The Romans Reflection: Revenge Never Ends

31st December & 1st January

Weekend Edition

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them….Never pay back evil with more evil…”

Romans 12:14, 17a

When someone hurts you, the easy option is to be angry with them and want to hurt them back. It takes courage and it takes love, to forgive and let go. As Christians, we have a choice to not be angry, to not hold a grudge, and to not want revenge. Our choice is this; to go against our natural feelings of revenge and instead bless those who persecute us. It almost feels unjust that we can’t get revenge on those who have hurt us, but actually, it is grace, love and joy that will prevail in the end.

If you look back after you have forgiven someone instead of taking revenge, it can sometimes feel like that the object of your anger was so small anyway. Furthermore, revenge never ends. If you don’t forgive and let go, you will never be able to get out of the cycle of bitterness and un-forgiveness and will always have a feeling of un-settled revenge.

As you end a year and start another, reflect on whom God might be prompting you to forgive and bless instead. Don’t pay back evil with more evil but rather live in the opposite spirit. If Jesus on the cross blessed His murderers and forgave them, then we should do the same too.

The Romans Reflection: Be Ready To Help

30th December

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:13

The early church were perfect examples of true hospitality. The book of Acts tells us that ‘all the believers were together and shared everything they had’. There was no ‘this is mine and you can’t have it’ attitude. They knew that everything they had was a gift of God, from God. When we look at what we have with that same attitude, it changes our perception of ‘earthly’ things and our use of them. If we know and understand that what we have is God’s anyway, then we will be quick to share and eager to practice hospitality.

Yet hospitality starts from our hearts. It starts from a willingness to help others in our hearts, then it bears fruit in the actual action. We must not be stingy with what we have, both in material possessions and all that is not (i.e. serving etc..), but freely share what God has given us.

The writer of Romans says these words in the previous verses,

In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. ….. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. ….. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously…… And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

In other words, if you have a gift of hospitality then serve, give, cook, host, bless, and receive with your whole heart… DO IT GLADLY AND EAGERLY.

The Romans Reflection: Keep On Praying

29th December

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

Romans 12:12

Sometimes in our lives we feel like there is no hope to keep on praying for un-answered prayers. Yet the writer of Romans, tells us that that should not be the case. We should persist in prayer, even when we don’t see tangible answers because we have hope that God is listening and is answering. Moreover, we can even rejoice through the waiting because of this hope.

Another lesson we can learn or even be reminded of, is to keep on praying throughout troubles in our lives. We can’t let trials or struggles stop us praying. Prayer turns our attention from our struggles to Jesus; our hope, our help and our refuge.

Friends, keep on praying. Keep on keeping on. Never give up. Rejoice in hope. Rejoice in knowing that Jesus is in control.

The Romans Reflection: Don’t Be Lazy

28th December

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

Romans 12:11

Our daily lives should always be a reflection of our Father in all we do. Be that at work, home, school and yes even in church. We are Father’s representative in all we do. The writer of Romans, gives us, the church, a clear instruction to never be lazy but rather work hard in serving the Lord enthusiastically.

It is important to note that ‘working hard’ is not trying to twist God’s arm to love you more, or even to gain salvation. You are loved unconditionally and your salvation has already been bought at a price, not dependant on your works. Working hard is the fruit of that love and salvation. Rather than be lazy or un-motivated, we as Christians should be the best workers, because we know that the work we do is not for us, or even for our boss, but for the Lord, from an outworking of the inward change in our hearts.

Our challenge is to live and work for Christ in all we do. Never make excuses of ‘I can’t because…’ but enthusiastically and joyful serve our Lord.

The Romans Reflection: Genuine Affection

27th December

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.

Romans 12:10

What does genuine love look like for you? This wonderful verse in Romans show us practically what love means and how we can live it out in our lives! Simply put, love hates what is wrong, loves what is good, is not fake or pretentious or conditional and most importantly, love uplifts others.

Love delights in honouring others. What a fantastic encouragement and challenge. Love doesn’t beat down others or point out their faults but rather love wants other people to feel uplifted, great about themselves, great in knowing who they are as God’s child and how and who He has made them to be. Love encourages, even at the givers own expense. Love makes others feel loved.

We are incredibly loved so may we too honour and love others and taking delight in doing so!!

The Romans Reflection

26th December

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

Romans 12:9

During these next few days we will be taking a look at love in action, as written by the author of Romans. This wonderful chapter, both causes us to reflect on our attitudes and behaviours, but also encourages us to put love into action, written in a completely practical style. As we work through these next few verses, may your hearts be challenged and encouraged, to work through these topics as a great end to one year and as preparation for the next.

Today’s verse is a great challenge and reflection for us. We can so often breeze through our lives, without truly paying attention to the details; details, perhaps, such as the challenge presented to us by the writer of Roman: True Love! When we say we love someone, do we truly mean it? The love mentioned in this verse is not the ‘love’ between a spouse, but rather love between brothers and sisters, specifically in the body of Christ. Do we pick out the most popular or our favourite people to speak to, to encourage or even to socialise with? Or do we put love into action and reach out to perhaps those more ‘difficult’ people in the body?

We are challenged to make love genuine in our lives. If God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for it, then we too must practice sacrificial love, even to those we might not think ‘deserve’ it. Let us hold tightly to the love of God, hate friction and division, and love genuinely. Just as we are un-conditionally loved by God, so too, may we love others unconditionally.

Merry CHRISTMAS

24th-25th December

Christmas Edition

The Undeserved but Received Gift

And she will have a Son and you are to name him Jesus, for He will save people from their sins.

Matthew 1:23

Jesus’ primary purpose in coming to this earth to be born, was to save people from their sins by giving up His life for ours. The Angel of God spoke these words (in today’s key verse) to Joseph when he was re-assuring him that the Holy Spirit had given Mary a child. He said, that in and through Jesus, people will be saved from their sins.

This means US. Jesus came to save US from our sins. He came to save those who have lived before us and those who will live after us. His sacrifice was and is eternal. Jesus’ life was the greatest gift that was ever given to mankind. Christmas is a great reminder of this gift. When we give and receive presents, we too can remember the gift that was given to Mary, Joseph and to all humanity, JESUS Christ, the Saviour of the world. This Christmas, remember the undeserved gift we have freely received.

The real message of Christmas is not the gifts that we give to each other. Rather, it is a reminder of the gift that God has given to each of us. It is the only gift that truly keeps on giving.”

Greg Laurie