“Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13.10
Paul’s advice to the Roman believers and us is certainly worthy of our consideration. He has just finished reminding us of the need to obey the instructions given in the Old Testament law. He begins this section with these words: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” The love that we have for one another is such a vital part of our walk with God.
So when Paul tells us: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor … ”, he is explaining one more aspect of love that you and I are expected to display. I can hear someone saying now, “But you don’t know my neighbor.” You are right, but God does. I wonder if being proactive in our neighborhood would be more productive than being reactive? It is so easy to take offense at something that a neighbor does or doesn’t do and want to retaliate. What would love do in that situation? When one of the Pharisees asked Jesus a question, he received an interesting response: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ” (Matthew 22.36-39). Sooo, I ask myself, “How are you doing with that, Jerry?” and the answer isn’t the one that I want. How about you? “ … love is the fulfilling of the law.” These are just MY thoughts …
“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left had know what thy right hand doeth: (4) That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6.3-4
So often, the things we do for others in the name of Christian service is done so someone will pat us on the back and say, “Way to go.” But Jesus has a totally different idea about the things we do for others. His concept of service to others in need is that we not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. What does that mean? It means that our ministry of help, however large or small it may seem to us, goes totally unnoticed by anyone else. If we are doing it so OTHERS will notice, we have received our reward. If we are doing it so that God will be glorified and another believer will be blessed, our Heavenly Father will reward us whenever and however He sees fit.
I wonder how many of us get up each day with the question in our minds, “How can I glorify my Heavenly Father today?” Such a question at the beginning of the day will turn our focus from doing what WE want to seeking His face and doing what HE wants. Let’s set out to changing the way the world sees God’s kingdom by asking our Heavenly Father to help us focus on glorifying Him as we serve others. The world will wonder what makes us tick, but God will be honored through our motives and our activities. Just my thoughts …
“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Nahum 1.7
Nahum gives us three great truths about God. (1) He is good. (2) He is a stronghold in the day of trouble. And (3) He knows them that trust in Him. We read repeatedly in the Word of God that “The LORD is good … ” I don’t think any of God’s children struggle with the truth that the Lord is good. We may struggle with the many different ways that He is good. Take a moment and recount in your memory the different ways that God is good to you.
“ … a stronghold in the day of trouble … ” What is the value of a stronghold in the day of trouble? If you are like me, sometimes you just need someone to “dump on” … someone to tell about your problem and how overwhelming it is. But sometimes you need someone who has the capacity to not only listen to your burden, but who is able to respond in a way that will help you THROUGH the trouble. That is WHO our God is. When you and I take upon ourselves the responsibility of carrying something God never intended for us to carry, we are usurping His privilege of being our “a stronghold in the day of trouble … ” Let Him be Who He longs to be for you.
I love this last phrase: “ … he knoweth them that trust in him.” None of God’s children are ever going to have to wonder, “I wonder if He remembers me?” “ … he knoweth them that trust in him.” Even when WE don’t remember Him, He remembers US. That is a great source of comfort. Just my thoughts …
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” Luke 6.37
“Judge not … ” How many times have you hear someone say, “Don’t judge me”? Nobody that I know likes to be judged by someone else. So, when Jesus says not to judge, I think we better take heed. It is so easy to look at something that someone else is doing and think we know their reason and their motive and that we have a right to judge that reason and that motive. On many occasions in my lifetime, someone has thought they knew my motive for what I was doing and they were totally wrong. You cannot SEE someone else’s motive. Be careful!
“condemn not … ” I believe condemn can be a reference to motive as well as behavior. Once again we can easily condemn someone’s motive and their behavior. Jesus also warns us against that. The risk we run is that we will be condemned because we condemned another. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more condemnation.
I need to remember this one: “ … forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” Forgiveness is a greater part of our lives than we realize. Sometimes an offense occurs, and rather than forgive the person who offended us, we carry that pain to our grave. My question is, “Why?” Do we somehow think that they are struggling with pain too? They may not even know they offended us. Why not just go to God, clear your own conscience, and for give them. That doesn’t let them off the hook. That puts them in God’s hands and I promise you He will take care of His part of the issue. Just my thoughts …
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10.10
After 50+ years in ministry, I think I have heard just about every kind of explanation as to why people are going to heaven when they die. But the truth of the matter is this, nothing takes the place of the truth stated in the verse above. It is a matter of the heart. Not a matter of the head or my good works being greater than my bad works. “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness … ” When speaking of the heart, it is not the blood pump, but the part of us that makes the serious decisions. You know, “I love you with all my heart.”
So, what does it mean to “believe unto righteousness”? One translation reads: “with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” I like the concept of being justified. It means more than “just as if I’d never sinned.” It is the idea of judicial pardon in spite of my sin. Jesus Christ paid the price that I would have had to pay if I were called upon to settle the price of my sin.
This phrase: “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” is one that I fear too many people overlook. I have hard so many say, “My relationship with God is a private matter. I don’t talk about it.” At some point, my mouth needs to express what has happened in my heart. Jesus was pretty clear when He spoke these words: “But whosever shall deny me before me, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10.33) Let’s not be afraid or embarrassed to open our mouths and share our decision to receive Christ with those who want to know about the hope that lies within us. Just my thoughts …
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalm 37.4
What does it mean to delight yourself in anything or anyone? One of the things I like to delight myself in is a piece of cherry pie. I really love cherry pie. I relish the idea of every bite and when it is in my mouth, I savor it. So how would we apply that to a person, especially to the Lord? When I was dating my wife, I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could and when I was with her, I was delighted to be in her presence. I was focused on her. I listened to what she said. I seemed to hang on every word. It was a JOY for me to be in her presence. So, do you DELIGHT to be in God’s presence? Since we are literally ALWAYS in His presence, what does it mean to DELIGHT in His presence? Some people, even though they know God is there, live as though He is NOT there. Obviously they are NOT delighting to be in His presence. They wish He wasn’t there. What does it take for us to delight ourselves in His presence? We must believe He loves us. We must believe that He always has our best interest at heart. We must acknowledge His sovereignty over us. Once we are willing to acknowledge these truths, it is a delight to be in His presence.
This is an interesting phrase: “he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” “Oh, good. I can have anything that I want.” That attitude doesn’t understand the principle involved here. I can have anything I want as long as my heart wants for me what His heart wants for me. That requires that I allow Him to control the desires of my heart. Some of us have some releasing of control to God. then things will get better. Just my thoughts …
“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” Psalm 3.3
David’s son, Absalom has taken over his father’s kingdom and will kill him if given the opportunity. David cries out to God in vs. 1-2: “LORD, how and the lifter up of mine head are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. (2) Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.” And then he exclaims: “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me … ” I don’t think any of us have faced anything like what David is facing here. All around him others were saying that there was no help in God. God had given him over to defeat and there was nothing David could do. But David saw it differently. He saw God as “ … the lifter up of (his) head.” This kind of confidence in God instills a confidence in me as well.
The next time the enemy seems insurmountable, remember these words of David. The next time the struggles seem more than you are able to handle, remember these words of David. The nest time life comes crashing down on you and you lose all hope, remember these words of David. Find comfort in the One who is a shield for you. Find encouragement in the One who is the lifter up of your head. It is as though God puts His hand under your chin and lifts your head to meet His gaze so you can see His face and hear his words: “I’ve got this! I am your shield.” These are just my thoughts …
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12.9
How many times do we wake up and instead of saying, “Good morning, Lord” we say, “Good Lord, it’s morning.” The day we are facing seems impossible for us to negotiate alone. As I read this verse this morning, I realized afresh that these are the words of Jesus to Paul and all of God’s children. “My grace is sufficient for thee … ” The verse doesn’t say that it is barely enough, but rather that it is sufficient. In other words, it is adequate. Whatever I need, it will be enough. Whatever you need, it will be enough.
Why is that important? “ … for my (God’s) strength is made perfect in weakness.” It doesn’t matter HOW weak we are, His strength is made perfect, i. e. fully enough, for whatever the need is that is before us. The next time you think your problem is one that is greater than God an handle, remember these words. I find that I am weak many times and don’t even know how weak I am. When the Holy Spirit prompts me to turn my weakness over to Him, I am not only relieved, but I find great contentment.
Paul closes the verse with a powerful observation that we do well to remember: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I think that is a pretty good exchange – my infirmities for the power of Christ resting on me. I don’t want to consciously or purposefully live any day without the power of Christ resting on me. I want HIM living His Life through me. Just my thoughts …
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20.24
“But none of these things move me … ” What things Paul? Verse 23 closes with these words: “ … bonds and afflictions abide me.” If any man ever had reason to complain about how he was treated, other than the Lord Jesus, it would be the Apostle Paul. From the time he was saved on the Damascus Road to the time of his death, he went from one crisis to another in serving the Lord. I don’t think any of us reading these words of Paul can fully understand what he went through to be a servant of Christ. “ … neither count I my life dear unto myself … ” Paul’s life was never about himself. Everything he did was about serving God faithfully, bringing glory to God through his life, and helping others see how much God loved them. He did not count his life dear so that he might sacrificially count the work of God and the kingdom of God dear.
“ … so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus … ” How can anyone of us finish our course with joy? We can do so by turning the focus of our life and ministry away from ourselves and placing the focus clearly on the person of Christ. It should bring us great joy to be able to glorify the Lord through our lives. I must ask myself, “Is my life a testimony of the gospel of the grace of God?” And if it is not, I am the only one who can change that. If it is, then I can finish my course with joy. I think the question for us to answer today is this: “Is the focus of my life on the person of Christ, and can I finish my course with joy by pointing others to Him?” Just my thoughts …
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. ” Hebrews 11.1-3
How do you define faith? I like the acrostic Forsaking All I Take Him. It seems strange for the words substance and hope to appear in the same sentence. But when God becomes part of the equation, it makes perfect sense. Faith in God allows me to have hope in what I cannot see because of the substance that only God can provide.
Hebrews 11 is called the Hall of Fame of Faith. Why? Because “ … by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report.” By faith Abel, by faith Enoch, by faith Noah, by faith Abraham … each one of these individuals is known for living by faith. Forsaking all, they took God at His Word. Is that something that you are able to do on a daily basis? It is something that I am forced to do some days on a moment-by-moment basis.
Look carefully at this next phrase: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God … ” The evolutionist says that things in our world evolved from nothing. To accept such a position requires faith … a lot of faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God … ” That takes faith too, but not nearly as much as the position of the evolutionist. “ … things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Only God can make something out of nothing. That is where I put my faith … in this God. Just my thoughts …