Today’s Reading: Jer 52:1–34, Rom 14:13–15:7, Prov 29:1–27
Today’s Theme: The Example of Christ
We are called to imitate Christ and live lives of grace, showing love, patience and understanding with each other, so that our harmony can bring glory to God. We are called to live in the freedom that God provides, by the righteousness He gives, the peace He has won and the joy to be found in Him. The bondage of religion and the mind of man has no hold on us anymore.
The great hope
And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison.(Jeremiah 52:31, ESV)
As we come to the end of the book of Jeremiah there is a small tinge of hope in the release of king Jehoiachin. This points to the true hope offered by the book, found in its revelation of God as the Lord of history, guiding world events to execute His judgement, show His mercy and most importantly, God’s intention to create a new covenant (Remember 31:31–34) through the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.(Romans 14:13, ESV)
Like Jesus said, we should judge ourselves, we need to do this in order to avoid being a stumbling block.
What you think is important
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.(Romans 14:14, ESV)
The mind and conscience are very powerful. If in your mind it is a sin to eat ice cream then it will truly be sinful for you, but not for anyone else. This is why we must embrace the freedom we have in Christ or we can end up putting ourselves in unnecessary bondage.
At the same time, God will influence your mind by His Spirit so that some things which seem ok to other Christians, will not be ok for you. In those cases, as we said yesterday, never push against your own conscience.
Righteousness, peace and joy
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.(Romans 14:17, ESV)
Paul encourages us that God’s kingdom is not about what we eat, drink, wear or observe, but is about the righteousness that God so abundantly supplies and that we live in light of. It’s about the peace that Jesus has given us so that we are no longer hung up by man centred religion. It is about the Joy centred relationship we have with God, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.
So we should not let the trivial, non essential things of religion steal our peace. We should trust in the righteousness that God has given us and live in the joy of the Lord, which will strengthen us to live for God every day.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.(Romans 14:19, ESV)
We should not pursue the external cultural differences that divide us, but pursue peace and building each other up.
Eat in faith
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.(Romans 14:23, ESV)
We must be true and follow our God given convictions. If you eat pork or halal meat you need to eat it in faith, if you eat it thinking of it as a sin, then it will be a sin to you.
Our faith is in God who is over all, so we can bless our food in Jesus’ name and eat it, in faith and peace.
Don’t be a bully
Let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.(Romans 15:2, ESV)
We must not be bullies with the truth, we need to maintain a humble serving attitude, no matter how much we know or how strong or mature our faith. We should seek to see our brothers grow and walk consistently before the Lord.
The book of hope
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.(Romans 15:4, ESV)
The purpose of all that is recoded in the scriptures is that we might have hope in God, as we follow the instructions and examples recorded. The most important biblical record for us today is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the greatest example to us all.
God of endurance and encouragement
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,(Romans 15:5, ESV)
God causes us to endure and encourages us in the way, so that we can live in harmony with each other in Christ, to the glory of His name.
Live in grace
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.(Romans 15:7, ESV)
Christ welcomed us in grace and we should emulate the same attitude of grace to others, so that we can live in harmony as the body of Christ, to the glory of God and the joy of all peoples.
The danger of pride
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.(Proverbs 29:1, ESV)
This is a frightening prospect, to be broken beyond repair because of our own pride.
Free to praise
An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices.(Proverbs 29:6, ESV)
When we are walking in righteousness, we have the freedom to praise God.
Remember the poor
A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.(Proverbs 29:7, ESV)
God upholds the most righteous political position on the human rights of the poor.
Don’t give full vent
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.(Proverbs 29:11, ESV)
Lord, help us to hold back from venting and to quietly hold back.
The people need leadership
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.(Proverbs 29:18, ESV)
The people need a goal and strong spiritual leadership or they will cast off restraint.
Trapped by fear
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.(Proverbs 29:25, ESV)
Our own fears create a trap for our feet, so live in freedom by trusting the Lord.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on Romans 14