Do Good

Text: Romans 12:17-21                                                          6/3/2018

Main Point: Christians are like Christ; they love and do good to their enemies.

 

Our theme of love in difficult places continues today. We must love those who do us harm. Man, that is hard. And why is that? Why is it so hard to love and serve and do good to our enemies? What is the biggest hinderance to our love for our persecutors? I want us to consider that the biggest hinderance to loving our enemies is our forgetfulness. Oh, we remember the wrongs done to us and against us; we keep bringing offenses up every chance we get. No, we don’t forget our hurts. We Christians forget that we were God’s enemies, living in hatred of him, yet the Father gave the Son to reconcile us to himself. We forget that we were God’s enemies, rejecting him and hating his ways, yet the Father and Son gave the Spirit to renew our hearts to love what we once thought unlovable. We forget our unworthiness. The biggest hinderance to loving our neighbors is not the wrong done to us but forgetting the good Christ has done for us. In our eyes, the evil of our enemies is often bigger than the good of our Savior. People are big, and God is small.

So in his kindness, Jesus warns us that our righteousness, the working out of our faith, must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 5:43-48). One area of concern is the way we respond to those who do us wrong. The way you respond to evil reveals a great deal about the reality of your salvation. The scribes and Pharisees were content to love their neighbors and hate their enemies. And we understand that loving those people who love us is not evidence of the Holy Spirit; unbelievers love those who love them. Greeting people who are like us, rejoicing with people who are like us, and weeping with people who are like us, are things done by all people regardless of religion or location. Christianity is different. Christians are people who love their enemies and therefore do good to their enemies.

Today, Jesus wants to put his gracious and restoring finger in the festering wound of our anger. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will convict each of us concerning anger, bitterness, resentment, and revenge. Drawing these into the light, our desire is to put these deeds of the flesh to death so that love and good can grow in their places. May God grants us repentance and faith so that we put off our old ways of anger and put on the new way of the love of Christ.

Read Romans 12:14-21

  1. Make a plan and work the plan

My faithful and long-suffering wife has taught me many things. One thing she has taught me is to make a plan. The first thing she does when entering a hotel room is make an escape plan in case of an emergency. When in a public meeting, event, or concert, it is important to think ahead and have a plan in case of an emergency. Verse 17 commands the same thing regarding evil.

  1. Plan to do what is good

Without a plan to do good, you will likely do what is evil. No one drifts toward the good. Verse 17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” The repeated references to the Christian’s mind and thinking have surprised me in this chapter. We renew our minds so that we can think about the will of God (v2). We think about ourselves with sober thinking (v3). Verse 16 calls us to be of one mind, don’t think highly of ourselves, and don’t be wise in our own thinking. Add onto those, think about what all men would consider to be a good response to evil. When correcting one of your children, give thought to what all of them will think. When correcting an employee, give thought to what all of your employees will think. When addressing an evil in your neighborhood, give thought to what all your neighbors will think. When seeking to overcome the evil of abortion, it is crucial to plan what is good for those who have received abortions, the nurses and doctors involved in performing abortions, and the children who will need families when abortion becomes illegal. Just making abortion illegal is not a good option; redemption requires so much more.

Look at God. How did our Triune God address our sin? He delivered Christ up according to his predetermined plan (Acts 2:23). God gave thought to what is good in the sight of all. The righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus was God’s plan to do good in response to evil. Let’s start our plan with this

  1. Covenant with yourself to not repay evil with evil

Job made a covenant with his eyes to only look at that which is good. This covenant ruled out lust (Job 31:1). Job made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze upon a virgin. Romans 12:17 calls us to make a covenant with our minds; only plan and pursue that which is good. Repay no one evil for evil. Commit that when yelled at, you will not yell in return, but will instead graciously call your opponent to a more controlled and fruitful conversation. I often tell my children, “I’m not going to argue with you.” Repaying harsh word for harsh word, or insult for insult, only causes more harm. Take that evil weapon out of your arsenal and vow not to bring it to the fight. Ok, the first step in the plan is to covenant with yourself not to repay evil with evil. The next step is to realize you need help.

  1. Doing good is a community project

1 Thessalonians 5:15 says, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” As Christians, we are weak. Look around this room. Do you see these people? We are a people whose natural reaction when wronged, is to repay with a greater wrong. I should not be surprised when my wife repays my evil with evil. I should not be shocked when my children or neighbors respond to my wrong with their own batch of wrong.

Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:15 again, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” That is very similar to Romans 12:17. We are a people who need to be watching after one another, encouraging one another to do what is good for all. Part of your job, as a church member, is to see to it that I don’t wrong my neighbors. Your job is to see to it that no one repays anyone evil for evil. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Correct your brothers and sisters. Encourage your brothers and sisters.

  1. Plan to be a peace maker

Look at verse 18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Live peaceably with all has two qualifications. “If possible,” because sometimes your enemy will not allow peace. And, “as far as it depends on you,” you do everything you can to make peace. But even after all of that, some people will continue to seek to do you wrong. You cannot overcome every evil with good. You cannot win every enemy. But you should do everything in your power to make peace.

Let’s run through a scenario. It’s the end of the month and the grocery budget is gone. It’s been a hard week, so you decide to help your wife by going to the store to buy pizzas and ice cream for a movie night. It will be great. Everyone will love it. You bust in the door with pizzas, ice cream, and a movie. The kids are pumped but the wife is fuming. Now, you have done evil. You broke your promise to keep the budget. You put your wife in a hard spot making her be the bad guy. She now has a choice to repay your evil with evil (pout, scream, insult you, throw things, there are a lot of options). Or, she can repay your evil with good. Wrong has been done and should be corrected with gentleness. She calls you to the back bedroom and calmly discusses the budget and plan. You repent and make a plan to sell something online to make up the difference. Battle won! Planning to do good is like reading a choose your own adventure book.

Let’s replay that but this time imagine that you buy the pizza, she blows up on you, and you respond with even more evil. You yell at her. She repays your evil with evil and you repay her evil with more evil. It’s classic escalation of evil. Stop! Plan how to do what is honorable. Evil is snowballing down a hill heading right for your family. One of the best things you can do is make a plan for calling a time-out. Between husband and wife, decide on a signal one of you can use, and both of you will honor, in order to stop the snowball of evil. Call a time-out, cool-down, then come together calmly to decide on a solution. Now be careful, calling a time-out is not an escape. Calling a time-out is a commitment to come together soon and work it out. Make a plan and work the plan. And

  1. Bring God to bear on your pain

Are you able to take your bitterness, resentment, and anger captive to Christ? Have you taken the step of Christian maturity that allows you to consider what God has to say about your hurt, or are you just angry? Let’s take that step together today.

  1. Remember that God has promised perfect vengeance

Look at verse 19. What does it say? “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Beloved, you have been hurt deeply. Beloved, you have been wounded repeatedly. Especially in your hurt, remember that you are chosen, holy, and loved. You have a heavenly Father and a church family. You are not alone, and you must not retaliate.

Too many marriages fall victim to revenge killings. Too many parents and youth are torn apart by revenge killings. You say something painful then I’ll one up you. You do something painful then I’ll one up you. You hurt my family then I’ll hurt your family. We must walk by faith and not by revenge. How do we do that? We do good theology. We know God according to His Word. And what has God promised? God will get vengeance. God will repay.

Paul is quoting from the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32, after the 40 years of wandering and before the people of God enter the Promised Land. Remember church, God will take care of you and take care of every evil done against you.

Concerning vengeance, timing is everything. Peter tells us that some people get tired of waiting on Jesus because he seems too slow. Paul is talking about some people getting tired of waiting on justice because God’s vengeance seems to slow. What happens next? If God can’t be trusted to pay back the wrong, then I must take matters into my own hands. Don’t do it! Never avenge yourselves. Trust God to give perfect justice. Don’t pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes. He will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Cor 4:5). We must believe, on that day each one will receive his condemnation from God. Look at evil from God’s perspective. He will deal with that evil and he will deal with it perfectly.

  1. Don’t climb into God’s chariot of wrath

Leave room for wrath. O Worship the King.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Romans 2:5 says your enemy is storing up wrath for herself for the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. She is going to get hers. Leave room for God’s wrath to do its perfect work. The chariot of wrath is coming.

If you are an unbeliever here today, if you are not trusting in Christ’s work to swallow all of God’s wrath stored up against you then tremble. If you are outside of Christ, if you are not trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection, then you are storing up an awful mountain of wrath that will be poured out on you in the day of judgment. Repent while it is still today. Repent while it is the day of God’s kindness. Hide in the cross of Christ. Do not climb into the chariot of God’s wrath. Practically,

  1. Do good. Don’t gloat

Will you fill the role of good Samaritan and loving neighbor when it’s your enemy bleeding out in the ditch? Your enemy that stole from you, that slandered you, that hurt you, is getting his just desserts. He’s hungry. She’s thirsty. Your enemy is in need. What is your calling? Do you do your end zone dance celebrating the fact that the one who hurt you is now experiencing hurt? What’s your calling? If your enemy is hungry, feed her; if she is thirsty, give her something to drink. Christian compassion calls us to give what is needed regardless of the worthiness of the person.

Children, it is such a temptation to gloat when you get something your brother or sister wants. Maybe you get to go somewhere your sister is thirsty to go. Maybe you receive a treat that your brother is hungry to eat. Do you gloat, taunt, or rejoice in the fact that your enemy will remain hungry and thirsty while you have plenty? Do you give? This is the call to generosity.

And look at the result of generosity. Look at the end of verse 20, “for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” We already saw in verse 14 that our goal is to bless and not curse. Our calling is to do good not evil. Increasing someone’s pain in judgment, turning up the heat in hell, is not a good and honorable goal. Think even further back. Why is God kind to us? Does God want to turn up the heat in hell? Is that why he’s kind to his enemies? No, Romans 2:4, “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.”

We don’t serve people today so that we can slap them on judgment day. We provide for our enemies so that we can heap kindness on them that leads to repentance. This plays out in the lives of King Saul and David. After Saul has repeatedly done evil to David and David has repeatedly returned evil with good, Saul says, “You have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil.”  (1 Sam 24:17). There is repentance! Our goal is not simply to feed our enemies. Our goal is to lead our enemies to repentance. On the way,

  1. Prepare for evil to come after you

Look at 12:21. We are commanded to not be overcome by evil. Nike is the Greek work and we translated it as overcome, victory, or conquer. Evil is actively trying to conquer you. The world is trying to make you conform and if you don’t conform, well, you’ll just have to be conquered. Don’t let that happen!

The most common way we are overcome by evil is when we give in and repay evil with evil. Your spouse complains about something you do, so you complain about something your spouse does. Your coworker sabotages your work, so you sabotage her work. Your neighbor parks on your grass, so you park on his grass. Your brother calls you a name, so you call him a name. On and on we go as we give into the crashing waves of overwhelming evil.

Make a plan! When we wake every morning, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is to rule over us. When our children wake every morning, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is to rule over our children. Look around this room, we are all equals here, each one of us has sin that is close to destroying us. If we could personify that sin and show its strength and hideous face it would terrify us and call us to battle. The orcs are at the castle walls, some have infiltrated our defenses, prepare now to not succumb. How?

  1. Prepare to go after evil with good

Romans 12, turning the other cheek, these are not calls to passivity. Verse 21 does not say, “Do not be overcome by evil, but be passive doing nothing until you die or Jesus returns.” No, what does verse 21 say? Overcome evil with good. We don’t overcome evil with evil. That only makes more evil. We don’t fight fire with fire. That only makes more fire. The way to overcome evil is by doing good. This is positive and active. The way to overcome evil is by doing that which is honorable. The way to overcome evil is to strive to make peace. Come back next week and we’ll see that one way to overcome evil is by calling the police.

Today, notice that we are not given the options of retaliation or passivity. We are called to actively address evil by doing good. We are called to believe, rehearse, and walk in step with the gospel. Remember, you were once an enemy of God but now, because of Christ, you are seated at his table a beloved daughter or son. What is it going to take to reconcile with your spouse, your parent, your child, your neighbor, your coworker? You make the plan. You make the first move. You do what is good. Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called children of God.

 

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Romans 12:14-16 Put It Into Practice

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. What does it look like for you to love your neighbors?
  3. Why does the world hate Christians who love, serve, and do good?
  4. During persecution, how should we pray for ourselves and our persecutors?
  5. Who is rejoicing right now? How can you rejoice with them?
  6. Who is weeping right now? How can you weep with them?
  7. Having the same mind toward one another is the call to unity in Christ. Do you think of your brothers and sisters according to what Christ has done for them, or according to what they can do for you?
  8. Why is befriending the lowly an antidote to pride?
  9. Would your family, coworkers, and neighbors say you are quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry? Or, would your family, coworkers, and neighbors say you are quick to speak, slow to listen, and quick to get angry?
  10. What does repentance and faith look like currently in your life?

Serve the Lord; Romans 12:11

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Text: Romans 12:11                                                   Date: 5/13/2018

Main Point: Being lukewarm is not acceptable.

Revelation 3:14-19

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

We obviously do not want to be lukewarm. At one level, being lukewarm is nasty. Lukewarm chili is no good because it won’t melt the cheese. On a hot summer day, lukewarm water is hard to swallow. Warm water reminds me of saliva and I instinctually want to spit it out. Cold water is refreshing and hot water is cleansing; lukewarm water is good for nothing. Guys, Jesus said if we are like that, if we are lukewarm, he’s going to spit us out. That is not a good thing. If God is a hobby that we piddle around with when we have time, then we are in trouble.

What solution does Jesus offer? Stop trusting your material wealth. Just because you have clothes to wear, food to eat, and money for tomorrow doesn’t mean we are ok. We are not ok. We are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. We need Jesus’ gold; not the world’s gold. We need Jesus’ clothes; not the world’s clothes. We need Jesus to heal our eyes. We need Jesus to reprove and correct us. We need Jesus to discipline us and restore us. We need to repent of our sin and be zealous for what is good.

Be zealous. Jesus commands us to be zealous (Rev 3:19). Peter commands us to make every effort to grow in the faith (2 Peter 1:5). Paul commands us to be diligent; do not be slothful in zeal. This is a big deal. Jesus commands zeal. The Holy Spirit, through Peter and Paul, commands zeal. If we lack zeal, Jesus is going to spit us out. Being lukewarm is not acceptable. Be fervent in spirit.

I want to try to be very practical with you today. This is one of those sermons that is more like a discipleship conversation we might have over lunch or a cup of coffee. I want to explain the Word to you and help apply the Word to your situation in such a way that you see what it looks like to follow Jesus. But I also want to teach and apply the Word in such a way that you learn how to teach and apply the Word. What I am doing here should serve as a model for you as you seek to make disciples.

Let’s get back into the Word; Romans 12:9-13

I. Don’t be a sloth

  • What does it mean to be slothful in zeal?

I have noticed that the sloth is getting a lot of positive publicity these days. Now I will admit, I’m a little slow on this observation. The Wall Street Journal[1] and Time Magazine[2] have written pieces on the popularity of the sloth. One of the explanations for the popularity of the sloth is our busy pace and obsession with productivity. We are a culture, a people, who want to slow down and be a sloth for a minute, a day, maybe a month. Maybe you are here this morning feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Then you hear Jesus, Peter, and Paul say, “Be zealous! Don’t be slothful! What are you doing you slacker, sitting there listening to a sermon when you should be working?”

Our culture doesn’t have a biblical worldview much less a biblical vocabulary. There is a world of difference between sinful sloth and biblical rest. According to God, resting is good but being slothful is bad. Let me show you the two main types of sloth which must be avoided. There is the lazy sloth and the scared sloth.

The lazy sloth shows up in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 6:6 says, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses the same word for sloth. Go to the ant, O slothful; consider her ways, and be wise.” Then Proverbs 6:9, “How long will you lie there, O slothful? When will you arise from your sleep?” The lazy sloth is the guy who won’t work. The lazy sloth is the girl who just wants to lie around all summer. God tells us to go to the ant. Consider that little lady and be wise. She works simply, she works steadily, she works carefully. The ant is not distracted by the nuclear deal with the Iranians. She knows her role and she plays her role. Do your job. Use your gift. Get to work.

The second type of sloth is the scared sloth. The lazy sloth doesn’t want to do anything but the scared sloth is afraid to do anything. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the one talent servant says, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” The master replies, “You wicked and slothful servant!”  The servant was scared to fail. The master spit the servant out of his mouth.

Ok, so now we have a more biblical understanding of sloth. Sloth is not doing what should be done because you are lazy or afraid. What’s the expectation in Romans 12:11? Do not be slothful in zeal. We saw zeal recently in Romans 12:8. The one who leads should lead with zeal. Zeal is energy and diligence and eagerness. Think about that child who is so excited about the first day of school. There is energy; she can hardly sleep or sit still. There is diligence; she has her school supplies in her back pack in the car two weeks before the first day. There is an eagerness; she desperately wants school to start. It’s going to be glorious. She is like the ant! Then comes the month of May and the ant has become the sloth. Zeal has turned to sloth. She can’t get out of bed, she can’t find her backpack, and she despises the thought of one more week.

Galatians 6:9 says, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Don’t grow weary of doing good. Don’t become slothful in well-doing. Do not be slothful in zeal.

Concerning the will of God, concerning your spiritual gift, concerning your service of the Lord, do not get lazy or fizzle out. Don’t let fear of failure or the weariness of the work cause you to give up. Stay in the game and go full speed. That’s the biblical explanation. Now, let’s get practical.

  • How can we avoid being slothful in zeal?

Here’s the simple answer- work hard and rest well. Work hard and rest well. If we aren’t working hard then we are being slothful. Maybe we’re lazy. Maybe we’re afraid. Maybe we don’t know what to do. Maybe we are doing the wrong things. Instead of listening to God and doing what he wants us to do, we are afraid of what our friends and family think and so we do what they want us to do. Instead, work hard at God’s things and graciously say no to other things. Work hard doing God’s things and rest well.

Some of us here today are experiencing a decrease in zeal because we will not rest. The God who tells us to work is the God who tells us to rest. The surefire way to become slothful in zeal is to overcommit yourself with things you shouldn’t be doing. Another zeal-killer is stressing yourself out with fear over past poor performance. I have to do more. I have to do better. I have to keep it together. I have to make it right. I can’t slow down. I am the god that my family depends on and I must therefore deliver like God.

To the ladies here today who are worn out by the idol of motherhood, please listen to Jesus. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30).

Yes, this is justification. Moms, you are chosen, holy, loved, righteous, and accepted in Christ. You can’t be any more chosen, holy, loved, righteous, or accepted. Your mothering is not going to make you more lovely in God’s economy. Stop trying to validate yourself. Go to Jesus. He will make you righteous and he will give you rest. Yes, this is freedom from approval seeking but it is also the freedom of serving the Lord.

To whom do we present our bodies? Do we present our bodies to the world and work hard to meet its standards of success or beauty? No. Do we let our children call the shots? No. We present ourselves to God. We serve the Lord. Spending time with God in the Word and prayer gives us the freedom to say no to what we need to say no to in order that we can say yes to the things we need to say yes to.

Why do we not do AWANA through the summer? We need to rest. Why did Jesus take his disciples out into the wilderness away from people? They needed to rest. Why has God given us the Sabbath? So, we can rest. Why are you weary? Why are you slothful in zeal? It’s because you aren’t resting. Maybe you’ve taken on too much and you can’t rest. Maybe you are neglecting time with Jesus in his word and prayer, so you are like that garden hose with a kink in it. Of course, you aren’t fervent in spirit, the supply has been cut off by your busy-ness. We don’t need more sloth. We need more rest. Resting well will cause us to boil

II. Boil

We have to go faster now.

  • What does it mean to be fervent in spirit?

To be fervent literally means to boil. Instead of a sloth hanging from a tree we are to boil in spirit. When we meet Apollos in Acts 18:25, we are told that he was fervent in spirit. The debate is whether we are commanded to be fervent in spirit or fervent in the Spirit. Is this a discussion of the Spirit of God, or a discussion of the spirit of a man? I think it’s both. The spirit of a man will boil by the power of the Spirit of God within. When your spirit is filled with the Spirit of God then you will be on fire. Don’t be slothful in zeal, boil in the spirit. Be eager, be energetic, be diligent. So, how do we do that?

  • How can we be fervent in spirit?

Here is the simple answer that needs some explanation. The way to be fervent in spirit is to not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 puts it plainly, “Do not quench the Spirit.” How do we do that? How do we quench the Spirit? One of the most common ways I quench the Spirit is by resisting his work of convicting me of my sin (John 16:8). When the Spirit, through the Word, shows me my error and I try to brush off that conviction, or rationalize my sin, then I always quench the Spirit. When I should say no to some commitment, but I say yes, that can be quenching the Spirit. When I should say yes to some commitment, but I say no, that can be quenching the Spirit.

Positively, if we want to be fervent in spirit then we must follow the Spirit’s lead. Romans 8:14 tells us, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” If we are led by the Spirit of God to do the will of God the Father then we should expect the Spirit’s help. This miracle of strength poured in becoming strength poured out is seen most clearly in Isaiah 58. God says, “Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Now, that just wears me out reading about it; that’s a lot of work! But listen, let’s go on, “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” To put it another way, Jesus said his food is to do his Father’s will and accomplish his Father’s work (John 4:34).

It is interesting that in Isaiah 58 we are called to work, and we also have the summons to rest. We need to Sabbath. We need to refocus on God and be recharged by Him. If you want to be fervent in spirit you must work hard by the Spirit’s leading, your Father’s will is your food, and you must rest well by the Spirit’s leading.

Here is the overarching command that brings it together.

III. Serve Jesus

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

  • What does it mean to serve the Lord?

The most difficult and helpful complimentary passage for serving the Lord is Ephesians 6:5-8. Turn over to Ephesians 6 and let’s read it.

While it is true that 1st century slavery was not identical to 19th century slavery, still, to be a slave is to be controlled by another. Masters should be obeyed as if you are obeying Christ. Instead of trying to do just enough to get by or look busy, you should do your work as a servant of Christ. Verse 7 is the connection. A slaves’s service to his master should be done as if he is serving the Lord. Your work in the field can be work unto the Lord. Your work keeping the books can be work unto the Lord. Your work in the control room, courtroom, operating room, restroom, or school room can be unto the Lord and therefore food to you and good for others.

Serving the Lord is the awareness that what you are doing is being done with Christ. He is the vine, right? You are the branch? Apart from him you can do nothing. Apart from Christ all our working and all your mothering are nothing. What does it mean to serve the Lord? It is doing the will of your Father, according to the righteousness of Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • What does it look like to serve the Lord?

Let’s get gloriously mundane. Thursday afternoon I got wrapped up in reading and talking about a controversy. The time, thirty minutes to an hour, drained me. I didn’t want to work. I didn’t want to write or think. I knew I had to get my head on straight, so I went to our Psalm for Thursday, Psalm 57, I prayed through the Psalm and was energized to work. What changed? By reading and responding to news, I was serving myself and it drained me. When I repented and chose to serve the Lord it energized me. Doing what God called me to do, instead of what my flesh wanted to do, gave me strength. We often think serving the Lord has to be big, like changing the world. But Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward” (Mk 9:41). A cup of water, what does that cost? How hard was that? Even a cup of water, given because of Christ, brings a reward. Serve the Lord! Making a bowl of cereal can become an act of service to Christ. This is a call to repentance. Start serving the Lord. Do the simple things God has created you to do. Do not be slothful in zeal. Boil in spirit.

Moms, the Lord has called you to be mom. Do not be slothful, boil in the spirit, serve the Lord. Give the cup of water, peanut butter sandwich, word of correction, and word of encouragement because of Christ and there will be a reward. Mom, we need you to be mom. And mom, we need you to rest. Come to Jesus today. He will forgive you. He will sustain you. He will give you strength for the work and he will give you wisdom so you can rest well. We don’t need sloths. We need well rested, hardworking, Christ exalting moms.

Men, this is a call for us to pray for the moms in this church. Older women, this is a call for you to pray for the moms in this church. Church, this is a call for us to pray for spiritual mothers who will raise up and mentor the younger women of this body. Whoever you are, wherever you are, we need you to not be slothful. We need you to boil in spirit. We need you to and serve the Lord. Let’s go after the Father’s will together. Let’s give everything to God for his good purposes.

 

 

[1] [1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/zoos-are-clambering-to-give-the-people-what-they-want-more-sloths-1503070126

[2] http://entertainment.time.com/2013/03/22/how-sloths-took-over-pop-culture-the-world/

Put It into Practice; Romans 12:11

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. If you took one step toward becoming more like Jesus what would it look like?
  3. Why do we need to constantly be told to be zealous?
  4. Where are you tempted to be lukewarm in your love toward, or obedience to God?
  5. What are the two types of biblical sloth? Which are you tempted to be like?
  6. In life, where are you tempted to give into weariness? How can you become fervent in spirit? What in you, or around you, needs to change?
  7. The solution to sloth is to work hard and rest well. How are you doing on these two counts; working hard and resting well?
  8. Do you have clarity concerning what the Lord wants you to? Or, are you letting the people around you fill you day with their things? Is God leading your everyday living?
  9. In what ways are you quenching the Spirit? 1 Thessalonians 5:19
  10. What do you think  needs to happen so that you can be fervent in spirit?
  11. Serving the Lord is doing the will of your Father, according to the righteousness of Christ, and by the power of the Spirit. Where do you see this playing out in your life? Where should it be playing out?

Love One Another; Romans 12:9-10

Text: Romans 12:9-10                                                            Date: 5/6/2018

Main Point: Genuine loves hates evil and holds fast to good.

Growing up, one of the things you didn’t want to be was a poser. If you were a little more country, you didn’t want to be a K-mart cowboy. A poser was often someone who has trying to look like a skater but didn’t skate. A K-mart cowboy was a person trying to look like a cowboy but couldn’t milk a cow, ride a horse, a haul hay. There is a well established rule that we should be genuine. Skaters skate. Cowboys work cows. Christians love. Writing in Romans 12:9, the Apostle Paul tells us to let love be genuine. Don’t be a hypocrite or a poser; love the church like family. Be affectionate toward one another with purity. Hate the evil within and cling to the good we see. The call to us today is to love one another with a genuine love that hates evil and holds fast to the good.

Read Romans 12:9-21

With his usual clarity, John Stott summarizes these verses. “Without doubt agapē-love now dominates the scene. So far in Romans all references to agapē have been to the love of God—demonstrated on the cross (5:8), poured into our hearts (5:5) and doggedly refusing to let us go (8:35, 39). But now Paul focuses on agapē as the essence of Christian discipleship. Romans 12–15 are a sustained exhortation to let love govern and shape all our relationships. Soon Paul will write about love for our enemies (12:17–21), but first he portrays it pervading the Christian community (12:9–16). This is clear from his use of the words ‘one another’ (three times in verses 10 and 16), ‘brotherly love’ (10) and ‘God’s people’ (13).[1]

The apostle Paul has been teaching about spiritual gifts. As you consider your gift and this church, remember this,

I. Love is absolutely necessary

Now, there is a world of difference between saying, “love is absolutely necessary” and “all we need is love.” The popular pleasure driven idea of “all we need is love” says it doesn’t matter if we can pay the bills or buy groceries, we are just going to hold hands and stare into one another’s eyes. The biblical Spirit-and-truth driven idea of love says doing good to one another requires love. The spiritual gifts are not enough. We must use our gifts for the good of one another and with a whole lot of love.

Here is the requirement for each member

  • Every member must put on love (Col 3:14)

Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be genuine.” Let love be without hypocrisy. Hypocritical or ingenuine love is made evident in Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss in order to gain 30 pieces of silver. We make a spectacle of the church when we love it because it provides a platform for our gifts. I love you because I get to preach to you. I love you because I get to sing to you. I love you because I get to teach you. I love you because I get to serve you, lead you, or encourage you. This is hypocrisy! When we live this way we don’t love the church, we only love our gifts.

Let love be genuine. Choose, by faith, to put on love. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Each worship gathering is a family reunion where we renew our love for one another by actively serving and building one another up. This love is radical, sacrificial, and not of this world. So where does it come from? Where do we get this love? Romans 5:5, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Our experience of the redeeming love of God is the product of the Holy Spirit in us. Our ability to love the people of God is the product of the Holy Spirit in us. So, one of the most helpful things you can do before getting out of the car each Sunday is stop and pray, “Holy Spirit, help me love these people well today.”

I confess, you cannot love me well on your own. I will give you reasons to despise me. Don’t fake it. Pray for the Spirit to cause the love of God to overflow through you to me. I cannot love you well on my own. You will give me reasons to despise you. I must not fake it. I pray the Spirit causes the love of God to overflow through me to you. What is the requirement for each member? Every member must put on love and

  • To love is to hate

Just as our culture thinks “all we need is love,” so also our culture thinks if you love someone you have to totally support everything that person is doing. I’m trying to work it into my thick skull: often in our community, to speak any word of disagreement, much less to bring a correction, is often interpreted as hate. The coworker, neighbor, or family member that you disagree with, likely thinks you hate him. The coworker, neighbor, or family member that seeks your support will likely think you hate her if you don’t give it. We Christians are called by God to show our neighbors a better way

  • Genuine love necessarily hates evil

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Again, listen to John Stott, “Love is discerning. It is so passionately devoted to the beloved object that it hates every evil which is incompatible with his or her highest welfare” (330).

To hate is to be repulsed or disgusted by something. The word occurs only here in the New Testament. It’s a compound word that means hate that is amplified. We are to experience ramped up hatred toward what is evil.

The question that lies before us is, what is evil? What should we be repulsed by? Should we conform to the world’s standards of what is disgusting? No, do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As we test our loves and hates by the word of God we will be able to figure out what is good, acceptable, and perfect. So, God defines for us what is evil. Our fallen instinct is to define good and evil for ourselves.

Let’s apply this biblical command and try to keep it simple, let’s use the 10 commandments as the standard for evil. We must be repulsed by the worship of anything other than God. We should abhor idols. We should hate the misuse, the degrading of God’s name. We should be repulsed by Sabbath-breaking. We should abhor the disrespect of parents. We should hate murder. We should be repulsed by adultery. We should abhor stealing. We should hate lying. We should be repulsed by envy and coveting.

These evils drag us away from life and joy in God. These evils will kill us, steal from us, and destroy us. May we hate such awful masters.

Now, think for a moment about the music, movies, and games you enjoy. Do these choices help you hate evil and support  the good? Church, do not be conformed to this world but be transformed, be like Jesus, by renewing your minds. Test these things. Are these songs, these shows, and these games in agreement with the good, pleasing, and acceptable will of God? Are you conforming to the world or being transformed into the image of Christ?

I’m not encouraging you to be a prude. Romans 14:17, “ the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Instead of being prudes, I want you to think of your love like a fire. Putting God’s good things on the fire of your love will fuel the fire. Putting the world’s evil things on the fire of your love is like putting water on the fire. Our goal is not to simply avoid the bad. Our goal is to love and cling to the good. In order for love to be genuine you must hate evil and hold fast to good.

  • Genuine love hates evil and holds fast to the good

Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good

Too many of us stop at “abhor what is evil.” We just walk around hating all the time. That’s wrong. That’s sin. That’s evil. That’s repulsive. That’s disgusting. That’s being lopsided. Don’t be lopsided. Our hatred of evil must be matched by our support of the good. We must hold fast to the good. Holding fast is what a husband does when he leaves his father and mother and holds fast to his wife (Mt 19:5). Clinging is what a person does who joins a church (Acts 5:13). Holding fast is what that sticky red clay does to your shoes after it rains. The dust clings to our feet (Luke 10:11).

Love latches on to, holds fast to, and clings to the good. Again, where do you get your definition of the good? Does your definition of good agree with the world or with the Word?

What does the Word say is good? God is good (Mt 19:17). The law is good (Rom 7:12). The will of God is good (Rom 12:2). In fact, the letter to the Romans was written so that we would be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil (Rom 16:19). Church, we are not given the liberty to choose one side of the coin. It’s not enough to simply cling to the good. It is not enough to simply abhor what is evil. We must combine love for the good with hatred for the evil. This is genuine love.

And this love is often incomprehensible to the world. To love your child by hating the evil and clinging to the good appears destructive, condemnatory, judgmental, even abusive. To be fair, often the world thinks what we are doing is destructive, condemnatory, judgmental, and abusive because it is destructive, condemnatory, judgmental, and abusive. We are shouting about evil when we should be teaching our children to turn away from evil. We are affirming the good in our confessions and with our words but not actively joyfully and sacrificially seeking to build up the good.

The most loving thing you can do for me is to simultaneously and passionately hate the evil you see and support the good you see. The most loving thing I can do for you is to simultaneously and passionately hate the evil I see and support the good I see. Let’s talk now about

II. How to be a helpful member of the body

So here you are, you have this gift and the rest of us have gifts. What should we do about it? Look at verse 10, “Love one another with brotherly affection.”

  • Love these people like family

It is important to note that there is a whole lot of affection going on in this phrase. Mom and dad, your PDA meter should be should be reading level orange here. KJV says, “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” Kindly means, of the same kind, it’s the base for kinfolk or just your kin. God wants his children to treat one another like family; with the affection of kinfolk. Affection should be pulsing through the body; the holy affection of a father for his child or a mother for her child. There should be parent-child love in the body, but that doesn’t go far enough. You should add brotherly love to the parent-child love. Love one another with brotherly love, with philadephia. This phila root is important for the application of the gospel in the end of Romans. Love one another in verse 10 starts with phila. Brotherly love starts with phila in verse 10. Show hospitality in 12:13 is another phila word. Greet one another with a holy kiss in 16:16: kiss is another phila word.

The most helpful thing you can do is love these people. Here is a very practical and simple way to love better. Email Lynn your picture or get him to take your picture for the directory. Then, using a paper directory or the app, pray for 2-3 members a day. Read their names before you do your Bible reading and whatever comes up that would be appropriate, pray it. Grow in love by praying for your brothers and sisters.

Here’s something else you can do

  • Make room for others

Romans 12:10 says, “Outdo one another in showing honor” or, “in honor give preference to one another.” We’ve been memorizing Philippians 2 and verse 3 says, “do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3, we should be counting others as more important or thinking about others as more significant. This does not look like Eeyore moping around with nothing to offer. Everyone’s better than me. I have the worst gift. I’m the biggest loser. That is not right. Instead, it looks like every member making room for the sprouting gifts of others. The best prophet should be encouraging other prophets. The best server should be encouraging others to serve. The best teacher should encourage others to teach. The person with the gift of exhortation should be exhorting others to exhort. The person with the gift of generosity should let others pay. Show honor to others by making room for their gifts.

We also show honor by being grateful for every gift no matter it’s size. Person A is more gifted at leading than Person B. Show honor to Person B when he leads. Person A is more gifted to show mercy than Person B. Show honor when Person B shows up and gives you mercy. We are in danger of making the church a body that only honors the highest level of giftedness. Instead, make room for others. In honor show preference to one another. Seek to outdo one another in building up your brothers and sisters so that they use their gifts.

Our first simple step was pray for 2-3 members every day. Here is our second simple step.

  • Learn how to constantly say, “Thank you.”

The most basic way we hold fast to the good we see in others is by saying, “Thank you.” Now, even a broken clock is right twice a day! Thank the clock for those two minutes. Despise the other 1,438 minutes but celebrate and honor the two that are right. We see this in the Apostle Paul as he honors the broken clock that is the church at Corinth. Look at this church, what are the two minutes we are getting right? Look at your neighbors and coworkers, what are the two minutes that they are getting right? Look at your spouse and children, what the two minutes they are getting right? Learn to say, “Thank you” for the smallest of things.

Romans 12:10 says, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Think about one another according to honor. In honor, give preference to one another. Hate the evil in your brothers and sisters while humbly showing them honor for the good. We desperately need the Holy Spirit so we can love like this. None of us is this smart, this spiritual, this loving, or wise. We need the Spirit. Pray for the Holy Spirit to increase your love.

Let’s close like this. How is your love? Is your love genuine or is it hypocritical? Do you love this church, these members, because you can build them up or do you exploit this church because it builds you up? Repent of hypocrisy and by faith put on love.

How is your hatred for evil? Do you have a category, a biblical understanding of what it looks like to hate evil? Is your hatred for evil matched by support for the good?

When you think of this gathering do you roll your eyes or do you engage your heart? If you are struggling to love people who aren’t like you then pray for God to pour more of his love into your heart by the Holy Spirit. Confess your lack of love and pray for God’s help to love. Then look for ways to show honor. Make room for others. Encourage others to put their gifts to work. And say thank you.

I’m calling an audible on our last hymn. I want us to express our gratitude to God and to one another. I want us to sing “The Family of God.” The words are simple. I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod; For I’m part of the family, the family of God.” If you want to join this family, if you want to become a member of this church, come forward and let’s talk. Let’s stand and sing together.

[1] Stott, John. The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (p. 330).

Cultivating Humility

This is from John Stott, on Romans 11:25, “Lest you become wise in your own sight…”

He has already warned them against boasting (18) and arrogance (20), and now against conceit. ‘Not ignorant so that not conceited’ is the essence of what he writes, for he knows that ignorance is the cause of conceit. It is when we have false or fantasy images of ourselves that we grow proud. Conversely, knowledge is conducive to humility, for humility is honesty, not hypocrisy. The complete antidote to pride is truth. If only the Jewish and Gentile members of the church in Rome can grasp their position vis-à-vis one another in the purpose of God, they will have nothing to boast about.

Stott, John. The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (p. 302). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Generous God

Text: Romans 10:17-21                                              11/26/2017

Main Point: Israel refuses God. Don’t be like Israel.

I think one of the more difficult stories in the bible is the story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 and Matt 15. You just read it, so I’ll recap the high points. A Gentile woman comes to Jesus because her daughter is demon possessed. She cries out to Jesus for help but he ignores her because she is not a Jew. Jesus’ mission is devoted to the Jewish people and to them he must go. Jesus gives her a hard word, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Her response is full of humility and faith, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Jesus then celebrates her faith and heals her daughter. She understands Jesus to be Lord and master. She clearly sees Jesus for who he is, and Jesus answers her faith with healing.

Is she a dog? Is she an outsider who cares nothing for the master? Is she consider only with fighting her fellow dogs for the crumbs? Or, is she an outsider who has become an insider? Is she a dog who has become a child? Insiders are those children at the table by faith. Outsiders are those dogs under the table by unbelief.

You see, in God’s economy his children become dogs through unbelief and dogs become his children through belief. Faith secures your place at the table while unbelief drives you far away. The moral of the story, read alongside Romans 10:17-21, is be on guard against unbelief. We are warned not to be unbelieving outsiders. God wants us to look at the example of Israel and understand the dangers of unbelief while celebrating the generosity of God. We, who were outsiders, have been invited to be children by faith. Once we were dogs. Now we are children.

Let’s read our text together, Romans 10:17-21

I. Salvation requires hearing and understanding

Last week, we saw how evangelism starts with the sending God. God sends the herald who proclaims the good news of Jesus’ righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. This message must be heard and believed such that the person cries out to Jesus for salvation. I’ll say it another way. Believing the gospel message makes us feel our separation from God and long for reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. God sends the preacher, the preacher goes with beautiful feet to preach the gospel, the gospel is heard, this understanding leads to believing, and believing leads to trusting the Lord for salvation. That’s fairly straight forward. But something confusing has happened. The powerful gospel has gone out on beautiful feet but the Jews have rejected it. Remember, in Romans 9-11, we are constantly dealing with the question of why so many Jews refuse to believe in Jesus for righteousness. Since faith comes by hearing, and hearing, through the word of Christ, why do the Jews not have faith?

Maybe the problem is the Jews have not heard the gospel. Look at verse 18, “have they not heard?” Look at the response, “Indeed they have.”

  • Israel has heard the gospel (18)

Here in Romans 10:18 Paul is quoting Psalm 19. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 are very similar. God has filled all of creation with signs that point to him. Natural or general revelation points to God. The stars in the sky, the sun running its course, and the created order all reveal that there is a God and he is powerful.

Now, if you’re tracking with the argument of Romans 10 and Psalm 19 you will notice a question. General revelation through creation proclaims that there is a God. The message that there is a God is not the same as special revelation through the gospel. Special revelation proclaims that there is a righteous Son, atoning Lamb, and victorious resurrected King.

We can rule out the idea that the gospel can be preached by the stars and sun. That idea contradicts all of Romans 10. For the gospel to be heard there must be a preacher who uses words. So, instead of saying general revelation preaches the gospel, the argument is that the path of special revelation is now like that of general revelation. The gospel is preached throughout the world by preachers using words. The existence of God is preached through all of creation and the word of Christ is being preached to all the nations. And obviously, Paul is not talking about every individual hearing the gospel, the point of Romans is to develop missionary support so he can go to Spain, where the gospel hasn’t been preached! Better still is the understanding that the gospel has been preached to Jew and Gentile. The Jews cannot claim they do not have access to the gospel. The Jews cannot use “I haven’t heard about Jesus” as an excuse. They have heard. To say that the Jews don’t believe in Jesus because they haven’t heard of Jesus is simply not true. The gospel is out there.

Wait, wait, wait, you’ll say. I remember last week you said sound waves in the ear canal are not enough. A person must hear so that she understands. Maybe the Jews have heard the gospel but don’t understand the gospel therefore they don’t believe the gospel. Is the problem understanding?

Verse 19, “But I ask, did Israel not understand?” Paul will now martial the words of Moses and Isaiah to demonstrate that the Jews understand exactly what is going on, or should understand what is going on, and yet they still refuse to repent and believe. Israel has heard and

  • Israel should understand how God works (19, 20)

Paul quotes from the song of Moses here in Romans 10:19. It was Moses’s last song as Joshua takes over and Moses prepares to die. It is a song celebrating the Exodus but also warning the people about their unbelief. There, in Moses’s song, God promises that when his people turn away from him and reject him he will make them jealous with other nations.

There is a play on words there in Moses’s song. When the people make God jealous by serving a not-a-god then God will make them jealous by giving his people’s blessings to those who are not-a-people. God will take the dogs and turn them into children. The children who were at the table of blessing will be sent far away to fight and beg for crumbs.

It is significant that the song of Moses follows the Exodus from Egypt and Paul now quotes the same warning following the second Exodus from sin and death. Moses led the people out and warns them. Jesus leads his people out and warns them.

Romans 10:19 is a wakeup call to the Jews. You understand how God works. God has always worked like this. If you refuse God and reject God and turn away from God then you don’t get to remain in the presence of God. You get kicked out of the Garden of Eden. You lose the ark of the covenant. The temple is destroyed and you are sent out of the Promised Land.

God’s plan has always included restoring his wayward children by taking their blessing and giving it to outsiders. That which is not a nation becomes a holy nation. That which was foolish becomes wise. And the Jews can’t believe it.

Here are the Jews singing, “We’ll have fun, fun, fun til Daddy takes the t-bird away.” They think Daddy will calm down and give it back. We can sin, God will get angry, he’ll calm down, and things will go back to normal. Instead, look at the history of Israel. Understand the history of Israel. Because of unbelief, Daddy takes the t-bird and the credit card and the house keys and all that goes with being a child and gives them to another.

Listen now to Isaiah, Romans 10:20, “Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” This is a reiteration of Romans 9:30, “Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, this is, a righteousness that is by faith.” The Gentiles are welcomed in and loved as sons and daughters while the Jews are cast out.

Moses is speaking after the Exodus and Isaiah is speaking during the Exile. God is working and has always worked among the nations. During the days of Elijah, during the famine, God sent Elijah to provide for an outsider, the widow of Zarephath. During the days of Elisha, when lepers where plentiful among God’s people, God used Elisha to heal Naaman the outsider (Luke 4:25-26). When God’s people were exiled, sent out into the nations, then those people, those dogs, those outsiders, will find God. They didn’t seek God; he sought them. Then didn’t ask for God; he proved himself to them.

Israel should understand that God has always been working to save the nations through the unbelief of his people. Friend, you are a member of this church, reconciled to God, because God found you and made himself known to you. Not many of us were Jews, most of us were outsiders living life without God. But in God’s mercy, in light of Jewish unbelief, God has made us his own. God is a generous God! You, an outsider have become a daughter of God. God is a generous God! You, a dog fighting under the table for the scraps, have been transformed into a beloved son. God is a generous God but

  • Israel refuses her merciful God (21)

Look with me at Romans 10:21, “But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’” God is calling them, those fighting for crumbs on the floor, to come, get cleaned up, and take their place at the table. But they will have none of it. They would rather work hard for the dog’s portion then receive the son’s portion through Christ. God offers them the righteousness of Christ and they refuse to submit.

All day long the Father is looking for the prodigal’s return. He has the robe, the ring, and the shoes ready. Come home! No thank you they say. They are disobedient. They will not obey the gospel. Instead they have better things to do. I have to tend to my wife. I have to tend to my land. I have to tend to my animals and my business. I have better things to do then come to your feast.

This is why Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matt 23:37). Israel has heard. Israel understands. Israel is unwilling.

II. Don’t be like Israel. Pay attention and believe.

  • Pay attention to the word of God (2 Pet 1:19; Heb 2:1-4)

The condemnation on Israel in Paul’s day is they had neglected their Bibles. They have the Old Testament, but they rejected it. They refused to pay attention to God and his word. They should have known. They should have seen it coming. Peter tells us, the church, the Israel of God, “You will do well to pay attention to the prophetic word as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

The word of Christ has gone out to the nations. Pay attention! Who is God? How does he work? What is wrong with this world and what is the solution? Pay attention to the word! Read, study, memorize, meditate, and obey.

Christians, we must pay attention to what we have heard so that we don’t drift from it. Since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

You see, we don’t give you a Bible reading plan because we think you’re watching too much TV. We give you a Bible reading plan because this is the fruitful living word of God. Pay attention to the word and

  • Pay attention to Israel’s example (1 Cor 10:6)

Church, 1 Corinthians 10:6, makes it clear that these things that happened to Israel are recorded for us. Don’t desire evil like they did. What God did in the Garden, he will do in Granbury. Do not presume upon grace. Hear the gospel and understand how God works. Look over a page to Romans 11:22, “Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” The Father who does not want to kick you out is the Father who is willing to kick you out. Learn from Israel and

  • Pay attention to Jesus (Heb 12:1-2)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

You are supposed to be focused on Jesus and run hard after him. We are supposed to pay attention to Jesus so that we work like him and love like him and pray like him and rest like him. We depend on Jesus to make us like Jesus. But we’re doing all this other stuff. All this fine upstanding stuff is like weight tied around our feet so we can’t run after Jesus. We’re too busy to be disciples or make disciples. And then there is the sin which clings so closely; the sin that we love that no one knows about. That sin is like a boa constrictor slowly squeezing us so that we cannot breathe and run. Some of us are so trapped by our sin we can’t remember what it feels like to take a deep breath. That weight and that sin is holding us back. Repent, put it off, be discipled, learn to obey. Learn to look to Jesus and run after him.

This path you and Jesus are on is a hard path that leads to joy. There will be days of shame and days that require endurance but the end of it all is a place at the table with Jesus.

By faith in Jesus you are no longer an outsider. You are in. By faith in Jesus you are no longer a dog. You are a beloved son, a beloved daughter of God. Let’s give him thanks.

Pray- Jesus thank you…