned only in this chapter).

Though most of these were not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture, we can see in Paul’s greetings that they were all faithful and approved servants of Christ. Paul doesn’t mention them by any titles. He mentions their devotion to Christ. We often think we have to have a title and notable position to be productive in ministry. As a homeschooling mom of four, I struggle with finding time just to write this small post every week (hence the reason it’s often posted late). There are times when I feel my time is wasted with never-ending household chores and schooling. It’s hard to see that what I’m doing at home is just as important. God often reminds me that I’m not just wasting my days away. I am being productive in serving him by raising up my kids to be servants for Christ.

They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.

Isaiah 65:23 (NIV)

After Paul sends his love to the faithful servants, he warns the Romans to be on guard and turn away from those who are unfaithful, who serve their flesh instead of serving Christ.

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

v. 17-20 (NASB)

This is similar to what Paul rebuked the Corinthians for in 2 Cor. 11:3-6:

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.

We are to stand on God’s Word. We aren’t to bear with false teachings just to keep the peace and unity in the church. Of course, this doesn’t mean we turn away from everyone who doesn’t know or understand everything we’ve learned in God’s Word. As we read a couple weeks ago in Romans 14, we are not to critically judge those who are weaker or stronger in faith than us. Prisca and her husband, Aquila, were not critical to Apollos when they heard that he was missing something in his teaching in Acts 18:23-26:

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Paul closes the chapter with some final greetings.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

v. 17-27 (NASB)

Paul was a faithful servant in Christ, who correctly handled the truth. This is why he could confidently, without pride, say “according to my gospel.” Paul’s gospel was God’s gospel.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for Your wisdom. Help us to be faithful and approved servants of Christ. Fill us with Your wisdom. Give us revelation of Your truth so we can turn away from deception and false teachings, and effectively share Your truth and carry out Your will.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

2 Timothy 2:15-19 (NIV)

*This series will continue next week with 1 Corinthians 1.

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 15”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters today with Romans 15. Last week, in Romans 14, Paul warned the Gentiles not to judge their Jewish brothers who were weaker in faith. He starts chapter 15 instructing them to accept and build up those who are weak.

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

v. 1-6 (NASB)

I love how Paul says that God gives us perseverance and encouragement and that He will grant us to be of the same mind with one another. God doesn’t ask us to give anything that He hasn’t first given to us. He wouldn’t ask us to persevere without giving us perseverance. He wouldn’t ask to love and encourage others without loving and encouraging us. And He wouldn’t ask us to accept one another without first accepting us, as Paul writes in the next verse.

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

v. 7 (NASB)

We need to believe and receive what God’s given us so we can have the power to do all that He’s asked us to do.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

v. 13 (NASB)

Paul knew the power that he had in him. He knew everything he had was from God, and not from himself.

And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

v. 14-19 (NASB)

Paul said he would not presume to speak anything except what Christ accomplished through him. By allowing God to fully work in him, he was able to turn the Gentiles in obedience to God. He didn’t just preach to them. They were able to see the power of God working through him (in signs and wonders) as proof that what he taught was true.  We can learn through his example that to fully preach the gospel as he did, we have to allow God full access to work in us. We must be full of the Holy Spirit and not full of ourselves to fully reach others.

And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; but as it is written,
“THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE,
AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND.”

For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you; but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you whenever I go to Spain—for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while—but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

v. 20-33 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You give us everything we need to do everything You call us to do. We humble ourselves before You, and ask You to completely immerse us in Your Holy Spirit. Let Your glory work and reign through us, so the power of Your Holy Spirit can be clearly seen in us as a testimony to others.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 16.  Have a blessed week being filled with the Holy Spirit!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 14”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with Romans 14. Paul begins encouraging the Gentiles not to judge their Jewish brothers who were weak in faith and still kept the Jewish laws regarding eating certain foods and observing special days.

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

v. 1-4 (NASB)

It’s like when a new believer comes to know Christ, they don’t instantly change all their old ways. Romans 1:17 says, For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (KJV).” We grow in Christ as our faith grows in Him.

Paul continues to explain:

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

v. 5-12 (NASB)

We may not think this applies to us because Paul is talking about the Jewish law and traditions, but I believe the overall message is still the same today. We aren’t to despise our brothers and sisters who are weaker or stronger in faith by judging them based on what they do or do not do. For example, God reminded me recently not to critically judge when I pointed out to my husband how inappropriate a Christian woman on television dressed. God humbled me when my husband replied, “She dresses how you used to dress.” The longer I’ve been walking with Christ, the more I tend to forget how I used to be and how much God has changed me. When I was weaker in faith, I didn’t need someone criticizing me and looking down on me because of the way I dressed. I needed to know who I was in Christ. I needed to know I was righteous in Him. As I learned who I was in Christ, my faith grew and my actions began to change because of His Holy Spirit working in me, not because of someone criticizing me.

Paul continues to explain that when we critically judge one another we put a stumbling block in their way and actually make it harder for them to grow.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

v. 13-23 (NASB)

We are to pursue the things which make for peace and help each other grow in the Lord, not seek to tear one another down and hinder each other from growing in Him.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for transforming us from glory to glory, from faith to faith. Let us pursue righteousness, peace and joy in Your Holy Spirit, and seek to build our brothers and sisters up instead of tearing them down and hindering them from being transformed into Your image. This coming New Year, may we all experience the liberty that Jesus’ died to give us.

In His precious name we pray, Amen!

but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NASB)

 

*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 15.  Have a blessed New Year being transformed into the image of Christ!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 13”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with Romans 13. Paul begins instructing us to submit to authorities by doing what is right.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

v. 1-7 (NASB)

Submitting to governing authorities does not mean we are to obey their commands over God’s. As a wife, I am instructed to submit to my husband, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). If my husband tells me to do something in opposition to God’s will, I am to obey God over him. I submit not doing something ungodly to my husband in return, like cursing him. If those governing us are ungodly we learned last week in Romans 12 how to reply in love. We bless (speak well of) them and allow God to be our vindicator.

Next, Paul instructs us to love one another. As we see below, love does no harm.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

v. 8-10 (NASB)

We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to think of what we do to others as we are doing it to ourselves. When we hurt others we are hurting ourselves.

At the end of the chapter, Paul reminds us of Christ’s return and instructs us to lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

v. 11-14 (NASB)

“Put on” means that we have to take action and arm ourselves with the armor He’s given us. Colossians 3:12-13 says, So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” God has given us everything we need to walk in love, because He has given us His perfect love, which never fails. As we celebrate Christmas this week, we not only celebrate the birth of our Savior, but God’s great and infinite love for us.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for Your unconditional love for us. Fill us with the knowledge of Your love so that we can put on love and do what is right. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to reveal Your love to us. This Christmas, reveal that love to those who don’t know Jesus. It is not Your will for any to perish, and be apart from You, but for all to come to repentance and receive Your love through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9).

In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen!

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Matthew 24:42-44 (NASB)

*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 14.  Have a blessed Christmas celebrating God’s love in Jesus!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 12”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with Romans 12. In the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul talked about salvation and being reconciled to God through faith in Christ, not by works of the law. In Romans 12, Paul instructs all who put their faith in Christ to live a life surrendered to Christ.

Paul begins exhorting us to:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

v. 1 (NASB)

We have been bought at a price. We are not our own. We are God’s. We worship and honor Him by committing all that we have to Him.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

1 Corinthians 7:22-23 (NASB)

Paul continues instructing us to:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

v. 2 (NASB)

I often pray and ask God to show me His will for me. I always think that I have to be doing something that has an eternal impact on someone else’s life in order to be doing His will.  But God repeatedly reminds me that His will is to transform me into His holiness. I often forget that He has to work in me in order to work through me.

As we conform to God’s will, instead of the world’s, He can work through us to minister to others. When we use the gifts God’s given us to minister to others, Paul explains that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Our gifts differ from one another. But all gifts are equally important because they have been given to us by God to accomplish His purposes.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

v. 3-8 (NASB)

In the rest of the chapter, verses 9-21, Paul instructs us how to faithfully serve God. I found it helpful to break down these instructions and study them one verse at a time.

Paul instructs us:

  • Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. v. 9

First Timothy 1:5 says that our purpose is to love. And love (God’s love) springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience and sincere (non-hypocritical) faith. Our actions show our faith. If our faith is in God, we will hate evil and turn from it, and we will love Christ and cling to what is good. If we still love and cling to the things of the world, we are not fully trusting and putting our faith in Christ.

  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; v.10

We should show special affection and honor to our brothers and sisters in Christ because they have been adopted into the same family of God as we have been.

  • not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; v.11

The original Greek word translated here as “serving” is douleuó, which means: “slave” to the Lord. We must not look at the word “slave” in the Bible as we know it today. The world dictionary defines slave as a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” God’s definition is not the same. God did not purchase us back to force us to obey Him. He rescued us because He loves us. Even though we are His, He hasn’t taken away our free will. We still have a choice to serve Him. My husband prayed recently, “God, take my free will. I just want Your will.” God’s great love for us makes us willingly surrender all that we have to Him. Knowledge of His love keeps that fire burning in our spirit and helps us diligently serve Him. 

  • rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, v. 12

Nehemiah said, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Staying connected to God, looking to Him with great expectation, knowing that He causes all things to work together for our good, gives us joy and strength to persevere in hardships.

  • contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. v. 13

I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 8, where the Macedonian churches gave generously to the needs of the Lord’s people. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” Notice that they gave themselves FIRST to the Lord, and then God moved in them to give themselves to Paul and his fellow laborers.

  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. v.14

“Bless” here means to speak well of. The Bible says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech” (1 Peter 3:10, NIV). Jesus instructed us to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44, KJV).  Jesus blessed His enemies as He asked God to forgive those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34). Stephen blessed his enemies as he cried out to God while being stoned: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60). David blessed his enemy, Saul, by refusing to lay a hand on him (1 Samuel 24:6-7). Paul blessed all who deserted him at his first trial. When no one stood by him, He prayed, “May it not be held against them” (2 Timothy 4:16). We bless those who come against us because Jesus said, “they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

  •  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. v. 15

Thinking of others, and putting ourselves in their shoes, will help us relate to what they are going through so we can sincerely weep with them in their trials and rejoice with them in their blessings.

  • Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. v. 16

First Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” We are all the same in God’s eyes. None of us is greater or less than anyone else. We are unwise to compare ourselves to others and use ourselves as the standard of measurement (2 Corinthians 10:12).

  • Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. v. 17

We are instructed in 1 Peter 3:9 not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult. We are instructed, on the contrary, to repay evil with blessing so that we may inherit a blessing.

  • If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. v. 18

We can do our best to live at peace with others by trusting God to care of the wrongs done to us. We need to remember that our struggles are not against people (Ephesians 6:12). It helps me keep peace by remembering that Satan uses other people’s weaknesses to attack my weaknesses. If we know Satan uses others to provoke us, it will help us not retaliate when they treat us wrong.

  • Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. v. 19

Don’t step in front of God and tell Him “I got this. I can handle it on my own.” Let God be your vindicator. He will repay.

  • But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” v. 20

We had a neighbor once that treated us poorly. No matter what she did to us, my husband and I refused to treat her poorly in return. Instead, we blessed her by helping her with things she needed done. By doing so, it convicted her and eventually changed her heart toward us.

  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. v. 21

There may be a lot of evil in this world, but we can overcome it with good, because He who is in us is so much greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for these powerful truths in Your Word to encourage and help us live a life surrendered to You. Help us apply these truths every day with the help of Your Holy Spirit in us.  Help us not to be wise in our eyes, but to fear You and depart from evil. For it shall be health to our body and nourishment to our bones (Proverbs 3:7-8).

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 12? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 13.  Have a blessed week faithfully serving the Lord!

 

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