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Friday, November 30, 2012

Live in harmony

 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16 ESV


Paul advises the church to live in harmony and then proceeds to give three examples of how to do this. Let's look at all three individually.

Do not be haughty, don't be arrogant is what he's getting at. Arrogance has no place in the body of Christ. If our Lord and master is a humble servant, that is what we are to be as well. No room for arrogance there is there? Besides that does anyone really enjoy being around an arrogant person? No, arrogance causes dis-chord which is opposite of harmony. So, let's not be haughty.

He follows up with associate with the the lowly. Jesus did that. We should too. Jesus associated with every kind of person like prostitutes, tax collectors and even arrogant religious leaders (pharisees). After all none of us is as high and mighty as Christ. He is the great equalizer. We are equal under Him and we should treat each other as such.

Last he says do not be wise in your own sight. False wisdom certainly is not beneficial to the body. I say false, because when we base what we do on our own knowledge and exclude God's wisdom we are in dangerous territory. Everything we do within the body must be based on biblical truths, not our own wisdom or opinions. To think of ones self as being wise, is to be arrogant and self elevating.

All this being said, if we follow Paul's teaching on living in harmony we all will be blessed by it. The body will be much more harmonious.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rejoice

 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15


In this verse Paul is speaking to the closeness that we as Christians should have with one another. We should sincerely feel what our brothers and sisters feel. We should share an emotional bond. Fellowship within the church is far deeper than simply belonging to a group or organization.

The church is far more than an organization, it is an organism. It is a living thing. It is a life giving thing. It is the body of Christ. When Paul says we should rejoice when members of the body rejoice and weep when they weep, he is speaking of a closeness like Jesus has to the body. When something is happening to the body of Christ He knows it. Paul understood this first hand, “And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 22:7 ESV Jesus Himself was letting Paul know that He knew what was happening to His body.

Paul wants us to strive for that same kind of sensitivity toward our fellow members of the body. We as Christians are to empathize with other members of the body, put ourselves in their place and feel what they feel. We are to share in their joys and sorrows.

So today, come along side your brothers and sisters in Christ. Support them in what they are experiencing, whether it be joy or sorrow. If you do this for them, they will do the same for you. When we support each other in this way, the body of Christ is strengthened. Lets lift one another up.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, November 26, 2012

Audio Sermons 24/7

http://www.on-this-rock.org/index.html

Bless those who persecute you

-->Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Romans 12:14



Sounds like a “natural” way to respond to persecution doesn't it? No, not really. Blessing those that persecute us is not the first thing that comes to mind when we face persecution. Our natural response to persecution is retaliation. We want to see our persecutors suffer for the pain inflicted on us. But, Paul says that is not the answer. We are to bless and not curse them.

Paul asks us to go against our nature, that nature being our sinful nature. Some would say you mean it's our human nature. I suppose so, because as humans we tend to respond in sinful ways to such things as persecution. Paul calls us to respond differently, he calls us to respond in a Christ like manner. We are to bless those that persecute us.

We as Christians are to respond to persecution like Jesus did. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:34 ESV Jesus as He was being crucified asked His Father to forgive those that were persecuting Him. Even when faced with great humiliation, pain and death, Jesus chose to bless rather than curse. That is what we are called to do. Right now you are probably thinking, well that was Jesus of course that's how He would react. Humans react differently. Really?

Let's look at Stephen. And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:16 Stephan, a man cried out to God to forgive those that were persecuting him. If Stephan when he was being stoned to death for preaching the gospel could forgive, shouldn't we be able to bless our persecutors?

Paul said to bless our persecutors. What greater blessing can we give someone than what Jesus has given us, forgiveness.

So today, let's pray for our persecutors and ask for their forgiveness.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, November 23, 2012

The needs of the saints

 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Romans 12:13 ESV


When I read this verse I'm reminded just how much of a family the church is supposed to be. We are to look after one another and build relationships with one another. Paul wasn't bringing up a new idea for the church. The church had been functioning this way since the early days in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:42-47)

We as members of the body of Christ are to care for each others needs whether they be physical, social or spiritual. We are a body and we are to function as such, all parts supporting one another.

Paul touches on two very important things in this verse. Needs of the saints and hospitality toward the saints. We as members of the body need to help and support others as the need arises. There will be times when some of us are blessed materially while others are in need. We should share our abundance with those that are in need. After all, whatever we have is a blessing from God. We should bless others as we have been blessed.

Paul says “seek to show hospitality”. In other words, look for ways to be hospitable to the members of the body. When we show hospitality, we show others that they matter to us and that we want them around. Spending time with members of the body outside times of worship builds relationships. Being hospitable is opening up your heart and home to others. When we do this for each other bonds are formed and the body is strengthened.

Wherever this kind of care is practiced in a congregation you see a healthy body of believers. One simple verse put into practice can do so much. Let's put it into practice.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stack the odds in you favor

 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12


Do you want to know how to remain strong in your faith? Stack the odds in your favor.

Rejoice in Hope, only Christians have true hope. We have an eternal hope. Non-christians place their hope in things that are temporary. Things that fail. Our hope is in Christ, He never fails.

Be patient in tribulation, all trials and tribulations are temporary. God's love for us is eternal. Whatever we may be facing in this life is just temporary, it will pass.

Be constant in prayer, because that is where we find our strength to go on. That is where we find our hope. That is where we find the patience to endure whatever we are going through.

When we do these three things we will be able to stay strong and resist the devil.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 ESV


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Serve the Lord

 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:11 ESV


In this verse Paul says not to be lazy in our desire to serve, but we should have a passionate spirit in our service to the Lord.

I think Paul says this for good reason. Because, I think we all have a tendency to get lazy in our desire to serve at times. Paul reminds his readers to not let this slothful attitude to take over in their lives. Every relationship requires work from the parties involved in it. The Lord always does His part in the relationship, it is we that tend to trail off in our zeal to serve.

In His letter to the church at Ephesus the Lord said this; “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4 ESV The Lord wanted the church at Ephesus to know that He was aware that they as a body had lost the passion, the love they once had for Him. The Lord is aware of our level of passion for Him and service to Him.

Paul says have a passionate spirit. He wants us to remember the passion we had at first and rekindle that passion. Obviously maintaining ones passion for service to the Lord has its ebb and flow. We have to be aware of that and where we are in that and act. If you feel your passion ebbing away turn the tide, remember the passion for service you had when you began your walk with the Lord and rekindle that fire.

Reread one of the Gospel accounts and see the passion that the Lord has for us in the ministry of Jesus. Ask the Lord to build you up in your faith. Begin serving anew. Find a new way to serve within the body and serve the Lord with a passionate spirit.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman


Friday, November 16, 2012

Let love be genuine

 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:9,10 ESV


These two verses really hinge on the first sentence, “Let love be genuine”. Paul wants his readers to know that love of the body of believers is to be genuine. He wants them to realize that they should love the body that they are a part of.

When you think of it this passage is really pointing out what the marks of a true Christian are; love for the brotherhood, love for what is good, disdain for what is evil and honoring the body of Christ.

Paul uses the word “outdo” when he refers to honoring other members of the body (church). Think of the ramifications of this idea, outdoing one another in honoring each other as valuable parts of the body. Would anyone feel insignificant within the body? Or, would every member feel important to the function of the body? I think it would be the latter.

What Paul is getting at is that everyone matters, people matter. He wants every member to be cognizant of every other member. He wants the body of believers to function at its highest level.

Today let's turn our focus to others within the church and honor them for the person they are and what they bring to the whole. Help them to see that they truly matter. Let our approach be genuine as we seek to build up the body.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We have gifts, let's use them

 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12: 6-8 ESV

Paul speaks of a multitude of gifts that exist within the body of Christ. It is not an all inclusive list, but it covers a lot of gifts that many of us have to some degree. Just look at the list and see if you fall under one of those categories. If you do, are you using your gift to serve the body?

I want to focus on one particular gift that I believe is overlooked far too often, service. Everyone of us within the body have been called to serve. Yet, this isn't what many want to pursue. We have a tendency to look at some of the more “glorious” gifts of teaching, giving and leading and we covet them. We covet them as though we could serve Jesus and His body better if those were our gifts.

When we do that, I think we over look what was at the heart of Jesus ministry and what He wants us to appreciate. When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. John 13:12, 14 ESV Jesus Himself set the example as one who serves the needs of others. We are to follow in His steps.

Take another look at the list of gifts, at the core of every gift is service. Service to the body of Christ. Let's make up our minds today that we will serve the body with whatever gifts we have been given. The one gift that we all have, is the ability to serve. Find a place you can serve in the body today and serve because He served.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Members one of another

 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:4,5 ESV


This is one of my favorite verses. Paul conveys how intermingled we are in the body of Christ. We as individuals work together as a part of the whole. None of us has exactly the same function in the body of Christ, but everyone of us is important to the function of the body.

Its important that we remember this. My last posting was about not thinking too much about ourselves, which is true we shouldn't. But, we should realize that we as individuals are an important part of the local body where we worship.

Realize that your particular personality and abilities are to be used to the benefit of the body. When we read our bibles we see that God uses peoples personalities and abilities to His glory. But they must be willing to let Him use them.

Are you letting God use your personality and abilities for His glory in the body where you are? Every person brings something unique to the local body of believers. You are unique and God wants to use that to His glory. Will you let Him? Take time today to look at yourself, an honest look. What is unique about you? What abilities do you have to strengthen and build up the body? Write them down. Take some time to think about how to be the best you, you can be in your congregation. Ask God for wisdom to use your personality and ability to His glory and find ways to go to work where you are and build up that body.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yesterday's Sermon

Yesterday's Sermon

"Watch where you walk"

is up on the website: www.kitterychurch.org/audio_sermons

 

Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to think

 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3 ESV


What do you suppose Paul is trying to get at with this verse? Maybe, its not all about you? The reality of the human mind is that we have a tendency to think of our selves first and others after. That thought process not only causes problems in the world, but in the church as well. Paul is trying to get the point across that we are a part of the whole. We are not the sum of the whole.

He wants his readers to think more clearly than what comes naturally. He wants people to see beyond themselves and to the needs of others and of the body as a whole. This is why he says think with sober judgement. As Christians we need to take on a new thought process, we need to stop thinking as the world thinks.

We need to think like Jesus. Paul said this about Jesus; though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:6,7 ESV Jesus understood that there was more to His existence on earth than just His own desires. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. Although God Himself, Jesus put the needs of others before His own. We as Christians need to follow in His footsteps. Our place is to serve one another, serve the body. Fulfill our part in service to God.

We should take comfort daily, that we are blessed by God because of His grace toward us. Knowing that we are blessed, should be leading us to want others to be blessed in Jesus as well. Today let's put the needs of others before ours and serve from the heart according to the measure of faith that God has given us.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, November 9, 2012

Do not be conformed

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 ESV


When I was a teenager I was labeled a non-conformist by my High school principle. He did this because I balked at all authority. Balking at authority is not what Paul is speaking of in this passage. Paul is saying that Christians are not to be conformed to the ways of the world. They are not to indulge in all the sinful ways of the world. As christians we are a called out people. That means to be called out of the world. Not physically, but spiritually called out of the world.

He then goes on to explain we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. As Christians we are being renewed. As we come under the influence of the scriptures and we learn a different way to live, we are renewed in our thinking. Our minds are changed. We will be tested and when we're tested we need to lean on our new understanding of life to help us live in the right way.

The bible tells us all we need to know about what is good, acceptable and perfect in God's sight. When we read the Gospels we see all of these things lived out in the life of Jesus. When we look to the remainder of the New Testament teachings of the Apostles, we find the instructions we need to live this new life out before the world. Everything we need to be transformed is within the pages of our bible. We just need to apply it to our lives.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 ESV


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Present your bodies as a lving sacrifice

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV


In the above verse Paul is making an appeal to his readers. He wants them to give their bodies, their lives as a sacrifice to God. He wants them to give themselves to God as holy and acceptable. In other words he wants them to be living a holy life before God. Why is he appealing for this? Because their lives are to be worship of God. Paul isn't just speaking about worshipping properly on Sunday morning. No, he is calling his reader to live lives worthy of God at all times.

Paul says to present oneself as a living sacrifice is to give God spiritual worship. In John 4:24 Jesus said: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." ESV. Paul is really supporting what Jesus Himself said. Disciples lives are to be spiritual worship of God and are to be lives lived according to the truth. What is the truth? Jesus also said this; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6 ESV Jesus is the truth. If Jesus disciples are going to live lives of sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, they must be living Christ like. They must live like Him because His life was one that was sacrificial, holy and acceptable to God.

Paul wants his readers to know that they need to be living Christ for the world to see. Living in a way that God would be pleased with.

The question we have to ask ourselves is this; Am I presenting my body, my life to God as a sacrifice holy and acceptable in His sight? If the answer is no, we need to start living like Jesus. We need to truly become one of His disciples. We need to read the gospel accounts of Jesus and start modeling ourselves after Him. We need to read the rest of the New Testament as well to see what the Apostles taught concerning the Christian life. We need to learn and observe everything that Jesus taught. That is how we will live lies sacrificially, holy and acceptable to God.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love and Honor

 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:17 ESV

To paraphrase the verse above. Respect everyone. Love the church. Respect God. Respect your ruler.

Peter uses four brief sentences to make four significant points. Peter wants his readers to understand as followers of Christ these are four things we should exhibit in our lives. 
 
We live in a world today where true respect is not taught as it should be. Tolerance is taught in place of respect. They are not one and the same. Respect is a gift that is given to another. Every person deserves respect and it should be given freely by those that claim to be a follower of Christ. Why do they deserve respect? They bear the image of their creator. Tolerance is accepting what someone does or is, regardless of how you feel about it morally. Tolerance really doesn't show love or respect. It just shows tolerance. Tolerance doesn't really help someone to be all that they can be. It stagnates their life and growth. If we truly respect others we will want what is best for them and help them to attain it.

Love of the brotherhood or the church, is not simply that we “love” to be a part of what we have found to be beneficial for us. No, the kind of love that Peter is speaking of is a deep and abiding love for the members of the body of Christ. He is also speaking of loving the teachings of the church. When we show this kind of love for the brotherhood and its teachings, it is evident that we are committed to the churches best interest in unity. 
 
Respect for God and His word is the highest priority for those that call upon the name of the Lord. We serve a mighty God, we are to respect Him by honoring Him in our lives. We must obey His teachings and teach them to others so they might obey Him as well.

Respect for our rulers is a sign to the world around us that we serve the one that put them in charge. "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." Romans 13:1 ESV Respect for authority is respect for God.

So today, let us love and honor God, His church, All people and those in Authority.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, November 2, 2012

To you I lift up my eyes

 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Psalm 123:1,2 ESV



I love the visual I get from these verses.

A servant looking to his master for mercy, for approval, for acceptance. Looking up in humility, knowing his status before the master. This is how we should visualize ourselves as we go before God in prayer. Kneeling, looking up as a child looks to a parent for answers and sustenance.

We should be humbled in the presence of God's magnificence. Humbled, yet knowing we are dearly loved by the one that created us and all that He has given to us. We serve an awesome God.

If you ever doubt His love remember what Jesus said, And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." John 12:32 ESV Jesus was describing the kind of death He would die. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that God has drawn all people to Himself. That amazing act of love brings us to our knees.

So today, lift up your eyes toward heaven. Lift up your eyes to the cross and see a God that truly loves you. He loves you in spite of all that you aren't, he loves you because He created you in His image. He wants to give good things to you. He wants to hear all your cares. He wants to hear your thankfulness.

Humble yourself before Him in prayer today.


© 2012 Leo J. Woodman