Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Blessing
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Dooley
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 16:17-27 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: A few years ago, while visiting Glenwood Springs, Colorado, my family and I discovered the cemetery where the legendary gunfighter Doc Holliday is buried. He might be most famous for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral that has been documented in numerous movies. I could not resist the half-mile hike up to the cemetery, which is interesting in itself. But let me just help you avoid any disappointment should you choose to visit one day. Lower your expectations; there are no memorable words on the gravestone. In fact, all that it states is, “He Died in Bed,” and nearby there is a stone that reads, “This Memorial Is Dedicated to Doc Holliday Who Is Buried Someplace in This Cemetery.” A little bit of a letdown to say the least.
Paul, on the other hand, could never have fitted everything he wanted to say on any headstone. He had too much to say. Even when he ends with “one final word” that final word is packed with depth and allusions to familiar stories. I wonder if you picked up the echo back to Genesis and the promise of redemption at the fall of humanity, when Paul talks about “the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet.” The promise is true. Sin will come to an end at long last.
This is what we need to keep our eyes fixed on.
This is the one final idea that Paul wants to re-focus our attention on. Don’t let anyone take your focus away from Jesus. Too many distractions are in our paths. Too many false teachers are vying for our attention. That was the message of Romans 12—that we should always keep an intelligent faith front and center. We have to find ways to understand and know the difference between truth and lies. The Bible contains several stories of deception and falsehoods. One little obscure example is found in Judges 12:1-7, where whether someone was a friend or foe depended on how they pronounced the word “Shibboleth.” You may have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking in which he suggests we actually should not lost sight of our initial first impressions of people. However, it was Jesus who set the bar for discernment high above all bars, as recorded in the opening chapters of the Gospel of John. Nathaniel reported that Jesus knew what he was thinking. The woman at the well ran back to town to tell the people that Jesus understood her. We should seek the wisdom of God in all matters, especially in knowing who to trust and what to believe.
Recalibrate: How did you determine as a child who could be trusted? How do you determine that as an adult?
Respond: Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the motives of people.
Research: Read Matthew 7:15-20.
Remember: “To the only wise God, through Jesus the Messiah, to whom be glory to the coming ages! Amen” (Romans 16:27, KNT).
Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).
Paul is warning the Romans against bad people. As your child begins walking and running all over the place, you have to have conversations about how far they can go, what happens if they should ever get lost, and how to distinguish between safe and not-safe adults. Try acting out some scenarios with your child to help them understand which people to stay away from, just as Paul gives us clues on who we should avoid.
Read the Words to Remember out loud. Try to make up a song that includes some of those words. You could even use musical instruments or make your very own instruments with pots, pans, rubber bands, Lego blocks, and other noise-producing items. It can be a really short song or a really long song. When you have your song all ready to go, share it with your family! Ask them if they can play an instrument to accompany your song.
I love technology. So when I was in college and my cherished Macbook crashed, I was devastated. I lost everything on that computer. When my parents found out, they wanted to buy me a new computer. I was working at the time and they were the ones who had bought me that Macbook in the first place. As tempting as it was to say yes to the offer a new computer, I knew that I was working and I could save up money to buy one myself. I made a schedule of when to get my homework done that aligned with the hours of computer labs on campus. The strangest thing started to happen. I realized how much extra time I had. I got my homework completed faster because I was getting it done at libraries or other very quiet places. I was procrastinating less and focusing better. When I realized I had saved up a considerable sum of money, I decided to not buy a laptop at all. And guess what? I made it through for years without a laptop. I cut out a huge distraction from my life and the benefits were amazing. Paul calls us to focus on Jesus. What can you identify as something that distracts you from Him? Maybe it’s the electronic device you may be reading this on. Maybe it’s a certain friendship. It could even be the way you prioritize your activities. Reflect on this today.