The setbacks of today can quickly become the forging blades of greatness for tomorrow.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick is a delightful tale of a twelve-year old boy who is determined to find his brother who was illegally sold into the army during the American Civil War. Orphans, Homer and his brother are being raised by their mean uncle, Squinton Leach. Squint sells Harold and Homer sets out to find him.
“A person has only two options in life, to do something or to do nothing,” Homer is told. For Homer, “Nothing is not an option.”
He runs into some slave catchers who try to use Homer in their schemes to collect runaway slaves and return them to their owners. In this process he meets a nice, rich man named Jebediah Brewster, a Quaker, who puts Homer under the guardianship of a preacher and gives him money to find his brother. On the train ride, the guardian, Mr. Willow, is duped by con artists and the money is stolen. Homer finds himself thrown into a pig pen.
The pig pen leads to Homer being cast into a traveling medicine show who performs for troops. They follow the army until the leader, Fenton Fleabottom, is caught as a Confederate spy. Homer escapes by climbing into an air balloon, which lands in a nasty pond on the side of the Confederates. Taken as prisoner, Homer is soon freed due to the Battle of Gettysburg.
Homer flees on a horse, through the raging battle, and finally meets up with his brother who has been labeled a deserter. However, every man is needed in the battle so Harold gets his chance to fight. Homer, so afraid Harold will die, tries to stop him. He shoots a bullet at him to scare him but it rickochets into his leg. Homer ends up being the flag bearer and then the Confederates surrender. Both are adopted by Jebediah Brewster back in Maine and end up leading a happy life.
Newbery Honor Book for 2010, this book is full of fun and unbelievable twists and turns. Homer likes to fudge the truth, which lands him in all of these precarious situations but also gets him out of them. Great historical read that depicts the 1860’s turmoil perfectly. Highly recommended for all ages!
Summary of passage: Paul reiterates getting along with others. Don’t destroy someone’s belief over petty issues like food. Avoid causing your brother to fail. Keep your beliefs to yourself and don’t shame others into your beliefs.
13) It could cause others to stumble, feel shame and guilt and begin to doubt God and potentially sin.
14) “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” “Keep your beliefs about these issues between yourself and God.”
15) “It is better for the stronger believer to not eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” The weaker believer should not “condemn himself by what he approves.”
16) Personal Question. My answer: This has nothing to do with straying from God but the one thing I can think of is having candy in the house. My kids eat candy and I don’t but my husband, who is trying to lose weight, can’t resist it. I’m becoming more cognizant of what I’m buying so he won’t stumble.
Conclusions: Important passage. We need to put others’ needs first. Whether it’s not drink around those who struggle with drunkenness or not eat certain foods around those struggling with their weight/health. It’s being considerate of others at its foundation.
End Notes: Paul is not talking about catering to legalism here such as eating certain foods.
Keep your faith between yourself and God. You don’t have to parade it around weak Christians. You can keep your standards and convictions. However, you’re not permitted to flaunt it around others.
There are things God may challenge us to give up, but we go on approving them in our life – thus we condemn ourselves. It may not be that the thing itself is clearly good or bad, but it is enough that God speaks to us about the matter.
Each of us must ask: “God, what is there in my life hindering a closer walk with You? I want to know the happiness that comes from not condemning myself by what I approve in my life.” This takes faith, because we often cling to hindering things because we think they make us happy. Real happiness is found being closer and closer to Jesus, and by not being condemned by what we approve.
If we are troubled by something, it is likely sin, not faith. We can check ourselves when we tend to justify things we permit this way.
Summary of passage: Paul repeats to stop judging others and quit putting stumbling blocks in others’ way. If someone believes something is unclean, fine. Let it go. If you are having dinner with someone and you are eating something they disapprove of, stop eating it for that meal. Don’t be a stumbling block. What matters is serving God and have peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.
9) Stop judging others. Don’t put stumbling blocks in others’ way or be a stumbling block. Let things go.
10) Jesus’s sacrifice eradicated all the old rules so now all foods are clean. The person’s beliefs himself makes food unclean–no rules do.
11) By not being thoughtful of the other person. If you drink alcohol in front of an alcoholic, you are causing him or her to stumble. Be considerate of others’ struggles.
12) “Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” God’s kingdom is not concerned with petty arguments. God is concerned with the heart.
Conclusions: Straight-forward passage with straight-forward questions. Rise above the pettiness!
End Notes: Paul summarizes Chapter 14 so far: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus helped us to understand that we should not judge others according to a standard that we would not want to have applied to our self. We still need to and have a responsibility for admonishment (Romans 15:14) or rebuke (2 Timothy 4:2). However, when we admonish or rebuke, we do it over clear Scriptural principles, not over doubtful things. We may offer advice to others about doubtful things, but should never judge them.
We might stumble or cause our brother to fall in two ways. We can discourage or beat them down through our legalism against them, or we can do it by enticing them to sin through an unwise use of our liberty.
Our freedom from Old Testament law is good unless we use it against another brother–then it is evil.
Love is the proper way to settle disputes.
Christ died for both weak and strong Christians. Surely, we can adjust our behavior accordingly (1 Corinthians 8:11-13; 10:23, 28-29, 32-22).
This passage is another great example of Paul’s concern for the moral and ethical dimension of the Christian life.
Summary of passage: It is God’s job to judge and we are only accountable to Him.
6) Personal Question. My answer: Any that would be asked of me if it’s a stumbling block.
7) It is God’s job to judge, not ours.
8 ) Each of us will give an account of himself to God. If we judge others, we are accountable to God for that as well.
Conclusions: No comment.
End Notes: We live for God alone. Stop worrying about your brother. You have enough to answer for on your own.
Smith explains the Judgment seat: “This is the bema seat, equivalent to the judge’s seat in the Olympic Games. After each game, the winners came before the judge’s seat to receive crowns for first, second, and third places. Likewise, the Christian’s works will be tested by fire, and he’ll be rewarded for those which remain . . . The judgment seat of Christ is only concerned with a Christian’s rewards and position in the kingdom, not with his salvation.” All Christians will be judged and the judgement will be based on works (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
The quotation from Isaiah 45:23 emphasizes the fact that all will have to appear before God in humility, and give account of himself before God. Since this is the case, we should let God deal with our brother.
Summary of passage: Accept those who are new believers and fail without looking down on him or condemning him. The Lord will strengthen him. We all belong to the Lord and God knows our heart for what we do.
3) Without passing judgment.
4) Whether to eat meat or not to eat meat. Disputable is open to debate whether it is acceptable or not meaning there is no agreement. Forbidden are those things that are outlawed, meaning there is a majority agreement on what is acceptable or not.
5) God is the standard and we are to live for Him. Both the weak and the strong should be motivated to serve the Lord and give thanks for His provision.
Conclusions: Acceptance is the theme here. Mankind is messy. All of us. We are all equal. None of us is better than the other. Paul reminds us to accept each other and let God handle the rest.
End Notes: Paul warns us not to judge others whose faith is weak, usually a newer Christian or one ignorant of God’s ways. He was probably addressing Jewish Christians in Rome who were continuing to observe the hallmarks of Jewish identity, such as dietary restrictions and the keeping of the Sabbath and other special days. Their concern was not the same as that of the Judaizers of Galatia They Judaizers thought they could put God in their debt by works of righteousness and were trying to force this heretical teaching on the Galatian churches, but the “weak” Roman Christians did neither. They were wrestling with the status of the Old Testament regulations under the new covenant that Christ ushered in.
In Paul’s mind, the weak brother is the stricter one due to their legalistic attitudes and lack of love towards others.
Undoubtedly these weak ones did not see themselves as such. They probably saw the meat eaters as weak. Legalism has a way of making us think that we are strong and those who don’t keep the rules the way we do are weak.
Paul reminds us it is God’s job to judge, not ours. We must rise above these petty arguments and be united in our faith in Christ. Christians do not agree on all matters pertaining to the Christian life, nor do they need to. Fellowship should not be based on agreement.
By bringing in the aspect of observing certain days, Paul is talking more about principles than specific issues. It’s up to the conscience of the individual. But whatever we do, we must be able to do it to the Lord, not using “conscience” as an excuse for obviously sinful behavior.
From birth to death, we are connected to one another and we are to live for the Lord always.
Please leave prayer requests and updates. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them in the comments below. I love praying for you all and firmly believe in the power of prayer.
Mine: I am running for a local election where I live. I would like prayer in this endeavor. I am still awaiting word on my interview so pray that a job offer would be forthcoming soon. My husband is also looking for more job opportunities and would like prayer for promotions soon. He also is really struggling with what God wants him to do for the rest of his life. He would like prayer for direction to hear God in his life.
God bless and Have an Amazing Week ahead!