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 7”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. In Romans 6 last week, Paul instructed us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. In Romans 7, Paul continues to explain how we are released from the law and bound to Christ:

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

v. 4-6 (NASB)

Paul explains that even though the law aroused sin in us, the law was not bad. It was given for our good.

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

v. 7-12 (NASB)

As Paul explains above, if apart from the law sin is dead, why did God make the law? If we were once alive apart from it, why did we ever need it?

Paul explains the answer in the following verse:

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

v. 13 (NASB)

I believe the purpose of the law was to show us our need for God. The purpose was to reveal how evil sin is so we would choose to follow God to life instead of the devil to death. Before I knew Christ I didn’t see a need for God. I didn’t see or understand the effects of sin. I didn’t know I had an enemy who was deceiving me trying to lead me to his fate. Once God got hold of my heart, and I started reading His Word, my spiritual eyes opened to see sin for what it is. Gaining knowledge of sin drew me closer to God. The knowledge of sin changed my desires to detest evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).

If we detest sin, and no longer desire it, why do we still sin?

Paul ends the chapter explaining why we sin even though we no longer desire it:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

v. 14-25 (NASB)

Paul understood his deep need for Christ. He knew that nothing good was in him. His sinful flesh was a reminder of how helpless he’d be without Christ. Instead of allowing his flesh to have dominion over him, and being depressed by his sin, he rejoiced that Christ set him free.

As Paul explained above, the battle is against our minds. The Bible says to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV).

We can’t turn from sin by just setting our minds not to sin. Believe me I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. We turn from sin, and win the battle Satan wages against our minds, by rejoicing that Christ has set us free from sin. I didn’t understand this when I first started following Christ. I wanted to change and not have sin rule over me, but the more I tried to do good, the worse I became. As I was sitting in a parking lot one day, worn down and depressed that I was not changing, I cried out to God for revelation. A minister was on the radio that moment explaining how we can’t change ourselves. God showed me that instead of putting my faith in Him, and relying on His Spirit to change me, I was relying on my flesh to change me, which was impossible.

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

Galatians 5:4-5 (NIV)

The law shows us how sinful our flesh is, so we can turn to His Spirit to free us from our flesh and transform us. The devil attacks our minds to keep us depressed in our sin and take our attention away from God and the work He wants to do through His Spirit in us. We must remember this whenever we are reminded of our sinful flesh. We can take those depressing thoughts captive and rejoice that He who the Son has set free is free indeed (John 8:36).

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for making a law and revealing how evil sin is so we would see our deep need for You. Fill us with joy in Your Holy Spirit that we have been set free. Sin no longer has a hold over us. When the devil reminds us of our sin, remind us to take captive those thoughts and rejoice that Your Spirit is doing a wonderful work in us. We rejoice in Christ that we are truly free.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 7? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we study Romans 8. Have a blessed week rejoicing that you are free in Christ!

 

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Monday’s Blog: You Can’t Carry People Through Life

I just returned from a short blogging break. I’ve found that it’s necessary at times to stop what I am doing, take a step back, and make sure I am in the right direction doing what God wants me to do. During my time off with the Lord, God led me to read a powerful book titled “Life Resurrected: Extraordinary Miracles Through Ordinary People” by Jesse Birkey from Reflect Ministry.



Here’s  a brief description of the book:

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary miracles if they are willing to be transformed.

Being ordinary completely qualifies you for God’s mighty power. No titles, ministries or name recognition are required. But there is one catch—you must be willing to be transformed. Testimonies are a crucial element of transformation. Testimonies give us the hope we need to continue on. We need to know that God still moves in signs, wonders and miracles. But above all else, we need to understand that God specializes in taking ashes and resurrecting them into beautiful life!

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul …” – Acts 19:11

In Life Resurrected, Jesse Birkey will share some extraordinary miracles performed by ordinary people. He will also take you on his journey of transformation from a life of bondage and slavery to the enemy to a life bursting with miraculous testimonies. While recounting his and others’ encouraging and inspiring testimonies, he provides insight into the ways God wants to operate in and through all of His children.

Start the journey and you too can have your Life Resurrected!

 

God ministered to me in many ways through this book, but I wanted to share one section on Joshua 3:8 that really spoke to my heart.

“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

Joshua 3:8

Jesse wrote:
“As I closed my Bible, I thought about the instructions God gave Joshua. I wondered why God wanted the twelve chosen men to actually stand in the river with the heavy Ark before He would move on their behalf. God began to softly speak to my heart. We often stand on the “bank” looking over at our problems and issues saying, “Alright God, I need you to take care of this mess. I need you to perform this miracle and heal me or deliver me, but I am not going to get my feet wet. I am going to stand here where it’s dry while you do the work. After all, there’s nothing wrong with me. There couldn’t possibly be anything I might need to do before you move on my behalf.”

 

One of the reasons I knew I needed to take a break was that I was starting to get overwhelmed and not feel well. As I spent time with God, asking Him to show me what was wrong, He revealed that I had been taking on people’s problems and trying to fix them myself. Through Jesse’s message, God showed me that I was so desperate to see people’s problems resolved that I was losing hope, and it was making my heart sick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Instead of praying for and encouraging people to seek God with all their hearts, because He has all the answers, I was trying to find the answers for them. But as we see in Joshua 3:8 above, God will perform the miracle, but He requires us to take that step of faith, seek and follow Him, and allow Him to transform us. We can’t carry people through life. We can carry their burdens by helping them and directing them to Jesus, but ultimately they have to take responsibility and seek His will for themselves.

A couple years ago, God used me to help a young woman through a difficult time in her life. As God brought her through that time, and miraculously turned her life around, she no longer needed my help. Soon after, a man who had heard how I helped her, contacted me and requested that I daily feed him God’s Word.  I kindly directed him to the Bible and encouraged him to seek God with all his heart (Jeremiah 29:13). He wanted me to carry him. He didn’t see God as the source of that woman’s miracle. He saw me as the source.

When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?…. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Acts 3:12, 16

As Jesse’s book explains, God uses us ordinary people to do extraordinary miracles through. But we must remember that the people God uses us to help have to eventually get up, walk with Jesus,  get their feet wet, and allow Him to transform them.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

John 5:8

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us everything we need to walk in victory. Transform us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Empower us to do Your Will. Help us to know when we are stepping in front of You trying to fix people’s problems for them. Help us to step back and direct them to You.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

 

*My newest devotional “Armor of Light: A 7 – Week Devotional on Ephesians 6:10-18” will be FREE  (ebook version only) on Amazon from Tues. to Wed. (6/11-6/12).


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