FBC Earlville 8-07–16 10:30 AM
Rev. J.B. Stopford, Pastor


Do you know what you get when you play a country song backward?
You get your job back, you get your house back, your wife back, your truck back …

QUESTION: What is the highest good of the church? Reason and the Word of God would say that that would be the glory of the Lord! And HOW? – here’s where the practicality comes in – HOW does the church do that? I found a definition of verse 23 which said: “The highest good of the church is the Lord’s glory on display in my relationship with my brother or sister in Christ – especially within my local church.”

LET’S REVIEW Chapters 12-16 are the “practical application” chapters of the doctrinal sections of Chapters 1-11. And the theme of these chapters can be focused on one word: surrender! We’ve already been to chapters 12 and 13:
Chapter 12: SURRENDER TO THE LORD! “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (12:1-2) God doesn’t want us to allow the world to “squeeze us into its mold” (JB Phillips translation). By each of us surrendering to the Lord, our focus will be on His glory – alone!
Chapter 13: SURRENDER TO THE GOVERNMENT! “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing (13:1,6). Throughout history, God has put leaders of His choosing in place over each country. And, as we learned from Acts 5:28ff, there may be circumstances in our day where, when governments lead purposefully contrary to Scripture, we’ll have to make a conscientious decision “to obey God rather than men.”
And today’s message, from Chapter 14: SURRENDER TO ONE ANOTHER! PRAYER

#1 God is [NOTE: not “wants to be”] the Lord of what I eat: “The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (v. 3) In a nutshell, the people of the local church in Rome – just like in ours – were DIFFERENT from each other. The issues here are amazingly on the surface similar to today’s: “do I eat meat, or do I eat only vegetables/non-meat products?” The deeper issue also involved what they were being sacrificed to, and that then became a matter of conscience within the church family. The bottom line question: do the preferences of one another become hindrances to your fellowship with them, or do you see the higher good – God’s glory on display in my relationship with my brother?

#2 God is the Lord of every day: “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” (v. 5) This passage gives a huge challenge: “do you know what you believe and why you believe it?” And if your conviction may be different – for example, even in the use of each day – would you cause separation for that? Paul says you are to study this for conviction for yourself! In 2016, there are some who must work on Sunday (even the pastor works for one hour, right?). Are we to separate from those who must work, or treats days differently than we do, while under the umbrella of God’s Lordship?

#3 God is the Lord at the TRUE judgment seat “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” (v. 12, see vs. 11-12). Paul here make the point: this is a serious matter, and one day all Christians will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (see also 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). Therefore our treatment of our brothers and sisters, along with our personal study of God’s Word, will one day be answerable to the King of kings Himself. We must take heart now!

#4 God is the Lord of my fellowship “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (vs. 17-18). What would happen if every brother and sister in Christ in the local church treated each other “as unto Christ.”? Those outside would be attracted not only to us but to the Lord Jesus Himself, when they start inquiring “see how they love one another! Why is that? What has Jesus done in their lives to cause them to behave and live toward one another in such an exceptional, other-worldly way?”

Remember: The highest good of the church is the Lord’s glory on display in my relationship with my brother or sister in Christ – especially within my local church. CLOSE IN PRAYER

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