Unified Code of Military Justice, article 134

The Crime of Passion

Jeffrey Sinclair was a brigadier general in the US army, having served for 27 years. He is married (at least in late March he still was). He was accused of sexual assault but pled guilty to lesser crimes in his deal. He admitted to committing adultery, which is a crime in the military. I pray that Mr. Sinclair can and will restore his relationship with his wife. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

A crime in the military. I certainly do not know if adultery among active duty soldiers is any higher than among the civilian population. But, I did want to know why the military considers it a crime and can prosecute with a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay, and imprisonment up to a year (according to the Unified Code of Military Justice, article 134).

Why? The bottom line is one of trust. Think about King David. When he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he sent her husband, one of his own leading commanders, to the front lines, to his death. How can you trust a man who is not faithful to his own spouse?

Without trying to make any political statement, President Clinton disqualified himself, it is my conviction, from being President of the United States when he admitted to being unfaithful to Hillary. If he lies to his own wife (presuming she did not know about the relationship), how can I ever be sure he is not lying to me? How can I trust his leadership as President if his wife can’t trust him?

Any group of people, in any social relationship, cannot exist peacefully without a foundation of trust. If I shake your hand, how do I know that when I turn my back, you won’t plunge a dagger into me? Trust.

Driving down the road, we put our trust in other drivers. That they will reasonably obey the speed limit. That they will reasonably respect distances between cars. That they will reasonably respect the limits of the lanes. When people fail to respect those limits – when they become untrustworthy – accidents happen and death results.

Trust. The military outlaws adultery because it is not conducive to good order and discipline. It destroys the trust factor, the foundation on which social relationships can grow and thrive.

Fundamentally, it strikes at the very nature of God. If God is anything, He is trustworthy. In 2 Timothy 2:13, Paul says that God is “faithful.” That is, trustworthy. The Scriptures are full of references to God’s words being trustworthy: Psalm 93:5; 111:7; 1 Timothy 1:15; Revelation 21:5. God says, “I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

Let each of us be trustworthy in all of our relationships – including marriage. It is the glue that holds relationships together.

–Paul Holland

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he Myths of Happiness, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky

Where are the Children?

    In The Myths of Happiness, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky discusses our expectations and how we sometimes expect long-term happiness in unrealistic ways. In chapter three, she discusses how people have unrealistic expectations of happiness, once you have children.

“Having children is costly, exhausting, stressful, and emotionally draining… Furthermore, marital satisfaction soars after the last child leaves the home. …parents are less happy. For example, in one oft-cited study, working mothers… judged taking care of their children as only slightly more enjoyable than commuting and housework” (pg 85).

Okay, so some people (women, primarily) do not find parenthood particularly enjoyable. But – that statement comes with an asterisk. Actually, if you are: female, young, unmarried, and unemployed and if your children are “very young or adolescent, step, or troubled” – parenthood makes you less happy and less satisfied with your life and your partner.

That is a “duh” moment. Einstein said, “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” (unfortunately, too often at tax payer expense!). Everyone knows that God designed children to be produced through the union of both a man and a woman. But it is also true that children need to be trained and disciplined by both a man and a woman. The father’s psyche is different from the mother’s psyche and both contribute to the overall health and growth and mental development of both the son and the daughter.

But parenthood does require sacrifice and far too many parents bring children into the world without first counting that cost. If someone does not like getting up at 3:00 AM to feed or change a diaper, he better hope his wife gives birth to a five-year old!

Lyubomirsky writes that the down-side of parenthood is that “you must say goodbye to risky adventures, spontaneous intimacies, and spur-of-the moment opportunities” (86). I suspect that most of us Christian parents would argue with that to some degree. Children change the situation at home, it is true. But the tradeoffs – with disciplined children – far exceed what you have to give up. The Bible teaches us how to discipline our children so that they are not a headache to rear.

Lyubomirsky writes, “we may benefit by focusing on what our children impart to us that may not be captured by the question, ‘Are you happy?’” The bottom line is that parents who spend time with their children – both teaching and having fun – find greater meaning in life. “Indeed, 94 percent agree that, despite the heavy costs, the rewards of being a parent are worth it” (87). At the same time, “the regret of not having had children, or not having had more children, is a prevalent one.”

So, the Bible – Christianity – teaches us how to be parents and how to be good parents. Christian parents are not surprised that parenting takes a lot of time and they do not grudgingly give up their own time because they realize they are blessed by God to have children, that children are a gift from God (Psa. 127:3).

Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3 apply to parents as much as any relationship: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

Christianity, as it is, is adapted to man, as he is.

–Paul Holland

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Remove the dross of our sin

Trial by Fire – Malachi 3:1-3

Malachi preached around the time, if not contemporaneous with, Nehemiah. The temple worship had been restored. But, many Jews had married non-believers, in clear violation of the law of Moses. Many Jews were also not giving as they should have. So, Malachi is supporting through his preaching the reforms of Nehemiah.

Some of the Jews were skeptical that God really cared for them. They had spent 70 years in exile. Many of them had died in Babylon. Now they were questioning God’s nature – “Where is the God of justice?” (2:17). God answers that question by predicting that someone would come who would “purify” the nation of Israel. A messenger would be sent who would prepare the nation for Him. The messenger, of course, was John the baptizer and the one whom they would seek was the Messiah.

But the one whom they desired would not come as they would expect. He would not tickle their ears and flatter with his lips. But, he would put their practices to the test, a test of truth (Matt. 3:10-12).

Let us take a closer look at this passage and, as always, ask ourselves what message is there for us today in 21st century America.

THE WORK OF A REFINER:

Refining is the process of heating metal until it is purified of dross.    The refiner is pictured as sitting before the crucible, with his eye on the metal, regulating the heat to the appropriate temperature. Sometimes, he needs to increase the heat. But, he will not use any more heat than is necessary.

CHRIST AS THE PURIFIER:

Jesus is the Great Purifier. His mission is to separate the righteous from the unrighteous. To put it in other words, he came to save people from their sins (Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10).

Man is made in the image of God and, therefore, is worth saving. But sin is the dross that must be removed. We must be cleansed from our lives (Matt. 16:26; Rom. 3:10, 23).

What Malachi has in mind is that God would bring affliction on his people until their sinful impurities disappeared and the Divine image is reflected on their soul (2 Cor. 3:18; Job 23:10; Gala. 4:19).

THE LORD’S PROCESS AT WORK:

Christ’s work of purifying removes the dross of our sin, makes us holy, and prepares us for service to Him while we are on earth and makes us fit for the eternal inheritance in heaven – Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 4:12, 13.

We often do not like this process of purifying because we misunderstand the nature of the fire. Fire does not destroy the gold. It destroys the dross. James 1:2-8; Hebrews 12:4-13.

Christ has provided for our cleansing – 1 Peter 1:22-25. What remains yet is for us to submit to His teaching and “purify ourselves even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

–Paul Holland

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Psalm 9:1

Passion for God

A young man was on his way home late one night when he decided to take a short cut through the cemetery. He fell into an open grave. He called and tried to climb out but it was no use. No one was around to hear him or help. So, he settled down for the night in a corner of the dark grave to wait until morning.

A little while later, another person came the same route through the cemetery and fell into the same open grave. He also tried clawing and shouting, trying to get out. Suddenly, this fellow heard a voice out of the corner – “You can’t get out of here – “ but he did!

PASSION NEEDS TO BE DIRECTED TOWARD GOD:

Numbers 25. God commanded the death penalty for those who were engaged in this idolatrous worship (vs 4). There is a clear example of defiance in verse 6 when an Israelite brings a Midianite woman into his tent even as the rest of Israel is weeping over the death of their family and friends. Phineas, a son of Aaron, took a spear and went into the man’s tent and pierced them through, both the man and the woman.

God commends Phineas for, what we would call “zeal” – God calls it “jealousy” in verse 11.

We need to be passionate, zealous for our service to God. In Romans 12:11, Paul says we should “not be lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” “Heartily” translates the phrase, “from the soul.”

PASSION NEEDS TO BE ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE:

Zeal without knowledge. The word “diligence” in Romans 12:11 is “spoude.” Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

So we need to be passionate, but guided by knowledge of God’s word. That was both the strength and the weakness of brother Apollos, in Acts 18. Ultimately, it was a serious problem for the Jews as a whole (Romans 10:2).

HOW TO LIVE PASSIONATELY FOR GOD:

1. Know God, first. Meditate on the nature of God.

2. Know God’s will (Exodus 15:26).

3. Perform your work with devotion and energy (Proverbs 10:4; 12:27; Ecclesiastes 9:10; James 2:26).

4. Find support and encouragement in friends. Galatians 6:2. Hebrews 10:25.

5. Realize that God designed you in His image. You have a unique set of skills, personality traits, and interests. You have within you the power to accomplish what God designed you to do.

Serve God with passion.

–Paul Holland

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Errors about baptism

“Ritualistic and Old Age Baptism”

1.    Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36; end of Acts 10; Acts 16:33; 18:8; 19:5.
2.    In the first century, people did not wait to be baptized!
a)    If we look at church history, this is not what we find.
b)    Close to the first century two fairly errors emerged.
2)    One of these errors involved what might be called a ritualistic ceremony.
3)    Bishops and their assistants would hold special baptismal ceremonies twice a year.
4)    These “special baptismal ceremonies” this apostasy led to some other errors.
a)    People thought the water used for baptism had some type of magical power.
b)    Today “holy water” may be used.
5)    In Rom. 6 Paul pointed out how Jesus died on the cross and we must “die to sin”(repent).
6)    Jesus was “buried” after He died and Rom. 6 says we are “buried” in baptism (this is why baptism is an immersion).
7)    Jesus was raised from the dead.
8)    Paul said those who are properly baptized are also “raised” (they have “newness of life,” Rom. 6:4).
9)    In addition to claiming the water had magical power, people had to go through a long process before being baptized.
a)    Rev. 21-22 – “gates.”
b)    What need will there be for “gates” in heaven?
c)    When it comes to the church, the image of a “gate” is fitting.
d)    People “enter the gate” by coming through Christ.
10)    John described the New Testament church (Rev. 21:25) as having “gates do not shut.”
11)    Before being baptized people would “renounce the devil.”  Col. 1:12-13.

THERE IS ALMOST NO END TO THE DEPARTURES FROM GOD’S WORD THAT WE READ ABOUT IN THE PAST AND STILL FIND IN OUR TIME.

a)    Tertullian – a strong advocate for delaying baptism.
b)    This man argued baptism should be delayed – wait to right before death.

2)    We should ask “How are sins forgiven after a person has been baptized”?
a)    Acts 8:13 – READ
b)    Verses 18-21 – READ
c)    Verse 22 – READ
3)    Tertullian may have had good intentions about delaying baptism, but he was wrong.
4)    Tertullian was also wrong on another point.
a)    He thought obedience to God should be delayed.
b)    Many want to love and serve God, but their desire is based on “some day” rather than today (now).

5)    The devil tells us “some day” will be a good time to obey God.
6)    The Bible says  NOW is the “day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
a)    Heb. 3:7
b)    Heb. 3:13
c)    Heb. 3:15
d)    Jas. 4:14

Are we delaying our obedience to God in some way?

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No moral guidance in our public schools

The God-Kind of Wisdom – James 3:13
Years ago, not long after the Watergate scandal, the president of the University of Minnesota spoke to the graduating class of Notre Dame. He told them that nearly every offender in the Watergate scandal was a graduate of an Ivy-League school like Harvard. Then he asked them this question, “Where did we go wrong?”

Then he answered that question – “The sad fact is that there is no moral guidance anywhere in our public schools from kindergarten up to high school. The fear of contamination by religion is so great that there is no place in our schools for teaching what is right or wrong.”
Where do you get moral wisdom? In teaching how to control our tongues, in James 3, James gives us an idea of what the God-Kind of Wisdom looks like. Our thoughts are based on verse 17.

The God-Kind of Wisdom is – “from above” – “Without a closeness to God, any claim to wisdom is mistaken, untrue, and deceptive” (Roper, 73):

Pure – “clean in all respects” (Lenski, 618).
Jesus illustrates “pure” wisdom when He refuses to compromise the truth to save His life.
How can your behavior exhibit “pure” wisdom? In all your actions at home and at work, keep in mind God’s expectations of you. Don’t just react. Act under the guidance and knowledge of God’s word.

Peaceable – “it never starts quarrels, strife, dissension, and turbulence” (Lenski, 618).
Jesus illustrates “peaceable” wisdom when His apostles were arguing over who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:1-3).
How can your behavior exhibit “peaceable” wisdom? When you have a disagreement with your spouse, boss, or co-worker – and disagreements will come – de-escalate the conflict by humbly trying to see the disagreement from the other person’s perspective.

Gentle – “yielding toward inferiors, not insisting on strict rights” (Lenski, 618).
Jesus illustrates “gentle” wisdom at His trial before Annas (John 18:23).
How can your behavior exhibit “gentle” wisdom? When it is possible, yield to the desires of those who are below you. Listen to them.

Reasonable – “obedient” [submissive, NIV; sensible, CEV; open to reason, ESV] relative to superiors; we need to have an “open mind and an open heart” (Roper, 74).
Jesus illustrates “reasonable” wisdom when He states in John 8:29 that He always did the things that are pleasing to the Father.
How can your behavior exhibit “reasonable” wisdom? Be open to the criticisms of others – even your children, your boss, your friends.

Full of mercy – Jesus is merciful, healing the blind men in Matthew 9 and the ten lepers in Luke 17.
How can your behavior exhibit “merciful” wisdom? Be responsive to those around you who need help.

Good fruits – When Peter preaches to Cornelius in Acts 10, he tells Cornelius that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (10:38).
How can your behavior exhibit “good-fruit” wisdom? Don’t just listen to other peoples’ problems. Offer to help. Give of your time, your energy, your finances.

Unwavering – 1:6; 2:4; [impartial, NIV];
Jesus illustrated impartial wisdom, when He ate with the Pharisees in Luke 7 and taught the Pharisee what God expected out of him and with the sinners in Matthew 9 and taught them they needed to repent.
How can your behavior exhibit “impartial” wisdom? Even if the image of Christ is not found in everyone around you, the image of God is. Treat others as if they are a potential brother or sister in Christ.

Without hypocrisy – Jesus illustrates “non-hypocritical” wisdom when He blesses non-Jews in an age when non-Jews were considered beyond the reach of the mercy of God – Matthew 8:5-13.
How can your behavior exhibit “non-hypocritical” wisdom? Let our behavior during the week reflect what we profess to believe when we are in worship on Sunday. Our lives through the week need to reflect that same doctrine, that same belief.

Let us develop the “God-Kind” of wisdom in our relationships at home, work, and in the church.
 

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Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich

Sometimes the ones who cry for tolerance and acceptance can be most lacking in the qualities themselves.  Surprisingly little has been said in outcry against the forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich on April 3, 2014. Eich not only co-founded Mozilla, he also invented the programming language Javascript (www.huffingtonpost.com). He had proven his professional aptitude to hold this position.

Before being forced out as CEO, Eich had stated in an interview with technology news service Cnet, “I don’t think it’s good for my integrity or Mozilla’s integrity to be pressured into changing a position. If Mozilla became more exclusive and required more litmus tests, I think that would be a mistake that would lead to a much smaller Mozilla, a much more fragmented Mozilla” (Foxnews.com). He also told them, “If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness, where you can work on the mission no matter what your background or other beliefs, I think we’ll probably fail” (ibid.).  He was referring to his widely known opposition to same sex marriage and more specifically a $1000 donation to the campaign to support Proposition 8 in California back in 2008.  This proposition, which over 7 million fellow-Californians voted for and which passed, was a state constitutional amendment to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry.  It was overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

It raises the question of what homosexual activists really want.  Is it merely acceptance and validation or forced approval?  If one can lose his job for stating a conviction against that lifestyle, does this suggest a move against the rights of anyone who wishes to articulate belief in the biblical view that homosexuality is a sin?  Could this foreshadow a time when those in churches preaching against the practice of homosexuality could lose their property, freedom, or worse?

On November 9-10, 1938, German stormtroopers and non-Jewish civilians, under pretense of an assassination in Paris of a German diplomat by a Jew, led an organized effort against the Jews in an event that came to be known as Kritallnacht or “The Night Of Broken Glass.” The official United States Holocaust Memorial Museum writes,

The rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues, many of them burned in full view of firefighters and the German public and looted more than 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses and other commercial establishments. Jewish cemeteries became a particular object of desecration in many regions. Almost 100 Jewish residents in Germany lost their lives in the violence. In the weeks that followed, the German government promulgated dozens of laws and decrees designed to deprive Jews of their property and of their means of livelihood even as the intensification of government persecution sought to force Jews from public life and force their emigration from the country (http://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/kristallnacht).

It has been said that in our supposed age of tolerance people have the right to say and do just about anything.  Just about any fringe group can hold the most outlandish views and do so publicly.  It is unacceptable to discriminate against one for almost any reason.  However, the right to stand upon Christian principles, originating in Scripture, is eroding. To discriminate against Christian beliefs is growing in acceptance.  That’s not meant as alarmism or as an expression of a martyr complex.  But, reading the New Testament, we know that Christians faced persecution simply for believing and sharing God’s Word.  May God ever give us the courage and willingness to stand upon the rock solid foundation of Scripture.  No matter what.

–Neal Pollard

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Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me

God Loves the City

Babel. Sodom. Jericho. Jerusalem. Nineveh. Tyre. Sidon. Bethsaida. Capernaum. Athens. Rome. Ephesus. Philippi. Colossae.

God loves the city. The human race is propogating at a rate that, by the year 2600, there will be one human for every 1 square yard of space. I hope you are not claustrophobic!

There are a lot of advantages to the city life – cultural opportunities, stronger educational opportunities, better utilities, greater access to health care.

There are a lot of disadvantages to the city life as well – loneliness, crime, drugs, disease, the disintegration of the family.

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). After Jonah spent some time in a the fish’s belly, God again tells him, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So, Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:2-4).  Following the repentance of the Ninevites, God tells Jonah, “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (4:11).

The world is becoming more and more urbanized. Mega-cities are becoming more and more “mega.” But God still loves the city. The city illustrates man’s ambitions but nearly every skyline also has the shadow of a steeple, a cross guiding the way above.

In the beloved song “America the Beautiful,” there is a verse with which we are not so very familiar. “Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears… America! America! God mend thine every flaw; Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”  God loves the city.

Roger Greenway wrote: “Our fathers stayed their minds on Thee; in village, farm, and plain. Help us, their crowded, harried kin, no less Thy peace to claim. Give us to know that Thou doest love, each soul that Thou hast made, that size does not diminish grace, nor concrete hide Thy gaze.” God loves the city.

In Luke 19:41, Luke writes that as Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem, He “saw the city, he wept over it.” A city is full of statistics but when the Lord sees it, He sees a face, a name; He feels a life.

Abraham “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Many love to move out of the city and return to the country-side of life – clean air, quiet, simplicity. Abraham was looking forward to moving to the city – the city of God.

God uses agricultural metaphors to describe His people – flock, vineyard. But He does not describe heaven as a farm. He does, however, describe it as a city: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Revelation 22:12-14).

God loves the city. May we do so as well.

Paul Holland

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Free introduction to the book of Isaiah

The following PowerPoint files by Dr. Tommy South offer a great introduction to the Old Testament books of Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Free introduction to the book of Isaiah

Free introduction to the book of Jeremiah

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How to determine God’s will

Paul & the Romans: A Case Study in Seeking God’s Will

Romans is one of only two of Paul’s letters written to churches that he did not establish personally & which he had never visited (the other is Colossians, see 1:3-8). At both the beginning & end of Romans, he discusses his desire to visit the church in Rome. In both places he mentions “God’s will,” & whether or not His will might permit Paul to come to Rome.

A. Romans 1:8-15. “. . . asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.”

B. Romans 15:22-33. “. . . so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy & be refreshed in your company.”

C. It is evident in both texts that Paul is uncertain what God’s will is. So how did he plan to find out? These two texts reveal 4 Principles by which Paul sought God’s will in this matter. These principles should be instructive for us as well.

1. Priorities. Paul had certain spiritual priorities by which he sought to do God’s will:

A. Romans 1: The desire to impart spiritual gifts, to preach the gospel, & to encourage & be encouraged by the Romans (vs. 11-12).

B. Romans 15: The need to take relief to the suffering believers in Jerusalem, to evangelize in new territory (Spain) where the gospel had not been proclaimed, & to see the Romans on his way to Spain (vs. 20-29).

C. Paul’s priorities were clear: they involved the gospel & its proclamation & the giving of aid to Christians in need. He wanted to visit the Romans, but that desire had to be fitted around his already-established priorities.

D. As we seek God’s will & make our life-plans, we need to put our spiritual priorities first, & then fit other things in around those, rather than sacrificing spiritual priorities in order carry out our plans.

(1) Example: marriage. Is this person someone who will help me serve God throughout this life & help me toward my goal of heaven? Are this person’s priorities the same as mine?
(2) Our priorities need to be very clear, or else our decision-making will always be badly confused.   Our priorities give us anchor points from which to make decisions & plans which bring glory to God.

2. Plans. In both texts Paul mentions his plans & his desire to visit Rome. His example shows that it is entirely appropriate & right for Christians to make plans (contrary to the thinking of those who advocate just “waiting to see what happens”). See James 4:13ff, where the problem isn’t with making plans, but with making them in a worldly way, without acknowledging that God may have other ideas.

A. Note that Paul didn’t know God’s will in advance of making his plans. Like us, he used wisdom from God & good judgment; if God had other plans in mind, he knew he would see that & adjust accordingly.

B. We shouldn’t be paralyzed by the fear of “needing to know God’s will” prior to making any plans. This fear can keep us from moving forward & accomplishing good things for the kingdom.

3. Prayer. Rom. 1:9-10 shows that Paul prayed for that which he desired:  to be able to visit the Romans.

A. It’s always appropriate to pray for what we desire, as long as we aren’t clearly being selfish in our prayers -  James 4:2-3. If our prayer is inappropriate & we are sincerely praying for God’s will to be done in our lives, He will take care of the outcome. But we are taught to be bold in our prayers (Philippians 4:6).

B. Again, Paul didn’t claim to know God’s will; he only hoped that it allowed him to visit Rome.

C. Did God have a “specific will” for Paul in this matter? Paul speaks as if he didn’t know. We don’t always know either. So we should go ahead & plan & pray, but do so humbly & reverently (James 4:15).

4. Perseverance. According to Romans 1:13 & 15:22, Paul had planned several times to come to Rome, but says he was “often hindered” from doing so. That is, his plans had failed – repeatedly!

A. However, Paul didn’t take this as some sort of “sign” that he was on the wrong track in wanting to go to Rome. Rather, he kept trying, in keeping with his established priorities, & continued to pray about it. (Think how different Paul’s ministry would have been if he had taken every instance of opposition as a “sign” that he was on the wrong track!)

B. Question: What prevented him? Some would say, “God’s sovereign will.” But, see 1 Thess. 2:18, Acts 16:6-7, & Rom. 15:22. In one instance he says, “Satan hindered” him. In another, it was the Holy Spirit who kept him from fulfilling his plans. In the 3rd (Rom. 15:22) he suggests it was his priority of preaching where the gospel had not yet been proclaimed.

C. Maybe Paul didn’t always know why his plans didn’t materialize, just as we sometimes don’t know:
“Is this Satan keeping me from doing what I should, or is it God keeping me from doing something I shouldn’t do?”

D. How do we proceed when hindered & we don’t know why?

(1) Re-check your priorities & if they’re in order, stick to them.
(2) Continue to pray for wisdom & guidance, & for God to allow you to do what you desire.
(3) Adjust your plans as circumstances require.
(4) Keep pressing on, & see what God has in store! It may be better than you’ve been asking for.

Tommy South

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