A Religion of Hope (Romans 15.13)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  Christianity appeals to both our hopes and fears.  Every two years, Americans endure the “silly season” of a national election. Candidates for political office appeal first to the hopes and then to the fears of their prospective voters. They try to paint a picture of what could be if voters elected them, and what would be their opponents were elected.  Politicians may be stupid, but they’re not dumb. Hope and fear are two of the most basic motivators in the human psyche. Hope pulls us toward the future we want. It is fundamentally optimistic. … Continue reading A Religion of Hope (Romans 15.13)

No Exceptions to Acceptance (Romans 15.7-12)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  In the Christian worldview, there are no exceptions to acceptance.  This was a novel principle in the first-century intellectual milieu in which Jesus Christ was born. Jews distinguished between themselves and the Gentiles. Romans distinguished between citizens and non-citizens, between the freeborn and slaves. Greeks distinguished between themselves and barbarians. These various groups might interact, but they did not think of themselves as equals in any way. They did not accept one another.  Jesus Christ broke down the racial, religious, and cultural barriers people erected against one another. He accepted all people in order … Continue reading No Exceptions to Acceptance (Romans 15.7-12)

A Prayer for Christian Unity (Romans 15.5-6)

Listen to The Daily Word online. How about a joke to start your day?  Comedian Emo Philips tells this joke about Baptists:  I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! Don't do it!”  “Why shouldn't I?” he said.   “Well, there's so much to live for!”  “Like what?”  “Well…are you religious?” He said yes. I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?”  “Christian.”  “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?”  “Protestant.”  “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”  “Baptist.”  “Wow! … Continue reading A Prayer for Christian Unity (Romans 15.5-6)

Christian Self-giving-ness (Romans 15.1-4)

Listen to The Daily Word online. When I was a bachelor, I was selfish. When I married, I realized that selfishness is no way to build a home. My motto for marriage is, “Happy wife, happy life.” Something similar could be said of all good relationships. Paul writes about the relationship of “strong” and “weak” Christians in Romans 15.1-4: We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as … Continue reading Christian Self-giving-ness (Romans 15.1-4)

Sinful Personal Preferences (Romans 14.22-23)

Listen to The Daily Word online.  Can personal preferences be sinful? Maybe. Throughout Romans 14.1-15.13, Paul is teaching Christians how to live with their differences over personal preferences. His teaching assumes a distinction between moral principles (which are absolute and require Christian unity) and personal preferences (which are relative and allow for Christian diversity). When it comes to things like adultery, lying, and murder, for example, there is only one Christian principle: Don’t! But when it comes to things like eating meat or vegetables, drinking alcohol or abstaining, Christians are free to do as they wish. So, it would seem … Continue reading Sinful Personal Preferences (Romans 14.22-23)

Peace through Mutual Edification (Romans 14.19-21)

Listen to The Daily Word online. We all want to live in peace, but are we willing to do what peace requires?  Several years ago, as a Christmas gift, my mother gave me a copy of a famous etching by William Strutt. It hangs in my office, behind my desk. The focus of the picture is a young child holding an olive branch. A variety of animals—both domestic and predatory—surround him. Titled “Peace,” the etching draws its inspiration from Isaiah 11.6:  The wolf will live with the lamb,the leopard will lie down with the goat,the calf and the lion and … Continue reading Peace through Mutual Edification (Romans 14.19-21)

Pleasing to God, Approved by Men (Romans 14.13-18)

Listen to The Daily Word online. How can we live in a way that honors God and earns the respect of our neighbors? Romans 14.13-18 shows the way. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer … Continue reading Pleasing to God, Approved by Men (Romans 14.13-18)

The Final Judgment (Romans 14.9-12)

Listen to The Daily Word online. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards may very well be the scariest sermon ever preached in America. “There is nothing,” Edwards argued, “that keeps wicked Men, at any one Moment, out of Hell, but the mere Pleasure of GOD.” If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, nothing will. I mention Edwards because we don’t often hear sermons about hell anymore, or heaven for that matter. Perhaps in reaction to older preachers who talked about the hereafter too much, contemporary preachers instead focus on the here and now. … Continue reading The Final Judgment (Romans 14.9-12)

We Belong to the Lord (Romans 14.5-8)

Listen to The Daily Word online. The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” Answer: “That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” The idea that we belong to Jesus comes directly out of the Bible, and if you put that idea into practice, it will change the way you live. Romans 14.5-8 clearly states the idea of belonging to Jesus:  One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each … Continue reading We Belong to the Lord (Romans 14.5-8)

Who are you to judge? (Romans 14.2-4)

 Listen to The Daily Word online. As a pastor, I am often asked what the Bible teaches about some controversial moral issue. Occasionally, if I give an answer my questioners don’t like, they follow up with another question: Who are you to judge? It’s a good question, and I think I’ve got a pretty good answer.  The who-are-you-to-judge question is usually rhetorical. My questioners aren’t inquiring into my spiritual, moral, or intellectual credentials to state an opinion on the matter. Instead, they’re hurling an accusation. “Who are you to judge?” really means “You are in no position to judge!”  Regardless … Continue reading Who are you to judge? (Romans 14.2-4)