Growth

1 Corinthians 3:1
“I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

Paul mentions four types of people in the opening verses of this chapter. He refers to mere men (some versions read natural man), babes in Christ, carnal men, and finally spiritual men. These terms represent a natural development in the spiritual life of an individual. Natural man refers to a person before they place their faith in Christ. The natural man is living, breathing, walking, talking, perhaps even loving, giving, sharing and caring, but the natural man is separated from God, and living in sin. It is when the natural man hears the message of the cross, recognizes his need for a savior, and places his faith in Christ, that his sin is forgiven and he is born again into the family of God. At that point, he becomes a babe in Christ. Like all babies, the new Christian must be cared for. He needs constant companionship, encouragement, example, and a diet of the simple teachings of the Word of God.

Hebrews 6 gives a list of the foundational truths every young Christian must understand: “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

When the young Christian ingests a healthy diet of the Word of God, he will begin to grow. Thoughts, words, and actions change, and many of the practices from the old life, are replaced with practices that are pleasing to God. Soon, the young believer is growing in Christ, and impacting others for the kingdom of God. They are no longer controlled by emotions, or by the influences of the world around them, but are now controlled by the Spirit of God. They begin to live a life that sets an example on earth, and stores up treasures in heaven. Paul refers to that individual as spiritual. Sadly however, this is not the route for every Christian. Some, after placing faith in Christ for salvation, never seem to grow out of infancy. Even years after coming to Christ, they are still struggling with the same doubts, fears and sins. Their Christian life is more like a swinging pendulum, than a walk with God. They “feel” close to Him at moments, and far away other times, they let the influences of the world influence them, and are constantly falling into sin. Sometimes, because of the guilt of constant failure, they seclude themselves from other Christians, and may even accuse the church of wrong doing. It is not uncommon to hear them use phrases like, “Christians are judgmental” to help justify the sins they have not outgrown.

Paul minces no words, he refers to that person as carnal, a word meaning worldly. While it is expected, and even cute, to see a baby act like a baby, it is sad to see someone still acting childish as a an adult. Now would be a good time to evaluate your walk with God. Are you growing? If you have been a Christian for only weeks, you should be seeking to surround yourself with godly influences and get to know the Word of God. If you have been a Christian for many years, you should see a dramatic and constant change in your life, because of the daily investment of the Word of God. The Christian life is a life of growth; like a tree, we only stop growing when we are dead.

Pastor Jim

Questions for 1 Corinthians 3

  1. Look up the word “carnal” and define it.
  2. How is the “carnal person” described by Paul?
  3. Paul speaks of planting, watering and increase; what part are you playing today in helping someone come to Christ?
  4. What foundation must we build our lives on? How are you doing that practically today?
  5. Paul speaks of our works being tested with fire. A day is coming where your Christian life will be judged by God. What are you doing for the kingdom of Heaven?
  6. How is God’s wisdom contrasted with human wisdom?

Old Testament:
Esther 1- Love And Respect
Esther 2- Chosen

Hide And Seek

1 Corinthians 2:9
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The things God has planned for each of us are better than anything we could ever imagine. Rather than leaving us to our imagination, Paul declares these things are revealed to us by the Spirit of God. It is the desire of God that we know Him, and we understand the things He has planned for each of us.

When my oldest son was a toddler, I introduced him to one of my favorite childhood games, hide and seek. While he loved to play, he did not quite grasp the concept. I would hide in an obvious spot, where he could easily find me. When he did, I would act surprised, then he would turn excitedly and say, “I am going to hide under my bed and you try to find me.” For him the exciting thing about the game was not hiding, but rather being found. The same is true of God, He wants us to know who He is, and to understand the things He has planned for our lives. Paul declares that the hidden mysteries of God are revealed to us by the Spirit. In other words, we can know God because the Spirit of God makes Him known. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:11

At times we hide things from others, not because we do not want them to know, but because we do not know how to express them. This is especially true in relationships. Experts say, one of the most common factors that lead to marriage problems is failed communication. Thankfully, God is not limited in His ability to communicate to us. Paul explains that the Spirit reveals God through both the person of Christ, and His written Word.

One of the terms used in Scripture for Jesus is, “The Word”. This term is used because Jesus is the perfect expression of God. If we want to know what God is like, and what He desires from us, we must look carefully at Christ. Every encounter He had with others reveals something about the way God feels about us, and the things He desires out of us. The more familiar we become with Jesus, the better we will understand who God is, and what He desires from us. In addition to the person of Christ, God has also given us His written Word. Page, after page, reveals the unknowable. The hidden things of God are made known in His Word. Had God left creation alone to reveal His nature, we would have a skewed and limited understanding of Him. We would understand His power, but be very limited in knowing about His love. Since it is the desire of God for us to know Him, He reveals Himself in the Word. It is as if God said, “I am going to hide in My Word and you try to find me.”

Will you take Him up on the challenge? Or will the mysteries of God remain a hidden enigma to you, as you wander about, attempting to discover God with imagination and personal experience.

Pastor Jim

Questions for 1 Corinthians 2

  1. How does Paul describe his coming to the Corinthians?
  2. According to verse 5, why did he come that way?
  3. Put verse 9 to memory and meditate upon it today!
  4. Beginning with verse 10, what do you learn about the Holy Spirit?

Fragrance Of Christ

2 Corinthians 2:15-16
“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”

As a child I spent a great deal of time, perhaps a little too much, watching cartoons. I remember seeing, on more than one occasion, a scene where a character smelled the fragrance of a home-baked pie. The smell would lift him in the air and carry him to the window sill of the farmer’s house where the delicacy sat. Regardless of the danger posed by the farmer, he would attempt to steal the pie. While I am quite certain Paul did not see the same cartoon, he is reminding the Corinthians of the effect their lives can have of drawing others to Christ. He refers to our lives as being like a fragrant aroma that will lead other people to Jesus. Notice he refers to us as being two different aromas, to two different groups of people. If we follow his word order, he seems to be suggesting, to the Christian, the one who is being saved, we are the smell of death, while to the unsaved, we are the smell of life.

Jesus spoke of abundant life being a byproduct of a relationship with Him. He spoke of torrents of living water, and of bearing the fruit of the Spirit. All of this flows from the life of the Christian who is abiding in Christ. Not only providing the Christian with abundant life, but it is also designed to lure others to Jesus. The more time you spend growing in your relationship with Jesus, the greater effect you will have in leading others to Christ.

Paul also spoke of the fragrance of death. Death has at least two smells. One is the rotting smell of decay, a horrendous smell. The other is the fragrant smell that comes off the grill. In Old Testament times, the children of Israel were required to offer multiple sacrifices to the Lord. Part of the purpose, was to offer a sweet aroma to the Lord. The smell of burning flesh is a sweet aroma in heaven and a wonderful smell on earth. Have you ever been driving home, smelled someone grilling, and hoped that the smell was coming from your house?

Paul mentioned being led in triumph by the Lord. The idea is not only that of God leading him into victory, but Christ having victory over Paul. In ancient times, when a general was conquered, he would be laid at the feet of his conqueror, who would put his foot on his neck. We will have the greatest effect on others when Christ has conquered us. When we choose, like Paul, to lay our lives down and pick up Christ, a sweet aroma will fill the air and lead others to do the same. How often have you heard the testimony of another Christian, who speaks of putting aside sin and self, to live for Christ and others, and you were encouraged to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus? That is the fragrance of death leading to death.

Paul wrote that he dies daily, and always carries about in his body, the dying of Christ. He said he was crucified with Christ, and now lives for Christ. If we want to have an increased impact on others for the kingdom of heaven, it is time that we surrender all to Christ, and abide in Him.

Pastor Jim

Questions for 2 Corinthians 2

  1. In verses 1-3 Paul gives some great principles on relationship and conflict. The Corinthian church was plagued by problems. They were a very “fleshy” church; they often didn’t act like Jesus. Because Paul loved them, at times he had to correct them, both by letter and face to face. It’s almost never a comfortable thing to correct someone.
    A. In verse 1 Paul says that he has made up his mind not to come to them “in sorrow”. In other words, having said his peace to them, he gave them space and time to change. Do you have any broken relationships? Have you said what the Lord would have you say to that person? If you have, ask God for patience with those people, and give God room and space to work.
    B. In verse 2, Paul indicates that although he loves them very much and would be very happy to see them; at this time they would not be happy to see him. Sometimes in our relationships we have such affection for a person that we push things too much. We care more about how they make us feel, than about the person. Take some time to assess your most important relationships. Ask God to help you to want what is best for them, and not simply what you get from them or want for them.
    C. Verse 3 sums up the reason for these things. Relationships are about joy! Read Matthew 22:36-39. When you put the welfare of others first, how does that affect your relationship with them? Ask God to fill you with His Spirit when you spend time with loved ones. As He does you can be a joy and a blessing to be around, and God can use you to heal those broken relationships.
  2. Read verse 4. Paul had to speak some very hard words to the Corinthians in his last letter to them. What was his motivation for speaking this way to them? What was not his motivation? When you deliver difficult counsel to someone, do you make sure to communicate that you love them?
  3. As we look at broken relationships, it is valuable for us to take time to thank God for all that He has done and continues to do to heal the brokenness in our relationship with Him. What has God done to keep our relationship with Him joyous?
  4. In verses 5-8 Paul speaks to them of the man who needed to be corrected in his first letter (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-7). Note verses 7 and 8. What should we consider after we have rebuked or corrected someone?
  5. Look at verses 10-11. Forgiveness is central to the Christian life. We are a forgiven people, because of a forgiving God, and so we should be forgiving. Read Matthew 18:21-35. When we are not forgiving, how does that leave an open door for Satan to do damage in our lives?
  6. Paul had no rest in his spirit in the ministry in Troas, despite an open door from the Lord. Something was missing, and he moved on to Macedonia. This looked like a failure, but notice Paul’s comments in verse 14. Does Paul sound defeated? What caused him to have the attitude that he had?
  7. We have a fragrance that comes off of our lives. As Christians, we want people to sense Jesus in us. However, although He is beautiful to us, to the unrepentant He is not. Are people clear about who Jesus is when they spend time with you? Do they know more about Him when they are around you?

Old Testament:
Job 21- What’s In It For Me?
Job 22- Participate

Weakness

1 Corinthians 1:26
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.”

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Paul reminded Timothy that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. That was His purpose, His passion, and what He labored diligently towards. After the resurrection, Jesus called His church to be involved in this same purpose. He commissioned men to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” This is the greatest of all vocations and carries with it the highest honor. Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “If God has called you to preach do not stoop along the way to become a king.”

God intends for the work that began with Christ, and was carried out by the Apostles, to continue today through His church. Jesus is still commissioning men to go into the world and preach the Gospel, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”John 17:18

But who are these men? What is Jesus looking for in those He selects to take the Gospel to the world? Paul wrote, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called”(1 Corinthians 1:26). In order to reach the world, God is not looking for the most gifted of people, but is simply looking for those who will be faithful to Him, and respond to the call.

One of the struggles every Christian faces, is the reality of our own limitations. The moment we surrender ourselves completely to Christ, He begins to call us to serve Him; often calling us into service that makes us quite uncomfortable, and causes us to realize our weakness. Paul reminds the Corinthians this is on purpose. God is not looking for the mighty, or noble, but for the weak, base and foolish. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is, God can. What I mean is, our weaknesses do not weaken God, nor do our limitations, limit Him. You may have heard the phrase, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” That may be true of a chain, and even of human organization, but it is not true of the Kingdom of God. He is not weakened by our weakness, but is able to provide His strength and power, to whatever He calls us to do. I have found, whenever God calls me to something, I am immediately aware of all the reasons I can’t do it. I usually begin to tell Him that choosing me is a really bad idea; He should look for someone more qualified. Often, I even have a list of people who would do a better job than I could. It is then that I must make a decision. Will I choose to focus on my weakness, or on His strength? While it is true I am too weak, it is also true that He is too strong. My mind begins to recall story after story, within the pages of His Word, where the weak were used to accomplish great exploits for the Kingdom of God, because His strength overcame their weakness. Rather than focusing on all the reasons that we can’t, we should focus upon all the He can.

Pastor Jim

Questions for 1 Corinthians 1

  1. Who wrote this letter? How does he refer to himself?
  2. To whom was it written? Describe them.
  3. Paul begins the letter with prayer. Look at verses 4-8, what is the subject of His prayer?
  4. According to verses 10-13, what problem was the church facing?
  5. Paul calls the message of the cross foolishness. What do you think he means by that?
  6. Beginning with vs. 26 Paul lists the qualifications for anyone who wants to serve the Lord. How does that encourage you?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 11- Costs

Honor

Romans 16:3b
“. . . my fellow workers in Christ Jesus

Years ago, I received a letter; I had been selected to be awarded for my accomplishments as a teacher. Upon reading the first paragraph, I was honored and somewhat humbled. My ego was stroked, as I was being told of the great responsibility I was fulfilling by teaching others. However, as I continued to read, I discovered any teacher who was willing to purchase the hundred-dollar, leather-bound book, would have their name listed in it. Even though I knew it was a scam, I was still slightly tempted to have my name in a book honoring me for my accomplishments.

We all love to be honored. We love when our accomplishments are recognized and applauded. We will even sit back and watch as others are honored for their acheivements. It is interesting to me, the things for which men are honored. When a person writes or sings a song… Honor. When a person entertains us with their acting, directing or producing skills… Honor. When a person accomplishes extraordinary feats with a ball… believe it or not, Honor. Like the trophies they receive, that honor will fade away and soon be forgotten. What of our accomplishments for the kingdom of God? Jesus told us they are stored away in heaven, where they will never decay.

Here in Romans 16, we are reminded of what is honored in Heaven’s Kingdom. We read of men and woman who we will never find in a list of who’s who among men. If you Google “Famous People”, their names will never show up, nor will their accomplishments be regarded as great. Yet, their names are listed in the eternal Word of God, and their accomplishments remind us of how we can store up treasures that will last into eternity. Some of the things listed include: serving within the church, opening our houses up for a home fellowship, working alongside those who are preaching the Gospel, or teaching the Word, treating our place of business as a means to effect other for the Kingdom of God, sharing Christ, and passing the test that trials place upon us. As I read this list of men and women, I am encouraged by how important the “little” things are to God, and to the Apostle. What joy must have filled Paul’s heart, knowing the church in Rome was filled with people who were dedicating their time and energies to further the Kingdom. The work of ministry was not left to a few, but was supported by the faithful labor of many.

Rather than spending our time trying to gain the fleeting honor of men, let’s determine to live for an honor that will never fade away. Malachi writes of a book in heaven that includes the accomplishments of the saints. (Malachi 3:16) Allow me two final points of application.

First, I believe we would be amiss in our reading of the chapter, if we did not take a moment to give honor where honor is due.The following is a list of people who you will meet in heaven, who are recorded here for their impact upon the world. Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, and his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Second, Paul ends this section by saying, “Greet one another.” It is not just those, who in times past, faithfully served Jesus who deserve honor, but those who are currently involved in impacting the world for Jesus. We should be looking for ways to serve the Lord today, as well as giving the proper place of honor to that service. Rather than looking at serving the Lord as a chore, we should look at it with the honor the Word of God places upon it. What will you do for Heaven’s Kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 16

  1. Who is Phoebe?
  2. According to verse 5, who are they that have a home fellowship in their home? Do you have a tug on your heart to open your home to minister to the saints?
  3. Paul urges the brethren to note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to doctrine. In verse 19, what does he want them as well as us to do?
  4. The Lord used Paul as His instrument to tell this good news. Verse 25 says that God is “able to establish you”….make you strong. Are you strengthened by the gospel? Are you finding strength in His Word?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 9- Needs Met
Nehemiah 10- Neglect

One Mind

Romans 15:5-6
“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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This chapter contains many prayers of which this is the first. Paul is praying that the church might be like-minded, or rather, have one mind. As we look at the church today we see it is anything but one-minded. Worship styles vary from rock bands to congregational hymns; some churches meet in traditional buildings, while others meet in schools, parks or store fronts. Doctrinally, some churches are Calvinistic, Arminian, or somewhere in between. We have pre-, post- and mid-tribulation teachings, and there are even different views on how to perform a baptism.

Individual Christians, within the same church, also have a wide variety of opinions. From week to week, one thinks the worship or sermon was excellent, while another complains about the length, delivery or content. Who is right? If Paul is exhorting us to have the same mind, which mind should we have? I suggest to you, Paul is not instructing every Christian to have my mind or yours, but to have the mind of Christ. Writing to the Philippian church Paul said,

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, . . .” Philippians 2:5

The mind we must develop is the mind that was in Christ; a mind-set that sought above all else, to be pleasing to the Father. “For even Christ did not please Himself…” (Romans 15:3). Practically, this was worked out as He lived for the things that please God, and exalted others above Himself. As we follow the life of Christ, we read of the needs of others being placed above His own. We know of times where He was hungry and tired, but that never stopped Him from investing in the lives of those around Him. The sick, weak, hurting, and unloved, all found a place of honor when they came into contact with Christ.

When I filter my thinking toward God and others, with the way Christ lived, I will find I am developing His mind. It is seen in laying aside the sinful things in life, placing the needs of others above my own, and seeking to please God above all else. Notice this is a commission given to every believer. It is not for a select few. Every Christian must live life by thinking of God and others, the way Christ did.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 15 

  1. We are to bear the burdens of others and please our neighbor for his good. How are you doing in that area of life?
  2. According verses 5-6, how does our God of patience and comfort enable us to glorify Him?
  3. Who gives us the power and fills us with all joy and peace in believing?
  4. In verse 20, Paul felt it was more important for him to preach the good news in areas that had not yet heard it. Do you have a missionary’s heart? Do you think you are called to be sent out to the mission field?
  5. Verses 25-29 tell us that Paul must go down to Jerusalem to take a financial gift from the believers in Greece to Christians in Jerusalem. Paul said, “It pleased them indeed.” Turn in your Bible to 2 Corinthians 9:7. How is your attitude toward the art of tithing?
  6. According to verse 30, Paul begs the brethren to strive with him for what purpose?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 7- Build Your House
Nehemiah 8- Celebration

No Man Is An Island

Romans 14:7
“For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.”

A Christian by the name of John Donne (1572-1631), is credited for the saying, “No man is an island.” He wrote it in a devotional message speaking of how our lives affect one another. Paul is writing about the same idea, because we are part of the body of Christ, our lives effect one another. The decision I make to follow the Lord will have an impact upon those around me, and their decision will impact me. In more recent times, a song was written with the chorus, “I don’t need anyone, I am really having fun being all alone, I am an island.” The song was a parody, where the artist was addressing the modern idea that our lives are our own, and our sins do not effect anyone else. Paul goes on to write,

Romans 14:8 “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

What a beautiful concept and wise way to live. When we come to the realization our lives do not really belong to us, but have been purchased by the Lord, we are free to live for His glory. There is no greater freedom in life than to live for the purpose for which we were designed. Instead of thinking of freedom as the ability to do whatever we want, we should realize, true freedom is found in living for Christ and others.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 14 

  1. Verse 1 talks about allowing ourselves to be dragged into silly “disputes over doubtful things.” Do you find yourself judging others about their convictions to things?
  2. Where do you stand according to verse 5?
  3. According to verse 8, who are we to live and die to?
  4. Verse 10 is very convicting because who are we to judge? Scripture is clear, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” How are you doing regarding judging others?
  5. In verse 17, the kingdom of God is..?
  6. According to verse 23, if you do anything you believe is not right you are sinning. Have you or are you now going against your own conviction on a certain issue of life?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 5- A Terrible Thing To Waste
Nehemiah 6- All Inventions Are Not Created Equal

Time To Wake up

Romans 13:11
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

I can remember times, as a child, when I had to wake up very early for an event I was looking forward to. I would set my alarm, and a backup, then wake up over and over again through the night to check the time. I did not want to sleep in and miss out. I recall, one morning, hearing the alarm go off, getting out of bed, getting dressed and walking out to the living room, where I put on my shoes. After a few moments, I heard my mom’s voice asking me what I was doing. As I began to answer, I noticed all the lights were on and my parents were watching television. It was eleven p.m., I had only been asleep for about an hour, and had dreamt I heard the sound of my alarm clock.

Paul is writing about the most important of all events, encouraging us not to sleep in and miss out. He writes concerning Salvation, reminding us, we are nearer to the return of Christ than any other time in human history. Just as there are signs that morning is approaching, so there are signs that Christ is coming. It is foolish to ignore the warnings and continue on in our spiritual slumber. Instead, we must live life prepared to face eternity. Paul tells us three necessary things to do in order to be prepared when the trumpet sounds and Christ calls us home.

First, we are to cast off the works of darkness. After Lazarus was resurrected, Jesus commanded that his burial clothes be removed. Those clothes were fitting for a dead man, but not for the living. They would stink of death and restrict life. In the same way, there are behaviors that might have ‘fit’ us before we came to Christ, but we must be cast aside. Paul mentions partying, drinking, sexual sin, lust, envy and strife. These things should remain in our past.

Second, we are to put on Christ. Christianity is not all about what we don’t do. Instead, it is about living for Jesus and becoming like Him. As we focus on growing in Him, we find His character traits become a part of us. We become more loving, merciful, kind, giving, compassionate and selfless. Paul referred to these as the fruit of the Spirit. It is important, at times, to do a Spiritual checkup to see if those traits are developing in our lives.

Finally, we are told not to make provision for the flesh. In other words, we must be careful not to make it easy to sin. If you are on a diet, it is probably not a great idea to watch “Cup Cake Wars”, or hang out at a bakery. In the same way, we all know the temptations we face and must remove ourselves as far from them as possible. Christians who live near the fence are the ones who are constantly falling in and out of sin.

Jesus is coming back! Let’s be ready when He comes. Let’s live so that we hear Him say, “Well Done!”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 13

  1. According to verse 1, all government authorities that exist are ordained by whom?
  2. According to verse 3, what are we to do to be unafraid of government?
  3. In verse 9, all the commandments can be summed up in what way?
  4. Verse 11 gives us the ultimate wake up call. What are we to cast off? What are we to put on?
  5. According to verse 13, we are to “walk properly as in the day.” We are to live in anticipation of the Lord’s return. How does verse 14 describe our walk?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 3- Can’t Spell Team Without Me
Nehemiah 4- Fellowship

Romans 12

Romans 12
Over the years, I have found most of us are trying to determine God’s will for our lives. We have come to understand, His ways are better than our ways and if we desire abundant life, we want to be in the center of His will. Most of us have heard the story of Jonah, a man who refused to go where God wanted him and was consequently swallowed by a large fish. I do not want to spend any time in the belly of the beast, and would much rather go where God wants, and do what God wants. Part of His will can be difficult to decipher and is only determined by following the example of Mary, sitting at His feet. If you are trying to decide what job to take, who to marry, or if you should have another child, the best thing to do is spend time with Jesus.

As you fast, pray and read His Word, you will find He gives direction to your life. But there is another side to the will of God, one that is of even greater importance, and is much easier to determine. It is His will for how we are to live. While at times it may be hard to obey, it it is never difficult to determine. Here in Romans 12, Paul gives 25 specific details as to how the Christian ought to behave.

1. Let love be without hypocrisy.
2. Abhor what is evil.
3. Cling to what is good.
4. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.
5. In honor giving preference to one another.
6. Don’t lag in diligence.
7. Be fervent in spirit.
8. Serve the Lord.
9. Rejoice in hope.
10. Be patient in tribulation.
11. Continue steadfastly in prayer.
12. Distribute to the needs of the saints.
13. Be given to hospitality.
14. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16. Be of the same mind toward one another.
17. Do not set your mind on high things.
18. Associate with the humble.
19. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
20. Repay no one evil for evil.
21. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
22. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
23. Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
24. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
25. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This list gives us plenty to focus upon as we seek to uncover what is next in the plan of God for our lives.
Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 12 

  1. In Romans 12 through the end of the book, Paul gives us guidelines for living and how to behave. In verse 1, the word “beseech” means to urge. It takes on the idea of begging and pleading. What is Paul asking his readers to present?
  2. When you examine your life right now, has your mind been transformed or are you being conformed to this world?
  3. According to verse 3, how are we supposed to think?
  4. When you look at the gifts in verses 6-8, know that God has given each of us certain gifts and ministries to be used in the body. What is or what are your gifts? For other gifts turn to 1 Corinthians 12.
  5. Verses 9-12 describe behavior a Christian should be known for because the Bible says “therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20). As you read this section of scripture, what is God revealing in your own heart that needs attention?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 1- Dark Days
Nehemiah 2- Be Prepared

Listen

Romans 11:4
“What does the divine response say to him?”

Paul is referring to one of the most difficult times in the life of the prophet Elijah. He lived during a time when the nation of Israel had turned from the Lord and had become steeped in idolatry. As the people stood in the valley of decision, swaying between a decision to follow Jehovah or become more like the world around them, Elijah stood boldly for the Lord and saw the beginnings of a national revival. This did not come without a price. Jezebel, the queen who was openly opposed to the ways of God, began a campaign to see Elijah killed. These were not idle threats, for she had been responsible for the death of many of the prophets of God. Elijah saw no other course of action except to flee. He ran from Mount Carmel in the north of Israel, all the way to the wilderness where Moses had received the Law of God. There, in a place of solitude, he began to cry out to God. “I alone am left of the prophets of God and they seek to take my life.” He truly believed that his life was over and there was no escape from certain death. His fears led his heart to speak, but in the midst of his trial, he heard another voice saying,

“I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Paul referred to this as “the divine response.” In the midst of trial, as his fear caused his heart to speak, God had another message designed to comfort, strengthen and produce hope within his servant, Elijah. He was not alone in this. There is always a divine response whenever our hearts speak to us, and this response is always found in the pages of God’s Word. Peter referred to “His great and precious promises.” (2Peter 1:4) It is critical in our times of trial, we learn to listen to the voice of God which cries out against the voice of fear, depression, temptation, anxiety, worthlessness or any of our other emotions. It has become very common today, when we are faced with indecision, to be encouraged to “follow your heart.” The problem is, our hearts often speak contrary the promises of God. Whenever our hearts cry out, we must look into the Word of God to find divine response.

What is you heart saying to you today? Is fear, doubt or discouragement, causing you to question the ways of God? Take some time to look into His precious promises and allow the Divine Response to give direction to your wayward thoughts.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 11

  1. Why has God not cast away His people?
  2. What is meant by the term remnant?
  3. How did salvation come to the Gentiles?
  4. As Paul is speaking to the Gentiles, who does he refer himself as?
  5. The Lord Jesus is known as the Lion and Lamb. What attributes are given of God in verse 22?
  6. According to verse 26-27, who will come out of Zion? What is God’s covenant with Israel?
  7. In verse 36, everything comes from Him and everything exists by His power and is intended for His Glory. Are you giving God the praise that He so deserves?

Old Testament:
Ezra 9-Drowning
Ezra 10- Where Revival Begins