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Selflessness glorifies God, and that is what we were created for. #joy

 

Romans 15:5-7 “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

 

One of the most succinct and singular tragedies of today’s culture is its propensity to glorify self along with anything and everything trivial and banal. The universe was created for one purpose and for that one purpose alone—to glorify its Creator. Every flower that blooms, every breeze that blows, every mountain that stands in majesty and every child that giggles was created to show how amazing and awe-inspiring is our God. His power and might and grace and mercy and love were meant to be shown in every single thing that exists, but man threatens daily to steal that attention away and make creation about him and his comfort and happiness. The only way any of us will truly know joy and satisfaction in ourselves and with each other is if we live for our created purpose, which is glorifying God. However, the only way we can come to that joyous place is through the very One we seek to glorify. As Paul demonstrates in these two verses, we must pray and ask our Father to grant that which we cannot attain in our own humanity. We seek God and beseech Him to give us hearts that look outside of self and onto others so that we will bring attention and worship to His glory where it rightfully belongs.

 

Study/Meditation: Read Paul’s closing prayer in his second letter to the church in Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 and 3:16-18. How does Paul demonstrate this type of prayer?

 

*Father, give me a heart that turns toward You by seeking the good of others. Forgive me for my selfishness and create in me a clean heart. I glorify You above all, my Lord. Amen.

 

Christians should meditate on, pray over, and live in the bible daily. #bible

 

Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

 

So much of Paul’s letter to the Romans in the last two chapters has been about loving and serving one another in Christ. He has just now paused in the previous verse to lift Jesus up as our supreme example of selfless love by quoting Psalm 69:9. Now he pauses further to explain why he refers to the Old Testament in these exhortations, and it is one of the most important verses in all of the bible in regards to the Scriptures and their practical application in our lives. God has given us His very Word so that we will be instructed, so that we will endure, and so that in these things we will have hope. Our Father knows that we will be tried and troubled in these days, and He knows that our endurance in these troubles is paramount to our ability to love one another in patience and kindness. He has then given us example upon example of His faithfulness throughout redemptive history so that we might lean on His promises during our times of tribulation, even when that tribulation is with each other. The bible is our guide, our counsel, and our hope as we live in this world, but we cannot lean on it if we don’t read it. Receive the hope that is ours alone in Christ. Meditate on, pray over, and live in God’s Word every day.

 

Study/Meditate: Meditate today on examples from Scripture that give you hope. (Suggestions: The story of Joseph, Genesis 37-50; the story of Ruth in the book of Ruth; the story of the fall of Sennacherib and the Assyrians in Isaiah 37)

 

*Father, thank You for Your Word and for the edification it brings me. I rejoice in You and in Your precepts. Amen.

 

How can we not love one another in light of our Savior’s sacrifice? #Jesus

 

Romans 15:3 “For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’”

 

It may often be that we don’t truly contemplate the magnitude of Jesus Christ coming to earth to live and die as a man so that we might live. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He willingly left His throne in the heavenly places and put on the garments of humanity for us. He did not do so in order that mankind would laud and magnify Him. He lived a life of poverty by human standards. He was mocked and beaten, shunned and ridiculed, all while doing absolutely nothing wrong. He was despised and rejected by His own kinsmen, the same kinsmen who eventually killed Him in the most despicable and painful way available to them “legally.” His life was anything but one that mankind would think acceptable for a king. Yet He lived it willingly for His children, even though with one word He could have destroyed all of those who tormented Him, lifting Himself high upon the throne that is His and His alone in the universe. He could have taken His rightful seat for all men to see at any moment during His thirty-three years on earth, but He did not. He did not because He was completely “other-centered.” Jesus was completely “us-centered.” May it never be that we look for reasons and excuses not to love and serve our brethren in humility and patience when our Savior did so much more than that for us.

 

Study/Meditation: Paul quotes Psalm 69:9 in Romans 15:3. Read all of Psalm 69 with Jesus in mind. How does this Davidic psalm speak to you in regards to your Savior?

 

*Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I magnify Your name. Thank You for living the life of a man so that I might live. You are glorious in all things. Amen.

 

The church is a diverse family living in one place for God’s glory. #church

 

Romans 15:1-2 “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

 

After the death of the famous American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, his family found in his belongings a collection of unused and potential plot lines for future stories. One of them read: “A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live forever.” That’s really the church, isn’t it? We are a widely separated family with countless diversities and differences who are called to live together in one place. Eventually that will be eternity and the differences will be removed, but for now that place is the local church and the differences abound. Paul is continuing to emphasize that as Christians, it is paramount that we live not for ourselves, but for the good of others. We bear with one another in love, never looking toward selfish goals but toward goals that put our fellow brothers and sisters in the center. In so doing, we point even beyond them and toward our Savior and His glory. Paul calls it our “obligation” to be patient and edifying to our brethren, and it is exactly so because we do not live for ourselves but for Christ. We are a collection of very different people at varying levels of sanctification who must live and serve and love with one focus—Jesus Christ. All else doesn’t pale in comparison. All else simply can’t be compared.

 

Study/Meditation: Read Galatians 1:10. What is the difference between what Paul is saying to the church in Galatia and what he is saying to the church in Rome?

 

*Father, help me to treat others in the church with You as my focus, not myself. Remind me daily of ways I can build others up and edify them to Your glory. In Christ’s name, Amen.

 

God is intimate and personal, giving each the conscience he needs. #Godslove

 

Romans 14:22-23 “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

 

There is a tremendous amount at stake in how we relate to one another as believers, no matter the place each is in his or her walk. A dying world watches how we behave. After all, our mission while on this earth is to go out into it, telling them of Jesus Christ and what He offers in salvation. The world will not be inclined to want to be part of a group of people who can’t even get along with each other, especially when it is over non-essential things. Paul tells us that our liberties and our convictions over these non-essential matters are ours and have been given to us by the Holy Spirit. They were not given to us to lord over others, whether we consider them weaker in the faith or not. If you know freedom in Christ and do not feel constrained by conviction over food and drink or any other temporal act that does not affect sanctification or salvation, then enjoy those freedoms yourself. Do not flaunt them before others. If in your faith you are convicted by some of those same things, then you must listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life who convicts you of them and abstain. There is a reason He speaks to your conscience in such a manner, but do not judge if He hasn’t given the same convictions to a brother or sister. Our God is an intimately involved God, knowing each of us at our cores. He has given to each of us what is necessary for our sanctification. May we rejoice in this personal attention and love.

 

Study/Meditation: In 1 Corinthians 10:22-24, Paul’s final exhortation on this topic is, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Why do you think he says this last? How did Christ depict these principles?

 

*Father, thank You for loving me so individually. You are righteous and holy and wonderful, and I praise You in all things. Amen.

Let us not seek to destroy the work of #God for the sake of our own #liberties.

 

Romans 14:20-21 “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”

 

The gravity of Paul’s statement might be easy to overlook in favor of concentrating more on causing our brother to stumble. Indeed that is the point of this entire passage. We must never flaunt our Christian liberties to the detriment of one who is offended by those acts. When we cause them to take offense, we have caused them to sin against us and thereby stumble in their walks with Christ. Doing so for the sake of freedom in a temporal thing—food, drink, cards, recreation, language, etc.—is irresponsible. However, the serious nature of that irresponsibility lies in Paul’s wording in verse 20, “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.” When we do not take the faith of others and our responsibility to not cause a stumbling in that faith seriously, we risk destroying the work of God. We must remember that all of us are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works,” and that includes every believer at every stage in their walk of faith. (Ephesians 2:10) Just as none of us would walk up to a museum in Paris and take a magic marker to defame and destroy any of the masterpieces therein, so we should likewise refrain from destroying God’s works of art, which are His children, by causing them to stumble. Once again we are reminded that Christianity requires the truest form of humility, placing the good of others above what we perceive as our own. (1 Corinthians 10:24)

 

Study/Meditation: Read 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. How is Paul teaching this same concept in his first letter to the Corinthians?

 

*Father, keep me ever mindful of my brothers and sisters in Christ, doing all that I can to edify and enrich their lives. Amen.