“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
These are two of the most-quoted verses of the Apostle Paul’s writings–and for good reason. Paul is explaining ‘why’ he spent his life preaching the Gospel of Christ. It’s not because being an apostle was a good career move; not because the job paid well and included great perks; not because being a Gospel preacher gave him a good standing in the community. In fact, being an apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the opposite of all that. Paul suffered greatly because of his commitment to the Gospel. The reason Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ was because “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.”
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” Romans 1:8-15
In our last Romans study, we looked at how the ‘faith’ of the Christians living in the city of Rome was ‘spoken of throughout the whole world.’ Rome was the primary city of the great Roman Empire and people from all over the world traveled to and from Rome to experience what the city had to offer.
Today, we’ll look at Paul’s strong desire to visit the Christians in Rome and what he hoped to accomplish there.
[The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of gay marriage. This article was written prior to that decision.]
“Gay Marriage is Pro-Family”
“Most Americans expect Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage”
“Ireland gives resounding 62.1 percent ‘yes’ to gay marriage”
“Texas Senate revives anti-gay marriage bill”
“The gay-wedding industry goes mainstream”
“Gay marriage proponents pose ‘danger’ to Christianity”
These are recent news headlines about the ongoing ‘marriage debate.’ Gay marriage may be the biggest news story of the 21st century, but is marriage really changing? Can the ‘reality’ of marriage be changed? Let’s think about it.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 (NIV)
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul had little to say in his writings about the formal worship of God, but what he said went a long way. Paul believed a Christian’s spiritual act of worship was to offer their bodies as living sacrifices. Christians of that day understood what a sacrifice was because many of the religions, including Judaism, practiced it.
Worshippers would bring something of value – animals, vegetables, fruit and precious metals – and give it to a priest or priestess as a gesture of “worship” to their gods. They often did it out of fear or desire for a special blessing. Paul said a Christian’s “act of worship” was to offer their bodies as living sacrifices. It was a willing act of love, not fear.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
This is one of the most practically powerful statements in Paul’s writings. It hits everyone of us where we live: the issue of contentment.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
A literal translation of this verse reads: “Look you lest anyone you there shall be robbing through philosophy and empty deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ.”
Paul is warning Christians against following a dangerous way of thinking. He knew that would lead to dangerous actions.
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
I love to visit libraries and bookstores. There’s something special about walking in and seeing shelves filled with books as far as the eye can see. It’s like being a kid in a candy store. Yummy!
I dropped my wife off at an appointment the other day and had about an hour before picking her up. It just so happened that a national chain bookstore was located around the corner, so I spent my time looking at books. I wasn’t shopping this time, just looking.
Have you ever noticed how Christian books are often located in the same area as Spirituality, New Age and Philosophy books? Having almost an hour to look gave me time to compare the books in the Christian section to books in the other nearby sections. You would expect to find BIG differences between them, right?
Happy New Year! What are your plans for 2015? Spend more time with family and less time at work? Get healthy? Lose weight? Get a better job? Make more money?
If you look to the wisdom of the world about the importance of planning your life, you’ll see things like this:
- Planning gives you purpose
- Planning gives you direction
- Planning puts you in control
- Planning gives you power
- Planning gives you hope
- Planning gives you balance
- Planning gives you peace
- Planning gives you freedom
While those sound like good ideas for planning your life, think about this question for a few moments. What about God’s plans for your life? What does He have in mind for you to accomplish? Could it be that God’s plans for your life are better than what the world’s plans?
“We will pray for you.”
“You are in our prayers.”
Look familiar? It should. Those are the words often written in the comments section of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media. Someone we know shares a problem, a challenge, a prayer request and we have to make a decision. Do we respond or not? Do we just click the ‘like’ button and move on or take a minute to leave a comment? If we leave a comment, what do we say? If we say we’re praying for them, are we? Will we?
Jesus shared this advice about prayer in the context of not doing charitable deeds before men to be seen by them.
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6
Jesus said that if people pray to be seen by others, they “have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Why? Because hypocritical people do that “that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-2) That seems like good advice when we consider commenting publicly on social media about our intentions to ‘pray’ for someone, but how does that affect us in a social media setting?
God is “all wise.” That may sound simple, but its depths no man knows.
“… to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever.” Romans 16:27
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:20-25
Every time God says something – stop and listen. God does not waste words or actions. He’s Perfect and does all things perfectly. When God brought Israel out of bondage to Egypt and spoke with them in the wilderness He wanted the Israelites to listen to Him. Why? Because He knew what was best for them. That is true today. God saves us from the bondage of sin and death and speaks to us through His Word and His Spirit. He expects us to listen to Him because He knows what’s best for us.
As we bring this special series about Teaching Wisdom to Our Children to a close, for now, here’s an example of God’s Wisdom that children need to learn, understand and obey in order to be successful in bringing God glory during their life on earth.