Key Verse: Romans 14:17
…For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
What a contrast! …the kingdom of man (Rome pictured above) and the Kingdom of God. Man is impressed by great buildings, pomp and circumstance. God is impressed by humble people who pray, read His Word and worship Him consistently wherever they happen to be.
The emphasis in today’s reading is about food in Rome. Almost all of the meat and vegetables sold in the markets had been presented to the gods as a sacrifice. This offended the consciences of those striving to be pure before God, particularly the Jewish believers (remember the dietary laws we read about in Leviticus). Many new believers in Jesus who started off in peace and joy have had their freedom withered away by legalism. Paul deals with this issue in several of his letters, notably Galatians. Here in Romans he raises the same issue and warns believers against being bound up in rules about appropriate food and drink. While the legalist may strive for righteousness, he or she will never achieve it. This matter caused Paul to take a stand against Peter (read Galatians 2:11-21). Paul declared that Christ died in vain if righteousness comes through the Law.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, I’m learning that holy living comes through Your Holy Spirit living within me, not from keeping religious rules and regulations, not eating certain foods, etc. Please fill me up more and more with peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. By faith, I am truly free to be a faithful follower of Jesus in Your Kingdom! In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
I don’t believe that when Peter and Paul disagreed they considered forming a separate religious denomination. As a teenager, I saw the once mighty soul-winning “Holiness Movement” almost destroyed by legalism (e.g. a certain way of dressing, etc.). Perhaps the “Old Order Mennonites” would be a modern example of outward religious dress codes. The main body of these precious people have moved away from these restrictions and are a great example of “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The “holier than thou” attitude produced by my own efforts is a huge turn-off for those people with whom I want to share Jesus. Every morning I open my heart to a new infilling of God’s Word and His Spirit. Then I just live life to the full. What peace! What joy! Early in my Christian life, I felt that I was dragging myself around by the scruff of my neck, trying to live as I should. One day, when I was 20 years old, I said to God, “I can’t live this way anymore!” I heard that inner voice of the Lord say to me, “Good, now relax and let Me live in you and through you.” What a wonderful freedom! I began to experience “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Yours for being filled, as much as our capacities will allow, with the Word of God and with the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, please grow my capacity. Amen!