We all need encouragement. And Paul, incredible teacher, led by the Spirit of God, stirs in here encouragement. Why does he stir in there? Why does he talk about encouraging and edifying and building up? Because what were they doing? Tearing one another down.
Well, you can't worship on that day. Everybody in here has a list in their mind that they think is worth arguing about. Some points probably are.
Some points, they're not. Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David Magee. We all know how wonderful it is to be encouraged, but are we ourselves encouragers? Listen today as Pastor David continues in Romans 14 with his teaching, Encouragement.
Here's David Magee. So we're in Romans 14. Look at verse 20. It says, Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.
You know the amplified version in this. It says, You must not for the sake of food undo and break down and destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed ceremonially clean and pure, but it is wrong for anyone to hurt the conscience of others or make them fall by what he eats. Again, we kind of need to swing this into a present day application because most of us here probably aren't trying to completely eat Levitically and don't get freaked out at somebody who eats unclean ceremonially.
Let me explain. In the Bible, in the Hebrew scriptures, the Jewish people were told to eat a certain way, not to eat certain things. Now there's still present day health reasons why a lot of that stuff is a good idea, but I'm not going to sit up here and say it because a lot of the stuff and it's kind of bizarre, but a lot of stuff that really tastes good is on the not to eat list. You know, shellfish, crab, shrimp, all that not to eat list.
Okay. So what I did this past week is I set up big protest signs outside these seafood buffets down at the beach. Told everybody that he's going to hell for what they've eaten.
Hope you enjoy that crab. No, I didn't do that. Why? You know what? I, again, I tried to eat mostly Levitically just because from a health consideration, but I'm not going to sit up here and say, you know what? If you enjoy bacon, you're, that's done.
You're, you're separated from God. Now we're sitting here going, well, I don't do that. Right. But what are some of the other things?
Got to hit the hot buttons again. Music. That's a big one. Isn't it? Shouldn't listen to that. Shouldn't listen to that. There's, there's people out there who say there's no such thing as Christian rock. It's rock. It ain't Christian. The drums, they conjuring up Damon's people say this. So that's true.
Why did God say worship him with the symbols? I've had some really bizarre conversations with people about music. I don't know if you've ever seen the thing and they started years ago. They played stairway to heaven backwards. It is. Is that a little weird or what? I mean, you're going to say, man, see, do you hear it? Well, no, I didn't hear it.
Well, let me play it again. Said something about the devil. Yeah, I think it's evil that you're playing records backwards is what I think. Now here was the bizarre thing. And I thought having grown up with that album, which I don't listen to anymore, but I thought, you know, if you just flip that album over and listen to days and confused going forward, it says lots of people tell me, but I already know that the soul of the woman was created below. Now that's weird and not good. Why play the record backwards and have people stand there and gone, why are you doing that, man? Why are you playing records backwards? If you have certain convictions about music, live by them, live by them, but don't expect everybody else to live according to your convictions because you know what?
There's probably some ways that they're much more mature in the Lord than you are. What's another hot button? Oh, smoking. That's a hot button. It's more of a hot button now.
It used to be not hot button. You understand that? 30 years ago, 40 years ago, pastors, deacons, elders smoked.
It was no big deal. I don't smoke by the way, in case you're just saying this because you smoke. I don't smoke.
I have friends and I know people that I love dearly and I know they love God. I know they've been born again that smoke. I don't smoke. So I don't go up to them and go, can't be smoking like that. Can't come in here smelling like that. Now if they come to me and say, pastor, I'm thinking about quitting. I said, well, that's probably a good idea.
Supposed to be the temple of God. You know, lung cancer, bad thing. They've linked it and you know, but I'm not going to have this anti-smoking ministry.
Why? Because that's majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors. If I go up to an unbeliever and he's sitting there smoking a cigarette and I go, well friend, I guess you're aware that cigarette's gonna send you to hell. I guess you're going to be in the smoking section. Now, of course, at that point, he's going to say, tell me about your Jesus.
No, he's not majoring on the minors, minoring on the majors. Now again, the problem is, and here's the thing I used to smoke. Do you understand that makes me much less tolerant of somebody that smokes now?
Why? Because I don't smoke anymore. People that smoke obviously aren't as mature in the Lord as I am. I guarantee you, I've got friends that smoke that love God, they've been born again that you know what, are more spiritually mature in certain areas than I am. That strikes at the heart of religious pride, doesn't it?
If I hadn't hit your hot button yet, I will, right? Well, let's look at verse 21. Well, it is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or it is offended or is made weak. Oh, now we got the drinking thing.
Nor do anything by which your brother stumbles. Well, you can't be, you can't drink and be a Christian. Can you?
People ask me questions like that. Can you be a Christian and drink beer or whiskey? Can you be a Christian and smoke dope?
Well, I mean, the only truthful answer is yes. Now before you think, praise God I found my church honey. This is the place. This is it. Let me explain.
Let me explain. Once you come to know Jesus as your savior, those things begin to fall away. You no longer need those things. But friend, if somebody early on had said, well, you got to quit all that so you can get saved. I'm not sure I'd have got saved. As a matter of fact, there was a big turning point in my life when I was actually attending church and I had stopped doing a lot of stuff and I'll be as honest as, you know, this was years ago.
This was not last week. Years ago and I was still struggling smoking pot to be honest. And I sat with the leader of the church. We were doing something together. I said, man, I got to talk to you about something. He said, what is it? He said, man, I love the Lord. I'm reading my Bible, but I'll be honest with you.
I still smoke a pot. Now I really thought when I told him that he was going to put his finger in my face and tell me, you know, go away. And his answer surprised me.
You know what he said? Just keep coming to church. Just keep fellowshipping. Keep reading your Bible. God will speak to you about that.
I was, I was confused by that answer to be honest. It's like, you're not going to like yell at me or anything. He said, no, no. I said, why not? He said, because if I tell you to quit, you're not going to listen to me. But when God tells you to quit, I bet you're going to hear him.
Friend, it was a couple of short weeks later. I said, you know what? I am so filled with God and love and joy and peace. I don't need this anymore.
I don't want this anymore. And God himself spoke to me about it. And I left it in the dust of the past to the freedom that comes through the spirit of God. But too often we try to be the spirit of God to people. Be careful with that. Be careful with that.
Yeah. We have that story of the prodigal son and I'm sure the prodigal, we're not told in details, but I'm pretty sure when it said he was riotous living, I'm sure that probably was drinking, whatever drugs of the day they did, prostitution, all sorts of stuff. But at some point, let me put it like this. What's the difference between the son and the pigs? At some point, the son said, you know what? I don't belong here. I'm going home to daddy.
The pigs never said that. What happens is we get to know Jesus as our savior won't be in a certain place and we go, you know, I don't belong here anymore. These people that I used to hang out with and do these things and go to the bars with, but it's just, this ain't it.
This is not it. That's what happens. See when a believer goes out and has a night of drinking, he wakes up the next morning and goes, man, I need to quit that. I need to ask God to give me the strength to walk away from this. An unbeliever wakes up and goes, wow, I should've drank more. I should've started earlier.
Maybe I'll do it tonight and go home with somebody. That's what an unbeliever does. Pigs enjoy wallowing. The son does not. The son comes to a point and he goes, man, that's enough. See, once you ask Jesus to save you, you know what? Sin is just not a sweet friend. It's just not.
And over time you begin to walk away from things that you thought you would be doing for the rest of your life through his power. That's what Paul is saying here. And be careful. You know, people say, well, is it okay to drink a beer or a glass of wine? And you know, that's such a weird discussion because you know what I found? Generally, the people that are asking that shouldn't. They shouldn't. Because they tend to make statements like, well, I just need, I just need a beer to relax. That tells me something is more to the story. God doesn't want you needing something to relax.
He wants you to need him to relax. And when you're trading something off, you're losing something. If you want to argue about it, friend, may I suggest there's an issue there? And if you can take it or leave it, I suggest you leave it. I've seen too many people hurt.
I've seen lives destroyed, marriages destroyed, homes destroyed by people exercising their freedom. We've got this little thing called fishing that we do. I don't, I'm not big on fishing. I just, I'm sorry.
I don't have the patience for it. When I was young, I did, but this thing of fishing, which we're supposed to be smarter than fish, so I can't understand why there's over 11,000 books on how to catch these fish. But the whole thing is set up that if you dangle bait in the water, even though there's great risk, that fish will risk its life to get what's dangling on that hook. We should be careful. Again, anything about what your brother stumbles and that's, let's say, let's just say for hypothetical discussion that you don't have an issue with drinking a beer.
You can drink one beer and not drink six or 12 or 24 or drink a glass of wine and not drink a liter, two liter, five liter, whatever. Be careful of that because what happens sometimes is people say, well, I'm okay with it, so therefore it's okay for other people to do. Now I know there's a lot of people in this field that have no business taking one sip of alcohol because it's really hurt them in the past. So be careful. Don't stumble other people.
The amplified version, the right thing is to eat no meat or drink no wine at all or do anything else if it makes your brother stumble or hurts his conscience or offends him or weakens him. You know, I saw a pastor in the grocery store and he had a, I'm sure he's a great guy, but he had, I don't know if it's two liter of wine, I don't know if they make or one point, whatever, a big bottle of wine in the shopping cart. And I thought, go put this on YouTube. No, I didn't think that, but I did even knowing him and liking him. I did.
I thought it's a little weird. He didn't stumble me. You know, I didn't, I wasn't like, oh, let me go get one.
You know, I didn't stumble me, but I did think that's a little weird. Be careful because if you're, if you're exercising and this is the principle, the whole chapter, if you're exercising freedom and you're stumbling, somebody stop, stop. It's not worth it.
It's not worth it. Life lesson. Don't get derailed on the small things.
Don't get derailed on the small things. You've been listening to Cross the Bridge. We'll return to David's study in Romans in just a moment, but first I would like to let you know about a new product that we're excited about here at Cross the Bridge. Each year, David McGee spends countless hours coming through the Bible in preparation to teach God's Word. This is clearly seen every week as he proclaims the amazing truths found in the Bible to his home church and through the radio ministry. That's why this month we want you to be blessed by some of our favorite teachings from this year with the Cross the Bridge Best of 2013.
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The whole book for the whole world. Now let's return to David McGee's verse by verse teaching in the book of Romans. Let's look at verse 22. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. I'm going to actually give you this verse in three different translations and that's a great study tool.
Actually you can go to our website. It says Bible study tools is to look at the different translations because as they interpret the Hebrew scriptures written in Hebrew, the New Testament was written in Greek. I have some reasons to think that perhaps revelation was written in Hebrew.
We'll save that discussion for another time. And so they have different translations of the Bible. Most are not paraphrases. Paraphrase you gotta be careful with, but the translation sometimes can illuminate what's being communicated and I'll give you a couple of examples here. Romans 14, 22 and the new living translation says you may have the faith to believe that there's nothing wrong with what you're doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. And then the English version says, keep what you believe about this matter then between yourself and God.
Happy is the person who does not feel guilty when he does something he judges is right. In other words, if somebody says, I don't think you should do this, then say, okay, well, that's what God is saying to you. Then don't do it. Your tendency is to say, oh no, it's okay to do that. Well, why do you say that? Well, cause I do it. So it's okay.
No, no, no. If this person is saying, God is telling them not to do it, don't you dare. Don't you dare say, oh no, it's okay. Dealing with music, dealing with whatever. Be careful because you may be okay doing certain things. They're not okay with, they're okay doing certain things you're not okay with. And you see what a trap it is to spend all of this energy on each other, trying to go, well, you're supposed to be exactly like I am and don't do what I don't do and do what I do and gang, there is stuff worth arguing about.
Let's understand that there's a lot it's not worth arguing about. And I've seen so many people just grow and grow and grow in the Lord that, you know what? I never sat down and said, well, you got to quit doing that. You got to quit doing this.
I'll give you a seven page list. But the Holy Spirit is changing a life from the inside out. So don't violate your conscience and don't ever encourage somebody else to violate theirs because the Holy Spirit is in us speaking to us. If you know Jesus as your savior, you have a portion of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Bible teaches that we are to ask for an infilling of the Holy Spirit to overflowing. And since you have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will speak to you. And when he does, listen, you'll be in certain situations ago. I really shouldn't do this. Listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. And then there's a friend beside you going, no, that's okay. Be even more careful. So the Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us.
He's a counselor. Let's look at verse 23. It says, but he who doubts is condemned if he eats because he does not eat from faith for whatever is not from faith is sin. Again, the food issue is kind of a, I think it's kind of a non-issue.
We've, well, here, here, here would be another application. If you eat healthy, you think everybody else should eat healthy. If you eat healthy, I don't try to eat healthy. I don't always eat healthy, but I try to eat healthy, but I'm not, I don't want to begin to condemn somebody that doesn't eat healthy. You know, I'm not going to go down to some burger place down the road and set up picket signs outside. Don't you know this is temple of God putting burgers in the temple of God. That's weird, isn't it?
We do stuff like that. Maybe you care about somebody, you probably care about what they eat, but at the same time, don't be condemning spiritually. Give you the versions, new living translation, but if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn't eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you're sinning. An amplified version says, but the man who has doubts misgivings an uneasy conscience about eating and then eats perhaps because of you stands condemned before God because he's not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin. Whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful. This is a great chapter and I want to encourage you to reread 12, 13 and 14, but in kind of looking at 14, you know, he starts out and he's talking about some people think it's okay to do this.
Some people think it's okay to do that. And obviously in this church at Rome, they were all arguing with one another. They were arguing about what day to worship. Some thought it should be on the Shabbat from the Jewish Sabbath.
Some people thought Sunday, the first day of the week as we found in a couple of places. But Paul was basically saying, quit arguing, quit arguing. See, we can get caught up in stuff that doesn't matter and far too frequently we do that. And sometimes we stay silent on stuff that does matter. Well, how can we know what we should say when we should say it? Ask God. The book of James tells us that if you need wisdom, ask God for it. He'll give you wisdom.
He'll speak to you. But friend, don't necessarily assume that everybody else is in the same exact place on the spiritual journey with the Lord. And if you are convinced or convicted about something, live according to those convictions.
And don't pressure people to act against their convictions. And if we do this, this is going to be an awesome church. It is an awesome church.
It would be even more awesome. If we encourage one another in the Lord, it would be even more awesome. We all need encouragement. And Paul, incredible teacher led by the Spirit of God, stirs in here encouragement. Why does he stir in there? Why is he talking about encouraging and edifying and building up? Because what were they doing?
Tearing one another down. Well, you can't worship on that day. Well, you can't eat that food. Well, you can't dress like that. Well, you can't look like that.
You can't do that. You can't have whatever, piercing, earring, hair like that, that, but that, that, that, that, that, that, that, that, that, that. Everybody in here has a list in their mind that they think is worth arguing about. Some points probably are.
Some points they're not. And somehow it's humbling to consider that God is in charge and speaking to each and every person. Well, friend, if you're sitting here today and you're going, well, I've done some things that I know God didn't want me to do, and I've acted against my convictions.
I've acted against that still small voice. Then you need to ask God to forgive you. And God is willing in his mercy and his grace to forgive you. Jesus said, if anybody comes to him, he will not turn them away. And if anybody confesses first, John says, for anybody confesses their sins, he is faithful and just to forgive them of their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness. So whatever sins you walked in here with, you don't have to walk out with.
You can leave them here by the grace of God. If you sat here and thought, wow, you know, I've been feeling like I should have stopped doing this. And this friend asked God to forgive you and to give you the power to live for him. Friend, do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?
You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short, simple prayer, simply telling God you're sorry and asking him to help you to live for him. Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead, that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned.
And I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things. Please give me the power to live for you all of my days. In Jesus name.
Amen. Friend, if you prayed that prayer, according to the Bible, you've been forgiven. You've been born again. Jesus said he would not turn anybody away who comes to him.
And he came for those people who knew they needed forgiveness, those who were sick, not the righteous. So congratulations, friend. You just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If this was your first time praying that prayer with Pastor David, we would love to hear from you. You can call us toll free at 877-458-5508 to receive our First Steps package with helpful resources to help you begin your walk with Christ. Also, if you contact us this month, we will send you the Cross the Bridge Best of 2013 for your gift of any amount. If you've ever wondered how we can walk in the full power of God's Spirit, then this new product is just for you and we'll send it to you as a way of saying thanks for your donation. You can give any time by calling us toll free at 877-458-5508.
That's 877-458-5508. Or go online to crossthebridge.com. While there, make sure to sign up for the free email devotional. That's just one more way we can bless you in your walk with Christ. Again, that website is crossthebridge.com. Thank you for listening, and I pray you'll join us next time as we cross the bridge.
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