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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Wrapped Up in the Gospel

Hello again!

Today we’re moving to 2 Timothy. – This is what God gave me today in His word:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:6-12)

Paul reminds us of several things in this passage: he remind Timothy (and by extension, us) to fan into flame the gift God has given him. He also reminds us that God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control, and to not be ashamed of the Gospel or of those who preach it. Most importantly, he reminds us of the thing that made all of this possible: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is Godly admonishment “at it’s best”, if you will.

See, Paul is telling us to fan into flame whatever gift it is that God has bestowed us with, but he also reminds us that it’s Jesus who calls us to this “holy calling” of spreading the Gospel to others through the gifts we have been given. Likewise when he reminds us of the Spirit of power that we have been given, Paul quickly adds that we should, because we have this spirit, we shouldn’t be ashamed, of the Gospel. – Everything Paul says is wrapped up in Christ’s death and Resurrection, and that is what makes him such a powerful teacher. God wouldn’t let anything enter the Bible that wouldn’t help us in some form or another, and Paul’s Epistles are no different. They are here both to instruct us in how to live a holy and pleasing life to God, and how to correctly teach others to do so.

All that being said, it is also very important that we do make an effort to use the gifts we’ve been given (and by doing so “fan them into flame”), and to not be ashamed of the Gospel or of those that preach it. We should also strive for a faith like that of Paul’s: A faith which is convinced God will keep us safe until “that Day”.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Joy and Marveling

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:38-39)

In yesterday’s post, we talked on how going to the cross, repenting, and asking for forgiveness is the only way a Christian who is lacking peace (or anyone else) can gain true peace in Christ. In these verses, we see the proof of that. Jesus assures them that He is not a Spirit by telling them to look at His pierced hands and feet, and to touch Him. Now, quite obviously Jesus is no longer with us physically, however, we are still invited to Spiritually do what the disciples did physically.-To see Christ’s pierced hands and feet, and to “touch” Him (when I talk about Spiritually “touching” Jesus, I’m talking about times when we feel extremely close to Christ; where it’s almost as if we were “touching” Him). And when we do so, it should create the same response in us as it did in the disciples:

And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, (Luke 24:40-41a)

They couldn’t hardly believe in was Him for joy. For us, this might equate to having such a profound revelation in Scripture that we can hardly believe Jesus would show us such a thing for joy and marveling, or some other such thing. Regardless though, the point is this: Looking at Jesus’ nail pierced hands and feet, and realizing that He truly did die for us, should produce nothing but peace, joy, and utter marveling at how great our God truly is.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Getting Cold

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:37-38)

In yesterday’s post, we talked on the peace that Jesus gives everywhere He goes. However, His disciples don’t seem to become exactly “peaceful” when Jesus appears. In fact, they thought they were seeing a Spirit! Now, remember, if anyone on Earth were to be able to recognize Jesus, it would likely be these men. They’d eaten with Him, traveled with Him, and obeyed Him. And yet, at first, they believe they’re seeing a Spirit.

This is what happens to everyone (with some variations) that go through their circumstances. Namely, it happens to everyone who has had Jesus with them day in and day out. Who have lived with Him, who have traveled and obeyed Him whole heatedly… Only to suddenly seem to “lose” Him, and enter into a sort of “cold period”. And who then proceed to almost curl into them-self; who run away from and hide from their enemies. (John tells us that the disciples were hiding “for fear of the Jews”. See: John 20:19). Anyone who does this, will not recognize Jesus, at first.

As you may have gathered, I’m not talking about people who do that physically, as the disciples but those who do it Spiritually, which is something we are far more prone to doing. It’s even somewhat easy to go from seeming to have Jesus with you, to seeming to enter a time where His presence seems a little farther off. It’s even possible to get so doubtful of Christ and His saving power, that we don’t even recognize Him in the Scriptures.-We don’t even recognize Him when He “appears” to us. But, how can we keep ourself from becoming “cold”? How can we keep ourself from drifting away from Christ?

By making sure we can’t drift away. By that, I mean we should identify what weaknesses we have; where we have a tendency to give in, and then ask God to give us His strength to cut off all possible access to whatever is making us weak.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Disobedience

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:47-49)

Christians, just in general (myself included), have a problem, and a very important one at that: we hear (in the case of those listening to a pastor), and we read (the Bible), but we tend not to obey. Jesus tells us to love our enemy, but do we? Jesus tells us to give to everyone who begs from us, but do we? He also tells us to turn the other cheek when we’re struck, do good to those who hate us, and to give freely to those who would steal from us, yet I’d dare to say that we haven’t done any of those. We have a stunning obedience deficiency.

And, the real problem about our obedience problem, is that, ever since Adam and Eve sinned, being disobedient to God is our very nature. When we are hit, our instinct is to hit back. As Paul says in his letter to Titus:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)

But Paul doesn’t stop there, the next part tell us how it is we can live a life obedient, and in submission to God:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

If we aren’t living lives obedient to God, we either don’t fully understand what Jesus has done for us, we are not saved at all, or we are not repentant. In most cases, it’s the last of those: we don’t want to do anything different, so we don’t. It’s only by repenting of our disobedience, and letting Jesus give us His grace, that we can live obediently to God.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Humanity, Divinity, and Death

Hello again!

(The following verses are, as you may be able to guess, where Jesus is being crucified.) This is what God gave me today in His word:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (Matthew 27:50)

Now, there are several Christians, quite a lot in fact, that claim Jesus actually died. Now, I agree with this completely, I completely believe that Jesus died completely, and then three days later rose again. However, people tend to mix up “death” as we know it to be today, and the death which Jesus died. “Death” implies a forceful taking, some would call it a “stealing”, of life. (Of course for the Christian, life never ends, I’m using “life” in this context to represent our Spirit being trapped in flesh and bone. Thus, “dying” in the context which we’re looking at it, is releasement.) Jesus’ life wasn’t stolen from Him, rather, we see the verse says that He, “yielded up his spirit.” He gave up, willingly, His Spirit. Something which Jesus Himself tells us is true:

17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)

The main reason I bring this up, is to answer one of the arguments which those who don’t believe in the Trinity of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bring up, in order to attempt to state that the dual nature of Christ; that He is both fully God, and fully man, to be a contradiction. i.e. That God cannot die, yet Jesus did. The thing about this, is that Jesus did not die, as we think of dying. He lived, even after He died. Though it’s true His physical, mortal body came to the end of its service, His Spirit lived. It’s impossible to put God in a box, and say that He must always maintain a single form. No one really has any clue what God looks like, or what He consists of, or if He even consists of anything at all. God is so far out of our grasp of understanding, that we simply cannot look at Jesus, taking our sin nature onto Himself, and dying, and claim that the was His end. Assuming that Jesus really is God, and Scripture says that He is (i.e. John 5:7-8), physical death would not mean His being coming to an end, as death implies.

To put it more rather more simply: Jesus’ human self died, and along with Him died our sin nature, guilt, and condemnation. However, His divine self did not die, rather His divine self went on to preach hope and salvation to the captives in Hell, and then to rise again.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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Interpretations and Applications

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:13-16)

Jesus is fulfilling yet another prophecy, not exactly anything new. Except, this particular prophecy is quite vague. All it says is that the land of Zebulun and Naphtali would see a great light. Couldn’t that easily mean something as different as those areas would merely experience a very sunny day? Who is Matthew (aside from a Holy Spirit inspired author of the Bible) to say that this prophecy was of Christ?

Well, a pretty obvious reason for Matthew’s saying that the prophecy refers to Christ, is that he’s Holy Spirit inspired, and so has that authority. Another possible answer would be to draw the line backwards: i.e. to see that Christ went to those areas, and so the verse must refer to Him. A third possibility is to simply look at Isiah’s Character, and draw the conclusion that this man doesn’t make casual prophecies about the weather, and so the verse must have some sort of further meaning. Which, in this case, would be that it was referring to Christ. So, is it one of the three? All three? Something else entirely?

The New, explains the Old. Matthew knew that Jesus is the light which illuminates hearts and minds, and chases away the darkness. Matthew also knew that Jesus was physically passing through Zebulun and Naphtali, so he made the reasonable connection. Which is why we can come to the conclusion that the New Testament, explains the Old Testament. Take this example:

But to each one of us(A) grace(B) has been  given(C) as Christ apportioned it. This is why it[a] says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives(D)
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b](E) (Ephesians 4:7-8)

(The actual verse, Psalm 68:18, says that God received gifts from men). Paul tells us that grace has been given to us, and then misquotes a verse to confirm what he said. The doctrine he was trying to teach, allowed him to find a verse, and explain it according to how it applies to us. Back then, in the Old Testament, God received gifts from men. He received their sacrifices, and led those captive to the law. But now, He gives gifts of grace to all who ask, and leads captives of grace. As was said, the New explains the Old.

Now, trying to do what Paul and Matthew did can be dangerous, because we have to be sure that we’re interpreting a verse correctly. Otherwise we could see a random verse, and decide that it means something completely wrong. The base rule though, is that the interpretation must actually make sense, and go from applying to the people in the Old Testament, to applying to us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Keeping Focus

Hello again!

Yesterday we pretty much finished up Romans; the last chapter, sixteen, is pretty much entirely Paul’s closing remarks. So today, we’re going to start Hebrews. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:1-4)

The author tells us that we must pay “much closer attention” to what we’ve heard. Then the author seems to completely change topics, and starts talking about a message angels gave, which apparently proved to be true. Followed by a seemingly third change in topics, as the author then proceeds to talk about sins all receiving their due… Then, seemingly strangest of all, he calls what he just said, “salvation” (“how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” – Directly after the word “retribution” there’s a comma. If there had been a period, we could safely assume that “such a salvation” is a completely different topic.). So then, was this person simply very confused while attempting to write this, or are all of these seemingly separate thoughts all somehow connected?

The author actually doesn’t change topic at all. He tells us we have to, “pay closer attention to what we’ve heard”. Followed by talking about a message given by angels. Now, there are several places where angels deliver reliable, true messages in the Bible. However, the only one that bears true significance to us, is this one:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene(B) and the other Mary(C) went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake,(D) for an angel(E) of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone(F) and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.(G) The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid,(H) for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.(I) Come and see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:1-6)

And, when Mary and Mary went to see the place where He had laid, they saw that the message was indeed reliable. Also, through the angel telling the women that Christ had risen, we see that every sin had received it’s just retribution: death. All sin leads, and in fact requires a death in order to be paid for, and Jesus provided that death in our place. He died so that we may live. The question that the author asks next is only reasonable: “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” The command being, that we shouldn’t neglect this great salvation at all, but rather grab it, and hold on to it.

As the author said to start, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” As I’ve said before, the Gospel, that which we heard at the start of our Christian lives, is to be always present in our minds. Both as a way of blocking out the thought’s which the Devil would want us to think, and as a way to always be thinking on God’s provision for us; which will keep our entire lives in focus.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28)

The Spirit will help us when we’re weak, and for everyone who loves God, everything works together for good. Now if that’s not encouraging, I don’t know what is… But, now, what about when a loved one dies? Does God work out even that for good? And what about when we actually do give in to temptation, where’s the Spirit that will help us in our weakness then?

I believe Joseph is more qualified to answer the first question:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

Even in the death of a loved one, or some other seeming catastrophe, God is able to work it for good. You can’t get more catastrophic than what happened to Joseph: sold by his brothers as a slave, not to mention being put into prison. Yet, what happens to him? He rises to a place of significant power; only second to the Pharaoh himself. Things may seem very bad at times, but in everything, no matter what it is, God is sovereign, and He’ll work whatever it is out for good for those who love Him.

But that still leaves the second question: where is the Spirit, when we fall to temptation? He’s always with us, giving us strength in our times of weakness, and pulling us up when we fall to temptation. That’s where ‘the Spirit’ is.

God will always work everything out for good for those who love Him, yes. And the Holy Spirit will always help us in our times of weakness. But we are still to do everything in our power to cut off access to whatever it is that’s causing us to sin, whatever that may be.

So, the point is this: God is sovereign over every situation, no matter how bad, and the Holy Spirit will always help us, no matter how bad we’ve messed up. – Which, by the way, isn’t an excuse to sin. As Paul put it, “How can we who’ve died to the sinful nature, now live in it?”, roughly speaking, in Romans 6. – So, rather than finding out how exactly God works out every bad situation for our good and His glory, let’s just try to give Him glory from the start.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today my dad, the interim-pastor at The Fountain of Grace Church, preached again. Here was his sermon:

First Scripture reading: Psalm 133:1-3 1 A song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.

Let’s sing

Second Scripture reading: Romans 14:14-23 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Let’s pray

In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ has purchased marvelous freedom for those who belong to Him by faith. Think about the freedoms we have in Christ: we are freed from the penalty of sin, we are freed from the curse of the Law, we are freed from guilt and shame, we are freed from death and condemnation. We’re freed from the entire old covenant which basically said, “if we live perfectly God will accept us, we can go to heaven and live forever.” Now we’re under the New Covenant that says, “Jesus lived perfectly for us, and He died for us, so that by His living and by His dying all who believe are accepted by God, can go to heaven and live forever.”

In the context of Romans 14, we have freedom from all the dietary restrictions of the old covenant. That’s exactly what it says in Romans 14:14 “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself.” He’s referring to food here, and so we’re taught that all the dietary rules of the Old Covenant are done away with. There is no more “clean” and “unclean” foods under the New Covenant. We have freedom from those restrictions and freedom to enjoy all food in moderation.

Paul says this comes straight from the Lord Jesus. Indeed Jesus taught this very thing in Mark 7:18-19 18 “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”) In other words, the New Covenant is about the purity of our hearts, not about clean and unclean foods. All foods are clean. And we have freedom from all dietary restrictions.

But that is not the main emphasis of Romans 14. It’s not whether or not we have freedom, but whether or not we have love. And if we have love, we may choose not to exercise some of our freedoms. And in this passage God is going to give us seven truths to teach us how to walk in love.

The first point is: Don’t grieve your brother. In Romans 14:15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. And here we see that our actions can hurt other people, grieve them, make them sad, and that violates the law of love. “Do no harm.” Yes we have freedoms as Christians but shouldn’t our love for each other be the primary thing?

I remember hearing about a very wealthy man in London who was an atheist; and he said that he once believed in God and professed Christ as his Savior, but as a new believer he watched the way the elders of the church lived. And one of them drove a brand new Mercedes Benz every year. And this man started thinking, that’s what I’d like to do. And slowly he began a slide from faith in Christ to love of money. Until one day he saw no need for God in his life. Now was it ok for that elder to drive a new Mercedes? Of course it was, we can drive whatever we want. But an inescapable law is that our actions affect other people. And we are not to grieve our brothers and sisters but rather love them.

The second point is: Don’t destroy your brother. Vs. 15 says “do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.” In context he means, don’t shake the faith of those coming out of Judaism; you Romans can teach these new converts to go against their consciences, and thereby tempt the to return to Judaism, to the rules and regulations, and thereby you have destroyed their faith in Christ and their life in the New Covenant.

But notice why we should not destroy them. Christ died for them. Have you been noticing how Paul always takes people to the cross for whatever he is teaching them? We will really see this as we begin to study our next Book, 1 Corinthians. There Paul says right up front, 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  You Corinthians, whatever problems and issues you are facing in life, there is one solution: The cross of Calvary. And all true instruction is centered in the cross. Always remember that. You should have an ear for listening to any sermons and ask yourself, no matter what the topic or passage, was that message centered in the cross?

And here Paul says don’t destroy the one for whom Christ died. In other words, Christ gave up His life for people, and we’re not willing to give up a piece of meat? When Jesus was talking about giving up His life, He said in John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”  Jesus’ life was His own to do with as He pleased, and He chose the path of love, to lay down His life, to give up His very blood, His entire body, all of Who He was so that you could believe and live. And this is the essence of Romans chapter 14. We have certain freedoms; they are ours to do with as we please. But the path of love is the path of giving up for someone else.

Now today the issue for us is not eating meat, there are other areas that can offend a weaker brother. Just substitute the word “meat” for anything that offends your brother. I remember hearing of a man who was saved out of a lifestyle of impurity, and it bothered him for years afterward to hear a saxophone; apparently he connected it with the music he used to hear in impure movies. Well his pastor loved classical saxophone, even played it. But he chose around this weaker brother to not play that kind of music.

Some people are saved out of a life of drunkenness, and they know if they had one drink they’d be right back into it. Wouldn’t it be loving not to offer them a glass of wine when you have them over for dinner? And there’s all kinds of these issues; a person is saved out of a culture of acid rock music. God just changes his heart and gives him a love for music about the gospel. Well maybe don’t have Christian rock blaring in your car when you give him a ride.

This is the point. Should we despise the very people that Christ valued so highly? Did Jesus think it was worthwhile to deny Himself His very existence for them, yet we don’t think it’s worthwhile to deny ourselves anything for our brother? Jesus gave up everything for us, and we won’t give up anything for them? That’s the point. Don’t destroy your brother for whom Christ died.

The Third point is: Don’t let your good be spoken of as evil—vs. 16. He’s speaking to strong Christians and he says you don’t have concede the point just to love the brother. You don’t have to let your weaker brother tell you how wrong it is to be free. Christians can drink a glass of wine, can listen to the saxophone and can enjoy good Christian rock. Don’t let him speak evil of your enjoying the gifts God gives you. In other words, you can be willing give up some freedoms because your love your brother, but don’t let him teach in the church all these regulations and restrictions and restrictions. He should be taught to focus on the things that matter.

The fourth point is: Don’t get off topic. Stay with things that matter. That’s what Paul says in verse Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

And here he tells us to focus on the main things, the big things, the clear things. Be big minded and well as big hearted. Here are the main points of Christianity: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and again he reminds them of the cross.

As if to say, Jesus died on the cross to make you righteous. There was a great exchange at the cross whereby He took on your sin and gave you His righteousness. Romans 4:5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.  God’s kingdom is about people who have received righteousness by faith, and are now living in righteousness.

And peace. When Jesus died He removed the enmity between all believers and God, and brought peace. Colossians 1:20 Jesus “reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. And now we should live to promote peace among brothers. That’s what he says in vs. 19: Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

And when He died, He purchased the Holy Spirit for us, and in Him we have real and lasting joy. The joy of a Christian cannot be understood by anyone else. We rejoice in all things, even in the midst of trouble. Joy is the immediate result of receiving the Gospel. Remember, it’s called “glad tidings of great joy, which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). This joy comes from having as Savior, from knowing deep down that you are right with God, of having assurance that our guilt was nailed to a tree and buried in a tomb, that you will live forever. John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. At the cross “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

Righteousness and peace and joy has replaced the rules, regulations and rituals. Fourth point is don’t get off topic. Keep with the main things, the big things. These are the things that bring the approval of God and man, as verse 18 says Romans 14:18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

The fifth point is: Don’t destroy the work of God. Romans 14:20 “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” Isn’t it clear that believers are the work of God.  Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. We are God’s workmanship. This word workmanship is the Greek word “poema” where we get our word poem. You might remember a man by the name of Isaac Waats, he wrote poems and hymns for the church. Usually for him these poems just rolled out of him, but one time he wrote a poem that he said took him all day and all night to make it perfect. He said he wanted this poem to be a reflection of who he was. Did you know that believers are God’s poem to the world? And so we could think of it this way; that at the cross God worked not just all day and all night, but three days and three nights to remove your sin and make you the perfect poem. And now He works in us by His Spirit, making us a reflection of who He is. Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Believers are the works of God, therefore, be careful not to work against God by tearing down what He is building up.

The sixth point is: Don’t cause your brother to stumble. Vs. 20 says “It is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.” It’s wrong for us to do anything that causes someone else to stumble in their faith. “Oh they’re a bunch of hypocrites, I could never go to church with them.” And while that’s just an excuse not to go to church we shouldn’t be hypocrites either; we should never trip someone up.

I like to walk and run around Findlay State Park. And Findlay has some very sharp corners, and one time last year I’m running down the hill and I take the sharp corner to the left, and there’s a huge log fallen right across the path, and I couldn’t avoid it and I tripped and down I went. Now nobody put that there on purpose, but we can lay a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of our brothers and sisters by doing things that offend them. And a Christian should make up his or her mind, never to put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of their brother or sister. Romans 14:13 Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. He repeats it in verse 21: Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

Finally, point seven is: Don’t condemn yourself. Vss. 22-23 Romans 14:22-23 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. In other words, keep faith primary, never do something that goes against our own conscience.

Here’s the message of Romans 14: although we are permitted to enjoy all kinds of freedoms, we are not commanded to do so. We are not obligated to exercise every freedom we have in Christ. In fact, the greater our love and spiritual maturity, the more willing we are to relinquish freedoms for the sake of serving the Lord and loving His people. As we mature in the faith, we become more interested in other people’s well-being, even as Jesus had freedom to remain in heaven, but chose the path of love instead, died on the cross, rose from the dead and purchased our eternal life.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Todays Sermon

 

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Finding Peace and Shelter in Jesus

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; (Micah 5:2-5)

We see a couple of things here. First of all, we know that the person Micah is referring to here, in the beginning of the passage, is Jesus. That’s obvious, because only He was the one who was born in Bethlehem, and was the ruler of Israel, and through His birth caused God to remember His people. Along with that though, we also see what we’re supposed to do:

  1. Dwell secure in Him.
  2. Find peace in Him.

Our job/s are really pretty simple; it’s not like we have to die on a cross. All we need to do is find our security in Jesus, easy, right? People have a problem (yes, that’s a slight understatement). That problem is that they tend to require physical things, such as food. Sadly, people, including myself, have a tendency to carry over that need to touch, to taste, etc. over into Spiritual matters; things which you cannot tough or taste. Which is a long-winded way of saying that, frankly, putting our security in Jesus (someone we can’t touch) is rather difficult. We’d rather trust in money, something we can see. Or we’d even prefer trusting in nature, or better still, our own works! — A song-writer put it in this way:

Sink the whaling ships, save the whales
Kick out the French, save the baby snails
Stop the interstellar radiation
But we can never be our own salvation

— From: Ian Eskelin

Dwelling in Christ, and finding peace in Him, can only be done with the help of the Spirit. Because, as previously mentioned, we typically prefer tangible to Spiritual things… Unless the Spirit is working within us to will and to do the will of the Lord. With that being said, though, this is what it means to dwell in Christ, and what it means to find peace in Him, in simple terms:

We dwell in Christ when He dwells in us (seems like a paradox, I know, but the same rules don’t apply Spiritually that do physically). And we find peace in Jesus, when we aren’t worried about what will happen to us physically; i.e., when we have the attitude that if we die, all that’ll happen is that we’ll go somewhere even better than where we are now… Because, to be frank, we will.

We Dwell in Christ when He Dwells In Us

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Dwelling in Christ simply means being a Christian. As I said before, it means having Christ dwell in us; live in our hearts, thus making us “Christians.”

Finding Peace in Christ

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

We shouldn’t be troubled. Why? Because, as I’ve already said, we’re safe in Christ. As Jesus Himself said, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (see: John 16:33), thus no matter what “the world” (temptation/unbelievers) do to us, Jesus has already overcome; thus, through Him, we have as well.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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