Romans the 12th chapter is one of my favorite chapters in our Bible. It gives me more encouraging ways to apply my Christian walk. In the chapters leading up to this chapter we have been shown how great God is and how much He has done for each of us. In acknowledging this, we should give ourselves to completely serving Him. God has given to each of us abilities that can be used in God’s service. With these abilities, we can help others and glorify God. This is what God has given us to do.
Starting in verse 9 Paul shows that Christianity must be applied. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” The word hypocrisy is rendered “play acting” in Vines. When we love one another we do not put on an act. Love must be sincere, love must be genuine. If it is sincere love it is done with pure motives. We Christians must truly love one another in deed and truth. 1 John 3:16 say “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We cannot pretend love. God knows our hearts. This verse is also dealing with evil. As Christians, we must not only refrain from evil, we must hate it. Many people do not hate evil, they hate the consequences of evil. In our world evil is so common that we [Christians] are no longer shocked by it and this may keep many from abhorring evil. Nevertheless, we Christians must do the opposite and that is to cleave to that which is good. Brethren, there is no middle ground. The only way to please God is to hate evil and cleave to good. There is no good to be found in being evil.
As we close out this special month of thankfulness for another year, there are some other scriptures that are worth noting (again, in no priority or order of significance):
Note the words of The LORD to the Israelites as they were about to enter - finally - the land of promise (after the 40 years in the wilderness because of their lack of faith and disobedience) recorded in
Deuteronomy 8:1ff - "All the commandments that I am commanding you today, you shall be careful to
do…you shall remember that The LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the
wilderness to humble you and test you…you are to know in your heart that The LORD your God
was disciplining you…When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall bless (thank) The
LORD your God for…which He has given you…do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping
1st Samuel 12:24 - "Only fear (reverence) The LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for
consider what great things He has done for you."
Psalm 34 - I will bless (thank) The LORD at all times…I sought The LORD, and He heard me, and delivered
me from all my fears…you, His saints…who seek The LORD shall not lack any good thing…"
Psalm 107:8-9 - "Oh…give thanks to The LORD for His goodness and for His wonderful acts…He satisfies
the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Hebrews 13:15 - "…let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God…the fruit of our lips, giving
thanks to His name."
Over the last three weeks, I've shared with you specific scriptures that relate to being thankful or giving thanks for the great God that we have. I'm sure you have others that are just as meaningful. I want to leave with you some encouraging thoughts as we Christians - children of God and disciples of our Savior, Jesus the Christ - live our lives daily for Him. This spiritual battle is not ours alone, it is God's and He will always be with us (2 Chron. 20:15 & Deut. 31:6); we give thanks to God always FOR ALL things (Eph. 5:20) and IN everything (2 Thess. 5:18); we make our requests known to God through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving and without anxiety (Phil. 4:6); and meditate on the great encouraging words recorded in 1st Peter 1:3-9. Lastly, remember that when we've faithfully completed our service to God and Christ here, we can be a part of the scene (or similar one) described in Rev. 7:12 - "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom; Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen." May we honor and thank our God and our Savior - always and continually!
As we count our many, many blessings, especially during this time of the year, as our Nation does, let’s make note, again, of just a few things for which we can be thankful:
1. That our God is THE God – Jehovah - Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Controller, OMNI;
2. That we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and that the Spirit of God dwells within us (Romans 8:11 & Galatians 4:6);
3. That God hears and answers our prayers (Prov. 15:8&29; Matt.21:22; James 5:15-16);
4. That we are children of God, part of His family, and members of His body, the church that belongs to our Savior Jesus, the Christ (Romans 8: Col.1:24; Acts13:26);
5. For our physical family (small or large) - remember that God instituted family (Gen. 1-4);
6. For our physical (material) blessings because they, too, come from God (Matt.6:31-34);
7. That we are citizens of a kingdom whose King gave up His life (2Thes.1:5&1Tim1:15-17)
8. For the blood of Jesus - seal of the New Covenant - that continues to cleanse our sins (Matt.26:28 and 1stJohn 1:7);
9. For eternal life, the gift of grace from God extended to us because of our faithful obedience to Him, through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, His son (Eph.2:8).
Chuck, Jack, and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving Day holiday period and encourage us all to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving throughout the year. We want you to know how much we love and appreciate each, and every, one of you. We are so very, very thankful for this congregation of God's people, whom we are honored to serve!
The Ripon Church of Christ: A Family of God Rooted in Christ
As members of Christ’s church and citizens of His kingdom, we enjoy great benefits. Likewise, as citizens of the United States of America, we also enjoy great benefits. If nothing else, we can come together - at our own choosing - to honor and worship our God and our Savior. Of course, along with those great benefits of citizenship, come great responsibilities. It is clear from scriptures that we are expected to exercise our rights and responsibilities of our physical citizenship with the same emphasis and sense of importance as we exercise our citizenship in the body of Christ. You remember, no doubt, that when Jesus was challenged regarding whether to pay taxes (Matt. 22:15-22) that He made it clear that paying such taxes is the right thing to do. Romans 13:1-7 and 1st Peter 2:13ff specifically address our responsibilities to be obedient to the laws and leaders of the country, state, county or other governing authority. It is equally clear, however, that obedience to God and adherence to His standards is our first order of importance. In exercising our responsibilities to our earthly government, we cannot compromise our principles which, of course, are founded in God’s standard.
One of the rights and privileges we have in this country is to voice our principles and standards by voting. I hope that all of us who are eligible have registered and will exercise this right of citizenship on Tuesday, Nov. 8th (or, as some of us have done already, through a mail-in ballot). It is never a good excuse to justify not voting because we have a government that is so ungodly. Things will never change, if we who are followers of Christ fail to voice our objections to the current state or condition of our government and laws. When voting for the Presidency or other major national offices, I try to remember that imperfect candidates can change providing he or she does not espouse allegiance to or represent a political party platform with stands or positions in favor of important issues (e.g., abortion, same gender unions/marriages, etc.) that are in direct conflict with God's standard. What an encouragement it is for all of us to realize that we are all united in our efforts to demonstrate our continuing allegiance to God’s standard – without compromise! In my judgment, there is no better feeling after a voting period than that I have a clear conscience about the way, and for what, and for whom I voted. I trust that we will all vote and that the result of our individual efforts will be clear consciences about the standard that we used to determine how we voted (John 3:21 [NKJV] and Eph. 5:8-13 [NASU]). Let’s all be good citizens and vote – responsibly! May God be honored and glorified by our efforts!
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366