Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ!"

Day #43:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - February 9th

Scripture Reading:  Romans 13 - 14 ...

Living life in this world as a disciple of Jesus Christ requires FOCUS!  It is so easy to forget who we are as believers - those chosen by God and set apart for His glory.  People are so concerned about pride that most within the church think it admirable to make do distinction between those who are united to Christ by faith and those who don't know Him, love Him or believe in Him.  That leads to powerless living, giving in to the myriad of distractions that pull us away from devotion to Christ and obedience to His Word.

Life doesn't have to be that complicated or that difficult for those who have been born again by the Spirit and who are living by the power of Christ in them.  We are being transformed by the renewing of our minds (12:2).  That's where the battle needs to be fought!  Paul's instruction concerning submission to the government in Chapter 13 is important for believers in every nation today.  Governments have been established by God for good, but sin has affected people all over the world who rule for power and influence and wealth rather than for the good of the people.

Yet, even in this, God calls His people to FOCUS by submitting to the government, not becoming overwhelmed by the evil around us, but remembering who we are.  And the only way to do that is to "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ" and "not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (13:14).  How do you and I do that?  "Let no debt remain outstanding, exempt the continuing debt to love one another" (13:8).

Chapter 14 explains an important principle in loving all people, but especially those within the body of Christ.  Showing grace to others is essential when it comes to Christian liberty.  Followers of Jesus are called to obey all that God has revealed and to encourage one another as we live together.  Paul cautions against condemning others in the body over "disputable matters" (14:1).  Doctrine - revealed truth - is never a "disputable matter," but there are matters of preference and times when believers disagree over how to apply God's truth to specific matters of life.  At these times it is important to respect one another, to love one another, to pray together and to be careful not to put a stumbling block in the way of a fellow-believer.

God says, "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind" (14:5).  We "live to the Lord," and we "belong to the Lord" (14:8).  Our FOCUS must be following Christ's example and seeking first the kingdom of God in our minds, hearts and lives.  "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (14:17).  The true Church belongs to Christ and as believers live together within the body it is for Christ, the Head of the Church, that we must live!

The counsel of God in Colossians 3:17 summarizes what Paul writes here to the Romans:  "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  May we be found so doing!!

"Heavenly Father, You have called us in Christ and empowered us by Your Spirit to live in such a way that our lives display Your glory.  Help us in our daily living together to show grace to one another as we apply Your truth to our lives, encouraging one another and building one another up as we set our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  In Jesus name, Amen"

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