Saturday, October 31, 2015

Final Thoughts on Romans 12

I really can't believe that October is just about over. And I'm even more amazed that I managed to post every day. Nobody could have been more sure than I was that I was going to end up skipping a day or two... or every day past the first week or two, haha :). Some of these posts, such as "Contribute to the Saints", and "Showing Hospitality" were things I have been thinking of sharing for months, but hadn't made the time for. Some, like with the case of the post "Coals of Fire", I learned something myself because I was reading on the chapter while planning my evening's post. But I really enjoyed sharing through these posts this month :).

Tonight happens to be the 498th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg. The Reformation that he was a predominate leader in led to the bible being placed in the hands of the people. Finally, people were able to study the word for themselves, and the burdens that had been placed on them and the lies they had been told were finally discovered as they were able to let God's word become a part of their lives.

That is exactly what Romans 2:2 is commanding us. Our mind is "renewed" through our time in the Word of God, and as we hear the believes of others, we are to always be measuring them against the standard that God has given us. We are given an example of this by the Bereans in acts 17;

"The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."

Though they were "eager" to hear Paul and Silas proclaiming the word of God, they were not content to be entertained and then move on. They went back to the Word, and examined whether the things were true.

We have been given a great blessing to be able to study the Bible without fear of arrest of death. It is up to us to take advantage of this gift, and to share it with others, to be used through Christ for his own glory.


Bri :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Genuine Love

The word love has been used for so many things that it can be hard to realize just how much weight the word really holds. But I think that these verses of 1 Corinthians 13 will help remind us:

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
 That looks like an abbreviated version of the list of virtues in Romans 12... because, it is. Romans 12 talks of the way a heart surrendered to the Lord will show obvious qualities outwardly in the way we live, and love is the very virtue from which all others flow. It was love that caused Christ to die for us. It is love for Him that causes us to want to obey His commandments. And that love spills over into all the other areas of our life. Through Christ's love -the only genuine love- flowing through us, we can forgive those who wrong us. We can serve others, we can be compassionate.

One of my favorite examples of love is Boaz' care for Ruth. He loved her enough to tell her, "I'm going to make sure that you get the very best God has for you. And if that doesn't involve me in the big picture, than I will  step back for your sake."

Love is putting others first. Just as Christ did when He said, "Not my will, but thine be done", and took the road to Calvary to satisfy God's righteous decree for the ransom for our sins.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart". Corrie ten Boom.

Corrie ten Boom and the story she has shared is such a blessing of a godly example to us today. Coming from a family who, for generations, had cared for Jews in various ways, she and her family hide dozens of Jews from the Nazis, and found homes for many more before they were arrested and experienced all the tortures that the Nazis could find to inflict on their victims. Corrie's father, and eventually her sister, died during this time, and Corrie's discharge before death was only because of a mix-up of paperwork on the Nazis' part.

Corrie spent the rest of her life after her release, sharing her story, and the hope she had in Christ that had gotten her through the times of hopelessness. While at one of the meetings she was speaking at, there came to her one of the guards who had done so much to her and her sister years before. In that moment, Corrie knew that she hadn't forgiven those who had done so much harm as she had thought she had. She could not bring herself to shake the hand that this man held out towards her.

Realizing this, she did not simply turn away. She prayed. For Christ's love and forgiveness to be shown to this man even when she could not show him her own, and she reached out to shake the guard's hand. And the Lord gave her that strength to finally forgive. Telling the story later, she would say "When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Forgiveness is the very essence of the gospel message. Christ died that our offenses might be forgiven, and through Him we can forgive others, sharing His grace with others. Whether we feel like the person deserves our forgiveness or not, that forgiveness is one of the strongest witnesses that we have been given to point others to Jesus!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Short Thoughts on Romans 12:6-8

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them". We are all given gifts. Some more, some less, some that are noticed, others that can go by without others ever really knowing how much they bless them. Sometimes, even, some that are so natural to us that it doesn't really seem like a "gift", it's just a part of life, but that others may recognize as the biggest part of what makes us us. We must use them. These are our "talents" as spoken of in Matthew 25, and we must be faithful in what we have been given!

"If prophecy, in proportion to our faith". The definition of prophecy, though mostly looked on as those in the Old Testament who told of the future coming of Christ, is also known as sharing a "message of divine truth revealing God's will", including pastors in this passage.

"If service, in our serving". We are to "serve the Lord", not "slothful in zeal", but "fervent in spirit" (Romans 12:11). In whatever way we are given, not matter how small, loving the work for His sake.

"The one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation". I was struck by the verse in James 3:1 lately, that states, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." That is a sobering thing even as I think about this blogging series itself. As I am examining these truths and writing them out for you to view here, I am proving that I have read, learned, and agree with them -and that does mean that I am doubly responsible to "act what I preach"!

"The one who contributes, in generosity; he one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." Not stingily, not grudgingly, not hesitantly, but full of delight in our Savior and love for our fellowmen.

The list here of the gifts given to believers differs from the one given in 1 Corinthians 12. It is not an all-inclusive list, but simply examples of ways the Lord has blessed us to be able to bless others! We are responsible to use them wisely through His grace!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Do Not be Haughty"


Jesus said, in His sermon on the mount, "“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." And we are told that, "For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar." (Psalm 138:6)

Once again, we are given an example in the Lord as to how we are to think and act. Christ Himself "regards" ("to look upon or think of with a particular feeling", "to think highly of; esteem.", "to take into account; consider.") those who are lowly among His children. The thought here is that He shows Himself close and personal and close to those who are humble, while those who are filled with pride are only known from afar. This is clear when we realize that the gift of salvation can only be excepted when we come to a point where we realize that we are not enough, that we will never be perfect, fulfilled, or complete, of our own work. 

The word "associate" means to "unite". We are to unite with the lowly. We are not just to accept them, but we are to become like them. And once again, we must come to realize that the command is not something we can fake and fool others that we have accomplished. Even if we look like we are humble to those around us, we could simply be "being humble" outwardly as a form of pride inwardly. But Psalm 139 tells us, "You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether."

Man may look on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart.

Pride may be the very hardest thing for us to fight against. I heard somewhere that humility is interesting in the fact that, "as soon as you realize you have it, you lose it!"

It is encouraging, though, to realize that the Lord is not finished with us yet. Though we are full of our own pride and desires, he is constantly changing His own to be a clearer and more beautiful image of Himself. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Avenge Not Yourselves

Can I just say, it is a concerning moment when you can't remember your own blog title? And then once you remember your blog title, you get to your blog and go to start typing a post... and can't remember your series title for a minute either. I actually don't know if I should be writing tonight. Haha!

In my post yesterday, I shared Matthew 5:39, which tells us, "But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

This goes right along with the final verses of Romans 12, verses 19-21. "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

A beautiful picture of this was given to us by Jesus at the Mount of Olives, as the crowd came to bear Him to what would eventually be His crucifixion as the payment of our sins. "And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him."

Christ became man so that He could join us in all our pains, all our sorrows, all our temptations, and we can be sure that in Him we have the strongest sympathy. But as God Himself, He did not succumb to the temptations of life, which is how His precious blood had the power to be the redemption for us.

Christ definitely could have left the injured man to suffer. After all, it was his choice to be wrapped up in this business, even though Christ had done nothing that they could find fault with. He did not deserve a miracle. But Christ repayed evil with good, nevertheless.

And we are called to do the same. It is hard. We want to repay others in the same coin that we have been given. But when we think that all we deserve is hell, and what we have been given is the free gift of heaven with Christ instead, can we not joyfully surrender to His will that all should be shown like mercy? "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Verse 18

There will be times when we have to take a stand on our convictions no matter the fuss and hard feelings it may cause between some that do not hold to our beliefs. We are not called to agree with the unbeliever that there is no God, just for the sake of keeping things "pleasant" between us. But always, we are to stand firm even in those areas that we differ, with love and a peaceful purpose, rather than to push our own desires.

Are the things we differ about of eternal consequence? Or are we simply wanting things the way we think is more pleasing? Proverbs 17:1 says, "Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife." People who constantly point out the faults and differences in others are draining. But on the other hand, those who choose to overlook matters of small importance, and encourage and care about others, can do so much good just by their example of thinking of others first!

If the issue is truly a biblical matter, than we can trust the Lord to work in the heart of the other. That doesn't mean we won't be a part of the way he breaks them. Following Christ's leading often times takes us to a point where we have to encourage each other in good doing- or maybe even outright rebuking wrong doing. But if we are truly concerned about the well-being of a soul, than we will be able to deal peaceably with others. They may not take it peaceably, but if they show anger at your concern, Christ says in Matthew 5:39, "But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

If the matter does not hold eternal weight, than, in the words of Philippians 2, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." This is hard. Our flesh wants what we want. And it may be something "good". But that does not mean that it is better than all other opinions. It just means that, as individual people, we have individual ideas. And the Lord has made us that way to give us a wider array of gifts- to use for furthering His kingdom :)!


Bri :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Working Together

"Two are better than one", Ecclesiastes tells us. "For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness," expounds Romans 12:3-8.

Each of us has our own unique talents and gifts, as well as our own particular faults and struggles. Alone, the Lord can use us. But when we work together, we are able to stand firmer and accomplish more.

In a family, and in the body of Christ, we have been given others around us to join forces with. Some of us might pick up all the "front line" details, while others of us might prefer to stand on the sidelines, picking up the needs that are often forgot. Some of us are problem solvers, others are wonderful at keeping things calm when a couple of personalities clash during a project. Some are able to be active and take up the physically hard aspects of a job, while others may be staying inside cooking the meal that will be given when those who are working need a break. Some have the means to support those who are struggling financially, some love to mentor those younger then they, some make it a point to draw out the lonely or bring a smile to the weary. At our old church, we cleaned the church twice a week; the church doesn't know how often Daddy made repairs on their vacuums, for free and without mentioning it, that would have cost them quite a bit if he hadn't taken the initiative to take it home and use the tools he already had from his own household repair jobs. Mama delights in serving those we know with a fresh, homemade meal whenever a need for one is brought to her attention. There are countless other ways that we can use the abilities the Lord has handpicked for us to contribute to those around us.

It doesn't matter what our gift is, it only matters that we share it with those around us. We cannot hide it, from selfishness or fear. And whatever our faults, we cannot be upset when others try to help us in conquering them. And we can not be jealous of the gifts that others have been given. The Lord has specifically planned the days "that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them," Psalm 139. "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12:15

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." ~Romans 12:15, ESV

Jesus himself wept when His friend Lazarus died. He knew that Lazarus could be raised again. But he still wept. Wept over the pain the two woman were going through, wept over the hearts that did not believe that things could be made right. Over and over in the gospels, we are told that Jesus had compassion on the people who crowded around Him, "because they were like sheep without a shepherd".

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ," Galatians 6:2 commands us. Compassion is one of those mercies that the Lord has given, filling our journey through this fallen, sinful world with constant undeserved blessings. A friend who truly cares about what is important to us, laughs with us, cries with us, praises and prays with us, is a true joy. 

Excitement without jealousy when something delightful happens to another; tender sympathy when they are going through a hard time; simply calling someone up to check on them and pray for them when they have something coming up that they are nervous about; complimenting the project that your sibling has worked on all day. It takes almost nothing from us to offer these things, but it can seem so meaningful when we receive them. To know that we're not alone in something, to know that there is always someone eager to be a part of our joys, those are things that warm the heart. To look for those who need that compassion should be a joy to us. and what an even better joy to know that "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Christ has "breathed our air and walked our sod", and He knows the trails and pain of life, as well it's joys. His compassion is untouched by flesh, and he forever stands to "make intersession for us to the Father"!


Bri :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; By the Mercies of God

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Bless the Lord, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!" ~Psalm 103

 I considered not sharing this post, because it doesn't involve much "writing" by me. But no matter what  writing challenge this series may by connected to, my first and foremost goal was to share the Lord through this series. And I just couldn't go through my "Thoughts on Romans 12" without pointing out that little phrase, in Romans 12:1, "by the mercies of God". It grabs my attention every time. It can be passed over lightly at first... but it holds so much meaning. It is the Lord's mercies -not our work, not our will, not our anything- but the Lord's mercies that have given us every blessing we have, and that uphold us as we seek to follow Him, after, by His mercy, He has broken our hearts of stone and replaced them with saving faith in Him. Nothing we could do could let us earn the mercy of the Lord. But He is a merciful God, giving us even what we don't deserve. 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
                                  ~ Thomas O. Chisholm

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Ways to Serve Hospitably in the Home

While we young ladies are still living in our parent's homes, it is true that a lot of the load of having guests over will fall on them. But we can be preparing for that role now, and cultivating a spirit of hospitality.

Some of the ways that we can help would include...

  • Help clean up the house beforehand. In our house, my parents have done a good job dividing up the work, but there is always more to do when company is coming over. Help out with those jobs! And, whether you are hosting or being hosted, help reclaim the living room and kitchen after the visit is over!
  • Help with supper- or, better yet, offer to make supper. Maybe your friends would even like to help. Some of my favorite memories with friends involve making pizza and bread together :).
  • Help keep an eye on the little ones -your families and your guests- so the parents have more time to connect. There can be a lot happening when you get 10 people 10 and under get together, and your Mom can't be everywhere at once and still have time to enjoy the visit with her friend.
  • Stay involved! It makes people feel special for your time to be put aside to simple enjoy being with them :). Smile, ask questions, invite them to do something with you. It can be a game -it can be the dishes. It really doesn't matter as long as they know that you are asking because you value their company!
  • Listen. This happens to be the one that I probably have the most trouble with. Lol! It can be hard, when we think of something exciting to share, to be wholeheartedly listening to what the other person is trying to relate, but it means soooo much to people when you really take an interest in the things that are important to them :).
Did you notice that every single one of those things could also be done for your family when other people aren't even in the picture? And  lot of it could also be done when you are at another person's house. Again, hospitality is having the heart of Christ to put others needs before our own, not who or when we do certain things :).

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Showing Hospitality

The picture above was taken two years ago, when Tori decided that she would like to throw a little tea party. She spent an entire morning as head chef for her luncheon. I'm smiling remembering that afternoon... and reminding myself that we have yet to throw one for our Aunt... haha.

Hospitality does not solely mean entertaining people outside of our home, and it doesn't have to happen in our house. I realized this through a passing remark my Dad made one time, and it has stuck with me since then.

We had been looking for a house for months. Every couple weeks, Daddy's day off would be spent house hunting for something close to where we lived, but a little more permanent than the rental we were in. Eventually, they started paperwork for what has become known as "the yellow house". We would bring crayons and paper and books for the youngest three (realizing that Bethi was included in that number makes it feel likes forever ago, haha!), and they would sit and draw or read while Mama and Daddy were talking with the realtors and going over their papers.

One afternoon, while we were sitting in our realtor's office, one of the other realtors in the building popped in to ask if her grandson, who had heard other children in the building and was bored waiting for her to get done, could stay and play. He was 5... and about as tall as I was, at 11, haha... ya, I've always been short. The little ones shared their papers and crayons with him, and he seemed to enjoy himself. Later, during bible study, Daddy mentioned that he was pleased with how they had shown hospitality, and I realized that hospitality doesn't mean hosting a get together at your house, but it's a heart matter. It isn't throwing the best party, but making the person feel at home :).

You can have the biggest house, the best dinner, and everything go off perfectly, but without genuine love for the people -including your family- around you, it's not hospitality, it's just a show. But some of the times I have seen the best display of hospitality have been gathered on my Great-Grandma's porch, because her house is too small to hold everyone comfortably, talking with those who love having us there. That kind of hospitality means more than any attention to the details of napkin rings :).

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Outdo One Another

"Outdo one another in showing honor."

To outdo is to "surpass in execution or performance". Honor is described as "honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions".

 "Let your light shine"... not make your light shine. Yes, this comes to mind again as we look at this verse. Outdo -doesn't that mean that we'll have to be comparing ourselves to others? Might this mean that we are to strive to be best? How does this work out anyway?

"I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." "Never be wise in your own sight."

We are not to be pridefully satisfied if we think we are "doing better", or settle back because, we might think we've passed a few others by. And we are not to simply take a more seasoned fellow traveler's guide without a careful look at the road map we've been given. With our eyes focused on Christ, we're not being told to sneak glances at our neighbor to make sure we are one step above them. We aren't out to beat each other. We are to be watching for ways to serve one another with no thought of what we can get out of it. Eager to do for others, and not willing to take anything from them without paying our debts. Not waiting for others to make the first move, but eagerly looking, not at who isn't doing, but at what we can do. Keeping our focus on Christ's glory, and doing what he sends without thought of self.

"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 10:43-45 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Coals of Fire

I was looking for something orange for the background of this verse. As I was typing the words on it, I was thinking of the fact that it's now fall. Because those darker spots just look like swirling leaves to me, lol. But a certain sister looked over my shoulder and said it looks like pizza, while a certain other sister heard the comment and said, no, it looks like a puzzle (seriously?! Who would want to work a puzzle like that?! Lol!). Whatever it looks like, I wanted to share something I literally just learned, about this verse, haha :). (You know the saying, you learn more when you teach than when you learn? I was reading through Romans 12 trying to decide what to focus on tonight, and I ended up skimming through the commentary notes, where I found this tidbit ;).)

I've always kind of just took this verse without any thought about where the phrase "coals of fire" came from. I guess I just assumed Paul came up with it while he was writing? I don't know, haha. I know when I do something unkind and then the person I have offended is sweet to me, I definitely feel terrible about it, and it can burn your conscience, so, I figured that was the imagery going on here. But I have just learned, thanks to the MacArthur Study Bible, that an ancient Egyptian custom was to walk around with a LITERAL pan of hot coals on their head during a time of public shame over sin, to show the burning pain of their remorse.

Well. You learn something new every day. Haha :)!

And with that being said, I want to stress how very, very important it is that we never stop studying and feasting on God's word! I have read the book of Romans at least 60 times. I've read this individual chapter even more often, and read several commentaries on it. I memorized the chapter, and have spent the month thinking on it as I write this series. But still, there is obviously stuff I was missing :). You might just be surprised at some of the things you come across as you go through something "just one more time" from a fresh perspective :)!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Brotherly Affection

That little babykins is precious. It's an old picture, but it's one of my favorites of 'Siah :).

I love all of my siblings. Each of us have different quirks and gifts, which God has given so that our family as a whole has so much more potential! We each pitch in and help out, and even if you might not think someone's jobs are big- you throw a couple of us out sick, and the difference it changes in the family dynamics is drastic, haha :).

Christ uses the family to illustrate many different things throughout His teachings. Adoption displays His adopting us through His blood; marriage is a picture of the church's union with Him; and we are told to "love one another with brotherly affection." (Romans 12:10)

'Siah recently came and filled the side of the bed Emmi left empty when she moved into Abbi's bed earlier this summer. One of Josiah's quirks is he won't sleep through the night, haha. One of His gifts is his adorable loviness (yes, I just made that word up). For instance, he crawled into bed with Peter and rubbed Peter's head until they were both asleep the other day :)...

Last night, Daddy told us goodnight, turned out the light, and we settled down. A few minutes later, I felt a gentle little pat on my arm, and then a couple more. Then Josiah pulled my arm over to him and snuggled it :). It brought a smile to my face, and reminded me of this verse in Romans 12, "Love one another with brotherly affection" :).

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12:11

Continuing his admonitions, Paul tells us, "do not be slothful in zeal".

"Consider", the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 12, "him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Christ gave His very life for us. As he prayed in the garden before His death, he was in such agony that blood was mixed with the sweat that fell down his face. He was beaten, hung to a cross by nails, pierced in the side. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins." Christ shed that blood so that our sins would be counted void. Hebrews points to this sacrifice to renew the reader's zeal to follow Christ.
Zeal is defined as "great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective". We are to serve the Lord with enthusiasm. He gave His life for us, and we get the chance to give our lives to him!

I want to mention something here. You don't have to do big things to serve with zeal. In fact, the small things are often the most important. And you may have already gotten that from some of my other posts, but I just wanted to say it right here, without question. There are many ways this is true, but thinking of serving with zeal, I want to mention this. There is a precious older lady I know who isn't capable of doing much that others think of when they think of being "noticed" around the church. But she is, very clearly, such a big part of our church family. Her notes and happy greetings, her encouragement and admonitions to those she sees every week, I know mean as much to others as they do to me. She might not be able to take care of every need. But those that she can meet are met with joy in serving, with an enthusiasm that brings a smile to your face.

That doesn't mean that we should ditch those bigger needs that do still need filled. If we all did that, there would be chaos. But my point is, what you can do, do with joy for the Lord. Not begrudgingly, and not to "make our light shine". But joyfully, that Christ may increase :).

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9&10)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; A way to "Rejoice with those who rejoice"!

Tonight's post is going to be short and sweet, haha :).

If you are a long-time reader, you know about my very-un-weekly Thankful Thursday posts. If you are a new reader through this challenge, you can read a recent Thankful list that gives you some background into those posts here. But, with that aside, I wanted to share this wonderful challenge hosted by Sarah Bryant as part of her "King's Blooming Rose" ministries!

You can sign up at the link given here to join other ladies in praising our Lord each day of November :)! I've joined this challenge the past two years -the first time through my journal, and last year through their online group- and I can say that it has been a blessing in my life! Doing it through my journal was a wonderful way to take time to think about my blessings, and I try to do that semi-regularly through my journal all year round (although I'll admit I haven't been doing it this month as blogging has taken up my evening writing time). But last year was even better, as I got to not only count my blessings, but I was able to read the lists of other girls who reminded me of several things that I had as well, but hadn't thought to praise God for, and we were able to celebrate different things with each other throughout the month :). Each day, you are asked to write down seven things you are thankful for, and the private group is open to whoever wants to sign up! Let me know in the comments if you join- I would love to go "find you" there :)!

Blessings to you,

Bri :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Appealing to Believers

Paul opens up this chapter with the words, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers". Later on, he again states, "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you..."

Paul wasn't afraid of being firm. He "is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ". And he tells us himself in Philippians 3, "I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless."

But "whatever gain" he had, he "counted as loss for the sake of Christ". "Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you" (Philemon 8).

Paul isn't afraid to get to the point with those he is instructing. But he doesn't do it without love.

There are times when a firm command is needed. But so often we jump straight from noticing sin to zealously commanding a stop to something that bothers us. But Paul shows us, by his example, that sometimes, an appeal is all that is needed. He appeals to them- and then he gives them things to aim for. Instead of saying "You people are ALWAYS doing this, just stop!", he says, "By the mercies of God, strive to always do this". 

This is hard for me. This reminder is mostly for myself. I rush through my day telling my younger siblings to do x, y, and z, and am not nearly as encouraging as I should be. I am not a naturally patient person. I know I could learn much from Paul's example.

Yes, there are times that call for more than an appeal... but after the appeal has been made. Have you ever notice that when you tell someone "I hate when you do...", usually what happens is an argument? But when you encourage someone somewhere- "I noticed you did the dishes without having to be asked tonight. That was great!"- often, they'll do it again without you having to go any farther about how they sometimes might not do what they should. Encourage with love. Appeal with love. And then- then- confront with love if need be. And always through the authority of Christ's word, not our own preference.


Bri :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Let whatever you do be done in secret"

I know Matthew 6 isn't exactly the same chapter as Romans 12 ;). But trust me, I think it is important in connection with this chapter :).

All throughout Romans 12, we are given a list of all the ways that a Christian's life is to be spilling over the love of Christ. How easy it is to be discouraged as we look at all our failings- we'll never be able to get it all right. Or maybe after a day when it has seemed to be easy to display the qualities in this list, we might think that, "Well, we're actually doing pretty good, even if not perfect"... and then "think more highly of our self then we ought to think", as we are warned against in Romans 12:3.

As I thought about this, I thought that this was the perfect time to share a quote from "The Cost of Discipleship", by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This concept, when I ran into it, just made me stop and think about it for a while. It is so simple, and yet not one I think we realize often.

While explaining the verses "Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing" and "Let your light so shine before men" (Matthew 5:16), Bonhoeffer writes, "How is this paradox to be resolved? The first question to ask is: From who are we to hide the visibility of our discipleship? Certainly not from other men, as we are told to let them see our light. No. We are to hide it from ourselves. Our task is simply to keep on following, looking only to our leader who goes on before, taking no notice of ourselves or of what we are doing. We must be unaware of our own righteousness, and see it only in so far as we look unto Jesus; then it will seem not extraordinary, but quite ordinary and natural. Thus we hide the visible from ourselves in obedience to the word of Jesus. ...The Christian is a light unto the world, not because of any quality of his own, but only because he follows Christ and looks soley to him."

We are to let our light shine; not make our light shine. "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1). Not for hopes of being noticed (for our work... or for our humility), but simply because as our eyes are focused on Him, we forget all but pleasing Him.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Do Not be Conformed to this World

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." ~Romans 12:2

The latest KBR magazine was devoted to this verse, and there were lots of great articles, as always. If you haven't checked them out, I think they are a great resource for encouragement :). I received that magazine just as I started this series, and it was a fun little tie-in :). As another random side note, I will admit that I came *thisclose* to not making a graphic for this post. I thought of unashamedly saying that I was giving an example by not conforming to popular blogging guidelines. But I couldn't talk myself out of believing that I was actually just being lazy. Hmmm, I wonder why that was?... but, back to the "real" post (which I am having such a hard time focusing on, sheesh...).

There are so many ways that, as people, we will look exactly like those around us. We all go about our life, have our friends, enjoy our meals, and pursue our hobbies. We live in this world, but we are not to be of this world. We live in the flesh, but are not to live by the flesh.

In 1 John 5 we find the promise, "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world", "For the wisdom of this world is folly with God", says 1 Corinthians 3:19.

The wisdom of "the world" cannot understand children being a blessing, education being used for the glory of God, marriage being precious and sacred as a picture of Christ, God's will being of more importance than a "good opportunity". Yes, we as believers have to participate in many of the things that we find in the world- but we have a bigger purpose in our hearts. We aren't just trying to make it through life with as many advantages as we can. Our vision spans longer than we will be a part of the carrying out. When Christ redeems us with His blood, He fills our hearts with His desires as we search His word. Slowly, but surely, He brings us to the knowledge that certain things that the world deems necessary, are temporary, shallow, and dangerous, while the things of His kingdom are eternal, full of meaning, and life giving, and worth whatever the earthly cost.

This verse is the encasing of the rest of this chapter. It is by the transforming of the mind and the knowledge of the bible that we have the appropriate means to test every act and see if it lines up as "good and acceptable and perfect". Every other command in this chapter is simply giving us a glimpse into what a transformed mind looks like, when it comes out as a transformed life. And the purpose of that transformed life? To point others to Christ. To be a light in darkness, and to honor, thank, and glorify God.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Contribute to the Needs of the Saints", part 4

This really wasn't meant to be a four-parter when I started, haha :). I think this may be the last post coming from this sentence, haha... but, ya never know. It's not uncommon for me to come up with a couple blog post ideas while writing the main paragraph of a blog post (obviously, right :)?).

We've talked about looking for needs with the desire to fill them for Christ's glory, about how those of us blessed to be doubly "family" with our family, are also doubly accountable to being there for them, and about not being afraid to step up. Now, I would like to point out one more detail I thought of while thinking about this word "need". And this is often where fear really becomes an issue. Sometimes, the needs of our fellow believers will be a rebuke.

There are times when we will see someone going through a really hard time. They are discontent, or maybe have "abandoned the love [they] had at first" (Revelation 2:4), or simply have a sin that they need encouraged to abandon. And we know that a certain truth of the gospel is the key to them being brought back to Christ. And so we have to point out the sin in their hearts. "Better is open rebuke than hidden love," says Proverbs 27:5.

I had a friend who confided in me earlier this year about some things she had been hiding from her parents because she didn't think they would approve. I was so scared, because I knew that I was able to reminder her of truths that I knew could help her if she would let me share them. I didn't really want to share with her, because I was worried that she would be upset with me. But I knew I didn't have a choice. If I had let this friend continue with silence that could be taken as approval, then I would have been encouraging her in her sin. I did share with her, with my parent's guidance (always, always include your parents in big issues like this!!!), and I am very, very happy to say that she took it without getting upset, and even thanked me. But even if she hadn't, I know that the choice I made, with that encouragement from my parents, to put my fear aside and let her know where she was erring from scripture, was the only right choice I had.

There is something you have to careful about while giving a rebuke. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." We must have complete patience and complete teaching.

We cannot be hasty, harsh, and impatient in our rebuking, or it will cause them to harden their heart, and our "help" will do more harm than good. And we cannot simply say "That's wrong", and move on without explaining who's authority we are guided by. One of our favorite movies, "Time Changer", includes this phrase; "Satan is not opposed to good morals; he is opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ". Throughout this movie, you are shown how once you take Jesus' name off of your exhortations, it is not long before those exhortations hold no value in the eyes of others. 

Do we love our fellowmen enough to show them the sin we see in their life, from the standpoint of Christ's word, with no thought of personal gain, but only to show them the love of Christ, without fear?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Contribute to the Needs of the Saints", part 3

Sometimes we see needs, and we feel like there is something we should do about it, and even know what we should do about it, but sometimes, at least for me, I find myself fearful. Maybe I am making more of the situation than it really is, and they won't appreciate me making it bigger. Surely they have gotten the same help from other people already. Maybe I'm wrong about it even being a need, or about the best way to meet that need for them.

I stumbled on these verses in my bible study this morning while thinking about this, and I thought they fit perfectly; "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again." Philippians 4:10-16

The church at Philippi saw needs and filled them, whether they were the closest ones to Paul or not. They were the first to join with him. It's always hard to be the first to make a move, but this church wasn't turned away by that. And while Paul was in Thessalonica, they didn't sit back thinking, "Well, maybe we shouldn't... Thessalonica probably has it covered, and it would be pointless". They felt led to contribute to that need, and they did it- and Paul was thankful for that.

I've heard that if you have any doubts about something, you shouldn't do it at all. I get the thoughts behind that, and agree with those thoughts, but I don't necessarily agree with the saying. Because you can doubt many things that you *are* supposed to do. Some of the things I have almost decided not to do because I was so worried about how it would be taken, but then talked myself into doing anyway, I've later found out that that stood out to the person involved way more than I would have ever thought it deserved. I've never regretted when I stepped out of my comfort zone (which is way smaller than I would like) to do something that I felt needed done. But I have often regretted the things I didn't do because I had doubts as to whether they were really needs.Let's not let fear -of men, of failure, or of self- hold us back from following the Lord.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Contribute to the needs of the Saints", part 2

Last night I pointed out the verse that sets all believers with the saints. As I was thinking on that last night, I wanted to share a very important point that that knowledge brings, but I knew that it would take more time than I had last night. So I am back with part 2 tonight :). And thinking of a part 3 tomorrow... I'll see if something else takes first importance in my mind in the next 24 hours ;).

Now, the point I wanted to make was this; if you are blessed to have a family who shares your faith, your family are the saints, and their needs are those that you will most often be called to contribute to.

Now if you don't have the blessing of being able to call your family members brothers and sisters in Christ, you are still called to be salt and light to them, and that will often be through helping them in their needs. And no matter what, I believe that simply being a part of the family gives you a duty to be there for each other, sharing the tears, the laughter, the work, and everything else.

But specifically thinking of those of us who are in the privileged place of having our earthly family also part of our spiritual family, do you realize what that means? Our family are members of the saints, and this verse applies to them too. And that may seem obvious, but think about it. It's much easier to fill a need when it's a once-in-a-while thing, isn't it? When we can send an email or a letter or a text or make a phone call on our time, it's easier to speak an encouraging word. You get to plan it first and make sure you are "feeling" like doing it if need be. But often those closest to us get the least attention, just because we always have them there. We might not feel like giving an encouraging word when they are down or have a victory, and so we just continue on to the next room.

When we are out shopping at the grocery store and someone drops something, it can be easy to pick it up and hand it to them with a smile, because we are more likely to remember that we are to be cheerful and helpful when we are out of our normal setting. But when we get home, tired, and thinking that home is the place we can rest, and then a little one asks us to grab them a blanket from the top shelf upstairs, we can be inclined to grumble. But the Lord has placed us in families so that we have support and a training ground, and they are far more worthy of our help with a smile than the stranger in the store, as important as that is.

We get to see our family members' faults more than we do any other person's. But nevertheless, as saints they deserve our love and help as much as any other person- and as family, they deserve our love and help before any other person. What ways can we contribute to the needs of our families today?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Contribute to the Needs of the Saints"

One of our friends recently lost her young granddaughter after she was hit by a drunk driver. The way people, even those who don't know this family very well, have been coming around them filling in in the ways they can has been beautiful. We are continuing to lift them up in prayer, but we are also marveling at some of the stories they have to tell of how much this little girl's life touched so many people. The verse "Let no one despise you because of your youth" has really stood out to me with these stories.  No one is too young to make a difference, and no time is too short.

The saints are all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ephesians 2 tells us, "He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord." The needs can vary. The ways we can help will vary. But we were not made to stand alone. "Two are better than one". When we stand together, we are encouraged, uplifted, and made firm.

There are obvious needs. As when this family's precious girl died, there may be expenses to help cover or time to give. But there are also little things that many times we don't even think of. You can never underestimate the help a card or a smile can give. There have been so many times that others have given me a hug or asked how I was doing, or brought our family a meal while we were going through a busy time. Those were contributions to our needs. They may have been small, but it needed done, and they noticed that and weren't afraid to fill them. Sometimes it is the quietest that need the most to talk. Sometimes taking the time to notice someone can mean more to them than the most elaborate gift. Sometimes you'll find out only later that when you felt you should send that person a card it arrived on the very day everything seemed to be falling in on them. Maybe you won't find out at all. But the Lord has given us each other, not to take His place -He is the only one who can fulfill our needs- but when we stand together and serves other in ways that He can use to help them through their trials, His name is praised! "And why did God make us and all things? For His own glory!" :).

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; A Living Sacrifice

I shared a quote a couple weeks ago that I had recently heard; "I never asked God to make me a servant -not in the literal sense, anyway. I was afraid he would actually do it." (Quote shared by Elisabeth Elliot in her book, "The Music of His Promises".)

The lady who shared this thought with Mrs Elliot had come to the realization that she had been holding back her life from the Lord. She had said that she wanted to serve Him, but she only wanted to follow through on those words as far as they were easy for her.  She wanted to dictate how she served Him and what sacrifices she made for Him. But she had come to see that when Christ said that worship to Him was to make her life a "living sacrifice" to Him, that included the areas she wanted to hold back.

The sheep, lambs, doves and oxen offered as sacrifices in Old Testament times gave all when they were placed on the altar. They gave their very life in a foreshadowing picture of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for our behalf. And we are called to give our lives for our Savior. Not on the altar at the hand of a knife, but in the little moments, decisions, and temptations of the day.

When we've sat down with a book, and a little one needs help getting a toy down from the top shelf. When we want to spend our day in a certain way and then our plans gets changed by circumstances. When we're tired but the Lord brings another task into our path. Those are the moments that the Lord is asking for a sacrifice from us as an act of worship and thanks to Him. Such a small sacrifice compared to that which He gave for us, and yet so impossible to do on our own! But nothing is impossible with the Mercies of God. What a privilege to be, by His blood, a living sacrifice to God :)!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Romans 12:9

One of the condemnations against the "ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" found in Romans 1 was that "Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

It wasn't enough for them that they themselves were sinning. They went so far as to delight in the sins of others. But Paul shares in Romans 12 that the focus of the believer should be so set on Christ and His will, that they would abhor those sins, "hating them with complete hatred".

But we can't simply hate the sin, we must delight in what is good. We must replace our flesh's desire for sin with a will to follow Christ.

Have you ever noticed that when you try to break a habit, you either have to replace it with something else, or you fail quickly? I cut way back on my caffeinated coffee a while ago, but I will admit that decafe coffee was the only way I even decided to take on that endeavor (no, it's not the same... but at least I can pretend, haha). When people take out a certain type of book or movies or music from their lifestyle, they automatically start looking for a replacement. When you take something out of your daily schedule, it is always replaced (sometimes with something you "had on your schedule" but never *actually* got accomplished before freeing up time, but still, replaced just the same).

And that is the way it is with sin. When Christ breaks us of our sin, he gives us a thirst for His word. Our time in His Word, our time in prayer, our time spent serving Him, quickly takes place of the things that we may have been enjoying before that are not part of His will. On the other hand, though, the same is also true. We can become so busy with "important" things that we "don't have time" for God's word. Sin will quietly creep up and fills those spare corners again, as we lose the lifeline that holds us up in temptation. 

So many times, I have heard testimonies, and even experienced myself, that when I neglect to feast on Christ's word, I find myself struggling more and more to delight in what is good. I find it easier and easier to step off the path and do whatever is easiest- which is always what your flesh craves.

But when God breaks your hardening heart and brings you back to His word, and as you delight again in it, though temptations do not become less, standing firm in Him, you will find that "
[His] grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness.” 



Monday, October 5, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; "Be Patient in Tribulation"

Paul knew about tribulation. Paul's life seemed to constantly be, in some way or another, in danger, and he eventually died at the hands of the Romans after being held prisoner for years. In 2 Corinthians 11, he tells those he is writing to that, "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?"

After all these trials, it is Paul who tells us, in Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

This verse is filled with so much hope. Yes, things may feel bad. But think about what is in store for us through the gift of Christ's salvation. All the blessings we have in this life, surrounded by hardships and mingled with trials of small or large proportions though they may be, are still nothing -nothing- compared to the joy that will be ours when we stand before God in His glory. It was "in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Patience. "Be patient in tribulation"... for we have hope.

Sometimes, things are hard. We may not have been shipwrecked or beaten. But sometimes the sin of our human flesh just weights us down in various ways. We let fear chose our actions for us; we end up in a selfish argument; everything just seems to crumble all at once. But through it all, no matter how big the trial may feel to our hurting hearts, we are told to have patience. For we have hope. Hope in the Savior who will not neglect to finish the good work that He has started. Hope that these things are not the end of the story. Hope in Him. A hope that is not seen, but sure just the same.

"Be patient in tribulation", for we have hope.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Do What is Honorable

I hope you have each had a blessed Sunday dwelling in our Lord's word today :)!

In Romans 12:18, we are told to "Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all".

We are called to be peacemakers. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3, “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Now, "keeping the peace" doesn't mean that if someone does not believe as we do in the bible, we drop all convictions so that those convictions don't clash with this person. Each of us will be held accountable to God in the day of judgement, when God shall judge the secrets of men (Romans 2), and he who "knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin" (James 4). We have to stay grounded in God's word, no matter what others think that word really means (or even if they just think it doesn't matter). If God has not convicted them of the same thing, that doesn't mean we are not being held accountable. Now, the Lord may be calling you to share those convictions, but always in a peaceable way :).

Convictions do come differently to people, though. And 1 Corinthians 10 gives us an example of how this may play out;

"“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved."

Paul did not consider it to be unlawful to eat meat that was sold in the temple. But some of the early Christians did, and Paul's explanation was simple. It was okay to eat it; but if doing so was offensive or was a stumbling block to any of the believers you were dining with, avoid it for their sake. 

This isn't to mean that you are to be a different person around different people; it means that part of what makes you who you are as a Christian should be to care more about others than yourself. If you disagree on core biblical truths, never compromise. But if it's just a simple matter, like your friend doesn't listen to certain music, even if you find nothing wrong with the music, don't play it when she is around, as that will be a stumbling block to her conscience! This could go further to include things that might not have anything to do with "doctrine" at all. One person may be fine with certain things, like their living room being trashed by the toddler toys all day long, and only cleaned up when the little one is put in bed for the night. Others may want it kept cleaned up throughout the day. While it may be okay to leave the toys out at the first house during the day, if you don't help keep things picked up in the second, you will be causing frustration, which will not keep the peace.

"Do what is honorable in the sight of all" -not changing who you are, but, through Christ, being characterized by your thoughtfulness of others. 

"For from Him and to Him and for Him are all things".

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; Be Constant in Prayer

I randomly picked up the Kendrick brother's new book, "The Battle Plan for Prayer" and skimmed a couple of paragraphs in between talking about plans for Tori's birthday with Mama the other day. My eye happened to land on an explanation of this verse, and it was one of the best I've ever seen before, right up there with a short story about a kitchen-woman who explained to many clergymen who argued for hours what the verse meant to her (the story has stayed with me for years... I wish I could remember which book I read it in, haha!).

The word constant means "Steady in purpose; resolute; persevering. Steady in faithfulness; loyal. Continually recurring. Invariable; unchanging. that which is permanent or invariable." And then we come to the math definition, which we shall leave out of this post for multiple reasons... haha ;).

Being constantly in prayer is not an action we are doing. We aren't supposed to lock ourselves in our closets 24/7 from salvation to death doing nothing but praying. BUT, it is, again, a matter of the heart. We are to be prayerful at all times. Steadily coming before the throne with our requests, confessions, and praises. It should be a continually recurring habit, permanently ingrained in our day.

We can be constantly singing, constantly forgetting, constantly cleaning the same messes. That doesn't mean we are doing those things every moment, but that they are an expected, accepted, and unchanging part of our day. And in that way, we are to be constant in our prayers; never letting them slip to the side as unimportant, but always making communion with our Father a prominent part of our life, always thankful for the privilege, and always rejoicing in the "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).

Prayer is one area where I fall and fall again. It can be easy to pray at meals and before you go to bed as something to mark off your list, and then not think of for the rest of the day. But my hope is that each of us may become more enthusiastic about this great privilege we have been given :).

And I'm curious; who has been able to see "The War Room" :)? I haven't yet, but I've heard only good, and look forward to getting to watch it, as I know the Kendrick brothers are wonderful at getting biblical truths across in moving films :).

Blessings to you,

Bri :)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thoughts on Romans 12; It's About the Heart

 At first reading, the chapter of Romans 12 can seem like just a list of things that we should and should not do. "Do not be conformed to this world", "be constant in prayer", "live peaceably with all" and other commands pepper the passage in quick secession. But when you dig deeper, you can see that there is more than a command to do something stated in these sentences. What is really being given is what a changed heart looks like.

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."

If we are, by nature, a teacher or a giver, it is just ingrained in us to teach or give. We were given gifts in our personality that make us who we are. But "the one who does acts of mercy" can do it without cheerfulness. We can feel that it is the only choice we have, but grumble the whole time we do it. But Paul, through the inspiration of Christ, tells us that we MUST have cheerfulness in the act. And the only way we can fullfill that command is for Christ to fill our heart with His joy in those acts.

It isn't enough to hate evil. We have to turn from in and delight in what is good. But our flesh has a heart of stone. We cannot truly delight in the good of the Lord until he has broken our hearts to His will. 

Over and over again in the chapter, we are pointed again and again with each command to the second verse; "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." We must be open to the conviction of God, so that we may truly delight in his will. We must be given a new heart, starting with accepting Christ as the Lord and Savior of our hearts and repenting of all that grieves Him. Then it will seem joy to serve others and honor Him. And these verses show us what that will look like :).