Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Strong and The Weak



God Accepts the Strong and the Weak (Romans 14:1-3)
Paul addressed believers conduct in the last chapter.  He specifically referred to the conducts in God's word that are "black and white".  What I mean by this, is that God's word is clear on many activities that a believer should or should not participate in.  Paul used the 10 Commandments as an example; to show believers that if they obeyed them, they would be showing great love.

Chapter 14 takes a different approach.  Paul addresses conducts that are not specifically addressed in God's word.  These conducts are what many believers consider "grey" areas of the faith.  Some of the things in this category may include: smoking, wearing make up, how long a woman's hair should be, whether or not guys and girls should swim together, etc.  Do you get the picture?  These are subjects that are not specifically addressed in God's word.

Paul starts out Romans 14 with a very simple principle:  Accept those weak in the faith and don't pass judgement on their conduct.  Wow!  Now, that is a truth we KNOW that God wants us to grasp.  Paul immediately starts talking about the diets of the strong and weak individuals.  He says in Romans 14:2-3, "One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them." 

It's interesting to me that he uses diet as an example.  Whenever I think about a weak man - I would think that he would be the one who eats anything and everything around him.  But the roles are reversed in Paul's illustration.  He says that the weak man only eats vegetables.  This really resonates with me because on October 4, 2015 I stopped eating sugary treats.  I haven't had them since that date... the reason I haven't had them is because I am weak.  Whenever I eat them, I can't stop eating them.  God asked me to remove them from my diet.  Is this something I read in the Bible?  Thou shalt not eat a Reese's Cup!  Ha!  No, I did NOT read this in the Bible, but I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my spirit, to surrender these things to Him.  In full disclosure, it took months of wrestling with God before I would surrender. 

Now, the point Paul is trying to make here, is that I shouldn't look down upon people who eat Reese Cups.  What God has asked me to surrender, He has not asked my husband to surrender.  So, I cannot stand in judgement on Jeremiah whenever he eats sweets.  It is completely okay for him to do so, because he is strong.  He can eat a candy bar and not have another one for months and months.  This is not an area of weakness for him.

  • When have you been judgmental of another person's conduct that is not clearly forbidden in scripture?

God Makes the Strong and the Weak Stand (Romans 14:4-5)
Verse 4 asks a bold and simple question, "Who are you to judge?"  This is not to say that believers shouldn't hold one another accountable.  This is simply stating that each individual is subject to their own Master.  What God asked me to surrender (through giving up sugary treats), He did not ask my husband to surrender.  I should not, and cannot, stand in judgement on Jeremiah because of a conviction that God impressed upon my life. 

Let me be clear to say... there are many other things (found in God's word) that apply to ALL believers in Jesus Christ.  These things, such as the 10 commandments, are not up for discussion.  God made Himself very clear whenever He said, "Thou shalt not have any other god's before me."  He made that statement for me and my husband; this is not a gray area. 

The key phrase is located at the end of verse 4 where it states, "...servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand."  What a beautiful reminder of how believers are able to stand for truth, resist temptation, overcome adversity, and gain victory in this life.  It is because of our Master that we can stand at all.  Believe me, I do not have an ounce of resistance whenever it comes to Reese Cups.  It still amazes me that I haven't had one since I surrendered.  It is because of Jesus Christ and the power that He provides that I am able to stand at all.  

This brings us to verse 5 where we are clearly shown that men and women (believers in Jesus Christ) should do everything that the Lord convinces them of.  

  • How has God empowered you to stand by your convictions without judgement of others?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Clothed With Christ



God's Servants Lovingly Submit to Established Authority (Romans 3:1-7)
We live in a world with no real sense of right or wrong.  Everyone wants to do what "feels good" and very few people want to submit to authority.  We push our own lifestyle, our own agenda and our own rights.  Paul addresses similar issues with the Romans and there appears to be very little differences between us. The interesting thing about Paul, is that he doesn't leave much room for personal opinion here.  Check out Romans 13:1, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."  

It's hard for some individuals to believe that all authority is established by God.  Many people want to believe that God has abdicated his earthly authority and has left us to our own demise.  Obviously, scripture doesn't support this teaching and if it did, God would have ceased being God and He would no longer be seated on His throne.  But we know that God is seated on His throne and that He is in complete control and establishes authority.  (Romans 13:1)
It is good for us to get used to the idea of earthly authority.  Whenever we can submit to the authority over us, we ready ourselves to submit to God.  God instituted authority for our good (Romans 13:2).  God wants us to uphold the law, not only out of fear of consequence but because we have the right frame of mind. (Romans 13:5).  
  • How could you do a better job of lovingly submitting to your authority?
  • What are some ways you can teach your children that authority is in place for their good?

God's Servants Lovingly Uphold the Law (Romans 3:8-14)
God's wants our only debt in this world to be love. (Romans 13:8) He wants us loving those around us.  This isn't a hold hands and sing around a bonfire kind of love.  This is a love that says: "You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9)  

Paul reminds the Romans that God is returning quickly and that they need to be about the business of living godly lives.  He encourages them to honor God with their entire personality by yielding to God and His law. (Romans 13:13) Not only a yielding to the law, but an entire covering or clothing of Christ Jesus over their lives.  I love the imagery in this verse, Romans 13:14, "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."  What a beautiful picture of what Christ does for the believer.  Whenever Christ covers the believer, the believer takes on Christ's nature and begins acting out of love.

  • Have you come to a point in your life where you have asked Jesus Christ to "clothe you" by becoming Lord of your life?
  • If so, what are some tangible things you can do to continue "clothing yourself" with Christ?

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