Reading this week: Freedom in Galatians
Paul’s letter to the Galatian church is a wonderful look into his concern for and God’s plan for Christian freedom. As you read Galatians, watch for encouragement for both the weak and the strong believers there. What are the disciplines of the mature believer?
Monday: Galatians 1:1-24, The Gospel
Paul sees legalism as a different gospel. What is the center of the true gospel (see 1:3-4), and what are the signs of the different gospel? How did you first receive this true gospel?
Tuesday: Galatians 2:1-21, The cost of freedom
How did Titus’ decision regarding the “disputable matter” of circumcision reflect his freedom? What cost have you paid in order to “go to the Gentiles”?
Wednesday: Galatians 3:1-25, The priority of faith
Abraham is Paul’s ultimate picture of faith. How has Abraham’s faith been a model for you? When were you fully away of the power of God’s gracious promises?
Thursday: Galatians 3:26-4:20, Sons and Slaves
Daughters and sons have a very special place in God’s economy of grace. How has the reality of being a child of God made your freedom in Christ easier to accept fully?
Friday: Galatians 4:21-5:15, Law vs. Freedom
Paul wonderfully sees no tension between standing firm in one’s freedom and expressing one’s faith in love. When have you been able to express to your neighbor both your freedom and your love?
Saturday: Galatians 5:16-26, Live by the Spirit
Yes, the final check on the misuse of my freedom is the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. How has the fruit of the Spirit (it is a singular fruit!) helped you finish the job that your freedom in Christ began?
Sunday: Galatians 6:1-18, What counts is New Creation
Yes, this is an extra day of reading, but Paul’s final words to too good to miss. Verses 14-15 are the theme of the mature believer. How has New Creation become real in your life?
Reading this week: Getting ready to finish Romans
Beginning next week, Pastor Fakkema will continue his series of messages from Romans. These are the texts for the final six sermons. Begin reading this week as we complete Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome and God’s word to his church in Anacortes.
Monday: Romans 13:1-7, Taxes, revenue, respect and honor
The questions around how we relate to civil authorities has always been a challenge for believers. We are, after all, citizens of two very different kingdoms. What does Paul’s principle of establishment mean for the church of the 21st century? How have you been blessed by God’s gift of (yes, gift!) of civil authority?
Tuesday: Romans 13:8-14, Love fulfills the law
Understanding debt has always been important (see Deuteronomy 15 and Proverbs 22:7). How has the debt of love that we owe changed your investment portfolio? When has “this present time” made loving more difficult? Easier?
Wednesday: Romans 14, Disputable matters
Christians never have agreed on everything. We do agree, however, on the need for mutual edification. How does the principle of disputable matters help you respect and love Christians who disagree on a matter you hold dear?
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13, A final word to the “strong”
This teaching is as difficult as Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness (see Matthew 6:14-15). Do you identify more with the stronger or with the weaker brother or sister? What has helped you live out the command to accept each other?
Friday: Romans 15:14-22, Proclaiming the gospel
How well have we (as church and as individuals) captured Paul’s passion for reaching the unreached? What is the role of prayer in building your own passion for the gospel?
Saturday: Romans 16, Ministry is about people!
Who most surprises you in this long list of Paul’s friends and associates? Who would you greet in your personal version of Romans 16?
Reading this week: It’s almost Christmas!
With a tip of the cap to Charles Schultz and my favorite character, Linus, here is an opportunity to again encounter “what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” This is the story of “God with us” and the story of our salvation.
Monday: Luke 1:1-26, Zechariah and the Angel
Alluding to the final Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, Malachi 4, the angel gives the priest some amazing news. God’s salvation plan is still at work, and Zechariah’s son will have a part in that plan! What is God telling you about your part in his salvation plan?
Tuesday: Luke 1:26-38, Mary’s story
Mary comes face to face with the reality that “nothing is impossible with God.” How does Mary’s response to this strangely good news, “I am the Lord’s servant”, inspire you this Christmas season?
Wednesday: Matthew 1:18-24, Joseph’s story
Often underappreciated, Joseph’s difficult trust is at the center of the “God with us” (from Isaiah 7:14) element of the Christmas story. What Joseph moments has God used to grow your faith this year?
Thursday: Luke 1:39-56, Mary and Elizabeth
The meeting in the hill country of these two pregnant cousins is one of the great scenes in the gospels, full of blessing and prayer. In which parts of Elizabeth’s blessing and Mary’s prayer do you most hear the voice of God this Christmas season?
Friday: Luke 1:57-80, Elizabeth and Zechariah
The priest and his wife are beautiful examples of obedience and devotion. I especially appreciate the way Zechariah’s song points us to the mercy of God. To what experience of peace is God guiding you this week?
Saturday: Luke 2:1-20, “In those days . . . .”
This is the part of the story that Linus chooses for his soliloquy. It reminds me that God is working from the palaces in Rome to the mangers in Bethlehem. What part of the story causes you to ponder God’s story this Advent season?
Reading this week: 1 Thessalonians
This might be Paul’s earliest encouragement to a church struggling with the implications of the Second Advent. I hope you will be as encouraged as our brothers and sisters in Thessalonica.
Monday: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, The Thessalonian faith
How much do you identify with the “severe suffering” of the Thessalonian church? How does their faith encourage you?
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16, Who is your Paul?
Who has been the Paul, the encourager, in your life? How did this person bring the word of God to you?
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13, Our glory and joy
What would Timothy say about your “faith and love”? This week, pray Paul’s 3:9-13 prayer for an ACRC friend.
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-11, Living to please God
How has brotherly love become a bigger part of your life? Who are you struggling most to love “more and more”?
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, The parousia
What aspect of Paul’s Second Advent teaching most encourages you? How does the reality of the “trumpet call of God” move you to more living to please God?
Saturday: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, Doug’s favorite benediction
How are you keeping the Spirit’s fire burning? How are the “alls” of 5:16-18 helping your spiritual flame?
Reading this week: More promises of this ‘coming’
I want you to recall the words spoken in the past . . . .
2 Peter 3:2
Monday: Psalm 50:1-6, God will shine from Zion
The Psalmist looks forward to God’s coming. To what element of the Second Advent are you most looking forward?
Tuesday: Nahum 1:1-8, The overwhelming flood
God is judging, but how have you experienced God’s care in the presence of this judgment?
Wednesday: Malachi 2:17-3:5, Where is God?
When have you become impatient for the Lord’s return? How is God already purifying you for Second Advent worship?
Thursday: Joel 2, Like an army of locusts
Even in this ferocious picture of the Second Advent there is an invitation to repent. How has the Holy Spirit promise of the GATDOTL convicted you? prepared you to wait?
Friday: Amos 5:18-27, Am I ready for the GATDOTL?
Amos warns those who take the Day of the Lord lightly. How is our righteousness better preparation than insincere worship?
Saturday: Isaiah 66:1-16, Rejoicing in the Second Advent
Are you more in awe of the judgment or the comfort of the Second Advent promises?
Romans 12:17-21 (p. 1764) November 26, 2017
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
Intro: 1) Paul continues his exegesis of the Sermon on the “Level Place” (Luke 6’s Sermon on the Mount)
— with focus on “everybody” = my enemy
2) note the three textual connections:
— with the “more than conquerors” of Romans 8
— between the mercy of God in 12:1 –> 12:21
— with the inclusion around the “love chapter” of good/evil (12:9 and 12:21)
Know your enemy
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Romans 12:19 (Deuteronomy 32:35 is also quoted in Hebrews 10:30 of believers!)
- If I have to ask, HE IS MY ENEMY (this is the heart of the “who’s my neighbor?” principle)
- God is a MUCH BETTER judge (even I am glad I’m not the final judge, and also glad you’re not!!)
The heart of God and the Golden Rule
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
. . . But love your enemies, do good to them,
and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,
because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6 (see also Luke 10 and the Good Samaritan)
- This isn’t supposed to be DIFFICULT à this is supposed to be IMPOSSIBLE
- Love is a POSITIVE rule à the very best the world can do (listen to current Mason’s advertisement)
- It is about MY ungratefulness = do to others as God has done for me
What Proverbs 25 really means
On the contrary: “If you enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
- Kindness is my BEST WEAPON (this is Doug’s answer to the “burning coals” question!)
- I ALREADY have my reward –> explains why Paul left this part off his quote of Proverbs 25
More study resources for Romans 12
Tim Browning’s message “. . . Even Your Enemies” at https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/
onsite/mp3/076%20Romans%2012.03-08.pdf. Browning has, in my opinion, the best answer to the “burning coals” question.
Kim Riddlebarger’s sermon “In Christ, We Who Are Many Form One Body” on Romans 12 (#31) at static1.1.sqspcdn.com
Bob Deffinbaugh’s sermon “Loving Your Enemies” at https://bible.org/seriespage/30-thinking-straight-about-spiritual-gifts-romans-123-8
Ligon Duncan’s messages at https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/
Michael Horton’s “Romans from 30,000 Feet” from “An Overview of the Book of Romans”, http://www.reformationtheology.com/2011/04/romans_from_30000_feet_by_mich.php
Sinclair Ferguson’s “The Great Exchanges In Romans” at http://www.ligonier.org/blog/great-exchanges-romans/
F.F. Bruce’s paraphrase of Romans at https://biblicalstudies.org.
uk/pdf/eq/1958-2_bruce.pdf or Paternoster Press (1965); Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Eerdmans, 1977); and The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (Eerdmans, 1963). I like Bruce’s poem on page 162:
To run and work the law commands,
Yet gives me neither feet nor hands;
But better news the gospel brings:
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Tim Keller’s Romans For You (The Good Book, 2014).
William Hendriksen’s Romans in BNTC (Baker Books, 1980).
James Boice’s Romans, Volume 4: The New Humanity, (Baker Books, 1991). Boice (who follows Hodge’s 1886 commentary) also has a good discussion of the “burning coals” question.
Charles Hodge’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Eerdmans, 1886).
Earl Palmer’s Romans series notes “The Greatest Book”, Winter 2002, University Presbyterian Church. Seattle, Washington.
Reading this week: The Sermon on the Level Place
Romans 12, like the book of James, is really a commentary on Jesus’ teaching, particularly the Sermon on the Mount. This week we will look at Luke’s version which is even more convicting than in Matthew.
Monday: Luke 6:12-19, Disciples, crowds and the multitude
Luke mentions three groups who heard Jesus’ teaching: his disciples, his crowd of serious followers, and the multitude of Jews and Gentiles. It’s really hard to preach to this diverse crowd. With which group do you identify? What word from Jesus are you hoping to hear from the “level place”?
Tuesday: Luke 6:20-26, Blessings and Woes
These blessings and woes both end with a look back at the prophets: persecution is a sign of the true prophet, the world’s blessing is a sign of the false prophet. How are you experiencing the blessing of persecution and the woe of the world’s blessing?
Wednesday: Luke 6:27-36, The Golden Rule
Loving enemies is never easy. What enemy has been especially difficult for you to love? How has God’s mercy helped you build your Golden Rule discipline?
Thursday: Luke 6:37-42, Judging and being judged
I love the picture of forgiveness running over into my lap! How has being forgiven changed the way you look at others’ faults? What “log” are you working on today?
Friday: Luke 6:43-49, Hearing and Doing
Have you noticed how fruit and wisdom go together? In these two parables, Jesus makes “good” both a matter of fruit and of obedience. What fruit are you preparing for right now?
Saturday: Luke 7:1-10, Finding real faith
Even after preaching to the crowds, Jesus still had to look elsewhere for faith. How does a Roman centurion have more faith than Israel? Where have you found the faith for which Jesus is looking?