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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #52 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 24

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and have been reading chapter 12 during the last while.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, to reach out to others regardless of their status, to not repay evil with evil, to do right before everyone, to live at peace with everyone when possible, not to take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath, and to do good to our enemies!

Let’s conclude our multipart study by looking at verse 21.

The twenty-fourth critical imperative is straightforward —

24. Believers are TO OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD! (v. 21)

The truth is evil will always be present with us — until Jesus returns. How are believers to respond to EVIL? First, we need to be able to identify evil. Our world has suffered and is suffering a moral collapse. It calls evil “good” and good “evil.” We must return to a biblical clarity about the reality of genuine evil.

Second, we believers dare not cocoon ourselves off from the evil in our culture. We have absolutely no justification to move our families into caves (with or without internet access) and turn our backs on God’s world. We are to be fully engaged in this fallen world. Some of us will become policemen, some lawyers, some jurors, some conscientious citizens who seek to live out the Christian faith as salt and light.

Third, we are to fight evil! We must stand against injustice, prejudice, inequity, discrimination, perversity, self-centeredness. We must speak for the poor, the disenfranchised, the unborn. Even when we lose such moral battles, we are not to give up and conform to this fractured world’s godless ways. We resist by praising good and doing good.

One of the struggles we believers have is that, while we recognize that our good works have nothing to do with our becoming saved, they have everything to do with our living out our saved lives in this broken planet. We are fond of quoting Ephesians 2:8-9 which says,

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

But we need to read further: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This issue of doing good works shows up in many New Testament passages. (See the following list at the end of this post).

Today’s Challenge: We overcome evil by good. Is there some example of evil that you know of to which you could respond with an act of kindness or goodness?

Verses on “Doing Good”:
Luke 6:35
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Acts 10:38
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Romans 2:7
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Romans 2:10
but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.
1 Timothy 6:18
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
2 Timothy 2:21
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Titus 2:7
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
Titus 2:14
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 3:1
Saved in Order to Do Good
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
Titus 3:8
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:14
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
Hebrews 13:16
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
James 3:13
Two Kinds of Wisdom
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 4:17
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
1 Peter 2:12
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:15
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
1 Peter 2:20
But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
1 Peter 3:11
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
1 Peter 3:13
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #51 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 23

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and have been reading chapter 12 during the last while.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, to reach out to others regardless of their status, to not repay evil with evil, to do right before everyone, to live at peace with everyone when possible, and not to take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath!

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 20.

The twenty-third critical imperative is straightforward —

23. Believers are TO CARE FOR THE NEEDS OF THEIR ENEMIES! (v. 20)

“Am I a soldier of the cross?”, we used to sing in Sunday School when I was young and the last of the dinosaurs were becoming extinct. Soldiers have enemies. The fact that I can’t name one single enemy is disturbing to me.

Why? Because the gospel of Christ divides people into those who believe it and those who oppose it. And if I’m doing a good job of sharing and living the gospel before others, I should probably be making some enemies along the way.

But let’s assume I’ve got an enemy or two. How should I treat that person? Enemies should be executed — or at least imprisoned, right?

In his book of poetry entitled You! Jonah! Thomas Carlisle records Jonah saying, “I hate God’s enemies with a perfect hatred! Why can’t God do as much?” But today’s critical imperative tells us that we should feed our hungry enemies and give them something to drink when they are thirsty! What?

Ah. Here’s the conclusion: “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Great! That’s exactly what I want to do! But have I understood that verse correctly?

The description of “heaping burning coals” is a reference to Proverbs 25:21–22.

21If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

22For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.

[The following is from several commentators. Please forgive the long sentences.] “In Egypt, there had been a custom to carry a pan of burning coals on one’s head as a sign of repentance. Kindness and forgiveness to those who abuse us, ideally, will make them ashamed of themselves, and hopefully bring them to repent. The strongest, most powerful response to persecution and hatred is to love your enemies. Not to do him hurt, not to aggravate his condemnation, as if this would be a means of bringing down the wrath of God the more fiercely on him, which is a sense given by some; as if this would be an inducement to the saints to do such acts of kindness; which is just the reverse of the spirit and temper of mind the apostle is here cultivating; but rather the sense is, that by so doing, his conscience would be stung with a sense of former injuries done to his benefactor, and he be filled with shame on account of them, and be brought to repentance for them, and to love the person he before hated, and be careful of doing him any wrong for the future; all which may be considered as a prevailing motive to God’s people to act the generous part they are here moved to.”

It must refer to the burning pain of shame and remorse which the man feels whose hostility is repaid by love. This is the only kind of vengeance the Christian is at liberty to contemplate.

We need desperately to shun the example of Jonah and love our enemies as the Lord Jesus taught us. Carlisle caught Jonah’s sentiment exactly when he wrote:

And Jonah stalked
to his shaded seat
and waited for God
to come around
to his way of thinking.

And God is still waiting for a host of Jonahs
in their comfortable houses
to come around
to His way of loving.

Today’s Challenge: Got any enemies? You might be surprised. Look for an opportunity to show kindness to him or her so that they will repent and come to the Lord!

 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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What Are You Afraid of? (A short video parable)

I believe this is a male cardinal. He sees his own reflection in the garbage can — and is certain “that other bird” is a threat!

Isn’t it true that the greatest threat we often face as Christians is . . . ourselves? We may elevate our own view of ourselves above what the Lord says about us. Or we may fight the work of God in us, especially if that work involves some suffering and challenges.

It is true that right now we see “only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (I Cor. 13:12). But when the only face we see is our own, we are no better off than a cardinal banging his beak against a garbage can!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2019 in self

 

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Some Thoughts on FRIENDSHIP — From an INTROVERT! ENEMIES of God!? (Part 2)

None of us likes to be told that we enter life as ENEMIES of God! But that’s the testimony of Scripture. True, every person is a creation of God and is made in the image of God. But as we saw in our previous post, CREATION does not equal REDEMPTION.

I’ve been studying Ephesians 2 recently and here is what we learn about our B.C. (before Christ) condition:

There are two, and only two, categories of human beings: (1) those who are by nature (and practice) belong to their father, the devil (Jn. 8:41; Acts 13:10), and (2) those who by conversion and redemption are now children of God (Jn. 1:12; I Jn. 3:10).

We dare not waffle on the truth of CONVERSION.  I heard of a very cautious clergyman in Detroit who once challenged his congregation with these words: “Dearly beloved, unless you repent of your sins in a measure, and become converted in a degree, you will, I regret to say, be damned to a more or less extent.” Biblical conversion moves one out of the category of enemy into the category of child, redeemed by the finished work of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s not leave those verses in Ephesians 2 too quickly. Notice some of the awful statements about our pre-conversion condition: “dead in your transgressions and sins”; you “followed the ways of this world”; you were “by nature deserving of wrath”; etc. Those expressions are the death-nail to human pride. When one says, “Yes, Lord, that is indeed my condition,” he or she is on the fast track to forgiveness and fellowship with God. And conversion leads to FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD!

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2019 in enemies

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (14:15-23) Peace or Panic?

Jonathan, Saul’s son, has just routed some of the Philistine army. Then the Lord sends a panic! The ground shakes and a “panic” strikes the whole Philistine army (v. 15).

Saul’s lookouts saw “the army melting away in all directions” (v. 16). Saul investigates to find which men had left them — and discovers it is Jonathan and his armor-bearer.

Then Saul asks that the ark be brought. But the “tumult” and the “total confusion” in the Philistine army caused them to strike one another (v. 19-20). The Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines (POW’s?) went over to the Israelites. Those who had hidden in the hill country joined the battle when they heard that the Philistines were on the run. “So on that day the Lord saved Israel” (v. 23).

Some takeaways for today:
1. Sometimes the Lord sends not peace, but panic! He is not a God of confusion, but He can inflict confusion on His enemies!
2. He gets the credit for saving Israel on this day. But notice — those who had hidden joined the battle and fought the Philistines!
3. It appears that Saul was prepared to use the ark as a good luck symbol for Israel, but the Lord caused the Philistine army to turn their swords on each other. We can trust the Lord to take care of His own!

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in I Samuel 14

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (13:16-23) “My Kingdom for a Sword!”

This text uses the name “Ophrah”! Really. That’s not exactly the same as Oprah, but close.

In our verses for today, we are in the context of war. Raiding parties of the Philistines attack the Israelites. But Israel had a major problem — no blacksmiths! The Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” (v. 19). So Israel had their farming implements sharpened by the Philistines (v. 20). And the prices are listed for us here in I Samuel 13!

Only Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear. No other Israelite soldier possessed such a weapon. Chapter 14 will tell us about Saul’s son Jonathan and his attack on the Philistines.

Any takeaways for today? Even our enemies can provide needed services for us?  (I would suggest that these verses in chapter 13 are simply setting us up for what will happen in chapter 14).  Have a great day!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2018 in I Samuel 13

 

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Some Challenges from Colossians! (Part 7)

What a privilege to ponder God’s Word! As we continue our study of this incredible letter to the Colossians, let’s look at our next section of chapter one:

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2018 in Colossians 1

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 32)

Can you imagine getting mad at God for forgiving someone else?!  What about the rape victim who learns that her rapist trusts Jesus in prison and is now a brother in the faith?  What about a terrorist on death row who realizes that Islam isn’t the truth of God, hears the gospel, and repents of his actions that led to the death of hundreds?  What about your snarky neighbor who’s always borrowing your tools but never returning them?  (This last one does seem a bit silly, doesn’t it?)

But we struggle with God’s forgiving others, don’t we?  Especially if they have offended us.

Jonah 4 begins with Jonah’s throwing a temper tantrum over God’s withholding judgment from the Ninevites.  Thomas John Carlisle summarizes Jonah’s attitude in his poem entitled “Tantrum”:

 

 

 

 

(to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 140

Psalm 140

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers;screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-5-55-32-am
    protect me from the violent,
who devise evil plans in their hearts
    and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
    the poison of vipers is on their lips.

Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
    protect me from the violent,
    who devise ways to trip my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
    they have spread out the cords of their net
    and have set traps for me along my path.

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
    Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy.
Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,
    you shield my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord;
    do not let their plans succeed.

Those who surround me proudly rear their heads;
    may the mischief of their lips engulf them.
10 May burning coals fall on them;
    may they be thrown into the fire,
    into miry pits, never to rise.
11 May slanderers not be established in the land;
    may disaster hunt down the violent.

12 I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
    and upholds the cause of the needy.
13 Surely the righteous will praise your name,
    and the upright will live in your presence.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2017 in enemies

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 20

ר Resh

153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-6-07-10-am
    for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
    preserve my life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
    for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, Lord, is great;
    preserve my life according to your laws.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me,
    but I have not turned from your statutes.
158 I look on the faithless with loathing,
    for they do not obey your word.
159 See how I love your precepts;
    preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true;
    all your righteous laws are eternal.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2017 in enemies

 

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