The Lord’s Day 10-15-17

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With Your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” – Psalm 18:28-30 NIV

When the outlook is dim, look to Him; there is no darkness in His presence. In Him there is forward movement and protection against the enemy’s schemes. He is our refuge. Let’s worship Him today!

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Someone who takes a “literal” approach to the Christian life is often considered simple, and unsophisticated. There’s even a growing number of pastors who’ve abandoned a traditional interpretation of scripture in favor of a more tolerant view of cultural standards. It may seem like a modern development, but it’s just old heresies repackaged. Consider what Paul said in his closing thoughts to the Romans:

“…I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” – Romans 16:19b NKJV

As followers of Christ, we’re not to be comfortable with sin. That doesn’t mean we separate ourselves off into a commune, but we do separate ourselves in lifestyle. Yes, that may invite accusations of being “weird” or “one of those”, but Paul prefaces the words in verse 16, with a commendation to those who are obedient. He also said to “note” those who teach things contrary to the Word of God and avoid them (v.17). They aren’t to get “equal time” in the name of inclusiveness, lest they deceive others (v.18).

What kind of teaching are you listening to? Does it challenge you to go deeper into the scriptures? Does it encourage Christlikeness? Or does it attempt to polish a worldly lifestyle into something acceptable as “Christian”? May we be “wise in what is good” and “simple concerning evil” today.

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This world can be a hopeless place. Daily news events and the actions of people can leave a person feeling discouraged about life and the future. As believers, we hear the word hope a lot, but on occasion it can feel quite illusive. So, with circumstances often working against hope, what are the specific building blocks of a hopeful heart?

The answer involves two parts, with the first being the “filling”. Consider this verse:

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 NKJV

God is the one who fills us with hope, but the interesting thing is what happens at the beginning. Before hope is realized, joy and peace must be present in the heart; and they are directly tied to belief. What a person believes to be true, has everything to do with their outlook on tomorrow. When there’s faith in God’s leadership, there’s hope about what the day may bring; and through the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s not just present, it’s abounding. “Now may the God of hope fill you…”

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Tripping over something can be embarrassing (especially in public) and sometimes wounded pride can also be accompanied by injury. In the household of faith, we’re commanded to take extra care regarding the placement of “spiritual furniture” around our life’s living room. The reason is there may be a routine or activity we’re comfortable with that inadvertently causes another to stumble. Consider this charge:

“Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” –Romans 14:13 NKJV

The life of liberty in Christ is filled with freedom. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice; sin’s curse is broken, the Law’s requirements are fulfilled, and abundant life is experienced. However, we don’t walk away from the altar without responsibilities. We’re instructed to learn, grow, mature, and serve. The life of a disciple isn’t one of perpetual adolescence, it’s one of influence…the right kind of influence. Occasionally, that means some habits need a second look. According to Romans 14:7, we live to the Lord, not ourselves; and caring for what He cares for…people.

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Wisdom 6.16

“The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.” – Proverbs 6:16-19 HCSB

Those are strong words. The motives and schemes of people are clearly known to the Lord and nothing “slips” past Him. We must remember that His pattern throughout scripture is patience and forgiveness, but when He takes action, it’s final.

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“Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:10 NKJV

What does it mean to be a “good neighbor”? Is it watching out for another’s property while they’re on vacation? Putting someone’s trash container away? Or taking a meal during a sickness? Very simply, it’s “Christlikeness”. In Romans chapters 12-13, Paul is talking about “putting on Christ” in every circle of our life. Whether it’s vocational or personal, he says to “live peaceably” and “walk properly”. He even says to respect government officials and pay taxes with a good attitude. That can be especially challenging when the leaders aren’t very “respectable”. However, considering the political context in which he wrote those words, it’s hard to justify not doing so.

At the end of the day, to “put on Christ” is going beyond being neighborly to those who are neighborly, and doing so to the ones who aren’t. Often that takes the empowering of the Holy Spirit; and in His power today, may we be “good neighbors”.

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Who needs you today? As Paul was building on his statement to be “living sacrifices”, he mentioned this:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15 NKJV

So who needs you today? You have the opportunity to be part of improving someone’s personal weather forecast from “rainy” to “partly sunny” through a simple note, text, or comment. Your words can be powerful. A compliment can lift a spirit, encouragement can motivate a tired soul, a loving challenge can alter a future and asking forgiveness can soften a heart. Proverbs 25:11 reminds us:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver”

It’s not rocket science, but your friend probably doesn’t need a scientist today as much as they need you.

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