Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: June 2019 Page 1 of 6

Paul’s List Of People

June 29 – Today’s Readings – Romans 15-16 and Proverbs 29

Do you have “a list” of people for whom you are grateful in the Lord? Paul shares his “to greet” list in Romans 16 – “our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea” – “Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me.” – “my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia” – “Mary, who worked very hard for you” – “Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me” – “Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord” – “Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ” – “my dear friend Stachys” – “Apelles, tested and approved in Christ”- “the household of Aristobulus” – “Herodion, my relative” – “the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord” – “Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard” – “my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard” – “Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too”.

I often think of all the people I know who have been faithful in the Lord and faithful to me, whether it is in friendship or ministry or both. I think of those, who by steadfast work in the Lord have shown me an example of what it is to be devoted to Jesus – I think of family members who have supported me in good times and bad – I think of brothers and sisters in Christ who would never have been my friends if it were not for a shared passion for the Church of Christ and His vision for the world – I think of those Saints of God who are not half-hearted or half-baked in their desire to serve God. These are the people on my “living hero” list. When I need encouragement, these are the people I can count on to pray with me or for me or help me in more “natural” ways. These people are the real Church of Jesus Christ. I would rather have twelve of these Christians in my life than twelve thousand who were not “true blue”.

Paul had built a support system of people in his life that he could count on as friends, adoptive mothers, fellow-laborers, and disciples. We too function at our best when we can compile our “list” and meditate on the goodness God has shown us through their exemplary lives.

Go ahead – make your list – then pray for them all, that God would keep them and make them an even closer part of your shared relationship to Christ.

Questions:

1. Give an example of a still-living person who has become part of your personal hero list – tell why.
2. Give an example of people who became helping heroes in Scripture.

Judging And Offending

June 28 – Today’s Readings – Romans 13-14 and Proverbs 28

Romans 14 contains a train of thought that is important for us in the 21st. Century. It has to do with not “offending” brothers and sisters in the Lord by our indiscrete behavior. It also involves not judging our brothers and sisters.

First of all, let’s talk about not offending one another. There are many behaviors that we could participate in as Christians, which have the potential of offending fellow “saints” in Christ. A brother could easily be offended if he saw you or I entering a bar for example – his past experiences with the “bar lifestyle” might have had everything to do with the destruction of his marriage, family and career. Perhaps my only past experience with alcohol had to do with a glass of beer at dinner with my family. Is it “wrong” to have a beer with your parents at dinner? Perhaps not – for you, it may simply be part of wholesome fellowship. Is it “wrong” if you offend your brother in Christ while participating in this activity? Yes – because you have used your “Christian liberty” in a way that has caused another man to stumble. I use the example of “the bar”, not because it is the biggest or most important issue facing us in this discussion but because it is an easy one. Consider this however – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” (Proverbs 31:4-7)

With regards to not “judging” your brother in Christ – we see here the flip side of not offending your brother. If you know that a friend of yours is in the habit of having a glass of wine with his wife on special occasions, you should be mature enough in Christ to not judge him for his choice of behavior. You will notice that I have deliberately chosen a “grey area” like having a glass of wine – I have not chosen an obvious, blatant sin like drinking too much and thereby losing proper judgment.

Here’s a question for you however – If the Holy Spirit communicates with us through our minds, and we dull our minds with a prescription drug, alcohol, pot or some street drug, will this impair our ability to hear the voice of the Spirit? You see, some of these things are obviously wrong and when the Bible calls something a sin, we should too. Failing to do so is the equivalent of not looking out for our brothers’ interests. No, judging one another for “petty” things is wrong but judging ourselves for issues that lead to death or for things that distance us from God is a responsible, Christian thing to do.

Questions:

1. Give other examples of issues that could be “ok” for one person but might “offend” another.
2. Give an example of a time when the Holy Spirit instructed you to do or not to do something because of not “offending” a fellow Christian.

My Spiritual Act Of Worship

June 27 – Today’s Readings – Romans 11-12 and Proverbs 28

In the first 2 verses of Chapter 12 we find the New Testament equivalent of burned offerings (sacrifices of worship) from the Old Testament; “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Instead of a lamb or a bull on the altar – it’s me! I offer myself to God day by day. I do what Jesus did but in a much smaller way – “sacrificing” my body, my mind, my energy, my pocket book, my relationships, my future, etc. to the Lord. This is my spiritual act of worship – my “worship” is not just about the songs I sing on Sunday!

Part two of the formula is equally important though – the Spirit of God is very busy – renewing my mind. This is where “the rubber hits the road”. What goes on in my mind is of utmost importance in my life and is to be an offering of worship to the Lord. My pastor often says, “We need to hang new pictures in the gallery of our minds”. How do we end up in trouble with our attitudes, our words and our actions? It all starts in the mind. God’s work in us must include our thinking processes and the way we allow our thoughts to roam.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:6-8)

This “thinking about” is an active process. If we focus our minds on the right things, then out the abundance of our minds, our mouths will speak and our actions will be guided. This is one of the great adventures of the Christian life. It has everything to do with my daily surrender to the Lord. If I want a gauge of how I’m doing today, then I need to check out my active, mindful submission to Jesus. Your mind will be renewed and you will be a New Testament worshipper as you offer yourself to Him!

Finally, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Questions:

1.Tell of an experience in your Christian life, where the Holy Spirit “reprogrammed” your mind.
2. Tell of an example in Scripture where God was at work changing the way people thought.

Called, Predestined, Chosen

June 26 – Today’s Readings – Romans 9-10 and Proverbs 26

Today I would like to discuss the subject of “predestination” – what is it? – and – how does this doctrine impact our lives?

Chapters 8, 9 & 10 of Romans have several things to say concerning this teaching. Chapter 8:28-30 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

The thinking here is that God chose us before we chose Him. He then called us, gave us the gift of repentance, drew us to Himself and filled us with the Holy Spirit. Now that ought to make you feel pretty special! He personally selected you! If this “truth” doesn’t make you hold your head up high then nothing will. You really didn’t have to work hard to be saved. Jesus did it all. You simply repented and said “yes”.

Is there a down side to this kind of thinking? Yes, even the marvelous message of God’s Grace can be misinterpreted or misapplied.

Follow me here in some misguided logic – if God predestines, then we don’t have anything to do with it. If God calls whom He wants to call, then what’s the use in sharing the Good News with people? All the people that should be saved will automatically get saved because its all God’s doing.

Do you see the error in this line of thought? Yes God called, but WE had to say yes. God called, but HOW did He call? Was it not through people sharing The Message? – And did He call only a few? 1Timothy 2:3-6 reads; “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men (women and children) to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men”

Now here is the thing. There are many Christians who never share their faith because they think it’s all up to God. Be careful not to fall into this trap for God has appointed YOU to be His mouthpiece and the vehicle by which He calls people to Himself. Romans 10:13-15 reads, “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Predestined? – Yes!     Called? – Yes!

Responsible to share and obey the Gospel? – Yes! Responsible to pray for peoples’ salvation? – Yes! I can’t just live it, I have to say it!

Questions:

1. Find other verses of Scripture that speak about “predestination”.
2. Are there other pitfalls we could fall into by overemphasizing this doctrine?

Victory Over Sin

June 25 – Today’s Readings – Romans 7-8 and Proverbs 25

Romans 7:15-25 reads, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 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. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

Here is one of the most misunderstood passages of Scripture. For the most part whenever I hear people quote partial sections of these verses they are used to make excuse for the sin that continues to control their lives – or conversely to somehow come to a conclusion that they will never again sin. Check it out – read it again in context and you will soon discover that Paul is mostly speaking of a “before receiving the Holy Spirit” existence. Once we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives – becoming children of the Father – we are set free from the “law” of sin and death. We were “wretched” because there was no way to be set free from this dominion of sin outside of the great atoning sacrifice of Christ. Once Jesus’ blood was shed and the Holy Spirit was poured out into our lives, our very inner nature (and citizenship) changed; “Thanks be unto God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Vs. 25)

Continue on with me to Chapter 8:1-2 & 8-9: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”

How clear all of this becomes when you consider it in context. We truly are able and empowered to live our lives in obedience to the Holy Spirit – no longer captive to all the slavery of sin resident in the “old nature”. Let this Scripture breath victory into your soul and give you resistance and victory over areas that used to hold you captive.

Do these verses mean you will never sin? Absolutely not but you are definitely set free from the slavery to sin once you believe and trust this Gospel. It is now your nature to love all that is good and Godly – and to hate sin! If and when you sin, you are up on your feet again, in the arms of the Father, confessing and being forgiven. You don’t get “saved” over and over again but you run to Father as a child of God and clothed once again in His righteousness.

Questions:

1. Think of some very victorious people in the New Testament – how do you suppose they gained victory over sin’s grip?
2. What “voices” are holding you back from complete victory in Christ?

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