Archive for : May, 2017

Romans 13

I love reading God’s word because something new will often jump out and get your attention! For me this time it was the close of this chapter. For Paul told them that it was time to wake up from their slumber because their salvation was closer now than when they first believed. The salvation that Paul is referring to is when we get to be with the Lord forever. The picture that Paul paints to me is a Christian going through life sleep walking spiritually, going through the motions with no fervor, no passion, no urgency! Paul also implies that one who is spiritually asleep – is no longer investing in the process of transformation. You see it all the time, a new Christian has this passion and fervor in their spiritual walk but over time the flow of life over takes that passion and there is a real danger, if we are not careful, of becoming spiritual sleep walkers!

Romans 12

This is one of those chapters that I review often. After Paul has taken the time to show that both Jews and Gentiles were all lost and the only hope for salvation was through Jesus, he now helps them see how they respond to this amazing gift! So what do we in view of God’s mercy? We offer our bodies as living sacrifices! The image that Paul paints is one out of the O.T. where the sacrifice was a gift given to God, most likely what was called a burnt offering. So we are to see ourselves as that goat or heifer whose life was being consumed by the fire as a gift to God. The difference is we are “living sacrifices” – so the way we respond to God’s mercy and salvation is to give our lives as a gift in submission to God! When we do that we are making a commitment to keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:24-25), to no longer follow the pattern of this world. It is then that God will transform us by the renewing of our minds! In the process of transformation God will begin to shape our thinking to conform to His will and truth. And when that takes place we will be able to “test and approve what God’s will is.” We will be able to perceive the lies of Satan and the truth of God!

Romans 11

So after you have read this chapter you are staring off into space confused … it’s ok! This is to me one of the most difficult texts to unpack in scripture. Let give you the short answer to what this text is talking about. All will be saved, Jew and Gentile, by faith! God did not fail Israel, no He saved all who had faith – for they are “true Israel.” God now offers to the Gentiles the same opportunity, they can be grafted into “true Israel” if they have faith. Yet, if some of the Gentiles do not remain faithful, like the unfaithful Israelites, they too will be removed from the tree we will call – “true Israel.” God used the Jews rejection of Jesus to accomplish His plan to bring the gospel to all mankind! In this way all Israel- “true Israel” will be saved. All we have to worry about is if we are part of that tree called – “true Isreal” – if you obeyed the gospel and remain faithful … your part of the tree!

Romans 10

The issue Paul has been dealing with is the Jews and their salvation. The reason that so many of Paul’s countrymen are lost is because of their refusal to accept Jesus as Lord! So Paul tells them that their path to salvation will only take place when they accept Jesus as Lord and are willing to publicly confess that belief before others. I have always maintained that this is not just a one time confession – but an on going confession we make as we live our lives in the world! To take Romans 10:9-10 as the pattern of how one responds to the gospel is missing the reason for Paul’s statement. The point Paul has been focused on is why many in Israel are not saved and the answer is they don’t accept Jesus as Lord. If and when they do they will be saved!! That doesn’t discount repentance as being part of one’s response to the gospel and that doesn’t discount baptism as being part of one’s response to the gospel. In fact Paul has already in chapter 6 placed baptism as the finial act of obedience when ones obeys the gospel. For faith is not just about believing something, the demons believe (James 2:19). Faith always calls for a response, if that faith is going to save us (James 2:20-26).

Reflections

We are now in the middle of Romans as we pause to reflect. As someone said recently – this is a hard book to understand. Of course Peter did note that Paul wrote things that were difficult to understand. Don’t get lost in the things that confuse you and the things people misuse. Let me suggest that you reflect on some of the wonderful truths you do understand and if you list them and reflect on them, they will blow you away!! I will say this, the more you understand Romans, the more you will understand the O.T. Romans and Hebrews help us see God’s plan through a whole different lens!

A reflection to consider

If you’re a parent, you have had or will have the experience of losing track of your child. (Kids are like ninjas—they disappear right before your eyes!) When you do, catch your breath and know that, in a way you never would have chosen, you have encountered the heart and mind of God. I recently read a story about a little girl who lived at the edge of a big forest. One day she wandered off into the woods to explore, but soon lost her bearings, unable to find her way back home. As darkness descended, fear gripped her heart. She screamed and cried and wept until finally she just lay down and slept. Her father, hoarse from calling out her name, had been searching for several hours when he discovered the girl lying on a patch of grass. Calling out to her, he dashed to the girl’s side as quickly as he could. The little girl woke up, jumped into his arms, hugged and kissed him, and said, “Daddy, I’m so glad I found you!” This is our story too. We don’t find Jesus; he finds us. And Jesus finds us because he is always looking for us. (52 Weeks with Jesus)

Romans 9

This chapter is not an easy chapter to sort through! If you are lost on what Paul is trying to get across – don’t worry about it, I will summarize a few points. One of the main focuses of Paul over the last 8 chapters has been that the Jews could no longer claim a relationship with God based on the Law (given on Mt, Sinai) and that they were of Abraham’s seed (their nationality). Paul showed us how both Jew and Gentile were in the same boat (as we are) – we all fall short of the glory of God and are in need of salvation! And the only way one can come into relationship with God is through Jesus Christ and what was done on the cross for all mankind. Paul also has established that it is only through faith and grace that one can access this amazing gift. In this chapter Paul expresses great sorrow that a large number of his countrymen have rejected these truths and still believe that their relationship with God is through the Law and their nationality. These people point to the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 17 that they would always be God’s people. Paul shows in this chapter that relationship with God and His promises have always been based on faith! That just because one claims to be a child of God doesn’t make them one – for God has chosen to establish faith as the criteria of who is and isn’t His chosen people. If Israel thinks this is unfair – Paul reminds them that God as Sovereign has the right to determine how His purposes and promises will play out! Paul in this chapter lists a whole cast of people God has used to bring about His purposes, people God chose to play a role in bring about God’s will. The whole point is that Paul’s countrymen need to understand that God is Sovereign and He will chose how His purposes and promises will play out, even if they feel that God in some way is being unfair by offering salvation to the Gentiles through faith and not the Law! If I confused you more – I am sorry! Don’t forget, Peter said that Paul writes somethings that are hard to understand!

Romans 8

Our reading opens with an announcement that Paul makes that just explodes off the page! In Romans 7 Paul shows us a man who’s performance does not match his desires. A man who is just frustrated because as hard as he works, he just keeps falling short in the perfection of his performance – a man who stands condemned! Yet, the announcement is made that this man is not condemned – why? What has changed? What is changed is that his relationship with God is no longer based on the law of sin and death. The law that says when you sin you die spiritually and you no longer have a relationship with God. That system has been replaced with the “law of the Spirit of life” that was made possible by what the Son of God did on the Cross – He paid the penalty & keeps paying it as I “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). Shout for Joy! For as we strive for perfection God will continue to cover our imperfections as He is transforming us into His image!  

Romans 7

Paul declares in our reading that the Law was no longer the standard for our relationship with God. It was not that the Law was unspiritual – it was the fact that our relationship with God was based on our performance and we always fell short! Paul in our text does an amazing job of illustrating the frustration one feels when their relationship with God is based on their performance. He describes a man who wants to do what is right but all too often his performance does not match his desires. This is a person who does not know if he still has a place at the great banquet in heaven. A man caught in these cycles of sin and feeling like there is no hope for him. He looks in the mirror and cries: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24) Do you know this man? Hold your hand up if you have fallen short of doing all that God requires of you. So that means each of us are in need of grace! We need a salvation based on something other than the perfection of our performance!

Romans 6

Paul in this chapter poses a question – one he has encountered most likely when it comes to grace. Basically the question is: “If God gives us grace why should I worry about sinning?” Paul says that if you think this way you have completely missed the point of your baptism! Paul declared that something took place when you were baptized – you put to death your “body of sin” – that person focused on self-indulgence sin has died. The focus of your life is now being “slaves of God” – where what God wants is the center and focus of our lives. Will this mean that one will not sin – of course not! What it does mean as long as I am striving and focused on pleasing God, grace covers my sins! It is clear in this text that God intended for baptism to be the finial act of our obedience to the gospel. Those who believe they were saved & forgiven by accepting Jesus into their heart – have missed the whole point Paul is making in this chapter. For Paul makes it very clear in this text that we are forgiven (vs. 7) when we are baptized! To believe we enter into baptism already saved goes totality against the whole point Paul is making!!  If one believed they were saved and forgiven before they were baptized – they have not obeyed “the form of teaching” (vs. 17) and pattern found in scripture in how one obeys the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8). What God will do with that is purely up to God – our assurance rests in our submission to God & His will as He has outlined it in scripture!!!!

Romans 5

In this fallen world everyone suffers the general ravages of sin, sickness, and death; but Christians often suffer even more in the form of persecution from Satan and from the unbelieving world. Paul reminds us that within the broad scope of God’s sovereignty and love, not even tribulations can nullify our assurance of salvation. In fact, they actually strengthen it, because we have peace with God. We can face suffering because we realize that what is taking place is not punishment, but a path to help us grow in our hope and faith! Job’s friends only saw suffering as a penalty for sins, but often suffering is a tool God uses to refine us as His children (Heb. 12:7-11, James 1:2-7, 1 Peter 1:6-9)

Reflections

Today we are to reflect over our readings. As the letter of Romans unfolds we see how Paul lays out the basic concepts of the gospel. My thoughts are brought back to Romans one, where Paul declared that creation shouts to mankind that there is a God! As I watch my grandkids growup I stand amazed at the complexity of the human body! It takes a whole lot of blind faith to believe that it was just a series mutations over billions of years that produced our amazing bodies! So, what in creation shouts to you there is a God?

Reflections to consider

One day, everything you have or think you have will be gone. It will either be lost somehow before you die, or certainly gone after you die. One day you are going to lose it, so use it today to get ready for tomorrow. That is exactly what Jesus did when he died on the cross and was raised from the dead. He invested the life that he lived those thirty-three years on earth, so we could get ready for the tomorrow of eternity. Take everything you have, everything you are, and give it to Christ today so you will be ready for tomorrow.
(52 Weeks with Jesus)

Romans 4

Paul in our reading uses Abraham as the prime example that salvation is by faith! Paul in this text takes us back to the time that God made a promise to Abraham that his offspring shall be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5). As Paul notes in our reading, even through Sarah was well past the age of childbearing – Abraham placed his faith in God. Abraham was fully persuaded that God had the power to bring about His promises and Abraham trusted God and placed his faith in Him. And because Abraham placed his faith in God it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). The point that Paul is making is that salvation does not come from obeying the law, but from faith. One cannot earn righteousness – our deeds will always fall short so the only way one can be saved and be righteous is by grace through faith! See Abraham was not called righteous for anything he did, but because of his faith in God. So as Paul explains, Abraham then becomes a model of how we receive salvation – only through faith and grace!! This faith that saves us is a faith that motivates us to obedience to God’s will (James  2:14-26). Abraham humbly believed all of God’s promises that He could and would keep his word. Consequently he surrendered himself to God and rendered to him the obedience of faith (1.5). See the faith that saves us, is a faith that surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives in submission to His will. God has made us a promise and we must have faith in the promise that when we obey the gospel – He grants us the gift of grace and we receive the righteousness of the Son of God (2 Cor. 5:21). 

Romans 3

Paul in our reading declares “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” You might have gotten lost in some of Paul’s argument over the last two chapters but Rom. 3:23 is the key! The point that Paul has been making is that both the Jews and the Gentiles are lost and in need of Jesus! The Jews had the Law but righteousness could not be achieved through the Law because they always fell short of the glory of God. The Gentiles did not have the Law but were also guilty because they ignored God and worshiped that which was created and not the Creator! Thus Jew and Gentile find themselves in the same place – in need of salvation because we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!!! The only hope mankind has no matter who they are, is faith in Jesus Christ!

Romans 2

Paul in this reading makes it clear that just because one was born a Jew does not mean they will be saved. For if they did not love God and obey His commandments they were just as condemned as the Gentiles of chapter one! Paul is building his case that all are in the same boat, all are in need of God’s saving grace. All will be judged by their relationship with God and their hearts. Hearts that are spiritually circumcised, hearts that are in love with God and strive to obey and serve Him. For Paul declares in our reading that those who have hearts that are spiritually circumcised are true Israel!

Romans 1

Paul makes a strong case that all of mankind is without excuse for not acknowledging God. Paul declares that the creation is a witness of God and His power. Paul explains that when mankind chose to ignore God they traveled down a path of sin and darkness. Three times Paul notes that God “gave them over” and allowed mankind to travel down a path of sexual impurity, shameful lust (including homosexuality), and a depraved mind. The idea is that God no longer put obstacles in their way to deter their sinful actions. If this is the path they chose God would give them over to it and allow them to suffer and be destroyed by their depraved minds. Paul describes a world that believes that it is intellectual and wise, when in fact they are fools! As I read the closing verses of Romans 1, I thought I was listening to a review of the nightly news. A world without the knowledge of God is not a pretty sight!

Matthew 28

“He is not here; he has risen” I know of no other words that have changed the landscape for mankind more than “He is risen!” For if He has risen, then He truly is the Son of God! All that He taught is then true, all the people He claimed existed – did exist! God is real, Satan is real, heaven is real and so is hell. What He promised will come true, He will return and judgment will take place. See, the landscape for mankind has forever changed if Jesus has risen! So has He? There is the question that all have to face, you can deny the question and not face it, but face it you will if it is true! So! – is it? If it’s true it changes everything!!!!

Reflections

Today is a day to review and meditate on our readings. There is a lot to take in as we see Jesus on the cross! All that we see taking place was for US and it was forever going to change everything!! Praise God for His amazing love!!

Reflections to consider

“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” The reaction of Judas is very interesting. The text seems to indicate that Judas was expecting a different outcome when Jesus was arrested. Was Judas trying to force Jesus’ hand by having Him arrested, hoping that this move would expedite the establishment of our Lord’s kingdom? Maybe he rationalized that he could jump start the coming kingdom and make some money out of the deal as well. We don’t know what he was thinking, just that when he realized that Jesus was going to be killed because of his actions, the text says he was remorseful! Was this sorrow repentance or self-pity? According to 2 Cor. 7:10 – there are two kinds of sorrow, worldly and Godly. Godly sorrow produces a change of direction in one’s life (repentance), where worldly sorrow is self-pity and produces no change. Which sorrow did Judas display? The outcome of Peter’s sorrow and Judas’ sorrow were very different! One produced forgiveness and salvation and the other produced spiritual death!