Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
Romans Chapter 12 - We have been reading this most practical section in the letter to the disciples of Jesus Christ who were living and serving in Rome. It is so physical - present your bodies - let your mind be transformed - and to those who are so committed, God gives His Promises.
We are never presented with abstract intellectual theology.
The need for The Body - God shows us here how we so need the other members of The Body of Christ. We are designed to be part of a Body. To be separated from the body is ultimate isolation. And - God is interested in life and the way we live our lives.
We looked at these gifts last week - assess yourself properly - and use your gift responsibly.
These are gifts of God we cannot earn - but we must use these Grace-gifts – gifts of God’s grace. They are not toys - but tools. These are not the chrome on the car but part of the engine - and the engine will not work properly without these.
In the New Testament there are some 22gifts. Don't let the purposes of God be frustrated by not using your gifts.
This is living out God's purpose - and He has a purpose for each one of us.
Develop your gift - work at it - like music - practise your scales.
Don’t be casual in your faith - because our behaviour and attitude reflect our attitude to Jesus. This is no intellectual exercise - this is not abstract theology or philosophy. God is interested in life - and the way we live our life now in the kingdom.
And that is why he says - Let love be sincere. Let love be without hypocrisy - this is the fountainhead of all Christian living. We can water our garden with a watering can, or we can attach a hose and let it flow - that is the picture of The Love of God which we are given in The Bible.
Our attitude to others - let it be genuine. True love has that capacity to hate - to hate evil - to detest sin. Be glued to what is good.
Verse 10 - Struggle to give honour to others. Family love - brotherly love - keep it in the family and keep it pure.
Verse 11 - As you serve The Lord - be at boiling point - referring to our enthusiasm. Jesus spoke to the Church at Laodicea - sending a letter - “Lukewarm people make me sick.” There is something wrong with a lukewarm Christian.
Verse 12 - No hopeless situations - only hopeless people in various situations - that is why we are to be full of hope - and demonstrate it - when we meet what some people call hopeless situations. Be patient by being constant in prayer - faithful in prayer.
Verse 13 - An open hand - especially to fellow servants. Practise hospitality - imagine saying that to those Jews and Gentiles - meet in each other’s homes and eat in each other’s homes.
Verse 14 - Bless - mentioned twice. You are going to be persecuted. And - do not curse. No revenge - no saying, “I must get my own back.” Matthew 5 verse 44 . Only Christians can do that. God enables us to do this. One of our greatest privileges as disciples of Jesus is that ability to bless people.
Verse 15 - It is harder to rejoice with those who rejoice - it can be easier to weep with those who weep. Never rejoice with those who weep. Be a good rejoicer and be a good weeper.
Verse 16 - Live in harmony with one another - consider that being said in the tensions which were present between Jew and Gentile in Rome. Do not be proud. Mix with everyone.
A lady came up to me one day and told me that there were a group of them praying for the unchurched gentry! Remember those is the big houses - in leading positions in the land which may not have been of their choosing - but just thrust upon them. Some are praying for these folks. They too need to be saved by Jesus.
Do not be conceited. Do you think this was a real problem in Rome - in the Roman fellowship? Mentioned twice. In fact, pride and faith are incompatible.
Verse 17 - ‘No revenge’ again - do you not think this might have been a problem too in Rome? Be careful what you do. We are being watched - closer than we might think at times.
Verse 18 - If it is possible....well we have learned, that no matter how hard we try it is not always possible. Sin is so destructive. And the enemy aims to divide disciples. But as far as it depends upon you!
Seek peace - it will also do your digestive system good.
Verse 19 - ‘No revenge’ - yet again! Let God deal with situations where people may have done you dirty - where people may have given you a hard time - where people may have mocked you and ridiculed you and laughed at you - and Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32verse 35 .
When it comes to dealing with our enemies - we are to surprise them - we are to act contrary to the way of the world. When your enemy is in need - Feed - Give them a drink. Return good for evil - especially when it might be unexpected.
Verse 20 - Do not be defeated by evil - but overcome - defeat evil - with good.
This is the kind of attitude we are to have to others - in the fellowship - and those outside the Church. This is radical teaching.
Paul is encouraging us to be positive - to bless - to do something physically good when our enemy is in need.
Respond in the opposite spirit to the way the world responds -
This how to behave in The Church - and in the world.
“Our gracious God – our loving Father – help us put into practice these very practical lessons. They are not easy lessons – but You show how You want disciples of Jesus to live and serve – and through the Holy Spirit You enable us grow fruit and use the gifts and abilities given – we give you thanks and praise – in Jesus Name. Amen”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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