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.
7 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.
8 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.
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.
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?
I got a chance to go sit outside and pray and worship again today. October in Alabama is a beautiful time. Here we are with Halloween fast approaching and the leaves are only just now beginning to show small bits of orange around the edges. Of course so many of the trees around here are pines anyway and so you don’t get the dazzling fall display that you do in many places. But October is a good time in Alabama because it is a time when the wind is cool, but the Sun is warm and you can sit and feel the warmth from the sun as the cool breeze keeps you from getting too hot.
As the father of two little boys now I don’t get a whole lot of time to just sit outside and pray and read and connect with God the way that I used to. When I have free time I want to be with them and there isn’t a whole lot of free time to go around anyway. But today, the day was just too perfect and it seemed to call to me, inviting me to come out and play.
I spent a good deal of time today reading through Job as I prepare to tell the story to my students on Wednesday night. It is a fascinating story that teaches us a great deal about God, but for a group of students who are starting to come alive with questions it is also a scary story to teach. In so many ways it raises as many questions as it answers.
Of course that is the beauty of Job. It is an answer to the question. Job asked God why and got an answer. Of course he didn’t get the answer that we have, the answer to the why that we see at the start of the story. But Job got an answer to his question. He asked God why and God answered and His answer was simply: I am God, and you are not.
That is an infuriating answer if you are stuck in the middle of crap and just hear it on the surface, but it is a freeing amazing, perfect answer if you really let it sink in and permeate through you. God is God, I am not, and that means that I don’t have to know all of the why’s of the world. I can simply trust in him.
As someone who is desperate to know everything there is to know in the world that can be hard sometimes, but as someone who learned long ago that I can’t know it all it is good to know I can trust in the one who does.