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Friday, November 21, 2014

Cardinal (photo by Doris High)
Cardinal at feeder
(Photo by Doris High)

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Today we conclude our series of weekly messages from Romans 13:11-14

"Understanding The Present Time"
(Part 5)
"Behaving Decently"

"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:13,14).

Child getting paddling My Mom died 9 years ago this month (2005). I suppose I first heard the word "behave" from her and there's no doubt I heard it a lot. In fact she usually sent me off to school with this daily reminder, "Now Stephen, I want you to behave yourself today." But truth be told I didn't always obey and I very distinctly recall my first spanking at school in either first or second grade. The principal used a big paddle but I survived and I am sure it was reinforced when I got home. (Note: The photo to the left is not really Stephen).

Child napping on matAs early as five years of age I (Brooksyne) had my first paddling in school. As a kindergartner I was required to bring a small rug with me on the first day of school which was placed in my locker until Quiet Time. When the teacher told all the students it was Quiet Time we were instructed to pull out our rug, lay down on it, and go to sleep or just lay quietly, not even a whisper was to be heard. But I couldn't keep quiet and was probably warned repeatedly but didn't heed. Miss Fulton called me out into the hallway and gave me one swat with the paddle. I probably cried myself to sleep after that. (Note: The photo to the right is not really Brooksyne).

There are far worse behaviors mentioned in the Bible than chatting with a friend during naptime or cutting in line in the cafeteria. Today we want to examine a straightforward command in the Bible in which we are to behave. As the behaviors worsen the consequences are far more reaching.

"Let us behave decently."  Other English translations offer slightly different wording; "behave properly" (NASV), "walk properly" (ESV), "live decently" (NET) "live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly" (Amplified).

Behaving decently speaks of our conduct from day to day, our lifestyle, what we choose to look at, listen to, what we say or think -- all these are bound up in what it means to behave properly.

Romans 13:12"As in the daytime." This is a follow-up to the previous verse (v.12) that states, "Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." 

Paul then specifies six specific deeds of darkness those who live in the light are not to practice. Revealing the timeless truths of the Bible each of these sins of the flesh are common in our age and every age among those who walk in darkness. They are expressed in three groups of two, what one commentator calls "negative couplets":

1) "Not in orgies and drunkenness";  The Greek word translated "orgies" ("carousings" in some versions) was used generally of “feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry”. Today's the "let's party" outlook that so many have is nothing new. We who strive to live as children of light do well to heed a timeless woe expressed in Isaiah 5:22, "Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink." The apostle Peter firmly issues this call, "For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:3).

2) "Not in sexual immorality and debauchery"; The first word refers here to sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The second word means licentiousness and unrestrained lust. Other translations use the words "indecency", "promiscuity", "sensuality". The New Century Version states, "There should be no sexual sins of any kind." Sexual morality can be simply expressed as sexual intimacy expressed in a covenant relationship (holy marriage) between a man and a woman. Although we live in an age with a massive attempt to redefine marriage and morality the faithful contender for truth must not budge. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20).

3) "Not in dissension and jealousy"; These are relational sins that we often shrug off as no big deal. But they are opposed to the second greatest commandment, which is to love others as we love ourselves. Leon Morris observes, “Both indicate a determination to have one’s own way, a self-willed readiness to quarrel. All six of these vices stem from self-will; they are all the outreach of a determined selfishness that seeks only one’s own pleasure.”

The chapter ends with a positive injunction "Rather" (in opposition to the previous six sins of the flesh) we are to "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we desire to clothe ourselves in Christ Jesus, whose Spirit resides within our hearts. We pray that our behavior would honor You as we seek to behave decently and live according to the pattern of Holy Scripture, for "we were taught, regarding our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness." May lust of the flesh be burned up by the fire of the Spirit that ignites us as we redirect our affections, energies, and time to that which is righteous and eternal. Make us like You, Father, as we follow after You in righteousness and holiness.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.
See Ephesians 4:22-24

Some notes by Pastor Steven Cole for further study:

"Carousing (orgies) and drunkenness." Paul lists drunkenness and carousing as deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:21). But such things are not appropriate for believers. I’ve always had trouble understanding why people go to wild parties and get drunk. To me such parties are superficial and stupid. But venturing a guess, it helps them, at least for an evening, forget about their troubles. From hearing them brag about how wasted they got, it must give them some sense of being cool, at least with their fellow drunks. And, it often lowers inhibitions and leads to sexual encounters, which appeal to those who do not have satisfying marital relationships.  I’ve known a few who claim to be believers, but they still go out partying and drinking. But these are deeds of darkness, not fitting for children of light. (Pastor Steven Cole, Your Present Walk and the Coming Day)

"Sexual immorality and debauchery" It is also a deed of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), characteristic of unbelievers, not of believers (Ephesians 4:19-20). God has given the marriage relationship as the proper place for sexual relations. To engage in any sexual activity outside of marriage is to participate in the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:3-12). Let me remind you that no one who is walking in the light, suddenly and without warning, falls into sexual immorality. Sexual sin always begins when we toy with it in our minds. We relish lustful glances by replaying them in our thoughts. We sneak a peek at pornography, which leads to more frequent and longer looks. Eventually, the temptation to flirt with a tempting woman comes and it sucks us into the fatal act (see Proverbs 7). The key to avoiding it is to judge every sinful thought as quickly as it happens and to make no provision for the lusts of the flesh. Much of our sin can be traced to the fact that we made provision for it by toying with it. (Pastor Steven Cole, Your Present Walk and the Coming Day)

For these quotes from Pastor Steven Cole and other insights into this passage see the Precept Online Bible commentary on this passage.

A few photos from our chaplain ministry yesterday

Smucker workers 11/20/14
Our first stop yesterday was before 7:00 AM to S.S. Smucker & Sons, a home improvement company. We visit with the men before they head out to the jobsite. These men were preparing for a day of gutter work and Adrian (center) is showing a huge frozen hunk of gunk he dug out of a gutter the previous day. Later in the day we happened to drive by the jobsite where they were up on the roof working but stopped to visit a few minutes.

Inside Village Farm Market
We view our ministry as letting Christ shine through us wherever we are. In the mid morning we stopped by "The Village Farm Market", a locally run store where the owner, Keith, appreciates our visits. He renovated an old bank barn leaving the stone walls and exposed beam ceiling, which is now covered with hanging baskets.

James at Vallorbs 11/20/14
James is a new employee at Vallorbs, the last company we visited yesterday afternoon. He moved down from Brooklyn where he regularly attended the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.
He told me it was Pastor Jim Cymbala's mother's 100th birthday.
 I asked him how he was doing and he answered, "I'm greatly blessed and highly favored" which happens to the title of a song we enjoy (see below). I expect to learn more about James but I got some idea of his earnestness when I heard he came for his job interview to be a machine operator wearing a suit.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Come Broken - Just As I Am"
  Video   Travis Cottrell  Outstanding song with excellent visual. This song really breaks it down to the truth that it's all about Jesus and not what I have to offer Him. The contemporary arrangements and additional lyrics to this traditional hymn really gets your attention in a fresh, new way and will surely touch your heart.

Today's message is a serious call to followers of Christ to behave decently. We urge all who have not been living in the light to come home to Him who forgives. A wonderful phrase in Ephesians describing those who have placed their faith in Christ includes another list of sins of the flesh (past tense) "such were some of you".  "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

As I prepared this a story from a Max Lucado book I read many, many years ago came to mind and due to the internet search I found this condensation online. It is worth the brief read!

In "No Wonder They Call Him the Savior", he tells the story of Maria and her daughter Christina. Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent living at home having only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she ran away, breaking her mother’s heart. Her mother knew what life on the streets would be like for her young, attractive daughter, so Maria quickly packed to go find her daughter. On her way to the bus stop, she went to a drugstore to get one last thing—pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all the money she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she got on the next bus to Rio de Janeiro. Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. At each place she left her picture--taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, or fastened to a corner phone booth. On the back of each photo she wrote a note. It wasn’t too long before Maria’s money and pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The tired mother cried as the bus began its long journey back to her small village. A few weeks later, Christina was coming down the stairs in a seedy hotel. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times she had longed to trade all those countless beds for her secure pallet. And yet the little village seemed too far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back Maria had written this: "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home." And Christina went home.

God is the same way. He wants us to come home. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. It doesn’t matter what we’ve become. We can always come home to Him. It is like Maria, reaching out for her daughter even when her daughter didn’t realize it. It is like God reaching out to us while we are living a life of sin and we are lost and yet, Christ is there...reaching....longing...desiring to bring us home. It is prevenient grace—it has kept us, as Newton writes, “safe thus far.”

We dedicate this message to a friend who recently "came home".

"Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored"   Video   Gaither Vocal Band

"Take My Life"  Video  Scott Underwood

Our friend Doris High, who took the photo of the cardinal, has an outstanding nature photo collection in her post "Enjoying Our Winter Birds & Animals"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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