Sunday September 18, 2022 Romans Week 67 Romans 13:1-7 “God Government and You”

Sunday – September 18, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 18, 2022

Romans 13:1-2a
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God…”

Over the years I have found Christians are little different than non-Christians in their attitudes and responses toward authority. Compliance is given, but cooperation is not always guaranteed. Christians comply with the law, slowing down as we pass the police car with its radar speed detection equipment, but as soon as we are sure it is safe, we drive normally—and illegally. In Romans 13:1-7, Paul deals directly with the Christian’s attitude and conduct with respect to civil government authority.

The church is involved today in the same struggle Paul addresses with the Church at Rome. In the earlier days of our nation, our government was founded on many Christian convictions. If our early government founders and officials were not Christians, at least their beliefs and values were compatible with Christian doctrines and practices. However, over the years, our culture and our government has strayed farther and farther from Christianity. Christians and their values are quickly becoming a minority view according to a Pew Research Center study released this week. Consequently, we should expect the government will increasingly regulate, hinder, and even oppose Christian activity.

When Paul speaks of submission to government, he does so in the context of service which is the main theme of Romans 12:1–13:7. We are challenged by Paul in 12:1-2 to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service of worship. Paul then speaks of our sacrificial service in terms of the church, the body of Christ, and of the exercise of our spiritual gifts (12:3-8). In verses 9-21 Paul writes of our service in the context of love, whether we are serving our fellow-believers or our enemy. Subordination to civil government is discussed in Romans 13:1-7, only to find Paul returning to the theme of walking in love in verses 8 and following.

Daniel illustrates the truth of Romans 13:1-7 and exposes the folly of our fleshly efforts to affect change in government. Daniel was a young political hostage, with no credentials or political clout to impress his Babylonian captors. Daniel was but a single man, living in a godless society and in a heathen culture. And yet Daniel had tremendous political influence on several kings and administrations over a long period of time. What was it that made Daniel the E. F. Hutten of his day? What made kings listen when he spoke? I believe the answer is that Daniel subordinated himself to the heathen, human government of Babylon as God’s divinely ordained institution.

Daniel was a man who was respected and sought by the political leaders of his day. Why? I believe it was because Daniel was practicing what Paul later preached. Daniel was serving God by his subordination to civil government. As he sought to serve God with a clear conscience, he refused to do only that which was disobedient to God and defiling to his conscience. As he served God, he eagerly cooperated and supported the governmental system under which God had placed him. Down through history, men like Daniel have had a profound impact on kings and government officials—even though they served God and even though they were in the minority. May God grant that we will present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices, as we subordinate ourselves to others and to the government He has ordained.

Sunday September 11, 2022 Romans Week 66 Romans 12:14-21 “Transformed Attitudes Pt 2”

Sunday – September 11, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 11, 2022

Romans 12:17-19
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Even in the church, the vigilante spirit is alive and well. Christians sometimes attempt to sanctify their anger calling it righteous indignation, but we too are tempted to retaliate against those who mistreat us. Piously, we may pretend to resist evil supposing that God is on our side as we seek to “even the score” by causing hurt or harm to those who have mistreated us. Yet, Scripture calls for much more of us, requiring death to the flesh and the subordination of our personal interests to those of others.

Paul’s teaching in Romans is not new, the same essential truths were taught in the Old Testament as Paul cites from the Book of Proverbs. The teaching of our Lord Jesus calls for the same attitudes and actions (Matthew 5:38-48) along with the teaching of the other apostles (1 Peter 3:8-12; James 3). But as clear, consistent, and emphatic as the teaching of our text may be, it is not popular because it runs contrary to the inclinations of our flesh. We are tempted to try to find a way to excuse ourselves from simple obedience of the Word of God. We must be on guard against this temptation and let His Spirit to guide our interpretation and implementation as we seek to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices and as we love and serve Him through loving service to others.

You may wonder, what should I do if I’ve already blown it? Maybe you didn’t stop to think about how you should respond and so you exploded in anger at a difficult neighbor or family member. You pretty much ruined your testimony. Now what? The answer is, humble yourself, go to the person you wronged, and ask forgiveness. Don’t try to use your apology to witness to them, because they will think you’re just apologizing so that you can give them the religious pitch. Just ask forgiveness and leave it with them to ask about your faith.

Romans 12 calls upon the Christian to live in an entirely different way. We are to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. To do so, we must be transformed from what we were and not be conformed to the world. This is done by the renewing of our minds. Our thinking ceases to be in merely human terms but conforms to God’s thoughts. We must realize that to live as Christians, we must first think as Christians. This kind of thinking comes only through the Word of God, illuminated by the Spirit of God. Our text highlights the contrast between God’s thoughts and man’s. Let us be conformed to His thoughts. Let us obey Him by loving our enemies, seeking their benefit and, ultimately, seeking their salvation.

Sunday August 21, 2022 Romans Week 64 Romans 12:13-19 “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Sunday – August 21, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 21, 2022

Romans 12:9-10
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

“Love” is one of the most common, yet misused and misunderstood words in the English language. On in any media, “love” is synonymous with “romance” and seldom used without a sexual connotation. Commercials tempt the audience to pay for a call for a “love connection,” where companions can be matched or where romantic secrets are told. And yet even Christians have a very fuzzy grasp of the meaning of love. The meaning seems to be, “I love the warm, fuzzy way you treat me and make me feel so good.” Yet, no mention is made of God Himself, or of who He is.

Love is a subject of vital importance, not only because of our fuzzy ideas about what love really is, but because love is a matter of the highest priority. The question society tries to frame love by has become, “Is it loving?” rather than, “Is it right?” If it is “loving,” it is presumed to be right. Not so with Paul’s understanding of love. Biblical love cannot be separated from biblical righteousness. Christian love is drawn toward “right” and repulsed by “wrong.” It is attracted to and adheres to that which is “good,” abhorring and withdrawing from “evil.”

Christian love is something like a battery. There must be two poles for current to flow- a positive terminal and a negative terminal. In biblical thinking, love is more than a choice, it is a decision. It is a decision to choose one thing and to reject another. Jacob could not “love” both Leah and Rachel; he had to “love” one and to “hate” the other. So too we cannot serve two masters, for we will inevitably “love” one and “hate” the other. Our love as Christians must be both a response to God’s love and a reflection of His love.

There are Christians today who urge us to emphasize God’s love, and I agree this we should do. But if we are to proclaim God’s love, we must distinguish between good and evil. The love of God is that love which clings to the good and abhors the evil. The love of God cannot and does not overlook sin nor the judgment which it deserves and requires. If we would speak more of God’s love, we must speak more of good and of evil. Rebuke and discipline are not a violation of love but a manifestation of it. Love acts in accordance with righteousness.

Sunday March 6, 2022 Romans Week 44 Romans 8:31-32 “Enduring Opposition”

Sunday – March 6, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 6, 2022

Romans 8:31-33
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all — how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

Confidence can be a very good thing. It can also be a mill stone around one’s neck. Being confident simply is not enough. The crucial issue is in whom, or in what, is our confidence. Ill-founded confidence is deadly. Well-founded confidence is proper and good. Some Christians have no confidence at all, believing that with one slip, one sin, they are out of the faith. Agonizing their way through life, they hope no sin has gone unnoticed and unconfessed; if so, they fear they will not get to heaven. These Christians desperately need the confidence of which Paul speaks in Romans 8.

It is not doubt, nor fear, nor guilt which should motivate our service, but a confidence in God mixed with deep and abiding gratitude. Because we are secure in Christ, we may serve. We need not focus on ourselves but on Him. Since He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” we must “fix our eyes on Him” (Hebrews 12:1-2). With God on His side, the Messiah was both willing and able to face a world that would reject and persecute Him. This confidence, which sustained our Lord, is that same confidence which is also able to sustain every saint.

We dare not be confident in ourselves. This would be folly. We dare not doubt that we shall be more than conquerors as this would be to deny His Word and to distrust God. We, like Paul, should be absolutely convinced concerning these things, based upon the Word of God. God, who has done the most for you by giving His own Son, will help you endure every trial that you go through for Christ’s sake. Because of His great love for you, He will bring you safely to glory. Our security is rooted in God, in His sovereignty, and in His unfailing love.

Today self-confidence is looked upon as a virtue and lack of self-assurance as a vice. Even in Christian circles we are being told how we can raise our children so that they feel good about themselves, are self-assured, and confident. The Bible calls for humility, not pride; for dependence on God, not self-sufficiency. Let us beware of seeking that which God’s Word condemns. Let us look to God, to God alone. He is our refuge and strength. In Him, and Him alone, is our confidence.

Sunday – December 19, 2021 Romans Week 34 Romans 8 Overview “From Agony to Ecstasy”

Sunday – December 19, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 19, 2021

Romans 8:3-4
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

There is an expression that goes something like this: only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Now this may be true for the unbeliever, but for the true believer in Jesus Christ we must add at least one more thing—sanctification. That is the force of Romans 8. All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to Himself.

We gain a clue to the importance of this chapter simply by contrasting the conclusion of chapter 7 with that of chapter 8. Chapter 7 ends in agony, with the apostle describing the constant struggle going on within as he attempts to live a life which is pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Those who can identify with the agony of Paul in Romans 7 will rejoice with him in the ecstasy of Romans 8. Do you desire to serve God and to obey His commands and yet find it impossible to do so? If not, then you should go back to the beginning of Romans and start reading again. If you have come to that point of despair of which Paul speaks, then you have come to the point of dependence upon God.

Paul’s approach to the spiritual life is so different from that of many today. Paul does not seek to motivate Christians by questioning their salvation or by suggesting that, by sin, they can lose it. He does not suggest that unspiritual living is the result of failing to possess the Spirit but bases his teaching on the certainty that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit. And he does not appeal to guilt or fear but to grace and assurance. Paul assumes that his readers are genuine Christians. If they have been justified by faith, then they have the Spirit dwelling within. Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, based upon His goodness and grace to us. There are no harsh words, no dictatorial commands. Paul is not a sergeant here addressing new recruits but a brother reminding us of the goodness of our Father. God’s Spirit is a gift from the Father to every Christian. He reminds us that we are sons. He leads us and empowers us so that we may act like sons to the glory of the Father.

Sunday – December 12, 2021 Romans Week 33 Romans 7:14-25 Pt 2 “This is War”

Sunday – December 12, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 12, 2021

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I tend to think of Paul as the man with all the answers. If anyone can understand sin and my struggle with it, it would be Paul. But in our text Paul is the one struggling, and he does not offer a quick or easy explanation. This is because sin cannot be understood. Sin is irrational. We try to rationalize our sinful actions to make it appear that we have reasons, good reasons, for our sin but there is no good reason for sin. Sin is an irrational act which has no easy, rational explanation.

We have little difficulty believing we struggle with sin or that others like Peter struggled, but Paul somehow seems above it all.  Yet Paul’s struggle is a deeply personal struggle, with sin and with his own flesh. It is a war within, the result from his conversion to Christ, that did not exist until he was saved. However, Paul’s despair was legitimate and even necessary. Until we hate sin, we will not turn from it. Until we reach the end of ourselves, we will not look to God. Just as unsaved person must come to the end of themselves in order to receive God’s gracious provision of righteousness, by faith in Christ, Christians too must come to the end of themselves to find the solution, once again, at the cross of Calvary.

If coming to the end of ourselves is essential to turning to God for our deliverance, then many Christians will never turn to God for victory over sin because they do not recognize their true condition or take it seriously enough. It was the self-righteous Pharisees who did not come to Jesus for forgiveness simply because they did not think they needed it. It is the “smooth-sailing saints” who do not come to the cross for deliverance from the power of sin in their lives because they do not agonize over their condition as Paul did.

How great is our struggle? My concern is that I lack the kind of agony that Paul has. If our struggle is as great as Paul’s, we will in desperation give up all self-help efforts and turn to the cross. God has provided a righteousness through the power of the Spirit. The answer is to come in Romans 8- the very Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus Christ from the grave is the Spirit that dwells in you and will give life to your mortal bodies. The solution for Christians is the walk of the Spirit, but we will never get to that point until we have come to the desperation of Paul in Romans 7. My prayer is that we begin to grasp the immensity of the struggle with sin and forsake all efforts to serve God in the strength of our flesh.

Sunday – December 5, 2021 Romans Week 32 Romans 7:14-25 “Who is This Wretched Man”

Sunday – December 5, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 5, 2021

Romans 7:19-20
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Paul describes in the Book of Romans a great struggle—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things we as Christians despise, we find ourselves doing and those things we as Christians desire, we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies.

My body generally does what I ask it to do, although to my chagrin, it does it slower and not nearly as well as it used to do. It is a frightening thought that someday it may not respond to my requests at all. But it is one thing to have our body not do what we tell it to and quite another to realize that our body is very obedient to something else. Every Christian who reads Romans 7:14-25 should immediately identify with Paul’s expression of frustration and agony due to the weakness of his fleshly body: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). We are confronted with a dilemma as we try to live righteously. If there were no answer for this question, who would dare to press on with living a holy life?

Christians and non-Christians alike struggle, but they struggle with very different things. The non-Christian’s enemy is God and ultimately the struggle of the unbeliever is their struggle with God. Their distress and troubles are a manifestation of the wrath of God. We were born in our transgressions and sin; we were at enmity with God—sin is not the problem. For the Christian, sin is the enemy and that changes only at conversion. The struggle Paul is describing is his personal struggle with sin, as I understand it, as a believer.

Some of our most tender nerves are touched by Paul’s teaching in verses 14-25. The truths taught here could be taken as the most depressing and hopeless realities of our lives. But Paul does not dwell on the weakness of our flesh in order to discourage us. Rather, Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem that prevent Christians from living the kind of lives God requires and which we, as Christians, desire in our innermost being. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for godly living, the solution found in Romans 8. Those of us willing to honestly identify with the agony of Romans 7 will be ready for the ecstasy of God’s gracious provision for living righteously in Romans 8. Let us welcome these words of encouragement as a revelation from God, for these verses are God’s good news for sinners.

Sunday – November 28, 2021 Romans Week 31 Romans 7:7-13 “How Lovely the Law”

Sunday – November 28, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 28, 2021

Romans 7:7
What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

It comes as no surprise that sinners have no love for law, especially the Law of God. All men are born sinners, dead in their trespasses and sins. Yet unbelievers’ disdain for the Law of God is not surprising. What is distressing is the number of Christians who disdain the Law of God. The Law of God is seen by some Christians as something evil, something of which we would do well to be rid. Such thinking at best sees of the Law of God as obsolete, superseded by grace.

Many sins, on the other hand, are looked upon as something good and desirable. This is surely true of the unbeliever. But here again even Christians may be tempted to view sin as something good and desirable, just as Eve saw that deadly tree as desirable, not only to look at but to eat from so that she might be like God, knowing good and evil. God’s Law consistently receives bad reviews from the world, while sin is heralded with great reviews. The Law is looked upon with disdain, or with mere toleration, while sin is thought to be desirable and appealing. If we must give it up, for God’s sake, we will, but only reluctantly.

Our culture would have us believe that sin is beautiful and that the Law (or God’s rule) is ugly. While the Law has its limitations and weaknesses, it is not evil, nor is it synonymous with sin. There is a close relationship between the Law, sin, and death, but the Law and sin are very different. The Law is “holy, righteous, and good,” while sin is, frankly, sinister. This fact should not come as any great revelation to the Christian. Yet it is true that many Christians seem to have forgotten or ignored it. And those of us who may agree with Paul’s conclusion in principle are often tempted to deny it in practice.

The Law of God is necessary precisely because of our inability to recognize it in and of ourselves. The Law calls those attitudes and actions sin which we would not have understood to be sin. I believe a good part of Eve’s deception was that she did not really believe eating from the forbidden tree was sin. After all, the tree was desirable, how could eating its fruit be sin? It looked so good. This is precisely the reason God had to give Adam and Eve the commandment not to eat of this tree. If we would not recognize sin as such, and it can only be revealed by divine revelation, then we must, by faith, believe God’s revelation. To reject God’s Law because it does not make sense to us is to fail to remember why the Law was given in the first place: because we will not recognize sin apart from the Law.

Sunday – July 4, 2021 Independence Day Philippians 1:27-30 “Christian Citizenship”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 4, 2021

Philippians 1:27-28
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

Paul was aware when he wrote to the Philippian church of just how important the desire to re-create a home in a foreign place was. Philippi was a colony of Rome—a part of the Roman commonwealth. This meant more than its being a subject city: Philippi was distinct from other cities in Macedonia in that it was made to be a model Roman city. In a colony one would find Roman customs, Roman architecture, Roman dress, and the prevailing language was Latin. It was, in a word, a fragment of Rome. If you were to walk into the city, you would have the feeling of entering an Italian suburb of Rome, even though it was nearly a thousand miles distant.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, he knew they would understand him when he said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) There is an important difference between Paul’s calling Christians to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom and the human tendency to make a home on foreign soil by imitating the customs of the homeland. While there is a continual reminder of the alienation that accompanies having a home in a foreign land, we have the hope of going to our true homeland.

We as Christians must never forget that this world is not home. There must be a sense of alienation taken into the heart of all our experiences because the gospel has given us more than new lift-  it has granted us new citizenship. Unfortunately, adaptation is second nature to the human race. We adapt ourselves to the environment and culture in which we find ourselves until we act and think like those around us. In doing so we exchange the distinction of being a heavenly citizen for a lesser title of a citizen of an earthly nation. We lay aside the standard of the gospel in order to have room to carry the standard of the nation.

The gospel is the new and higher standard of conduct for who bear the name of Christ. The gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ; it is the declaration of how God has made it possible for people to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life. The actions of the believer are attempts to prove to this world the real existence of another world; another citizenship. In all matters relating to the gospel, we must obey God and not men. This will cause friction with the nation in which we live. The friction caused by our spiritual loyalty to our true nation is the way we testify of another eternal world and to another glorious King.

Sunday – May 2, 2021 Romans Week 6 Rom 1:18-23 “The Present Wrath of God”

Sunday – May 2, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 2, 2021

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

God is doing a work today, and few even know He is doing it. He is presently revealing His wrath on “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). God is judging men for their sin today, and few even know it is happening. Unbelievers are unaware of God’s judgment, because they do not know God, nor are they alert to His presence and power in the world today. This is to be expected. But many Christians are equally ignorant of God’s present judgment of sin. They think of God’s judgment only in terms of the future. And they think of the sinner’s present self-indulgence in terms of pleasure, not punishment.

Many Christians look upon the sinfulness of our culture in about the same way one of the psalmists of old looked upon his culture—with envy. Instead of grieving over the sins of others, as Lot did over the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, we are tempted to envy sinners, as though they are privileged to enjoy pleasures we Christians are denied. And so, very much as Satan implied that God was withholding good from Adam and Eve, we are tempted to believe that God is withholding something good from us. We try to console ourselves with the thought that though we must suffer now, we do so in order to enjoy better pleasures in heaven.

In the time of the great tribulation, God will allow men to do as they please. He will remove all restraints. But men will learn that there is no joy or pleasure possible when each seeks his own pleasure at the expense of others. Men want God to leave them alone; they want none of His controls. When God removes His controlling and restraining hand (Colossians 1:16, 17) the universe will begin to fall apart at the seams (Matthew 24:29). Men wish God to leave them alone, and God will give them an eternity of separation from Himself (2 Thessalonians 1:9). What an awesome thought. Hell is getting exactly what we want. And on the reverse side of the coin, how grateful we Christians should be to our heavenly Father Who has and will withhold much of what we ask for, for our own good.

Paul’s words may take many of us by surprise. We are not inclined to believe that God’s judgment has a present, as well as a future, manifestation. And even if we do believe in a present judgment, the form which this judgment takes, according to Paul, is not that which we would expect. The Book of Romans will force us to re-evaluate much of our thinking on the judgment of God. We must have the Holy Spirit illuminate His Word to understand it, and we must have divine enablement to apply it. Let us petition God for the ministry of His Spirit, as we approach our study in Paul’s letter to the Romans.