Sermon for today

Romans 15                         10/8/2017

Beginning where we left off last week in chapter 14, we read what Paul was exhorting the Christians in Rome to do:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

We are to keep our faith in Christ Jesus and follow His teaching. Doing those things which would build up anyone who may be young or new in their faith. If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do, then don’t do it in front of someone who is new in their faith toward Jesus. Anything which we do in front of our children or in front of someone who is “weak” in their faith, can cause them to stumble because they saw or heard us say something or eat or drink something. If your spirit hasn’t condemned you for drinking or eating certain things, that’s fine. But if it could cause a child in the faith to stumble, make sure that you don’t do it in front of them, for their sake at least.

I don’t mean for you to live in a “do as I say and not as I do” way, Paul wasn’t meaning that either. But, if your life has anything in it which might cause a child in faith or in age to stumble in their following of Jesus, then don’t do it! If you wouldn’t do something in front of Jesus Himself, then it isn’t right to do it in front of anyone else either!

Romans 15

1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Christ the Servant of Jews and Gentiles
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.

10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.

12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, 16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

We are to be Jesus’ example to those around us, even when we don’t feel like it. God sent Jesus to us to give us an example of how to live as He did and with His strength guiding us. Because only with His Spirit giving us direction and strength can we be like Christ. In our human-centered thinking, we can’t be like Jesus, we can’t love those who hate us, we can’t give our life for others if we don’t have Jesus giving us the power and His will to do so.

These attributes of Christian living aren’t the normal way that Christians live, but it is the way that we should live our lives through Jesus.

Is living this way easy? No, it isn’t because every day your old spirit, the you which was there before Jesus came into your heart and changed you, is still being used by Satan to tempt you away from being like Christ. To take you away from being the example that everyone SHOULD see because you have been transformed into a “new creature in Christ”. 2 Cor. 5:17

We are not supposed to allow our “old self” to control our life after giving our heart to Jesus. We are supposed to live and be like those who came from the upper room on during Pentecost. Boldly speaking the truth of Jesus and His saving grace for us, regardless of who hears it or what they may say about us. Be the Christian which God intended for you to be, not the one which hides on the back row and keeps your salvation a secret from your so-called “friends”! They need Him too, but if you don’t tell them about Him….how will they find out if they don’t go to church or read the Bible?

That is our job, our purpose in this life to be more like Jesus and less like us.

Do you think you could impress God?

Have you ever considered trying to impress God? I haven’t but, the only possible way that we could do it would be to become more like Jesus. Humble and being a servant to others, not with your “accomplishments” or with prideful boasting, and with humility. Those are the qualities that would impress God about you and me. Why would that impress God you may ask?

Because humans like us are not made to be humble. It is not easy for us to be humble and not prideful, especially when we have done something to be proud of. We want someone to reward us, to be proud of us and we want to be recognized. We don’t have the true ability to be humble until we are born again into God’s family. You may know some people who are humble but I would bet that they are Christians.

Luke 18:9-17

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Jesus tells us in these situations that the man who is humble, who knows that he is a sinner and who comes to God confessing his guilt and asking for mercy and God’s forgiveness is the one who will be justified and forgiven. Why?

Because of his humility and his humble way of coming before God. He didn’t come before God as if he was God’s equal or acting like God was lucky to have him in his house! He came before his Creator, knowing that he was the created and that he had nothing to give to God except for his repentance and his life. God accepted him, just as He did with the offering of Abel so long ago.

When I wrote this, I don’t intend to give the impression that we have to be humble to the point of allowing people to walk over us. Humility and meekness are not to be confused with weakness. Being humble is part of your character that is evident when you don’t brag and boast about things. Humility doesn’t have to boast. Just as someone with a Corvette doesn’t have to race people to know that they could beat them in a race. It would take an extraordinary car to win against a Corvette don’t you think?

Now, I don’t mean to say that people who buy a Corvette are humble. Most of the people who buy one are not, they want to be seen, they want to let everyone to know that they have the means to get this car. It is very likely that the Pharisee would’ve been the one who owned the Corvette. The publican was usually a tax collector and he may have had more money than the Pharisee, but I would bet that he had a donkey or a used car, if you want to make it a bit more modern. He wasn’t flashy nor was he one who boasted about what he had or who he was, he just knew he was a sinner and he knew he needed God’s forgiveness.

This next story is something that you may recognize someone who you have met at some point in your life. I read this on a website that I use for sermon ideas and I think it applies here as well:

There was a very lost, wicked, and rebellious man who decided it would be good for business if he went down to the church and joined it. He was an adulterer, an alcoholic, and had never been a member of a church in his life.

But when he went down to place membership, he gave public testimony to the church that there was no sin in his life, and that he had grown up in the church, and they readily accepted him as a member.

When he went home he told his wife what he had done, and his wife, a very godly lady, exploded. She condemned him for being a hypocrite, and demanded that he go back to the church the next week and confess what he really was. Well, God used his wife to really break him, and he took it to heart.

The next Sunday he went back to the church, walked down to the front again, and this time confessed to the church all of his sins. He told them he was dishonest, an alcoholic, an adulterer, and that he was sorry. They revoked his membership on the spot.

He walked out of the church that day scratching his head and muttered to himself: “These church folks are really strange. I told a lie and they took me in; and when I told the truth they kicked me out!”

How about that? Would a church today do something like that? Some would and some would accept him and forgive him when he came and told them the truth.

What about you? Would you forgive him for lying to you and your church?

Sometimes we want to believe the best about people when we meet them and then when we find out that our perception was wrong, we feel hurt and angry. Where would we be if God felt hurt and angry when people reject Him and His Son? Thankfully, God is much more patient with us than we are with each other, Amen?

If there is anything in your life that needs to be brought to God’s attention, be like the publican and bring it before God. Ask forgiveness and confess whatever it may be so that you can walk out and be at ease and at peace because you have taken that pain or whatever it may be and you have given it to God. Then, give yourself to God and decide that from this point on…from today forward you are going to walk in humble obedience to God and listen to Him as you pray and study His Word.