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  • Living a Christian Witness

    For the last eleven chapters, Paul has been going on about the way the Jews and Gentiles of Rome have been acting toward one another, and the way they have been seen by the general populace. At them end of chapter eleven, he told them they are brothers and sisters saved by the same God and heirs to the same inheritance of the Spirit. Here, he continues with the earmarks of how a Christian should live as a witness to the sacrifice of Christ.

    Since you now know the mercy of God, I urge you to bury your old selves in the likeness of Christ, which is to surrender yourselves completely to the Holy Spirit.

    Do not continue to live as non-believers, but become witnesses in every way to the power of the Holy Spirit. Begin each day by remembering your commitment to God. Show everyone by your witness that you serve a risen, living Christ.

    Be humble in all things, remembering your salvation is by the mercy and grace of God, and not something you have earned. Remember we are all sinners in the eyes of God and we are saved for God's purpose and not our own.

    We all have a place in His purpose and are given gifts according to our purpose, and not all of us will do the same things. The gifts of the Spirit are given as they are needed, so that one of us may be an adviser while another leads; one of us may minister to others while another teaches. So no matter what you are led to do, do it with dedication and prayer, with love and enthusiasm, tempered by the knowledge that you are saved by grace and not by works.

    Above all, love without condition, expecting nothing in return. Turn away from evil and embrace all that is good.

    Treat one another with loving affection, as family, for a family in Christ Jesus is what you are.

    Be witnesses in all you do. Conduct your business with honor and integrity, allowing the Spirit to guide you in your service to the Lord.

    Rejoice in hope and do not panic or worry when you face opposition; instead let your prayers be fervent in faith, trusting the Spirit in all things to see you through.

    Support those who minister to you; be kind to strangers.

    Bless those who curse you, never repay cruelty with cruelty, but with prayer.

    Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.

    Remind one another of who you are and do not pay attention to frivolous things. Care for the poor and lift up those in need. Never imagine you are more righteous than others.

    Do not repay evil with evil. Be honest and fair to all. Live in peace with all men, and do not seek revenge when you are wronged. Our Lord has promised us He will act on our behalf, according to His will and purpose.

    So if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. By doing this, you will cause him to be overcome with shame and remorse, and when the heart is broken, there is room for the Spirit to move.

    Do not let evil defeat you, but be determined to do good.

    Okay, guys, Huddle Up! Here is the Game Plan!

    Football as an analogy to being a Christian? Sure, why not. I mean, this is something I think anyone who has ever been in a locker room can understand, regardless of the sport.

    The “Team” has split into two factions, and because of that, they are losing the game. Paul's team is comprised of Jews on one side and Gentiles on the other, and neither side wants to back down from their position. They just aren't working together.

    The coach starts off angry, telling both sides they are being foolish and explaining why their attitudes are unfounded, which gets their attention. Then he reasons with them, explaining why their positions are flawed. Finally, he finds a point of common ground and builds on it, telling them why they need to work together to achieve victory. By the end of the coach's speech, they are hugging and yelling and united against their common foe, the opposing team. And when you have a team working together for a common goal, victory is the outcome.

    Okay, so it doesn't always work out that way in football, but we're just using that as an example, right? You see, if the Christians on this planet would actually unite and allow the Spirit to guide their lives, well, you have no idea of the world we could be living in now.

    Why isn't it happening? Well, I've thought about it for a very long time, and the answer is three little words that always seem to creep into every conversation or philosophy. We use these three words so often we even have an entire profession dedicated to them. Can you guess what they are?

    “But what if....”.

    Yep, when we start questioning the rules instead of acting on them, we find ways to get what WE want and do an “end run” around what GOD wants. We start making exceptions, bending the rules, and finding loopholes to benefit a select few instead of the whole. We even find a way to question what we know in our hearts to be right and good in order to satisfy our lusts or greed.

    I understand it, and so do you. We are all human, we are all ambitious. We all want things that make our lives easier and better, even if they come at the cost of someone's suffering.

    And if you are saying to yourself, “oh no, that's not me, I would never do that”, are you wearing an item of clothing made overseas? The chances are it was made in a factory where people work twelve or sixteen hour days for a pittance of a wage to support a family they might never even see. I could go on and on, but you get the point, I hope. We are all guilty of supporting the evil in the world, instead of doing what we know to be right.

    Paul was telling the Roman church to step away from the infighting and jealousy and avarice of their nature and live the life of Christ, a life of faith.

    It's a lot to ask, and it isn't easy. It requires a commitment to the Lord in everything you do. It requires you to structure your life in a pattern of prayer and dedication, to dismiss what you have learned about the way the world acts and act instead according to the will of God.

    It requires you to die, in order for Christ to live through you.

    I hope you are having a blessed day.

    Fred
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