As a believer, your love may be tested more by Christians who disagree with you than by unbelievers who persecute you. So what should you do when your brother or sister in the Lord disagrees with you on non-essentials issues?
Paul addresses this in Romans 14. One could say that this chapter is an equal opportunity offender—if you listen close, you will find yourself somewhere in this chapter. This portion of scripture has answers to a lot of the questions that we ask about others, but the answers may not be what we would expect.
Watch our study of Romans 14 as we consider what it looks like to limit our liberties in love.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Our motivation for doing good works isn’t to impress others, gain their admiration, or give us more attention. Our hope is that people would see our good deeds and glorify God.
The good works we do and the obedient behavior we aspire to is not an effort to score points with God or to win friends and influence people. Our participation in good works is a part of what God uses to intrigue the watching world—so that they would wonder why we are the way that we are and ultimately see the Lord.
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul points to many opportunities we have as followers of Jesus to do good works that would draw others to Him. Watch our study of Romans 8:8-14 as we consider how our good deeds can be a segue for others to see the Lord and glorify Him.
One of the benefits of going through the Bible verse by verse is for us to understand the context of each passage. This helps us avoid the mistake of taking a section of Scripture out of context and make it a pretext for something that God never intended to say.
Romans 13 is a great example of why context is important. This past Sunday, we began our study of the first seven verses of this chapter by carefully considering what the Apostle Paul had written just before and just after these verses so we can accurately understand the text.
Watch our study in Romans 13:1-7 as we considered this passage in context to better understand the specific roles and responsibilities the family, the church, and the government have in a healthy society.
Though Romans 12:9-21 is only thirteen verses, it contains approximately thirty practical ways that we can practice being the kind of friend that Jesus has been to us.
At the heart of this passage is Jesus. It’s only through His demonstration of love to us that we are able to learn how to love others, even when we feel we have every right and reason to hate. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
With the love of Christ, we can bless our enemies and love those who treat us poorly. In this second portion of Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to love our enemies with the courage available to us in Christ and reminds us of our purpose to lead our enemies to Jesus.
Watch our study of Romans 12:15-21 and learn how we can overcome evil with good through the love of Jesus.
Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” This past Sunday, we spent our time in God’s word studying this one verse—and what a verse it is!
The command to bless our persecutors is counterintuitive, and yet this is how Christianity has made the most genuine impact in the world. The practice of loving when you feel like you have every right and reason to retaliate can only be accomplished with the same love that Jesus has for us and demonstrated to us.
But the ability to bless instead of curse does not come naturally. It takes time to develop and learn at the feet of Jesus as we pay attention to how He loves us so that we can live and love this way for others.
Watch our study of Romans 12:14 and learn what it looks like to be a good friend to those to treat you like an enemy.
Romans 12:9-21 contains approximately 30 exhortations and applications—practical ways we can practice being the kind of friend to others that Jesus has been to us.
This past Sunday, we looked at just 5 verses of that portion of the text and contemplated the depth of love that Christ’s expresses in His friendship with us. He has demonstrated His love for us by laying down His life for us—and we are encouraged to do the same for our brothers and sisters.
Watch our study of Romans 12:9-13 as we learned what a good friend we have in Jesus, then considered how we can be that kind of a friend to those around us.
Romans 12:3-8 – “Love your neighbor.”
When we cooperate with God’s work that He began in us, He leads us toward true maturity. As this begins and continues, something happens within us—we begin to become a bit uncomfortable with always receiving the good things God gives us.
As we worship Him and are blessed by Him, our hearts continue to fill up until we find ourselves responding to God’s love by loving those around us with the very love that He has given us.
This is all part of His plan to mature and strengthen us, and it’s what we considered as we continued our study in Romans 12:3-8. Watch our study from Sunday as we studied what it means to love those around us with the gifts that God has given us.
Many letters written by the Apostle Paul follow a similar trajectory. He opens with doctrine (explaining who we are in Jesus) and ends with application (defining how we are to live in light of our identity in Jesus).
In most letters, you can almost draw a line in the middle at the transition from doctrine to application. Paul follows a similar pattern in Romans, but apparently he had a little more doctrine than application in Romans. The transition from doctrine to application isn’t exactly in the middle—but that doesn’t make the application any less intense.
This past Sunday, we considered just the first two verses of Romans 12 as we transitioned from doctrine to application in the letter to the Romans. Watch our study as we ask two questions of the Lord: Who are you? What do You want me to do?
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul provides examples and evidence from scripture that demonstrate that God is not done with Israel. He has not rejected His covenant people. God still has a plan for them.
But before Paul gets into that, he makes an emphatic and enlightening statement about how we are saved: salvation is either all by your own works, or all by God’s amazing grace.
Romans 11 is full of the goodness and severity of our God. Watch our study of this chapter and marvel at the way God has extended His invitation of salvation to those outside of Israel.
Vision Sunday 2023
On the first Sunday of every year, we review the history, vision, purpose, and practice of Refuge so that we can confidently answer these questions: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What does it look like?
We turn to the Bible to find the answers to those important questions so we can understand God’s vision for His church.
The birth story of Jesus in the Gospel of John isn’t easy to find. Unlike Matthew, there’s no list of names. Unlike Luke, there’s no heavenly host addressing shepherds. That’s because John highlighted the deity of Jesus—how Jesus is God.
So we need to rethink what a birth story would look like for God. Where did God come from? What is God’s history? What is God’s heritage?
On Christmas Eve, we considered these questions as we looked at the first chapter of the Gospel of John—where we find the birth story of Jesus, who is God. Watch and marvel at the wonder of the Infinite becoming infant, the Maker becoming man—Immanuel, God with us!
Luke 2:1-20 – “The sinner's Savior…”
We’ve paused our study in Romans to consider the birth of our Savior and study the true story of how Jesus made His entrance into our world. Last week, we looked at the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew. This past Sunday, we looked at the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 2 may be a familiar text. But as we work and worship our way through the word from God that never changes, by the power of the Holy Spirit we will change as we preserve, ponder, and proclaim the indescribable gift of God’s Son! Watch our study of Luke 2:1-20 as we consider Jesus—the sinner’s Savior.
On Christmas Eve (4pm this Saturday), we’ll look at how the Gospel of John records Jesus’ entrance into our world. Read ahead and do some digging—the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of John might not be immediately apparent.
Matthew 1 – Irrefutable Proof
The Christmas season is upon us! It’s a time we choose to set aside to ponder and proclaim that “…unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
For the next few weeks, we will take time to pause and consider the coming of our Savior Jesus—reflecting on the account of His birth and the significance of the greatest gift that God has ever given.
Three of the four Gospels have detailed accounts of the birth of Jesus. This week, we considered the account recorded in Matthew 1. Next week (12/18), we will look at Luke’s account. And then on Christmas Eve, we will look at The Gospel of John. Read ahead!
God is not done with the nation of Israel. His promises to Israel are to Israel, and He will be faithful to fulfill those promises. God is still stretching out His hands to His covenant people, longing for them to come to Him.
We see that throughout Israel’s history. Even if the majority were functioning in unbelief, there was always a faithful remnant who believed.
Paul points to the prophet Elijah as one of these faithful, but even Elijah struggled at times with discouragement and frustration in his ministry. Why? Watch our study in Romans 11:1-5 as we consider the danger of relying upon feelings rather than the facts of God’s word.
Romans 10:14-21 – Broadcast…The Word!
In Romans 10:21, the Apostle Paul quotes the Prophet Isaiah, who records the word of the Lord: “All day long, I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” Israel didn’t believe that God was going to follow through with what He said He would do if they turned away from Him and were unwilling to repent. They had misinterpreted God’s patience for permission to sin.
So God sent prophet after prophet with the same message: “I am serious—if you will not repent, I cannot relent in bringing the judgment I promised.” After 490 years of pleading with His people to repent, God brought the judgment He said would come if His people walked away from Him.
He says the same to us, expect the judgment that awaits us is more severe than a 70 year exile in a foreign country. The judgement that awaits us if we refuse to repent is eternal. And so, the same God who sent the prophets to plead with His people in the past is the same God who sends preachers to us today to plead with us to repent so that He could relent in bringing eternal judgment.
The public proclamation of God’s word is important. Watch our study of Romans 10:14-21 as we considered the vital role preaching has in our times of gathering.
Romans 10:1-13 – “Lord…I…believe.”
The Apostle Paul was a passionate person. He loved his brethren, his countrymen, his family according to the flesh—and wanted them to be saved.
His passion and emotion for his brethren was so intense that he was willing to be cut off from Christ if that meant that they could be saved. Even though this desire was deep in his heart, in his head he knew that this wasn’t possible. The Messiah—Jesus of Nazareth—had already given His life to them and they had every opportunity to be saved!
In Romans 10, Paul begins to process why his family according to the flesh have yet to yield to Jesus to be saved. Watch our study of Romans 10:1-13 as we unpack Paul’s heart and head for those he loved who weren’t saved—and what we can learn as we consider those in our lives who have yet to yield to Christ.
Romans 9:14-33 – Whosoever
There’s a faulty assumption about God that presumes He is obliged to have mercy on everyone. This assumption objects to anything that runs contrary to God automatically being merciful to all people in all places at all times.
But as we’ve been learning in Romans 9, God chooses to be merciful. He isn’t required to show mercy, and yet very often He does. Because He chooses to show mercy, there are times when He chooses not to be merciful. Sometimes God, as a just judge, does not show mercy. Sometimes He allows someone to experience the consequences of their actions. Sometimes He allows a person experience the just judgement for their sins.
That is His choice. That should terrify us and incentivize us to figure out why and when and with whom God make these choices. We should want to learn how we can be in His good graces and how we can be in the middle of His merciful choices. Because, after all, it’s His choice.
Watch our study of Romans 9:14-33 as we consider who God chooses have mercy upon, and how He chooses to have mercy upon whosoever chooses Him.
Romans 9:6-13 – God's Merciful Choice
In Romans 9, the Apostle Paul writes about his desire for his family—his fellow Israelites—to be saved from an eternity of paying the just penalty for their sin. But they are missing the key component—Jesus, The Messiah who ends all self-righteous pursuits by offering His righteousness as a gift.
This is important to understand as we work our way through Romans 9, 10, and 11 as Paul deals directly with the past, present, and future of his family—the Jewish people. He loves his own people enough to be willing to be cursed if that meant they could be saved. And while Paul acknowledges their zeal and enthusiasm to honor God, it won't bring about righteousness by following the law.
That’s because everyone has sinned and has fallen short of God’s holy standard. Everyone—whether Jew or Gentile—needs salvation. The only source of salvation offered to all of humanity is found in a flawless, sinless, substitutionary sacrifice who can take our place—Jesus, The Messiah.
Watch our study from Romans 9:6-13 as we discovered the importance of receiving Jesus and whom God has chosen to give His great gift of salvation.
Romans 9:4-5 – Woven in Within
At the beginning of Romans 9, the Apostle Paul expresses great sorrow and continual grief for his fellow Jewish brothers and sisters. This week, we further explored the reasons why he experienced such deep emotions.
Paul knew that the Jewish people have so much evidence of God’s existence. No other people group has maintained their national identity, religion, culture, cuisine, and language for as long as the Jewish people have. All of this was woven in within the history and regular rhythms of daily life for the Jewish people.
Also woven in within this heritage is the evidence of the validity of Jesus being who He said He was—the long-awaited Messiah. For all of what was entrusted to the Jewish people for all of their existence was to point to Jesus. And that is what prompted Paul to feel great sorrow and continual grief—the realization that many of his Jewish countrymen were lost without Jesus.
Watch our study of Romans 9:4-5 as we considered the great heritage of the Jewish people and the great hope that is offered through Jesus.
Romans 9:1-3 – “For…I could wish…”
Last week, we finished Romans 8, where the Apostle Paul described the highest heights of our eternal condition in Christ. Those eight chapters led us up to a mountaintop of truth…and in the next sentence, Paul immediately brings us into a deep valley of grief and sorrow.
What could possibly pull Paul off that mountain top and plop him into a valley of grief and sorrow? How could the assurance of nothing ever separating us from God’s love lead Paul (in the very next sentence) to confess the “great sorrow and continual grief” in his heart?
The answer…is something we discovered this past Sunday as we began Romans 9. Watch our study as we learned about Paul’s realization for those who aren’t in Christ, how we share that sorrow and grief, and—most importantly—what our response should be!
*Due to some technical difficulties, the audio drops out around 28 minutes into the message, but comes back about a minute later.
In the last portion of Romans 8, the Apostle Paul gets inquisitive. In just six verses, he asks seven questions. But the questions he asks aren’t because he’s curious. He asks them with the aim of producing an effect rather than eliciting information.
They are good questions to ask and for us to consider—especially in light of the clear and compelling, layered and logical argument Paul has been making since the beginning of his letter. The question marks in this section are answered with a resounding exclamation point as Paul draws the immutable conclusion that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love!
Watch our study from Sunday as we slowly and carefully considered the eternal truths at the end of Romans 8.
There are a finite number of days until we are with Jesus in Heaven—forever! Until then, we lift up our heads and stand on our toes looking for and eagerly awaiting what is to come. As we wait, we have the hope of Jesus and Heaven in our hearts.
And yet…this time of waiting can seem unbearable and difficult, can’t it? At times, we find we don’t know what we should be praying for. We have the hope, but is there help?
YES! There is help from a Helper—the only Helper who helps us in so many ways. The Apostle Paul knew of the difficulties in this time of waiting. He also knew of the help that God offers us.
Watch our study from this past Sunday as we considered Romans 8:26-30 and the many ways the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.
There is a longing and hoping among believers in Jesus as we wait for the person and the place for which we were made. This time we’re waiting in now can be so disorienting, frustrating, and non-fulfilling that we find ourselves groaning for Him and His Kingdom.
But this isn’t by accident. Scripture tells us that creation was subjected to frustration by God on purpose in hopes that we would long and look for someone and something—the Person and the Place we were truly made for.
Between seasons of frustration and groans, we get little glimpses of what’s to come. It’s those glimpses that help us keep looking up and looking ahead to that Person and that Place. Watch our study of Romans 8:18-25 from this past Sunday as we considered the person (Jesus) and the place (Heaven) for which we were made.
Romans 8:17 – “I long to know…Christ"
Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
In previous studies, we’ve learned how we can become a part of God’s family by grace through faith. So what does it mean that we “suffer with Him”? Must we experience persecution in order to belong to His family? Or is there more to this idea of suffering than meets the eye?
This past Sunday, we slowly studied just one verse—Romans 8:17—as we carefully considered what it means to suffer with Christ. Watch our study and take time to think about what emotions God experiences.
Romans 8:7-17 – Sow…to the Spirit
Sowing and reaping are real things. One small seed sown can, in time, produce thousands more seeds. This principle has spiritual applications. The content we consume is seed. If that seed feeds our flesh, then we are sowing to the flesh. If it is seed that feeds our spirit, then we are sowing to the Spirit.
It’s important to remember that there is a delay between sowing and reaping. The Apostle Paul knew this, and encourages us to not grow weary of sowing to the spirit for in due season we will reap if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
After a season of sowing, you may find a harvest of right living and the fruit of the Spirit in your life. But the presence of that fruit doesn’t mean we should stop sowing to the Spirit! It’s a continual process of sowing and reaping.
This past Sunday, we continued looking at Romans 8 as we considered the importance of sowing to the Spirit.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends
Strengthened by grace is the Bible Teaching ministry of Pastor Dominic Dinger.
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