Endurance for Unity

Endurance for Unity

Romans 15:1–6 (HCSB)

15 Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even the Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me. 4 For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. 5 Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

The God who gives endurance. Why do you need endurance? Because things are going to be rough as you try hard to not cause your brother to stumble. Paul says that each of us should be about pleasing our neighbor, but he knew that not everyone would do this so he prays that God would give endurance to those who try.

Unity isn’t easy. When we become Christians we don’t suddenly want to like everyone. We still want to have our way, to have our voice heard. We still want to be most important. Unity is work, hard work, so Paul prays for endurance.

As you are going through you day today remember that thousands of years ago Paul was praying for endurance for Christians and take comfort in that prayer. Also, maybe make that prayer part of your regular prayer for your group that God will give them the endurance to strive for unity.




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Pay your Debts of Respect

Pay your Debts of Respect

Romans 13:7–8 (HCSB)

Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Do you have any outstanding debts of honor that you need to pay? I there someone that you know that you need to respect, but aren’t?

Working with teenagers I find that I am often teaching about respecting people and almost universally I get some variation of this, “I’ll respect them when they respect me!” or the “I’ll respect them when they act like they deserve respect.” What I try to teach them is that their actions don’t change your debt. Their actions don’t change your responsibility to respect them. They are creations of God and as such deserve a certain measure of respect. On top of that if they are someone who is in a position of authority over you then they deserve even more of your respect.

The key isn’t to think of it as giving your honor to them. That isn’t who you owe. You owe your honor and respect to God and He has commanded that you pay that respect by honoring those who He has created and who He has placed in authority over you. That is why you honor and respect them, even if they aren’t worthy of your respect.

“You want to do what?”

On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.
Genesis 17:23

When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham he also commanded him to be circumcised and to circumcise all of the men in his household. Abraham was a righteous man and promptly obeyed God, which is good. But reading this verse I keep thinking about what all of the people in his house must have thought. It might have gone something like this.

Servant 1: Have you seen Abraham today?

Servant 2: You mean Abram?

Servant 1: O so you haven’t seen him apparently God changed his name to Abraham.

Servant 2: Father of a multitude of nations? That sounds cool.

Servant 1: Yes, that part is cool, it is the other part that I am worried about

Servant 2: What do you mean?

Servant 1: Well, if you see him coming with a knife you may want to go the other way.

Servant 2: Huh?

Servant 1: Apparently God told him to circumcise everyone in his house

Servant 2: Circumcise? What’s that?

Servant 1: Well, I wasn’t sure either, but I saw Ishmael sitting with his hands holding his crotch so I asked what was wrong.

Servant 2: What did he say?

Servant 1: I almost can’t even say it.

Servant 2: Say what?

Servant 1: God told Abram, I mean Abraham to cut off a piece of every man (points down) down there.

Servant 2: No way

Servant 1: Apparently he started with Ishmael. The boy didn’t look to happy about it.

Servant 2: I knew I should have gone off with Lot. Those guys are partying all night and here Abram is trying cut off pieces of me. Pieces that I hold very dear.

Servant 1: He’s Abraham now, remember.

Servant 2: He’s crazy is what He is.

Who knows, maybe all of the people in Abraham’s household strongly believed that he heard from God, but I have to imagine that there were one or two who tried to put out a few resumes to see if they had any other job opportunities before they let Abraham come after them with that knife.

Because of Sarai

When I think about Genesis 12 I think about the good things that happened to Abram (later Abraham). He gets called by God and follows Him into into a country that God promises to show him. Abram gets blessed by God and receives the promise of many children and even the savior of the world through his lineage.

What I didn’t realize until today is that Genesis 12 also has the story of Abram heading to Egypt because of a famine and lying to the Pharaoh about Sarai. If you don’t know the story Abram claims that she is his sister and not his wife because he is afraid that the Pharaoh will kill him and take her. Abram, who was willing to follow God into an undisclosed country now doesn’t trust Him enough to keep him safe in Egypt.

Well, apparently, Sarai was beautiful and the Pharaoh takes her into his harem. Abram is given lots of stuff for this and is well treated by the Pharaoh, but his wife is taken into Pharaoh’s house. In order to save his own neck Abram lies and Sarai ends up the wife of another man.

Well God doesn’t take too kindly to this and sends plagues down on the Egyptians (a little forshadowing for you here). Check out this verse:

But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai Genesis 12:17. 

Because of Sarai God sent the plagues. Abram wasn’t willing to trust in God so he made up the lie, but God was still on their side so for the sake of Sarai (and the promise that he had made to Abram) God sent plagues so that she could be set free.

It is neat to see God stepping in to make sure that his promises are fulfilled. That brings comfort to know that if he did it then he can do it again.

Grieving the heart of God.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Genesis 6:5-6

Started trying to read through the Bible this year and I came upon this little verse at the beginning of the Noah narrative. I haven’t been able to shake it. The thought that God was sorry for creating people. This makes two quick thoughts come to mind. 1) How can God regret something and 2) What have I done to make him sorry? Is He sorry that He has called me into ministry?