There’s a segment of Romans entitled “Marks of a True Christian.”
It stood out today to me in our Lectionary reading, so I wanted to share it with you.
One thing about scripture: It holds its own. I have nothing to share or say or preach about this passage. I only want to share the Word of God with you, and get out of the way while Him speaks to you through it.
Have a blessed Sunday, my sweet friends.
Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)
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.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Okay, I know how cliche that sounds but I want to remind you, today, that this is the only day you have.
Matthew 6:34 says:
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow. He wants us to be present; in the moment. He wants us to think and be in today.
Today is very special. It is our time here on earth. And, by golly when you think about it, it sure is short. Our time here prepares us for our eternal life in Heaven. Our eternal destiny. It sounds kinda wackadoo. I know. Especially if you are new to this whole Christ-follower thing, or you don’t know Jesus at all yet. But, God came to earth for you. He came to earth so that he could know us and teach us. I kinda equate it to this…
So you know when a top CEO dons a disguise and goes to the lowest position of his or her company to see how it’s really run? Remember that show? I know it’s farfetched but stay with me here.
Jesus came to be our great rabboni–our great teacher. He left his position in Heaven as the Right Hand Man of God to come to earth to grow and love and teach us, specifically about the heart of His Dad, our Father. He not only came to teach us, but he also came to die for us as a sacrificial lamb taking on all our sins and erasing them from the books. Can you imagine? All of our sins were placed on him. Sins from people born two millennia later who he didn’t even meet in person while he was here in the flesh.
Yet, he did it anyway. He could have chosen a different way. He even asked our Father to “let this cup pass from me” if it wasn’t God’s will. But, he did it. He stayed true to course. Even though it was scary.
He took his today.
What does God want you to do today? Sit with Him and ask Him. He has lots of good things to say.
In Spiritual Formation (aka Adult Sunday School) this week, we discussed Matthew 16:13-20.
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
To dig deeper into the passage, I reached for my handy study Bible given to me by a friend of mine. One verse stuck out to me in my reading.
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
I want to share with you what it says in my study Bible: “People do not come to faith in Jesus Christ by scrutiny or searching, but by the the Father’s revelation of the Son to them. (see John 6:65).”
John 6:65 says, “He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
God draws us. Not the other way around. Don’t you love when one scripture leads to another, then another, opening a door to great wisdom and understanding of God’s Word?
It explains everything way better than I can. God draws us. Can you believe it? We don’t go to the Father without his drawing. We don’t go to the faith without him “dragging” us there. I don’t get it yet, but I will pray and God will reveal it to me.
I thought about waiting to post this until I did “get it.” But, will I ever really get it? Will all the revelations of Christ come to me in one fail swoop one day, and I will know and understand everything there is to know and understand?
I don’t think so any way. There’s too much to learn. So, today, we start this journey together. This journey of God leading us, drawing us and dragging us to our salvation. What do you think about this link and the scriptures? Let’s start a conversation and spread the Good News to those who wish to read it and understand.
You may already know about my love for Matthew 6 in the Christian Bible. In fact, I’m writing a devotional on this very chapter. More news with that to follow. 🙂
But, one part of the chapter is really hard to believe for me. I’m just going to be honest.
But, that stops today. The word of God is truth. ALL of it. So I will believe every word of it moving forward from this moment.
Here’s what I mean…
When it comes to knowing that God will provide my every need, I have some doubts.
And, I shouldn’t.
But, my flesh is scared. However, my Spirit is strong. And, in Matthew 6, when Jesus says:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
I must trust what He says.
Today, I will not worry anymore. I will no longer let the enemy scare me and bring me down.
I will forever walk in the love and trust of Jesus Christ.
I leave you with the words from the 23rd Psalm. What do you think about them? How does it make you feel that Jesus is our Good Shepherd supplying our every need?
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
We studied this verse in my church’s Spiritual Formation (Otherwise known as Adult Sunday School) this past Sunday. And, one thing stuck out to me:
Why is Jesus so mean?
My heart ached for this woman who came to our Savior to request healing for your daughter only to be met with him blatantly calling her a “dog.”
But, then I thought about it. And upon my first reading–as most first readings are–I didn’t get it. With a first reading we can gloss over what the author is really saying. And, one thing I know about Jesus is:
He teaches lessons.
So I applied that here and reread the passage.
And, over again.
And, I found some truths for me that I want to share with you here today.
#1 – Tyre and Sidon was a place that Jews did not go. The people of this area were classified as gentiles aka unclean. Anyone know how the Jewish people referred to them? I’ll give you a moment.
You guessed it! DOGS!
Here’s a little History Throwback for ya: Jezebel’s Dad? The King of Sidon.
So let’s just say the cross-racial dynamic here left much to be desired.
So why was Jesus here? I believe someone said it is because if Jesus was getting heat from the Pharisees, this is where you go because they wouldn’t go here. But, since Jesus is JESUS, would he need to run to a heathen town for protection? Marking that as a question to ask Him when I get there.
#2 – Jesus teaches lessons. Everything word from Jesus’ mouth that is documented in scripture was to teach his disciples. What a powerful lesson in how to treat someone! What a powerful example of how to change the way you view a person based on their culture and background.
Jesus said what he had heard his disciples saying.
He turned to this woman begging him for healing for her child, and his response?
“He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’” (vs. 26)
Were his disciples shocked? Were you shocked? I was!
This isn’t my God! This isn’t my Savior!
I believe that Jesus used this conversation to further educate his followers then — and now — (That’s US.) on the fact that not one soul is lost to God. Not one.
After Jesus repeatedly rebuffed her, calling her a “dog,” and saying “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” she continues to challenge his answers. She’s heard of this man. She knows what he is capable of.
This brings us into Truth #3.
#3 – Jesus likes persistence. The New Testament is chock full of persistent women.
Could it be that Jesus seized the day on this one? Could it be that in this situation, he could literally see his Persistent Widow Parable come to life before his and and his disciples eyes? Do you think he went. “WOOHOOOOOO! Finally! Let’s do this!”?
In the Parable of the Persistent Widow, Luke 18 opens with “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. ” In our scripture today, our woman prayed and didn’t give up. Not to insults. Not to a flat out “No, I’m not here for you.”
And, we are to persist too.
Jesus loves us. Jew and Gentile, slave and free, man and woman, we are ALL loved in the eyes of God. (Galatians 3:28)
Pray today. Pray like the Canaanite Woman, who is unnamed but her story yet is still told to us today. Pray like the Persistent Widow how Jesus himself told us to. Pray like the Woman With the Issue of Blood, who knew that if she merely touched the tip of his garment she would be healed.
Pray today. Be persistent. And, allow Jesus to say “…you have great faith! Your request is granted.”