Freedom from Offending and Faith – 5-12-22

“Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” Romans 14:22 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Romans chapter 14 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Law of Liberty

14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; [a]and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died [b]and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of [c]Christ. 11 For it is written:

As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another [d]anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

The Law of Love

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in [e]these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may [f]edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with [g]offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles [h]or is offended or is made weak. 22 [i]Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is [j]sin.

Footnotes

  1. Romans 14:6 NU omits the rest of this sentence.
  2. Romans 14:9 NU omits and rose
  3. Romans 14:10 NU God
  4. Romans 14:13 any longer
  5. Romans 14:18 NU this thing
  6. Romans 14:19 build up
  7. Romans 14:20 A feeling of giving offense
  8. Romans 14:21 NU omits the rest of v. 21.
  9. Romans 14:22 NU The faith which you have—have
  10. Romans 14:23 M puts Rom. 16:25–27 here.

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

For those still doing the Romans 1 challenge and those curious:  It is a challenge to work with God to root out any unrighteousness and then part 2 is to practice good habit with intention. I have shared some of the dust that came to the surface in my life through this – doing a spring cleaning. No matter what stage or how long you have been serving God – if you challenge yourself and God to find an area to work on, you’ll find it. This has been powerful:

PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS:
Dear God, I am sorry for being filled with all/any unrighteousness, and/or sexual immorality, and/or wickedness, and/or covetousness, and/or maliciousness, and/or envy, murder, and strife, and/or deceit and evil-mindedness, and/or being a whisperers and  backbiters, and/or haters of God, and/or violent, and/or proud and boasting, and/or inventors of evil things, and/or disobedient to parents, and/or undiscerning, and/or untrustworthy, and/or unloving, and/or unforgiving, and/or unmerciful, and/or for practicing such things are deserving of death. Please forgive me even though I knew better and I understand the righteous judgment of You, God. Please wash me with the Blood of Jesus. Cleanse me and help me turn from my evil ways – convict me strongly when I do wrong that I may notice and stop. And send a fresh filling of your anointing to break the yokes of bondage and help me destroy the roots with a mindful effort and focus on you. Please reignite the fire in my belly that I may burn for you in boldness. In the name of Jesus we pray ~amen

HEALTHY ROOTS CHALLENGE: this challenge is to heal and strengthen our roots
One – Give God ALL the Glory
Two – Dedicated time for thanksgiving, and be thankful for all things!
Three – Guard our hearts and mind, rebuking and stopping sinful or not godly thoughts, not letting our minds wander and be prayerful and intentional in thinking.
Four – And finally, let us be humble. Humble enough to say I do not know it all and God has something new to reveal to me in this book and in this day.
(Please review the blog post from 4/25/22 for further explanation as to why we are doing this daily and for the scriptural reference instructing us to make these things a practice in our lives. Until they flow from us naturally, we can intentionally and with all of our hearts, scheduled them into our lives and watch them heal and reroute our unhealthy roots that gave sinful/evil fruits.)

This has been a powerful time with the Lord – humbling, yes, but faith building and transformative. As we shed our flesh and move forward in Spirit. God is making ways and going the things he is famous for!
He did not forsake us, He is letting us grow hungry and seek Him out. I really hope you are taking all of this to heart and studying this with fervency, meditation and prayer. Let this book get inside you and change you! It is changing me – this is the third time doing a study like this on the book and not referring back to my notes or the previous studies; and WOW this book is powerful all on its own!

Now, let us look at chapter fourteen and first understanding the current affairs in Rome and with these Jewish believers in Rome, who Paul is writing to (remembering he is also writing to the gentiles, but seems to address the Jews more).

The only problem I have with Paul’s writings is that in every letter he is addressing problems in those specific churches and he gives the answer – but never tells us what the question or problem was. Although you and I spent most of this book with introspection and self-examination – Paul was not believed to be writing to them because they were excessively sinful. Although neither are you and I and we have still managed to dig up something to work on in ourselves before God. The problem is believed to be one that plagued the 1st century church. The Jews were still Jews and now believers and they were in the Land Covenant with God and that covenant’s binding stipulations were that Jew were to be separate, observe the Sabbath and had dietary guidelines and purity laws to keep them pure and separated. These rules stayed in effect as it was written they would observe them for ALL time.  But we have pig eating pagan’s now believing. And church wasn’t a building and a stage and a sanctuary as we have today – church was people gathered together eating and a discussion and sometimes a reading from the Torah or other scrolls they were able to get and reading letters from the Apostles and sometimes guest traveling evangelist would come and everyone wanted to hear them and not discuss. The point is food was central – and the Jews and Gentiles had different rules – and conflicts arose and people got critical and judgmental. It was not just Rome – it was everywhere. 
So as you see today’s reading is about food – But it is NOT about food. It I about the principle and food is the example – which was very relatable to every first century believer.  I suppose with modern food allergies, it is also relatable for our church’s potluck or hotdish dinners and fellowship Sundays.

However in the structure of the letter and the overall theme and work of cleaning out these hidden sins that we many have complacently accepted. This chapter introduces the next step in the process, although I might argue it is not as much an introduction as an unveiling of something already here and at work – Liberty!

So let us start with that.

Yesterday, the discussion of obligation and freedom really became real to me and I meditated on it all day long. I was able to say to myself I am obligated to this (fill in blank), because it is godly and God’s will and I am not obligated to that (fill in blank) because it is not godly and not God’s ill according to what we have read about God’s will. And it might be something that wasn’t a “hits home” moment for you – it was liberating and freeing to not step back into falsely owing myself to anyone other than My Father.
However EVERY TIME I study Romans I go through certain stages and at this point find freedom and liberty from something. We start out with the fear of God and understanding of the coming Wrath. We move to a stark realization of how unclean we are and we repent. We learn the deep spiritual process at work that permits us to have access to forgiveness and help to not continue in sin. We struggle through complete surrender and death to our sinful ways. We wake up ready to conquer the world, but learn we have more lessons and press in deeper. We learn the will of God for our lives and then, as it all aligns, as the sins really disappear and the repentance transforms, as we get in step with our Father’s will – FREEDOM! Liberty!

So quickly Paul says: PROTECT THAT FREEDOM! That is right! Do not let the enemy or a person or a situation or a thing come and rob you of the JOY and PEACE that came with the LIBERTY! And definitely do not let anything rob you of that freedom.

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

MOSTLY do not be a brother or sister in the Lord and rob someone of their liberty – even if to you it doesn’t look like liberty. Some of us are weak. Some of us are strong. I have meet believers who never heard of the rapture or any end time prophecy and have attended church their whole lives. I have met many who never knew they didn’t know the whole Bible. That is partly why I am doing a line by line through the New Testament this year. But when you are hungry for God and ready for Him to talk to you through His word – every time you read and study you learn something new and are changed.
So here we are 2000 years later and we are still a mixed bag of weak and strong, knowledgeable and lacking knowledge, and still have a mixed bag of perspectives on how to fast, how to pray, and what to eat (for either spiritual or fitness/wellness reasons).

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

So – God gives us liberty and freedom in Christ Jesus! Let’s stop looking at this person or that person and start looking at Jesus. Forget what this person is doing or that person is doing – we are free to have our own relationship. AND in that – we need to do whatever we are doing as if we are doing it as our offering to God, like He is our Boss and asked us to get the job done, and like our very soul depended on it (it doesn’t, but we must quicken ourselves to live as if the Kingdom of God is at hand, which it is). It may not be our own soul that is lost if we do not live unto the Lord – we may have a last minute repentance or slide in on the skin of our teeth. However, someone watching us my not make it at all because of our example. Freedom always has a heavy price.

For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”

This is pretty direct. Repent if you have judged your brother or sister and get back into God’s will. It is obviously trading the liberty and freedom we are striving for in Christ for the bondage of unrighteousness and a circle back to the beginning of this book. So stand fast therefore in the freedom of Christ!

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

And this section was not just about us judging and being critical, but it is also about us causing others to stumble. Just don’t do it.

Now we get really into the food thing. Did you know Paul kept the Jewish food laws even though in this next verse he says he is convinced nothing is unclean. You see, Paul was still a Pharisee. Remember back to when we studied Acts and he returned to Jerusalem for the last time and went through the full ritual for purifying himself for others to see, but said I have kept myself pure. Because it is neither clean nor unclean, you’d think he’d enjoy some bacon with his eggs. But he did not. He understood something deep and did something that seemed ignorant, yet it was much deeper. He was not going to be a stumbling block for the nonbelieving Jews. He lived as an example that believing in Christ IS believing in the Messiah. That Christianity builds on Judaism and doesn’t replace it and throw away all the works and customs that God himself established since the beginning of time.

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

Many modern Christian gentrify the Bible. Gentrify literally and currently mean to take a poor area and improve it – but that is an over simplification. In Roman times they would conquer an area and then assimilate it and use the phrase “to make it civil”. It is actually taking one culture and overlaying it upon something else causing the something to lose the details nuances and separation of their culture.  
When many modern churches read, apply and preach the Bible they remove “Israelites” and replace with “the church”. But those things did not happen to the church, they happened to the Jews not the Gentiles. Oh and gentrification and gentile come from the same root word and the term gentrification originally started with the 2nd century church removing Jewish traditions and replacing with Christian and the birth of the Holy Roman Empire. Which literally ‘Civilized’ Christianity.
In our modern world, besides removing God’s chosen people and purpose, we gentrify the church with “woke” pastors taking verses out of context and applying them to current popular topics. But let’s not go there or we might find me jumping around spitting hellfire and yelling “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!” (Those of you who have been reading for a while are probably laughing at that – I get very passionate about keeping the word pure and I am all about a life of repentance.)
So, yes I am saying these offenses and man-made solutions are a slippery slope into false teachings and false prophet – which the Bible tells us to run away from. Obviously, the church, did not heed to Paul’s warnings here. You and I have history books along with our Bibles so maybe we can stop some of our brethren from sliding down that slope.

19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”

It is NOT about eating or unclean food – it IS pursuing things which make peace and unity, which build up others, which speak life, and which are Christ-like. (And all this talk about food is making me hungry!)

22a Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God.”
Do. You. Have. Faith? What a deep profound question. You and I are on this self-reflection journey and are starting to feel this freedom and we are learning, not everyone else is at the same point, so let’s not offend those who aren’t here yet – and we are feeling pretty good about our growth. We have been talking with God and feeling close to Him as well. And Paul hits us with this question – do we have faith. Well, I thought so; so why is he asking?
It is normal to get to this point in the process and start to doubt, start to wonder, free from a few things, so we are comfortable that we did a work and doubt that we must continue. It seems like such a small thing here do you have faith? But it is much bigger – He is showing us a spiritual principle as he finishes this verse and starts the next:
22bHappy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
Does not condemn himself – important to note, as we keep our eyes watchful for enemy attacks, that we sometimes do his job for him and self-destruct. We judge criticize and condemn ourselves. Paul already explained the whole process very well, Jesus’s blood washes away the spots and stains of our sins and we die and deny the draw to do them again and we resist the devil and he will flee and we just say no when temptation arises – but, we sometimes doubt…
Doubt causes us to condemn ourselves and put us back in bondage to something we let go of. SO sometimes we must just pick ourselves up by the boot straps and say the word says it, I believe it, and that settles it. And pray “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”
Wow. Whatever is NOT faith is SIN. Eek! I have been living by faith, and getting beat around and sometimes wonder where is my help coming from? Where is my provision? When will this oppressive withholding end? And I wonder how much doubt slips in with each of those questions. Even if I am not doubting, if it sounds like doubt to others, so other perceive I am doubting, does it count? Am I in sin?

We were so far along with shedding sins – now we face the sin of doubt. That one is huge. Who hasn’t ever doubted?! And how do you overcome doubt? Well, this is simple, not necessarily easy. Faith comes by hear the word of God – so turn off the music for a little bit and turn on an audio Bible and bask in it.

You know what I do to rebuild my faith when I am at wits end and doubt is trying to break in? I remember who God is. You see, I know in whom I believe and He is able. He is willing. He has poured grace out on me and He will complete the work He started. He will keep His promises.

If you have a need and are looking for a promise, make sure you pull one out of the Bible in context. Then stand on it. Be as immovable as that verse has been. If it is in context there is no need for doubt. If you do not know if it is in context ask your pastor or someone who knows the Bible better than you. But you have to find your own verse, we cannot find it for you.

And at the end of the day – say to yourself: It is written, I believe it, and that settles it.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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