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Archive for July, 2012

Romans 12:15 (1–15) “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

The next gift Paul mentions the Holy Spirit giving us is the gift of mercy (12:8), and the advice for that gift is found in verse 12:15.

In technical terms I have defined mercy as God holding back what we deserve and grace as giving us what we don’t deserve, but in practical, day-to-day terms the word mercy involves both ideas. Yet, it is extremely hard to show mercy, of any kind, to some people.

This is why Paul urges us to show mercy with cheerfulness (meaning whether we like it or not). For the one with that gift it is much easier than for the rest of us. But, mercy is not just about what we deserve, it is about we need. All of us need not to be alone no matter if we are or are not the cause of our situation. As believers we need to be there, for each other, whether we feel like it or not.

But, it has been noted that those with the gift of mercy can begin to identify with the person they are comforting too closely and take up their cause. It is then that they forget their mandate, 12:15. Then they rejoice for few and weep for only that one.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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Romans 12:14 (1–15) “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.

The next gift Paul mentions the Holy Spirit giving us is the gift of leading (12:8), and the advice for that gift is found in verse 12:14.

Leading is what most of us would rather not do, but end up doing in one-way or another. As parents we automatically become leaders and as Paul says, we need to be “diligent” in that job as leaders, 12:8. We don’t always realize that as parents our children are looking at us as an example of how they should be. So, we need to be conscious of it 24/7.

As leaders you are in front and everything you do is open to criticism and will be criticized. The pressure may sometimes be overwhelming, but you need to remember that no one likes change, even when they are in favor of it.

So, expect not to be liked much by most and that you will likely not be appreciated until well after the project is done (Moses and Nehemiah are great examples). It is too easy for a leader to rest on the success of a phase of a project and forget the rest of the work. In that sense persecution only helps remind you, you’re not done yet.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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Romans 12:13 (1–15) “contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

The next gift Paul mentions the Holy Spirit giving us is the gift of giving (12:8), and the advice for that gift is found in verse 12:13.

This is the gift most of us wish we had because if God enables us to practice the gift given then this one means I’ll get a lot of money to share liberally. Actually, I have found that most of those with the gift of giving don’t show they have money to give and rarely give to anything alone.

All true believers will eventually develop a natural desire to give without holding back when they see the real needs of other believers wherever they may be, 2 Corinthians 8:1–6. But the giver must learn to give of himself and not just his money. Hospitality involves, not just opening the doors of your house, but your life.

Our life experiences are the testimony of how God has worked in our lives to bring us to maturity. Sharing those experiences can help a person struggling in their own life more than money. Most all of us struggle with our finances and so who better to help us with those issues than the one God has specially blessed.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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Romans 12:12 (1–15) “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,

The next gift Paul mentions the Holy Spirit giving us is the gift of exhortation (12:8), and the advice for that gift is found in verse 12:12.

The word Paul uses here for exhorter or exhortation is from the base word used to describe the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. John describes Him as the Helper John 14:16 and as our Advocated 1 John 2:1.

The word “parakletos” literally means to draw near. It was used of a person who would be assigned to help you through a situation, a helper an aide. It was also used a lot to describe the role of an advocate in a court of law, your defender.

Paul tells us that for all practical purposes the exhorter is a cheerleader, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation”. But the exhorter knows that what he and the person he is trying to encourage needs is to pray. When we look at Jesus in the Gospels we see a man devoted to prayer, always looking for His Father’s direction, that is what kept Jesus on target.

When I pray for someone I’m counseling I ask God to open not just their mind, but also their heart to the will of God. There is nothing more discouraging to an exhorter than the person who refuses to commit to God’s direction.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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Romans 12:11 (1–15) “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

The next gift Paul mentions the Holy Spirit giving us is the gift of teaching (12:7), and the advice for that gift is found in verse 12:11.

Personally, I have no problem getting excited (fervent in spirit, Acts 18:24 & 25) when I’m teaching (there is nothing worse than a teacher who is not excited about what they are teaching, if you’re not interested in what you’re teaching how do you expect your students to be?). It’s before I open my mouth that the dread of failing takes over. Maybe it’s because I always feel I haven’t been diligent enough in my studies.

Yet, the real issue for the one gifted to teach is to remember that you are serving God. His goal is that we present the truth in as clear and loving a manner as we can. When I remember the kind of God I’m serving and the message He wants me to deliver I get all excited and that spills over in diligence to study and prepare for whoever wishes to hear.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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Romans 12:10 (1–15) “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

The next gift Paul mentions the Holy Spirit giving us is the gift of service (12:7), and the advice for that gift is found in verse 12:10.

The word Paul uses for service here is the Greek word diakonia or deacon. Remember in the book of Acts (6:1–7) that the Apostles set aside certain men to wait on tables (feeding the believers who had lost everything for their faith) so that they could concentrate on spiritual matters.

Obviously we are to help each other out in whatever the need is, but after a while some church people begin to abuse the privilege of free services from the church. This is when the one with that gift (the ability to not just see a physical need, but meet that need) needs to remember whom he is really serving.

The server must develop a heart for the people of God. As we serve the Lord, and we serve each other we have the honor of serving our fellow citizens of heaven, 1 Peter 2:9 & 10.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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Romans 12:9 (3–15) “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

As I said previously, if you have matured enough and have discovered the spiritual gift the Holy Spirit has given you, and it is the gift of prophecy, then you need to listen to the advice of verse 12:9.

All of us need to love (act on our concerned for the spiritual and physical needs of each other) honestly, in the sense that the only return we seek for our sacrifice is the same kind of sacrifice in return when we need it, Matthew 7:12.

The goal of the prophet is to advise and encourage each other to right living. Right living is the way God wants us to live. But there are times when we compromise a little so as not to offend family members, co-workers or even each other. This is when the prophet must, lovingly, warn and encourage.

Yet, in performing that task they need to be certain they are not guilty of the same thing they are warning or encouraging about. You can’t take the spec out of your brother’s eye if there is a log in your own, Matthew 7:1–5. This is the proportion of your faith (how far you have actually grown), 12:6.

Virtue involves allowing the Holy Spirit to remake us in the character of Christ.

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