Be Wise . . .

Vol. 4, No. 2 

For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore, I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. –Romans 16:19

The book of Romans closes with a biblical philosophy for our advancement in the Gospel. Jesus had coined a similar phrase: Be wary and wise as a serpent, and be innocent, harmless, guileless, and without sophistication as doves.–Matthew 10:16

Paul is communication with believers living in the capital city because it seemed that the world of the first century revolved around Rome.

Into the markets of Rome poured the multitudes of wealth, the merchandise of the world, and the diversity of the world. The citizens and nobles were a polished lot; cultured, proud, and holders of great wealth. They also possessed enormous power and had extensive privileges. In addition, there was abject slavery, as well as grinding poverty, and hopeless misery for many. Cruelty and oppression were a part of the pattern of the Roman life.

Can you imagine that in the midst of all this came the Christians. Many of the believers carried with them, from their past, a sophistication regarding evil, which, if remained un-crucified, could wreck and ruin even themselves in the local body life of the church. –John Phillips

Interestingly, our times are not much different. The needed balance of being wise concerning good and simple in regard to evil is a necessity. Bishop Moule of England stated it well: Be deep in the wisdom of humble faith; be contented to be unacquainted with a wisdom which has its roots in evil.

The world around us is saying just the opposite. Be simple concerning good; be wise in regard to evil. However, that is a fast track to failure.

Many mad dogs are shot; infectious diseases quarantined; most damaging drugs outlawed – the wise addresses the vile things of the world. The Scriptures caution us to be wise about goodness and give a loud response to the world’s penchant for worldly wisdom and immorality.

We need to be careful where we plant our feet. We should not go to some stinking alley and lift the lids off the grubby garbage cans to get a whiff – if you do – you will end up with the same offensive smell! Offensive odors of the world can hang heavy in the air around you.

Be wise as a serpent . . . be as uncontaminated as a dove!

Too good to deceive; too wise to be deceived –Grotius

Minding . . .

Vol. 4, No. 1

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed. –Romans 6:1

Obey with all your heart.

The U.S. Marine Corps says, “He who cannot obey . . . cannot lead!”

Good theology constantly calls for deliberate, responsible decisions about how we are going to live and it never forgets that Christian decisions are commitments to action on principle (not out of mindless conformity), undertaken in freedom (not from external pressure or bullying), and motivated primarily by love of God and of justice (not by fear). –J.I. Packer, Hot Tub Religion

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
–William Shakespeare

Decisions are commitments to action! Too many believers run through life after making commitments thinking that those commitments do not matter; and in growing older give the excuse they are tired, unhealthy, or busy. Their commitments amount to a sham.

Since I cannot save myself, I cannot atone for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot make right what is wrong, make pure what is impure, make holy what is unholy. That is the work of our sovereign God. The thing I must do is obey.

Obedience means that I have banked everything on Christ, and my obedience is met immediately by the delight of the supernatural grace of God. The promises of God are of no value to me until, by obedience, I begin to see and understand the nature and character of God.

When God says, ‘come,’ I need to simply come! When He says, ‘let go,’ I simply need to let go! When He says, ‘trust,’ in what ever the matter, I must trust. The promptness of my obedience is my part. God takes care of the rest.

I have studied several languages (Latin, French, Greek, Hebrew, and sometimes English). I can still read those languages. It is interesting how the original language used in writing captures nuances that are difficult to bring into another language. Such is Augustine’s definition, written in Latin, of the word ‘disobedience and temptation.’ Cogitatio, imagination, delectation, and assensio. English requires 22 words to capture that simple Latin verbiage: A thought, a picture, a fascination, a fall; it may be wrong choices, errors in judgment, stubborn will, or an unguarded appetite.

From you own experience, answer the basic question: What single factor has produced the best results in your walk with God?

King Saul (who was disobedient) answers: Obedience is far better than sacrifice. God is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offerings. –1 Samuel 15:22

Obedience is not just a word we utter. It is a character of our life. It is spelled out because it is to be harbored in the heart. it affects all that we say, think, and do. We are challenged in our family, home, businesses, work, and even our retirements to be obedient. Which area or season of life do we want to exempt from obedience?

How many years has it been since you left your commitment at the altar of obedience and exchanged it for the character of disobedience?

Tell them hi!

Vol. 3, No. 52

Tell Pricilla and Aquila ‘hello’ –Romans 16:3-5

A young American was killed in Europe. The year was 1884. His parents wanted to establish a memorial for their son and met with Dr. Charles Eliot, President of Harvard University. Looking at the poor appearing country couple, he suggested some insignificant scholarship. The couple left his office downcast.

A year later, Charles Eliot learned that the couple he turned away donated $26,000,000 ($26 million) toward the establishment of a fund named for their son; thus, Leland Stanford Jr. University, in Palo Alto, California began.

Paul advanced the Gospel and made it a standard of operation to enlist others to partner with him. Paul did not seem to be captured by first appearances. After all, he was not a knockout handsome dude (at least we do not think so).

35 individuals (10 of whom are women), and several couples are mentioned as partners for promotion of the Gospel. Among the couples, we find Pricilla and Aquila. I wonder if they had nicknames – “Cill” and “Quil.” Sorry, just could not resist that.

The interesting thing about this couple appears to be hearts that beat as one . . . not two or a duo, but a one in the Lord. They did not pull in opposite directions; no contention over travel plans or advancing the Gospel, and no separate goals. They were one in marriage, and one in Christ.
They were one in their faith and testimony. One in their occupation of making tents. In the first century, soldiers did not hold themselves fashionably equipped without a personal tent from Ephesus made from the best hairs, wove together by Priscilla and Aquila (perhaps in their business, called Tents by the Shaggy Goat).

This couple was noted as business people, not paid Christian workers. They made some money, but it was so that they might spend it in God’s ministry. Their job was making tents, but their work was promoting the Gospel.

Paul lists four honors he bestows upon Priscilla and Aquila:

  1. They were helpers in the cause of Christ;
  2. They risked their lives for their beloved friend;
  3. They were mentioned in church body-life in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus; and
  4. They pushed aside the work tables of their trade to have “church” in their home.

This couple, not so well-known by the unchurched, made tents so that a tabernacle for their Lord could be constructed and be occupied with those they led to Christ through promotion of the Gospel.
Some choose to advance the Gospel; some choose to back off.

Our choice can help a person come to Christ or to choose to reject Christ. It matters not what your name is; what matters is your investment. Not many have $26 million, but every believer has the message of the Gospel.

What are you doing with the message of the Gospel?

A thought from Paul Tripp . . . Come Let Us Adore Him

The baby in the manger came as a conquering King to dethrone us, and then to enthrone Himself in our hearts and lives forever and ever.

If you have children or are around children, you know that you are in relationship with little self-anointed, self-sovereigns, who think that the only authority they need in their lives is their own. We have all dealt with battles with our young children.

[However], why do you get angry in traffic or irritated when someone disagrees with you? It is not just your children that battle for kingdom authority—you do too. Life this side of eternity is one big and unending war of kingdoms.

Jesus had to rescue us from our bondage to our little kingdoms of one and usher us into His kingdom of loving authority and forgiving grace. He came to destroy our self-oriented kingdoms and dethrone us as Kings [and queens] over our own lives. In violent grace He works to destroy every last shred of our allegiance to self-rule, and in rescuing grace He lovingly sets up His righteous rule in our hearts.

The baby in the manger came to be King.

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

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