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October 2016
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Scripture quoted From The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Evaluation of Romans Devotional

This is an overdue post.

The Romans Devotional series was created to support and supplement our church wide Coordinated Curriculum on Romans.  Devotionals were written by a variety of people: pastoral staff, elders, deacons, missionaries, ABF teachers and members.

We have completed our study of Romans (September 2007-August 2008)–more still could be learned and much more should be applied, but for now we move on.

So, a question to those of you that subscribed to Calvary’s Devotional series.

  • Was the devotional series helpful, beneficial and enjoyable?
  • Was the general frequency (2-3 times a week) an appropriate amount?
  • Should Calvary consider maintaining an active devotional site?
  • Was having a variety of people writing, positive or would you suggest a small group of writers? Who would you like to hear from?
  • Would including updates on church ministries be helpful?

Your input is valuable!
Send your thoughts.www.stevekilgore.com

In the meantime for those that might be interested, a couple personal notes.

The Romans Curriculum–teacher’s notes and PowerPoints (material that most at Calvary have not seen), student handouts, personal Bible study sheets and audio files of each lesson for the series will be made available for continued use but moved from Calvary’s website to my personal site over the next few weeks (as I have time).  There you can also find my own “devotional” site–where I reflect on passages I’m teaching, interact with theological issues, share things I’m learning and a few other diverse and varied posts.

You can participate.  Post comments and questions at the end of each post.

Pastor Steve Kilgore

Missionary Miseries, Their Causes And Cures

Romans 15:23-33 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (ESV)

Some years ago, a missionary was leaving to return to his field after spending some months housed in a church provided apartment.  The church was explicit that they wanted to serve its missionaries by providing clean comfortable housing while the missionary family was at home on furlough.  On the day after the missionary left for the field, I stopped by to encourage some ladies who were cleaning the apartment, preparing it for the next incoming family.  It must have been the heat or a cloudy day because the cleaning ladies, instead of laughing and feeling good about the terrific service they were providing, were grumping that they were having to clean up after someone else.  I looked rather critically at the apartment and I, albeit looking through a man’s eyes, did not see any unexpected dirtiness.  Some dust behind the fridge and under the couch and perhaps some smeary windows.  We had clearly told the family that we should do what we could, while they should focus on their return to ministry on the field, a job we could not do.  I felt sad that we could not provide our services cheerfully, realizing that these judgmental ladies had an unwritten expectation for the missionary Mom of superhuman achievement.  What they said and what they felt were two different things.

If the missionary wife had known of the criticism she received, she would have been crushed, even completely defeated.  One more pressure on her already bent back!  In closing chapter 15 of Romans, Paul reminds his Roman friends of his desire to come visit them, but also of his pressing personal necessity of taking the Macedonian love gift back to the suffering Jerusalem mother church in their famine.  As he outlines his plan and reasons for delay, he allows us to see some of the burdens on his heart that are typical of any missionary serving in a remote place in any age.

Despite his glorying in all that Christ had done through him, Paul also had had some severe pressure and disappointments along the way.  He had endured resistance from sinners which had imperiled him.

Barriers, resistance and heartbreak all constantly destroy a worker’s spirit.  All through Acts, Paul encounters resistance form hostile unbelievers, and the situation is no different today.  He wrote of numerous confrontations in his classic list in 2 Corinthians 11. In our day the situation remains unchanged.  Missionaries face resistance, political unrest and danger, unsanitary water and health conditions, wretched climates, not to mention the constant distress of being so far away from loved ones and friends.  They would love to hear the sermon we criticize.  The very ministry they are called to do is in itself debilitating.

Even more damaging is the rejection of the saints which impedes the work.  Not only did the unbelieving Jews hate Paul, but even many Christian Jews regarded him as false to the national heritage, especially regarding the Law.  Rejected by his own brethren.  There was a danger that the very gift he brought might not be well received in Jerusalem, being seen as a bribe.  I can hardly count the times when Eunice and I have seen national churches turn on the very missionary which brought them the gospel, injuring the missionary to the core of his heart.  We ourselves have suffered at the hand of other Christians.  And so Paul lets us see that God does not choose to keep him out of danger and discouragement, but to keep him through them.

These problems are not insurmountable.  Paul, the missionary pastor, felt the pressures of the attacks for sure, but he also tells us of the powers that would release him as well.  Surely his first spiritual defense is his submissive obedient life attitude, a conviction which ultimately led him to his death.  Further, he sees prayer as work.  Ian Hay of SIM often says that prayer is not for the work or even part of it; prayer is the work!  The Greek word he uses has the idea of striving together in agony as a team.  And he beseeches them, implores, enlists that they please please pray with him!  He is a desperate man in a hard corner.  He is in a pit with a lion on a snowy day.  He is motivated solely by his relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love that the Holy Spirit gives us for each other.

In the end, he longs for a job well completed and received with blessing by all concerned, especially God.  In our day our American church has become very politicized, buying into the lie that ours is the most important country on the globe and that we can change it through political effort and reform.  Such is not the case.  Our world is universally loved by our God and by our Lord Jesus who died for all people – pagans, Muslims, homosexuals, democrats, liberals, unpopular brothers-in-law, even North Carolinians of German decent (like me)!  Our missionaries are out there in the middle of the hottest spots with the most danger, struggling with the darkest enemies and a resistant audience.  The plea is for us to struggle with them in prayer, equally as submissive in service to Christ as are they.  How seriously do we hear and receive their pleas to pray?  Prayer is their work!

Bill Schmidt (Calvary Missionary)

Keeping The Main Thing, The Main Thing!

Romans 15:17-22 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” 22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. (ESV) 

After numerous whirlwind visits to London, Eunice and I were beginning to actually know our way around.  We love that city and love to talk about it.  After our first several visits, including an extended one celebrating a major wedding anniversary, we were chatting (OK, bragging!) about our pleasure in the city, when we were asked how we liked Windsor Castle.  “Well actually, we have never been to Windsor Castle,” we replied.  “What?  Never been to Windsor?  That’s the best place in all England.  It is England!”  Frommer’s Tour Book agrees, stating that Windsor is the number one tourist destination in all of England.  Yet we never bothered to go!  Hmmm!  We’d managed to miss the main event!

Just as it is possible to visit a glorious city and miss the main attraction, it is possible to attempt to serve Jesus Christ and in all the good, miss the main thing. The older brother of the prodigal illustrates that. Revealing to us his passion for serving Christ, Paul exults in his pastoral duties and his objective of presenting lots of saved Gentiles as a holy gift to God.  Having touched on this he underscores what is to him as a servant the main thing, being used of God to bring Gentiles into the family of the God of Israel.  He didn’t wish to waste time speaking of anything else.  He holds to THE CORRECT FOCUS as he states in vss. 17-19a.

His focus is on the right person, Jesus Christ.  “I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.”  Missions to Paul (and to us) was not ministering to needs, as is often taught, but was ministry to Christ, or as he said in chapter 12, “our reasonable service.”  It is all abut Him!  Relationship.  Further, the right process is in view as well.  Not how successful a man can be, but what Christ can do through a yielded life.  We just obey and become available to him, and he is the one doing the work.  Finally, he focused on the right power, “through the power of the Spirit!”  Not seminars, strategies, and theory, but yielded dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Dr Harvey Conn, my friend and Professor at Westminster Seminary during my Doctoral study used to teasingly quip to us, “Now don’t forget to pray!”  A long time church planting missionary in Korea, he knew it was possible to do lots of flesh work and totally exclude dependence on the Holy Spirit. 

Once locked onto the correct focus of knowing that any eternal work has to be all God, Paul lets us see THE CORRESPONDING FEATS of his ministry to Christ in vss 19b-21.  Primarily, he wanted to proclaim the gospel.  “I have proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” 19b  In the appeal of urging people to use their gifts in ministry, there is a danger today of forgetting the primacy of the gospel. Reading, hospitals, schools and the like are all critically important, but not one of them ever got a person into heaven!  Only knowing and believing on the Lord Jesus as savior can do that, and we dare not forget the main thing.  How can they hear without a preacher?

And if Christ calls us to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, why not pioneer the gospel while we are at it?  The old preacher’s passion was to take the gospel to places where people would otherwise never hear it, “where Christ was not known.”  There was spunk in the old fella!  No wheel spinning for him!  I’ll build on no one else’s foundation.  That pioneering spirit could take him to the center of a major city or the outcroppings of an uncharted bush country, but it had to be something courageous, something new and something exciting.  And so he goes from Jerusalem to Illyricum, a place whose identity and location are still uncertain.  Imagine, the fearless pastor goes off to a place we still can’t identify for certain, even today.  This great gifted preacher was off to the boonies! Are you and I afraid to tackle a ministry outside our comfort zone?  When did we last tackle Illyricum?

Paul prioritized the gospel.  Visiting Rome and the company of believers there was a priority and passion of Paul’s heart.  “I’ve got to get there!” But as much as he wanted to visit the brethren there, he wanted more to have “those who were not told of him” to “see.”  The message had to be “fully proclaimed.”

Over our ministry years, we have heard missions touted as the best way to “grow your church”, the best way to “have a wealthy church”, not to mention a “healthy church”.  We don’t ever want to “do missions” for those reasons!  Noble though they may be.  We want always to be a missionary family because taking Christ’s gospel to the world is the heart and passion of God, the Apostle and all of God’s servants.  We want always to keep the main thing, the main thing!  Where is our Illyricum?

Bill Schmidt (Calvary Missionary)

Harmony of Pulpit & PEW

Romans 15:14-16 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (ESV) 

A new word has entered the vocabulary of pastoral ministry, never heard in earlier days-“Fired!”  Of course, I only can speak from my own life experience, but somehow it seems that there is a lot of bad ecclesiastical blood in Evangelical churches these days.  Everyone seems unsurprised when churches and pastors don’t get along, or that pastors stay only long enough to preach through a year’s repertoire of messages and then feel “led of God” to move on.  There must be secrets for long harmonious and fruitful ministries.  What are they, and where do you and I fit into them? And you?

Aside from being a missionary Apostle, Paul often lets us glimpse so deeply into his soul as to see that at heart he is a pastor.  Often, when he has had to confront his spiritual children, he simultaneously weeps over them, tenderly caressing them in love.  It is complex.  In addition to doing so in his Corinthian letters, he does so here in Romans. One might assume that having so sternly corrected the Roman Christians for their legalism and intolerance of each other’s individuality, his pulse might be pounding and his face red.  Instead, he lavishes love on them revealing affection and trust, and divulges secrets for having melodious ministry.

I. A Pastor Has Confidence In His People  Romans 15:14 
It is quite a compliment he lavishes on his readers.  Is he just flattering them or using tact?  Surely it can’t be true of them all!  Isn’t there a rascal in the lot?  None were named Schmidt, for sure!  Using a word Jesus used describing the blessings of giving in Luke 6:38, Paul tells the Romans they are just “crammed full of goodness,” goodness being a fruit of the Spirit, no less!  While the tense context tells us these are surely not perfect people, they are still good people, growing daily in what is truly Godlike in spiritual character.  So here the pastor reminds his flock sincerely of his joy in their progress.  “I’m proud of you!”

Beyond their storehouse of goodness, he affirms that they are “complete in knowledge.” Not having all there is to know, he affirms their having received sufficient practical instruction in the Word that they could live out any issue God demanded of them.  Are you and I able to satisfactorily live out the testings God entrusts to us? Can our pastor be proud of us?

Finally, he tells them they are “competent to instruct one another.”  Aware of what they have been taught and know, now he reminds them of his confidence that they are good enough to live out Biblical truth and even lovingly teach or confront each other with it.  To whom much is given, much is required.

II.  A Pastor Has A Calling To His People Romans 15:15-16 
A sovereign divine calling to ministry (not emotional volunteering) gave the Apostle the authority for his ministry enabling him to speak boldly to them.  His boldness did not come from the latest ministerial self-help book.  While Paul’s personality was strong, that wasn’t the source either.  Pastoral authority was not in the man, but in the enabling grace of God – an unmerited anointing from God himself!  When Paul spoke or wrote tough words, it was not the old grizzly preacher, but God’s way of contacting and growing his people.  Perhaps we’d best remember this when after some demanding teaching, we are tempted to have a round of roasted Reverend!

Some exact activities of Paul’s pastoring are alluded to here.  He is called to a specific people – Gentiles.  The ministry is by no means his for personal kingdom building, it is Christ’s work alone!  His is a ministry of priestly servitude, even the “liturgy” of proclaiming all the gospel.  And the goal of it all is clear in that he wants to have an acceptable offering prepared for his heavenly father.

It becomes pretty clear that when the pastor and people see a church’s ministry as in no way personally aggrandizing, but all of God, all from God, all to God, all for God, that discord becomes a complex harmony.  ALL GOD!  ALL JESUS!  PERIOD!  Not much room for my ego, is there?   And yours?

Bill Schmidt (Calvary Missionary)

The Standard For Christian Tolerance

Romans 15:7-13 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, cialis pills for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (ESV)    

Every now and then you are required to be a part of a gathering where you are uncomfortable.  I know I am.  Whether it is attending a wedding with an open bar or raucous dancing, representing my church at a civic affair, or just sitting at a large banquet with people I’ve never met, I feel ill at ease.  It isn’t so much that we fear becoming tainted; we just don’t quite know how to respond, or what this unfamiliar agenda might be expecting of us.  We’d prefer to be among our own folks, doing familiar things, unchallenged by change.  But the Christian life often places us outside our comfort zone.

God seems to have a way of introducing us to new things – new people, new music, new methods, new movements!  Why can’t things just continue on as they have from the first?  Comfortable is good!  The Bible tells us that God, in his wise and inclusive way, provided through grace a salvation that would not only save his ancient people Israel, but at the same time save Gentiles as well!  Oil and water!  The resulting mélange of methods and morals presented real tensions to the church.  Jews would irritate the believing Gentiles with their love of the old legal ways, while redeemed Gentiles would irritate believing Jews with their seeming behavioral irreverence.  And each was convinced of being right!

Romans 14 & 15 make it clear that there is indeed liberty in Christ.  Further, God wasn’t impressed with either side’s unyielding behavior.  He required they have a biblically pure heart unto him:

1. Each side of the controversy was to live to please the other in Christ  15:1-6
2. Each side was to live in Christ to accept the other, different as they were 15:7  WOW!

Then Paul digs back in his mental files of scriptures to show how God has illustrated what he wishes  from us as we minister his work in Christ Jesus.

I. There is A Mandate We Are To Obey Romans 15:7a
Not much left to the imagination here, giving us an unbending imperative command with no uncertainty.  “Just do it!”  “Be habitually receiving of one another as a life style.”  Don’t whine about it, Do it!  It isn’t important whether you eat pork or just potatoes, welcome and love on the other guy.  RECIPROCATE with tolerance of convictions on nonspecific issues!

II. There is A Model To Observe  Romans 15:7b
We are to receive each other in matters of dispute, in the very way Christ receives us!  OUCH!!  Jesus receives us in the spirit of Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.”  How well do we practice Jesus’ pattern?

III. There is A Mind We Are To Acquire Romans15:8-12
We are to become a servant and behave like a servant, just as Jesus, the model servant, carried God’s grace to the Jews, and Gentiles as well.  As when Jesus became a servant of God, he received those who were different, if a Christian acquires Christ’s servant heart, we too must receive those who, in Christ, are different.  So much for bad mouthing brother so and so’s casual Sunday morning attire.  He answers to God, just as I must.

IV.Then A Miracle Will Abound  Romans 15:13
Joy and Peace will prevail in the debate of practices and liberties even if we don’t get our way.  It is certain however, that there will be no joy or peace if a church is filled with weak Christians who always must get their way.

Once on a pastoral visit, Eunice and I were called to the dinner table to dine with the family.  Everyone arrived at pretty much the same time except for one child 3 years of age.  That child had some important playing yet to do and so everyone else sat tensely for many minutes while the least mature member of the family had his selfish way.  The unspoken stress was palpable.  I confess the palm of my hand itched.  As when this family was dominated by the immature will of the baby, a body of Christians dominated by the caprices of the immature will create a similar stressed spirit.  In what ways is god pressuring you and me to either accept another or yield something?  It’s no fun, is it!

Bill Schmidt (Calvary Missionary)

The Way these Young Folks Do Things. Honestly!

Romans 15:1-7 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (ESV)

It was the end of a beastly summer in 1965, when Eunice and I backed our U-Haul trailer up to the old church to unpack my forty cartons of books. Nervously, I anticipated years of joyful ministry with the teens of the old “Calvary Independent Church.” My head was filled with visions of mentoring, merriment and munchies with the rascal darlings of the Junior High and Senior High Departments. Little did I know that “Garden Spot” weather was not the only hot item in the county.

Hardly did I have the books out of the box, when I became the target of repeater attacks from the kids. That summer already had great political and moral controversy characterizing our nation as we were dealing with the morality of racial injustice, the Viet Nam war, and unprecedented political unrest in every corner. I didn’t imagine that a tense and tremulous issue awaited me in Rudisill Hall. That summer, the movie “Sound of Music” had just been released and was being heavily advertised in newspapers and on TV. And every one of Calvary’s kids not only wanted to go see it immediately, but was at open war with parents and family elders as to whether they could. And more to the point they cried out, “Why Not?!?” And thus the question, “Pastor Schmidt, do you think it is OK for me to go see the “Sound of Music?” Not from just one teen, but from every one of them! Talk about being Daniel in the Lions’ Den!

The issues of 1965 were not new to the Christian experience. Differences of conviction on non-biblical issues have pestered the church’s peace and conscience since the first century. In Paul’s day many new believers in Jesus were Jews of very law oriented backgrounds. They had had laws to obey, diets to follow, and days to habitually observe since childhood. Suddenly, these issues were mute. And these traditional things were hard to give up, uncomfortable to abandon. Rituals had become the fence posts of life, defining and shaping rites and habits of daily religious routines. Life just isn’t holy and godly without them.

In Romans 14 and 15, Paul is discussing how this myriad of convictions are influenced by the Gospel of Grace. If righteous works have no bearing on our justification and sanctification, then just how does grace impact our observance of conflicting convictions? Eating meats? Observing special Holy days? Use of leavened breads? Not to mention issues of music, entertainment, dress and diet.

Paul teaches that the Christian’s style is to be selfless and sacrificial, setting up Jesus as the ultimate illustration of the Divine standard of (the strong) caring for others (weak) in controversy. He also implores that those with the most sensitive or restrictive convictions (weak) have no right to sit in judgment on those who do not (strong). Peace and unity are divinely desirable qualities to pursue.

And so the “strong” are those who have the deepest understanding of the liberties of grace. The “weak” are those who have an imperfect limited understanding of unmerited favor. All of this begs us to think about these questions:

  • Is it wrong to be strong? Why?
  • Is it chique to be weak? Why or why not?
  • What was the right thing for me to tell my teens in 1965?
  • What church related issues does this passage touch in our Christian Life today?
  • How many times have you now seen “Sound of Music?” What changed?

Bill Schmidt (Calvary Missionary)

When Convictions Differ


We, as Christians, like to think that our personal convictions are based upon the Scripture when, in actuality, they may be based more on parental persuasion, personal tastes, or prejudice. A conviction is more than an opinion. It is a strong belief that determines one’s behavior.

In Romans 14 there were those who strongly opposed eating meat (14:2) and others were convinced that certain days should be considered holy. (14:5) These two issues remain points of contention even today among churches and individual believers. Romans 14 teaches us that: 1. We all should have some definite convictions. Paul did. He said, "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus Christ that nothing is unclean in itself". (14:14)

2. We should base our convictions on the Word of God. Paul was persuaded in the Lord Jesus Christ and he says, "Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin". (14:23)

3. We should not force our convictions on others. (14:3) "Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats for God has accepted him." The inference is … so you accept him, too. Concerning holy days, verse 5 says, "let each one be convinced in his own mind.

Paul gives four reasons why we should not push our personal convictions on others: Because we may begin to play God (14:4,12,13), because convictions vary too much between individuals (14:2,5), because we may offend people (14:15,20), and because our convictions change as we mature spiritually (14:1, 14).

Paul concludes that our ultimate conviction should be to keep unity and peace. (14:17) "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Verse 19 "So let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual up building. Verse 20 "Do not for the sake of food destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats." Verse 22, "That faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.

Sometimes our personal convictions are best kept between God and us especially if sharing them would cause a weaker brother to stumble or cause disunity in the body of Christ.

Jere H. Brubaker (Elder, ABF Teacher)

The Joy of our Faith

Romans 14:13-19 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (ESV)

In Romans 14:13-19 the apostle Paul openly commands us not to judge and look down on others people (vs. 13). He says at the end of verse 13, instead, be focused on improving your own Christian life and walk with your Lord so that you won’t be a stumbling block or obstacle to others around you. In simple terms that means we should make every effort in our Christian walk to live a Godly life before our fellow man at all times.

Paul continues on in verses 14 and 15 as he addresses the issue of eating certain foods and observing certain days of the week. Obviously the culture and rules of his time restricted certain religious groups from eating specific foods on specific days as a rule or law of their faith. This still stands true today with some religious groups such as the Jewish and Catholic faiths.

Paul admonishes the people he is addressing that simple issues of food should by no means cause separation or lack of love for your brother and sisters in Christ. Paul says in vs.16, “do not allow what you consider good to be spoken in evil.” In other words Paul is saying don’t let small issues drive a wedge between God’s people and then have them resort to evil words that will cause division in God’s family.

I think that vs. 17 is the key verse in 14: 13- 19. Paul clearly tells us that the true understanding and full Christian experience is not about legalistic issues (the do’s and don’ts of life) but it’s about living a Godly righteous life of peace and joy through the experience of the Holy Spirit.

Key Thoughts:

The Gospel clearly tells us that joy in the Lord is linked with our obedience to God. It is not that His love is conditioned on our obedience. That would truly be legalism. But rather our experience of His love is dependent upon our obedience. Jesus said in John 15:10-11 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

An example I think would be when King David fell out of fellowship with God when he committed the awful sins of adultery and murder, he lost his sense of Gods joy because he lost his fellowship with God. After that David prayed to God to “restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Palms 51:12). It is true that a life of disobedience to God can not be a life of joy.

So often we see today in our current world around us so many people searching for joy and happiness and not finding it in the things of the world (money, power, material things, fame) if only they would open their hearts and minds to the Lord they could find the true joy God intended them to have .

In Matthew 25:21- 23 the Lord said to the two servants who used their talents wisely, “well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord. One of the many wonderful promises God has given us as Christians is the possibilities of walking in joy through our lives by being free from sin because of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf.

May we look forward to the day when we meet Him in Glory and experience the ultimate joy of His presence.

Jim Nearhoof (Deacon)

Romans 13:11-14

Romans 13:11-14 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV)

Introduction:  Paul uses the imagery of putting something off and putting something else on in this passage.  Can you think through some illustrations from everyday life that help us to picture this idea more fully?  Here are a few examples to get you started .

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. . Taking off dirty clothes and putting on clean ones.  Cleaning out a dirty dish and then filling it with fresh food.

Read Romans 13:11-14 – Get a feel for the overall idea of this passage.  You may need to look back and look ahead in order to remind yourself of the context.

Here are some questions to help you dig into this passage a bit more . . .

  • What does it mean that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed? (v. 11)
  • Are there any specific works of darkness that you need to work hard to put off?  (v. 12) 
  • What does it look like to "put on" the Lord Jesus Christ? (v. 14)
  • What specific precautions do you need to take in order to make no provision for the flesh? (v. 14)
  • How can we help others to put off and put on what is necessary in their lives?

Submitted by church staff members Beau Eckert, Glen Zigrang and Michelle Spiegel

Honoring God for the Long Haul

Romans 13:5-7 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV)

Application Thoughts:

  • There is not a hierarchy in the church. We are all equal at the foot of the cross.
  • Not everyone can be up front; some have to be in the background. How wonderful it is for someone to testify that they get energy from making someone else shine. These are the people who don’t get the immediate honor, yet it is due them.
  • God is not anti-government. God is not an anarchist. God is not a republican or democrat. God is sovereign and in control and it honors him when we are obedient and honest citizens. For he is the one that brings kings to power and takes them out.
  • God put governors and local magistrates in charge to govern his people and all people. Jesus said, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.”
  • However, as a believer we ultimately must give God our devotion when the law of the land is not godly. Daniel is a good example of someone who honored God even though the law said not to.

After 9/11 it became socially acceptable and politically correct to give God the honor that was due Him. At the same time respect and honor for police officers and firemen have likewise increased. In fact after every tragedy, people tend to give God honor but how long does that last? It seems that as the years have gone by the honor of God has diminished. It is refreshing to see the honor not diminish for police officers and firemen, but it must sadden the heart of God to see His name being used as a trinket in hard times. As we live our lives we need to be mindful to honor those around us, they are put into place by God. But our biggest devotion must go to God and do it for the long haul and not neglect it.

Submitted by church staff members Greg Despres, Dave Allen, Bob Millard and Angela Spreadbury