Teaching Series
The Judged
Tuesday—Being Judged

Series: The Judged
Message: Being Judged
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jason Calvert
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 2:12-29 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: I was at Christian conference recently and they had invited a solo artist one evening to share her faith experience through poetry and song. She explained how at one point, when her first marriage was crumbling all around her, she ended up in a 12-step program. The very first step was impossible for her. As she pondered on the higher power and what it was, admitting that it was God was incredibly difficult because she had such a horrible image of God that came out of too many negative experiences from others. God was far from her mind.

As I read the paraphrase of our passage for today, I could not help but notice how well Eugene Petersen captured Paul’s emotional state, his angst. Paul was desperate to reverse the negative image of God being portrayed by those who professed to follow Him. I am confident that as Paul wrote this, he was reminding himself of how, not so long before, he too had portrayed a horrible image of God. So when Paul addresses the Jews in his rebuke, he includes himself. The difference, of course, is that Paul was farther along on his journey. At this point, Paul had just announced to the listening Jews that they were all part of a new 12-step program. Of course, none of them had ever thought they needed one. So Paul took time to show them the reasons why they had to join this program. The sooner they could get to the place where they admitted that the higher power was God, and not themselves, the sooner they could be healed. This also means that the false stories that people had about God would start to dissipate over time.

Character assassination is not something only God has had to deal with. It is currently a very difficult problem for many people who face lies about their character. And character defamation is very hard to prove, even through the use of the legal system. This perhaps lends itself to the growing incidence of dishonorable online attacks that some of my friends have experienced as part of a larger cyberbullying issue. God deserves to have His character rightly known—even more than human beings do.

Recalibrate: Whose character has Jesus asked you to defend?

Respond: Pray for the opportunity to speak up for someone else.

Research: What can you do to make your local community safe from bullies?

Remember: “For it is not those who hear the law who are made righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:13, NIV).

Japhet De Oliveira is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, CO, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, Japhet served as a pastor and as youth director in the South England Conference for nine years before moving to the United States. He was director for the Center for Youth Evangelism (CYE), chaplain for missions, and university chaplain at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. Japhet has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Andrews University (Newbold College campus). He has taught youth ministry, coordinated a master’s in youth ministry program, and spearheaded numerous conferences and initiatives. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).

On Sunday, we visited the Bible app for Kids and the story of creation. Read the next story, “The First Sin,” and see what happens when we choose our own way instead of God’s way. God’s “no” is always no and His “yes” is always yes.

Have you heard the saying, “Your words say one thing, but your actions say another”? It’s like the mix-and-match game where you can have the top of an elephant and the bottom of a walrus. While the lines may match up, you can see that it doesn’t look right and if it could make a noise, it would sound weird. Have your words and actions been matching? Know that God’s words and actions always match. His “no” is always no and His “yes” is always yes. Make a list of all the things you know God says “yes” to.

I love baseball. I love the Chicago Cubs. I make my children love the Chicago Cubs (it’s called brainwashing—don’t judge, you’ll do it to your kids too). The reason I love the Chicago Cubs and baseball is because some of my happiest and earliest memories growing up as a little boy are with my mom and dad at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs. The point? There’s a reason why I love the Cubs.

Are you a Christian? Why? Why do you believe what you believe? And, what do you believe, by the way? Paul was a Jew. In fact, he was a Jew who was hyper-zealous about his beliefs. But Paul realized that his faith in Jesus wasn’t because of who he was or what he had done but because of who Jesus is and what He has done. Attending church faithfully doesn’t make someone a Christian any more than eating a banana makes a person a monkey. Being Christian is a work done by the Holy Spirit. When God changes someone on the inside, that person dies to her or his old life and takes up the life of Christ in heart, soul, mind, and strength. The new believer’s heart becomes changed or marked or (should we actually say it? . . .) circumcised.

So, the real question is (according to Paul): What do you actually believe? About God? The Bible? Church? Christians? Seventh-day Adventists? Does your life reflect these beliefs? How could your life start to match your beliefs more? At school? With your friends? When you’re online? With how you spend your time? With your daily choices?

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