Archive for : December, 2018

12/11/2018 — Romans Chapters 14-16

As Paul concludes his inspired letter to the Romans he includes a very clear warning to this young church:

Romans 16: 17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people

When I read this warning I was reminded of just how much Paul stressed church unity in chapter 14 and 15.  And the essential need for humility among believers in serving each other:   (Romans 15:1  We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.)

But each time we assemble in fellowship and especially in worship no words could be more apt than those of:

Romans 15: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12/10/2018 – Romans Chapters 11-13

Romans 13: 13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

I admit that these verses have perplexed me in the past.  Would God condemn a believer who rebelled against a leader like Adolf Hitler or nations that imprison Christians for their beliefs (e.g., N. Korea?)    I think Coffman in hi commentary helps explain my question:

The state itself, no less than God’s church, is a divine institution, existing by God’s permission and authority, and absolutely necessary for the continuity of the race of people upon the earth; and it is the unqualified duty of the Christian to submit to it, except in whose situations where doing so would break the commandments of God. This cannot mean that the shameful deeds, of evil rulers are ever in any manner approved of God. It is not any particular implementation of the state’s authority which is “ordained of God,” but the existence of such an authority. Without such constituted authority, the whole world would sink in me chaos and ruin. Unbridled human nature is a savage beast that lies restless, and uneasy under the restraint imposed by the state, being ever ready, at the slightest opportunity, to break its chains and ravage the world with blood and terror.

 

12/09/2018 — Romans Chapters 8- 10

You probably remember from a science class that if you push two magnets toward each other with the “north” ends facing one another the “north” ends will push the magnets apart.

Well, in quantum physics the atom is compose of hundred of positively charged protons.  Due to this same charge the protons should push each other apart & the atom should disintegrate (not a very good thing.)   But the protons do not repel one anther.  This is due to a force called the “strong nuclear force” which is so incredibly overpowering  it overcomes the repulsion of the protons & holds the atoms (and everything else) together. (no kidding – particle physicists named one component of the strong nuclear force a “gluon.“)

But even as powerful as the strong nuclear force is, it can be overcome through radioactive decay.  And parts of the the atom will be separated from one another.

So,  why this seemingly random discussion of quantum physics in a Bible blog?  I marvel, I am awestruck, and I am humbled by the relationship Paul describes between the Almighty God and believers in the following passage:

Romans 8: 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And at times I am moved to tears when I read these inspired words …

 

 

 

 

12/08/2018 — Romans Chapters 4-7

I have read Romans 4 and the discussion of “Law vs. Faith” many times.  And, yet, this time I found that Paul may such a simplistic explanation that I am sorry I have missed it in the past.

Romans 4:Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!

An inspired explanation of why the old Law has passed and we are under the new Law of grace.

12/07/2018 — Romans Chapters 1-3

Anthropologists write that throughout all of human history they have never found a society that did not worship a god of some kind — animals, nature, man-made objects, etc.    An 2011 Oxford University Study involving 20 countries found that in the opinion of the researchers  “human thought processes were “rooted” to religious concepts.  And there is even a theory that mankind is imbued with a “God gene” called vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) that predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystic experiences.

And on a more practical note how many people have you met who discussed their personal “search of God.”

Romans 1: 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Jeremiah 2913 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

Paul and Jeremiah speak to the “search.”  As believers we should ponder & act, “What is our responsibility to help them find?”

 

 

Jeremiah 29:14

12/06/2018 — 2 Corinthians Chapters 10 – 13

2 Corinthians 12: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

How powerful are these words & the promise we have in these verses.  A commentator writes:

When we have received a right relationship with God, his grace (kindness) is constantly working in our lives.  His grace works both in us, and through us. It works in us, because Christ lives in us.  Therefore, his strength is in our lives, even when we ourselves are weak. Also, his grace works through us, to benefit other people. That happens when God uses us to bring other people into a right relationship with him.

 

 

12/05/2018 — 2 Corinthians Chapters 5-9

2 Corinthians 5: For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life

When I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 I am reminded of a marvelous C.S. Lewis analogy

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

 

 

12/04/2018 — 2 Corinthians Chapters 1-4

Ecclesiastes 1:9  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

I can think of few greater dangers to the Body than the false/exaggerated claims and/or lifestyles of some highly visible “preachers.”  (Jim Baker & others come to mind…)   They distort the Word of God either directly or through their lifestyles.  This, many people are then non-receptive to true teaching.  And as the author of Ecclesiastes wrote in the above passage — this is not a new danger.   We see Paul address this concern:

2 Corinthians 4:  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

 

 

 

12/03/2018 — 1 Corinthians Chapters 15-16

When I hear of the death of a Christian believer I feel sadness for the family that may be left in this world.  But when those moments exist all I need do is then read    1 Corinthians 15:35-58.  In particular verses 40-44 — what a glorious vision of what awaits us and what a gift we have been given through God’s grace.

40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

 

12/02/2018 — 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14

I can think of no better description of teamwork than when Paul makes the comparison to the working of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:14-23 (it is another concept I use often in business training.)

And as a practical example have you ever been walking and developed a blister on a little toe?  Suddenly, this often overlooked and “weaker” part of the body takes on an indispensable nature!

1 Corinthians 12:  22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

12/01/2018 — 1 Corinthians Chapters 9-11

Scripture provides guidance and there are some that speak personally to each of us.  I find myself often silently quoting the following “in my mind” — I call it finding the “back-door” away from temptation:

1 Corinthians 10:  1So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it