Psalm Saturday (9g)

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.  When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.  for thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.  Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.  O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.  But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.  And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.  The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 9:1-9

Verse 9 of this Psalm can be a great encouragement: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”  If you have ever felt oppressed, the Lord is your refuge.  If you have ever had a time of trouble, the Lord is your refuge.  No matter what your problem, the Lord is your refuge.

When we are oppressed and when we are in trouble (whether it is trouble of our own doing or trouble that came upon us through no fault of our own), we need a refuge.  We need a safe place to run and a safe place to hide.  The Lord is that safe place.  The Lord is our refuge.  The Bible tells us that many times.  Do we believe it?  Do we make full use of that comforting thought?  We should – He is our refuge!

The Kingdom of God

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Romans 14:15-18

This whole passage is dealing with us and with our dealings with others.  We are told not to put a stumbling block in front of other Christians.  We are to not use our liberty to cause another Christian to stumble or fall.  It is about putting our opinions and desires on the back burner and putting the opinions and desires of others first.

Verse 17 tells us that “…the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  Paul used here the illustration of meat.  There was nothing wrong with eating meat, and Paul knew and understood that.  But it offended the conscience of some new Christians.  So Paul decided that he would not eat meat so as not to offend them or cause them to stumble.

Paul understood that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  So often, we get too focused on earthly things.  So often, we focus on things that really don’t even matter.  We squabble about insignificant things and ignore the bigger things like “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Are we ignoring righteousness, peace and joy because we want to argue with another brother or sister about some thing that the Bible doesn’t even address?  Do we value our own opinions above righteousness, peace and joy?  Are we more focused on earthly things or on the Kingdom of God?

 

What Should We Do? Pt. 4

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  Hast thou faith?  have it to thyself before God.  Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that things which he alloweth.  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:21-23

We have seen several criteria in this chapter of Romans to help us make wise decisions regarding questionable things in life – things that the Bible does not specifically address.  The last thing that we will look at is found in the last verse of the chapter: “…he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.  When it comes to Scriptural criteria for making decisions, this is a big one.

Whatever it is that we are doing or not doing, we need to have faith that we are doing right.

This might be the simplest of all of the criteria to follow.  If we are thinking about a questionable thing and trying to make a wise decision, we need to ask ourselves one simple question: “do I have any doubts about this whatsoever?”  If we have any doubts, chances are very good that we should just avoid whatever it is.  As always, we usually do things in the wrong order.  When we have doubts about something, we usually just go ahead and do it, ignoring the fact that, deep down, it bothers our conscience.

Usually, if we will listen to our conscience and the Holy Spirit, it will settle most of the questions in our lives.  It is when we try to ignore those things that we get in trouble and make unwise decisions.  How are we doing?

 

What Should We Do? Pt. 3

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.  For meat destroy not the work of God.  All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Romans 14:17-21

In looking at this passage in an effort to gain some wisdom in the area of settling questionable things in our lives, we come to verses 20 and 21.  They take us right back to where we have been before.  God knows that we are flesh and blood humans.  He knows that, often, we need to have things repeated (sometimes over and over again).  This passage is no different.

Verse 19 tells us to do things “which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”  Verse 21 gives us the negative of that thought: we should not do “any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”

We have seen several criteria for Scriptural decision making, and we can add these to it.  Does it cause a brother in Christ to stumble?  Is it going to offend a brother?  And is it going to weaken the faith of a brother?

If it is going to do any of those things, a strong Christian should just avoid whatever it may be.

When most people think about an issue, we usually think about opinions in this order: 1. Ourselves  2. Other people and 3. God.  We should think about opinions in this order: 1. God.  2. Other people and 3. Ourselves.  As usual, we get things backward.  Biblical decision making is really pretty simple, when we have the right heart toward it!

 

What Should We Do? Pt. 2

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.  Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Romans 14:15-19

As Christians, we often have to make decision about things that the Bible does not specifically address.  There are some gray areas of life and we need wisdom and direction to navigate through those gray areas.  This passage will help us to do just that.  We looked yesterday at the fact that we should do things that are “acceptable to God, and approved of men.”  Today, we see two more things that we can look at to help us make decision about questionable things.

Verse 19 tells us that we should follow after “things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”  “Edify” simply means to help or to build up.  Those are two excellent questions we can ask ourselves when making decisions about anything.

1. Does the thing in question “make for peace?”  Is what we are doing going to help bring peace or is it going to get people mad or annoyed?  Christians should be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

2. Does the thing in question help to “edify another?”  Is what we are doing going to help other Christians?  Is it going to help bring someone to the Lord?  Is it going to strengthen someone else’s faith?  Our job is to help and encourage others; not weaken them, cause them to stumble, and shake their faith.

If we will use these criteria, along with “acceptable to God, and approved of men,” we will be well on our way to settling many of the questionable things that arise in our lives!

What Should We Do? Pt. 1

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.  For meat destroy not the work of God.  All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.  It is good neither to eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 

Romans 14:18-21

Sometimes we need to make a decision about something that might be questionable.  It might be something simple or it might simply be something that is not specifically addressed in the Bible.  Whatever the reason, there are many things in this passage that can help us to make those decisions.  We will look at a couple of them in the next day or two.

The first thing we can see is this: we need to do the things that are “acceptable to God, and approved of men.”  Those two criteria will help us to solve many of life’s problems and make good and Scriptural decisions.

There are some things that may be approved of men but are not acceptable to God.  The further away the world gets from God, the more and more things will be acceptable to men.  But God has been specific about what He accepts.  He does not change.  We need to do all things that are acceptable to Him.

On the other hand, there may be some things that aren’t technically sins, but might cause another person to stumble.  For example, I could go to a bar, sit at the bar all day and sip water.  There is nothing sinful about drinking water.  But seeing me in that situation might cause someone to stumble or fall.  That would not be “approved of men.”

“Acceptable to God, and approved of men” – just using those two criteria will be a tremendous help to us in our Christian lives!

Savior, Blessed Savior (Hymn)

Savior, Blessed Savior
Godfrey Thring (1862)

Savior, blessed Savior, listen while we sing;
Hearts and voices ringing, praises to our King;
All we have to offer, all we hope to be,
Body, soul, and spirit, all we yield to Thee.

Near, ever nearer, Christ, we draw to Thee,
Deep in adoration bending low the knee;
Thou for our redemption camest on earth to die;
Thou, that we might follow, hast gone up on high.

Great and ever greater, are Thy mercies here;
True and everlasting are the glories there,
Where no pain nor sorrow, toil nor care is known,
Where the angel legions circle round Thy throne.

Dark and ever darker, was the wintry past,
Now a ray of gladness o’er our path is cast;
Every day that passeth, every hour that flies,
Tells of love unfeigned, love that never dies.

Clearer still and clearer dawns the light from Heav’n,
In our sadness bringing news of sin forgiven;
Life has lost its shadows, pure the light within;
Thou hast shed Thy radiance on a world of sin.

Brighter still and brighter glows the western sun,
Shedding all its gladness o’er our work that’s done;
Time will soon be over, toil and sorrow past,
May we, blessed Savior, find a rest at last.

Onward, ever onward, journeying o’er the road
Worn by saints before us, journeying on to God;
Leaving all behind us, may we hasten on,
Backward never looking till the prize is won.

Higher, then, and higher bear the ransomed soul,
Earthly toils forgetting, Savior, to its goal;
Where in joys un-thought of saints with angels sing,
Never weary, raising, praises to their King.

I am not familiar with this hymn, but I came across the words the other day and it is a great one.  Many songs and hymns can be a great blessing even if you are not familiar with the tune that goes with them.  Even simply reading them like poetry can be a blessing and encouragement.  That is how I look at this hymn.  My favorite line is probable this: “Every day that passeth, every hour that flies, Tells of love unfeigned, love that never dies.”  Amen to that.

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