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 New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: There are people who live to cause divisions and problems. I am serious. I have met them. They appear to exist only to be malicious.
Let me start with a little backstory. I love luggage. By luggage, I mean bags of all sizes. Sleeves, laptop bags, rollers, full-size suitcases. While I do not generally like to shop, I enjoy stopping at an airport luggage shop and testing how every roller slides along the ground containing different amounts of weight. Having travelled a fair amount, I am deeply pleased that some of my luggage has survived over half a million miles and is still performing according to purpose—keeping all my items in one place—in spite of being abused by baggage handlers. (If you are a baggage handler who really cares about luggage, please accept my apology.) Kickstarter is a great place to see some innovative luggage ideas, so I sometimes browse through the new ideas. Wow! It turns out it is also a place rife with individuals who simply want to cause divisions and problems. The other day, I came across a comment by an individual who kept on repeating his attack against against a certain project. Eventually he admitted that he had only backed the project to gain the right to make malicious comments on the comment board! Seriously! He was willing to spend money in order to attack someone. Think about that!
People attack all the time. Their motive to tear down your school, your company, your family, your Church, your friendship—is driven by anger. It is driven by an evil agenda. Jesus understood this when He was preparing the disciples to go out and share the Gospel. His counsel in Matthew 10 is as follows:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Recalibrate: What can you do with people who work actively against you? Those who do so privately and publicly?
Respond: Pray for a spirit of understanding.
Research: How do you contrast the appeal to be a blessing with the counsel in Matthew 10:14?
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).
Kids are more likely to push or hit another kid when they are upset with them. As adults, most of us have learned to not behave this way. (We sometimes find other, non-physical, ways to push and shove those we don’t like.) As good grown-ups do, we tell our kids not to hurt others and hope that they will obey. Paul is so happy at the obedience of the Romans. Do you have any “house rules?” Take some time to talk them over with your child. Why are they important?
Paul says in Romans 16:19, “All the believers have heard that you obey. So I am very happy because of you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” Do you think you know the difference between good things and bad things? Play a game with someone you know today. Take turns sharing a story about something someone did, and then the other person says if that was a good thing or a bad thing. For example: Tom brought three cookies to school for lunch and when he wasn’t looking, Dave stole a half a cookie. Good or bad?
Have clicked on an article or video on the Internet because the title drew you in immediately? You’ve probably heard of the word “clickbait.” Clickbait is a title that is just too tempting—most people will click it. You can end up the victim of clickbait when you later realize the article or video isn’t true or really connected to the title; the author just used the title to make it irresistible. I recently heard a podcast interview with the creators of an extremely successful news website that seems to have mastered the art of clickbait. The creators shared what made them successful: the angrier people got at the title of the articles, the more likely they were to click on them. Better yet, if a title stirred up drama between groups of people it was more likely to be shared on social media. The news website has made millions of dollars from this and they have no plans to stop. The creators claim that people like getting angry. Do you think they are causing divisions between people? They don’t think so. They argue that we are already divided. This may be true; we are all divided in some way. It’s part of human nature. The beauty of our calling is that we are able to unite because we share the love of Jesus.