Romans

Overcome Evil

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I am so happy that Jesus modeled the way we are to live, because some of his commands sound impossible in theory. But, because he was able to model it for us, I have hope that we can accomplish it as well. Take for example the command from Romans chapter 12, verse 21. Sure, Paul wrote it, but Jesus definitely modeled it. It says: 

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It makes sense to want to answer evil with evil. If someone hits you, it is natural to want to hit them back. If someone wrongs you, it is natural to wish judgment upon that person, but that is not the way we, as believers, are supposed to respond. We are called to overcome evil with good. In essence, we are called to go against our nature to accomplish a godly outcome. So, instead of wanting the person who wronged you to get what is coming to them, we are to treat them with love. Hopefully, you and I can be like Jesus when we are wronged so that we are not overcome by evil, but that we overcome evil with good.

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“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. It is difficult to do, and it goes against our fleshly nature, but isn’t that how it is with many of God’s commands? To be an effective Christian is to obey God’s word even when it goes against what we want or how we feel. Loving our enemies is difficult. And to take action to show that love with good deeds is even harder. But when we do, I believe the spiritual word is shaken. A darkness can lift off of our enemy, and conviction or even healing can begin to occur. This is certainly one area where God wants us to take the high road. Are you willing?

If God Is For Us

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If you have a big brother, did you ever, as a kid, have him fight some of your battles for you? If so, you may agree that during your childhood, and maybe even your adult life, that by simply knowing your big brother is around, you feel a bit of added confidence or security around others. In your mind, you might have been thinking that “if anything happens to me, I can always call on my big brother and he’ll handle things for me.” With that kind of security, what is there to worry about? Well, I feel that kind of security magnified by a million when I think of our God. Romans 8:31 says:

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

When we have God on our side we should have total confidence in all things, much like you may have had at school when your big brother was around. I encourage you to keep thinking on that verse; “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Paul says this after explaining to the Romans that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” With words like these, what is there to ever be worried about? Even if there are real threats that you face, or long-term consequences that are in your midst, what is it to God? Is it too big for him? Certainly not. If God is for us, who can be against us? We have the ultimate protector, and that should give us ultimate peace and confidence if we are in step with him.

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“If God is for us, who can be against us”? There is a song we sing at my church with those lyrics, and it is currently my favorite song. It is a powerful song because this truth is so profound. If you are a believer, then you are on the winning team. How do I know? Because God made the rules, he even made the game, and he has your best interest at heart just like a good father has their children’s best interest at heart. As you think on the scripture, “if God is for us, who can be against us?”, I challenge you to think about any problems, anxieties, or challenges you face in life. God loves you. And the more you are in step with his word, the more of his ear you’ll have. Just tell him what’s up. He has your back. If God is for us, who can be against us? I never get tired of saying that.

Deceive The Minds

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In this day in age it is easy to find churches who will compromise the truth of the Holy scripture and conform to whatever it is that people want to be true, whether it is or not. They may even go so far as to form their own set of rules for people to live by and only refer to biblical teachings when it agrees with their way of thinking. Not only does this lead young believers and seekers astray, but it can also put added obstacles in the way of those who desire to live a blameless life and cause division, instead of unity, within the church. The goal of every believer should be to cling to the truth of God’s word and not be deceived by smooth talk or flattery that ultimately alters the purity of the Holy scriptures. Paul warns the Romans of this in Romans chapter 16 verses 17 and 18 which says: 

“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”

The best way to avoid being deceived is to be educated on the truth. And the best way to do that is to learn for yourself what the Bible says. There are several absolutes and hard teachings in the Bible. What we read may not always be what we want to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Compromising God’s word is sin. And God warns us that whether we sin in ignorance or on purpose, it doesn’t matter. Sin is still sin. So, I encourage you not to let your mind be deceived. The best way to avoid deception is to learn the truth. And the best way to do that, is to read the word of God for yourself.

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Do not be deceived by churches and preachers who do not hold to what the Bible says. God’s word has not changed since the days it was written. It is man who tries to change it by “making it relevant to our current culture”. God’s word is truth all by itself. And when altered by man it can, and will, deceive the minds of naïve people. So, learn the Bible for yourself, and test what you hear in church. Your pastor should support what the Bible says, not alter it.

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Mutually Encouraged

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Have you ever given thought to how much we need our brothers and sisters in Christ for encouragement in our faith? I confess that at times, get spiritually depressed by the state of our country’s lukewarm apathy toward Christianity. I allow myself to believe that no one in America is truly living a pure life before God and seeking him wholeheartedly. When this happens, God always finds a way to show me that I’m wrong. There are several believers who are sold out to him. I don’t know about you, but I need hardcore brothers and sisters like these to help me stay encouraged. Paul shares this sentiment in Romans 1:11-12 which says:

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Last month, while speaking at a church as an area representative for Voice of the Martyrs, I met three strong women of faith. Their dedication to prayer and their love for all things Jesus really encouraged me. Just like that, my spirit was rejuvenated and my hope that prayer warriors, sold out Christians, and hardcore believers still exist in our country, was kindled once again. So, I encourage you to build relationships with strong believers in your church, neighborhood or even your school so that both your faith and their faith may be mutually encouraging.

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Similar to Proverbs 27:17 which says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”, Paul reminds us that we should purpose to be around strong believers so that our faith may be mutually encouraged. Living a Christian life on earth can be difficult; especially if you try to do it alone. In truth, no one is really an island unto themselves. But we can choose who we influence and are influence by. Hopefully, when we are around unbelievers, we are influencing them with the love of Christ in an effort to model his character. But we also need to be recharged by other believers. We need to be encouraged and spiritually encouraging to one another.

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When You Pray

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In the Wednesday’s post, I shared what I believe are the three major things we can proactively do to cultivate our relationship with God. I explained that they are things that we should do often, and if we do them the way God wants us to do them, no one but us and God will even know that we’re doing it. In that segment, I focused on reading our Bible, but this time I wanted to encourage you to pray consistently. Think about it. How can we build a relationship with someone if we don’t talk to them? Prayer doesn’t have to always involve us asking for something. We could simply praise and worship God with our words. We could thank him for what he has given us. And yes, we could plead with him on behalf of ourselves or someone else. But I believe the most powerful prayers are ones done in isolation, with no distractions, providing the perfect atmosphere for an open dialogue between you and God. In Matthew chapter 6, verses 5 through 8 Jesus says this about prayer:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Isn’t it encouraging to know that God knows what we need before we even ask? If you kneel to pray and don’t know what to say, I encourage you to just sit silently in his presence and listen with your spiritual ears. You may hear God revealing something to you. Many people believe that prayer is one way communication from us to God. Though I believe that is the way the majority of our prayers happen, I think that he speaks to us as well, if we take the time to be quiet, to be patient and to listen.

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Prayer is essential to the health of any Christian walk. The Bible tells us to pray constantly – or without ceasing. We should be in conversation with God as often as possible. That is one of the best ways to maintain a strong relationship with him. In the Bible we read about times when God tells others, “I never knew you”. This is after they’ve cast out demons and performed amazing miracles in his name. I encourage you to make sure that God knows you by talking to him often. And when you come to him with something heavy on your heart; so heavy that you don’t even know how to express yourself, remember that Romans 8:26 says:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

So, I encourage you to pray often even when you don’t know what to say. If you find prayer difficult, start small. Pray in private for only a few minutes. If you make it a habit, over time, I think you’ll even look forward to time alone with God.

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