Friday, August 30, 2013
Read Romans 12:12b-13 Continue instant in prayer. Looking up each word in the Greek that means to constantly be in a place of prayer. How do we do that? WE don’t and can’t, but our spirit can. Have you ever woken up singing a spiritual song in your mind? I did just yesterday and I took note of what it was saying. The Bible says that he will give us songs in the night. So if we can pray while we are sleeping, then we can be in a place of prayer while we are going about our day. I find myself praying and not knowing I’m praying - just talking to God. Our spirit is always in tune with God. The next thing on the list is to distribute to the necessity of the saints. We instantly think of money, food, and clothes, but what about encouragement, friendship, and love. Usually, the people we run into in our day-to-day are not the destitute but the lonely. They are church-goers who might need someone to stand with them in prayer about something or give them a word of encouragement or just let them know we care. I noticed that it said we are to do this to the saints which translates the pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated. Jesus came to his own first, then the world. He invited his friends to the wedding party first, then went to the highways and byways. We are to meet the needs to the church first, then send them out to the world. We are to be given to hospitality which doesn’t mean having parties for our friends. This one has to do with entertaining strangers. Being hospitable to those who can’t pay you back and without any ulterior motive. Who knows, sometimes these strangers are angels in disguise. Lord, make our prayers more obvious to us. Unite our minds with our spirits that we might discern how to pray and meet the needs of others.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Read Romans 12:9-12a The rest of this chapter is a list of things we should be living as a Christian which starts with pure, unhypocritical love. We are to hate evil and love good, love each other like we were brothers and sisters and prefer one another to ourselves. The next one is to not be slothful in business. This one really hit me because I have experienced some really bad business people lately. Slothful means tardy, irksome or grievous. That means you are dependable, on time, and you stand by your word. What a witness that is in a world that seems to have little concern about the other person. God doesn’t separate our business life with our spiritual life; it is all the same. The next exhortation is to be fervent in spirit which just means on fire spiritually. Fervent has to do with boiling liquids or making solids glow. It also means to be earnest. So the Holy Spirit in us would be the liquid oil that should be burning, which would make us, the solid, glow. If the Holy Spirit is alive within us we will do the next thing on the list which is serving the Lord. We are to rejoice in hope. “Rejoice” in the Greek means to be cheerful and calm especially on meeting and parting. It means to always begin and end on a happy note. We do this not because our circumstances warrant it, but because we have hope in a God that does not disappoint if we trust him. It doesn’t mean that we have to lie about our problems, it just means that we wisely choose who to share them with. The public needs to see Jesus on our faces, not our problems. They have enough of their own. Our hope is that we won’t have these problems for long - they don’t have that hope. Lord, help us to share this hope you have put inside us and to love always.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Read Romans 12:1-8 The first verse tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. The Jews gave many sacrifices to God. Some were living like the rams, lambs, pigeons, turtle doves, etc., and some were not, like: grain, wheat, corn, etc. We are asked to give God our bodies as a LIVING sacrifice. In the Greek “living” means lifetime. So our bodies are to be a forever sacrifice to God. They are to be holy and well pleasing to God which is our logical worship to God. The way we can do this is answered in verse 2. We are not to pattern our lifestyle after the world’s. We can do this by allowing the Holy Spirit to change the way we think about things. The Holy Spirit will give us discernment to know what is beneficial, what pleases God, and what is God’s complete will for our lives. This will take humility and a right mind that can believe by faith. We are all given different gifts to work together. God gave us the grace we will need to move in the gift he has given us. If we are given the gift of prophecy, then the degree we move in that gift is proportionate to the faith we have. If we are to be a minister, then we must wait for our ministry to come to us. The same with teaching or exhorting. (I have a friend who when asked what her spiritual gift was she said, “Exorcism” meaning exhortation. She didn’t realize what she had said till much later.) If our gift is giving then we should do it with sincerity and generosity. If our gift is to rule or preside then we should do that in a business earnest showing mercy and love. There are times that we will move in every gift and there are times we need to just move in our gift and let others move in theirs. That is being part of a whole - The Body. Lord, change our way of thinking. We give the Holy Spirit license to renew our minds in You that we would move in the gifts when they are needed.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Read Romans 11:24-36 We Gentiles are the branches that were cut out of the “wild tree” and grafted into the good olive tree. The olive tree is Israel; they are the “natural branches”. They will be grafted back in when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. Their eyes have been blinded so that they can’t see it till then. Then, their whole nation will be saved. They may be enemies of God right now because it is the Gentiles time, but they are still loved by God and destined to come back to Him. We can relate to them because there was a time when we didn’t know God and God reached down and opened our spiritual eyes so that we could believe. He will do the same thing to the Jew. Paul concludes that God is wise beyond our understanding and He is in total control. He has a plan that is well thought out and perfect. So how do we account for the fact that there are Jews today who do have eyes to see and have chosen Jesus as their Messiah? God always has forerunners that supersede God’s plan. They go ahead and plow the way for the others. They make the paths smooth. John the Baptist did this for Jesus. He paved the way for Jesus to walk on. They are the prophets and intercessors who can see the future before it happens. Their job is to pray, preach what they see and warn the people of what is coming. They do the dirty work, receive the persecution and usually live a very lonely life. Their reward is great! Today the forerunners are those who are living in the promise land now yet bearing the persecution of being misunderstood and ridiculed. They are going where no one thinks is safe and doing the work of the gospel with power and might. God is doing amazing things through these brave faithful warriors. I want to be one of them. Lord, give us the fortitude and desire to go ahead and pave the way for others to walk. Lead us into the battle.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Read Romans 11:12-23 Paul is prophesying into a time when the Gentiles will be used to bring the Jews back in. If the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus ended up in the Gentiles being grafted in, then how much greater will it be when the Jews come back in. It will be like the story of the prodigal son. The father will be so happy he will celebrate with much pomp. Paul is called to the Gentiles, but his heart is still to see his own people come to Jesus. When the Jews rejected Christ and God opened up the invitation to the world, many came in and still come in today. Before Jesus comes back again, the Jewish people will have their spiritual eyes opened and they will accept Jesus as their Messiah. This will be like the dead being brought back to life. The beginning of the Israelites was holy - Abraham. He was their root. But over time wild trees were grafted in and produced wild branches. To talk evil about the bad branches is to not have the spirit of God in you. Many of the Gentiles believed that the bad branches were broken off so that they might be grafted in. Paul explains that this is true: the wild branches were broken off and the Gentiles are grafted in by faith. But, he warns them not to get proud because if God didn’t spare the Jews when they had no faith, he will do the same to us if we have no faith. God is both gentle and severe. He is severe towards the Jews and gentle towards the Gentiles right now, but it is contingent on our belief. God can and will graft the Jews back in. Lord, we are gracious that you have grafted us in but our heart is to see your chosen people grafted back in. We pray peace and revelation to come to Israel.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Read Romans 11:1-11 God’s plan from the beginning has been to save the world, but he chose the Jewish nation to show how he deals with those who are his own. Being a Jew didn’t guarantee their salvation - trusting in God did. Just because they rebelled against God doesn’t mean that He gave up on his people. Paul explains that he is a Jew and he believes in Jesus even though most of the Jews didn’t. He compares it to the time of Elijah when he complained to God that he was the only prophet left serving him in 1 Kings 19:10. God’s reply was that there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed their knees to Baal. Then he told Paul that he was not the only Jew that was a Christian, but God had a remnant of people who believed Him according to the law of grace. I have to remind myself of that, like when I join a new gym, move to a new city or start a new job. God has his people everywhere. Sometimes we just need to let our light shine so that others of like-minds can see it and come to us. Maybe they think they are the only ones that are believers. The only way we will know is if we are bold in our conversation and actions. Looking back at Romans, only the Jews that were chosen obtained grace, the rest have been blinded by the spirit of slumber. Their spiritual eyes and ears have been closed by God. God did this so that through their fall, the Gentiles could come in. When the Jews see the Gentiles fall in love with their God and believe in Him it will provoke them to want to know him again. It is all a part of God’s plan to bring redemption to the whole world. Lord, may our lives be an example to everyone we meet of how we love you.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Read Romans 10 My conclusion of the last chapter is this: We all deserve judgment, but God chooses to have mercy on some and invite them to know him. It is my privilege, and hopefully yours that we have been invited into this great mercy called grace. Paul feels the same about Israel. He sees that they have a zeal for God, just no knowledge of who he is or what pleases him. Instead of finding out they have come up with their own form of righteousness. Christ put an end to that way of trying to be righteous enough to approach God. If you choose to follow Moses law to get to God then you must follow it to the tee. But, there is a better way which is by faith. We don’t have to go to heaven or hell to find it - it is found in our heart. I comes by confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. If you do this you will not be disgraced - God will save you. If salvation is this easy then we need to tell everyone, because how else will they know. That is why God give his people the commission to go spread the gospel. So faith is to anyone who hears and believes not just the Jew. In fact, Moses prophesied that God would use a people other than the Jews to know him and this intimacy that they have of God will cause the Jews to be jealous and upset. But Isaiah added that all the time God is stretching forth his hand to the Jewish people even though they are disobedient and they speak against God. Salvation by faith seems so easy and simple to us who have been taught this our whole lives, but what if you had been taught to do things to please God, and there is no way to know if you did. Then being saved by faith might seem preposterous to us too. It took a huge leap of faith to switch from law to grace for them. We like formulas - they are predictable. God is not a formula and walking with him is a walk of faith. Lord, give us the faith to walk with you.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Read Romans 9:17-33 We are continuing yesterdays thought. Pharaoh was raised up for God’s glory to be seen throughout the earth. Unfortunately for Pharaoh, his role was the bad guy. Nevertheless, God used him in a powerful way. I wonder how it felt to have your heart hardened so that you couldn’t make wise decisions. I wonder if he didn’t repent when it was all over with and turn to God. The whole world was looking at Egypt, the mightiest kingdom in the earth at the time. God used Egypt and its fall to show everyone that He was stronger and more powerful. I’m sure many, like Rahab turned to God through the stories they heard of what happened in Egypt. So the question is: If God chooses and rejects, pardons and punishes, whom He pleases, why are those blamed who cannot help sinning? God finally ends the argument over wills by saying that he is the potter and we are the clay and he decides if he shapes us into a vessel of value or shame. Then Paul asks a hypothetical question: What if God, after much patience on the vessels of wrath that are doomed to destruction, shows his power over them in order to contrast it to the mercy he will give to those who he had prepared for glory. Then Paul focuses on God’s great mercy that he would allow the Gentiles to be included in his mercy even though they weren’t the original “called” ones. God promised this extended mercy in Hosea 2:23. Hosea was the prophet that God told to go and marry a harlot as a picture of what God was going to do to Israel. He was going to bring judgment down on Israel that had become harlots with other gods, but then, after a while, he was going to extend mercy to her again and bring her back into the fold. God’s mercy triumphs over his judgment. Isaiah also prophecies about a remnant that will be saved. He likens it to a seed of righteousness that God allowed to live, that has kept the world from being destroyed because of their wickedness (just like Job was spared during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha). This is fulfilled in the Gentiles who receive salvation strictly by faith, not by following the law as the Jew did but did not have faith. They stumbled over the very rock of the Law - Jesus - where the Gentiles fell on it and were saved. Lord, I have to admit this is over my head in understanding but I just choose to believe you know what you are doing by faith. I totally trust in your plan.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Read Romans 9:1-16 Paul bemoans the fact that his people the Jews have for the most part rejected Jesus. God gave them the law and the promises and they were the reason Christ came, yet they are not all called to be his children just like all of Abraham’s children were not given the same promise. Isaac was the son who God chose to use to be called, not Ishmael. God gave Ishmael a different promise. He gives us another example: Isaac and Rebecca. They had the twins Esau and Jacob. Before the twins were even born, God chose to love Jacob and hate Esau. This is hard for us to swallow if we only see God as a fair loving God. He is a loving God with a purpose. He creates people for his purpose - good or bad. Prov. 16:4 says “The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” If you didn’t believe in predestination you would have to after this chapter. In verse 14 Paul asks the question we might have: Is God unrighteous that he would hate Esau? God forbid!!! (Paul does love that phrase!) Paul refers to what God told Moses when he told Moses that he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh didn’t have a choice in the matter. God’s will supersedes our will. This might make us upset to know that we aren’t in as much control as we thought but it should comfort us to know that God is not going to let us mess things up. He really is in control. Thank you for choosing to have mercy on us. We are humbly grateful!
Monday, August 19, 2013
Read Romans 8:31-39 If God be on our side, who can stand against us! What a powerful revelation! If God didn’t hold back the one thing he loved the most just to save us, he will surely not hold anything else from us. God will stand for us and defend us against the devil’s accusations. Jesus is at God’s right hand praying for us and standing up for us. Nothing can come between us and God’s love for us not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus. I once heard a great picture of what it means to be more than a conqueror. The guy who goes to the arena and fights a gruesome fight in the ring and wins the money is the conqueror, but the wife who sits at home waiting for that check is the one who is more than a conqueror. She did nothing but wait and believe in her husband and she got the money. Jesus is our fighter who went to the cross to purchase our salvation. We are the wife who waits for the check. Salvation is free. Jesus paid our price. He did it because he loves us so much. Nothing can separate us from this love; not death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, nor any other creature. How can we walk in any kind of fear if we truly grasp God’s great love. Lord, I needed this reminder this morning. Thank you for your undeserving unending love.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Read Romans 8:19-30 All creation is watching and waiting in anticipation of the sons of God to manifest on the earth. What does that mean??? He explains it in the next verses. It is because one day all creation is going to be delivered from the bondage of dying and decay into life and liberty. All creation is groaning and travailing for that very thing. We, as God’s creation also groan within our selves to become whole. How many times do you see a person in a wheel chair or with a deformity and want to put your hand on them and pray for them to be healed. That is a small part of this groaning. We all want to see the miracles that Jesus did done through our hands during our time on earth. That is part of what this is talking about. The other part is the desire to go to heaven. We all have that even though we also want to continue living because this is all we know. But, we are saved by that very hope that there is eternal life. Hope is to believe there is something coming that is better. When we have hope we are willing to patiently wait until we get it. We can only imagine what we are hoping for, but the Holy Spirit knows exactly what we are hoping for. He will help us know how to pray as we wait. He will intercede for us out of our groanings for something better. We do know this: that God works all things for our good. God, who knew us before we were born predestined us to be his sons. He not only predestined us, but he called us, justified us, and glorified us. He has already done all these things because God writes the beginning from the end. In other words he wrote our end first then he filled in the middle. Is. 46:10 says that God declares the end from the beginning. When God puts his blessing on someone the end is much better than the beginning. Lord, may your will be done in us. May we come forth as sons that bring life to death and healing to decay.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Read Ro. 8:1-18 For those who walk by the spirit, there is nothing to condemn. The law that the Spirit gives is life in Jesus which sets us free from the law that leads to death. The law of Moses couldn’t save them because their sins weakened it. God sent Jesus as a man to live a sinless life and give the law back its power through him. Christ condemned sin, thus making the law doable. If we are totally submitted to God then we will follow his spirit which will lead to life and peace. If we are concerned with fleshly things them we will follow them and they will lead us to death. Our flesh is not pleasing to God. If we have God’s spirit in us then we have the same spirit that raised Christ from the grave and defeated death. God’s spirit gives our bodies life. It is our obligation is to live by the spirit and not the flesh. When we live after the flesh, we have to die; but if we put to death the desires of the body, we will live. It is God’s aim to kill our flesh. If we don’t do it, he will give us opportunities where we will have a choice. Mine usually come in very humbling experiences where my pride exalts itself and God comes along and humbles me. I am so grateful for those experiences even though they hurt, because I know God’s way is better and things go much better when He is in control. The good news is that when we learn to walk in the spirit, we become God’s son. God adopts us out of fear and bondage into the family of God where He is our Abba, Father. Then our spirit syncs with God’s Holy Spirit and we are given a confidence from the Holy Spirit that can’t be taken away. The Holy Spirit’s witness is like the legal papers of our adoption. Now we are legal heirs of everything God gave Jesus. When we suffer, he suffers, and when he is glorified, we are glorified. Lord, we learned today that we are heirs of everything you gave Jesus, so help us to walk in that truth. Help us to have confidence to lay hands on the sick, give freely, and not walk in fear.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Read Romans 7 We are back on track today. The law is only in affect as long as the person is alive. If your spouse dies, you are no longer yoked by law to them and are free to remarry if you want. It is a picture of what happen spiritually. Once we die with Christ we are no longer yoked by the law and are free to live to Christ. We now live by the spirit instead of the law. When you live by the law you will always end up deserving death because you won’t be able to live without breaking it. But being free from the law doesn’t make the law sin. God forbid! :) The law was set up to show us we were sinners. The problem is that the law makes our flesh want to break it. It is human nature to want to defy law. The commandments were written to show us how to live, but they ended up producing death in us instead. But there is more to the law than the surface. They are holy and spiritual and have spiritual meaning to us today. They show us what is holy to God and can bring life to us. Our dilemma is that our flesh that wars against our spirit. That produces wrong decisions and wrong actions. Only Jesus can change our hearts to want to do the things that are written in the law and defeat our fleshly desires. Lord, thank you for the Holy Spirit, who is our spiritual law. Give us a heart to want you above our flesh. Help us to put on the armor of God everyday and not give in to the desires of our flesh.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Read 2 Chronicles 25:1-9 I am going to do something I don't usually do. I'm going to jump track and share something God showed me yesterday. A friend had called me the night before to pray for her. She felt like she had given her daughter the wrong advise and had really blown it. I tried to explain to her that we are not powerful enough to mess up God's will. God loves to redeem our messes and will if we only ask him. I've never had a situation that God couldn't fix even when there seemed to be no way. God makes a way where there seems to be no way. The next day I was reading in 2 Chronicles about King Amaziah. He became the new king of Judah and began to establish his kingdom by killing his enemies. He had 300,000 fighting men but decided he needed more so he hired 100,000 from Israel to fight with him. A prophet came to him and told him that God didn't want Israel fighting with them because God was not with Israel at the time because of their sin. He explained to the king that if he took the Israelites into battle God would fight against them. King Amaziah then asked the prophet what he should do about the 100 talents he had paid for the troops and the prophet answered that the Lord could give him so much more than that. That gave me such comfort that no matter the cost of my mistake, God can restore it. We all make mistakes but if our heart to is follow God, then he will have our back. Lord, thank you for your compassion and loving kindness. Your mercies have no end and they are NEW every morning.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Read Romans 6 This first question makes me laugh. How human can we get? Apparently some of their followers asked the question: If we are living under grace does it matter if we sin? Now that is the question of a new believer or a believer who is living in sin and wants to continue and not feel condemned. Paul answers this with a resounding, “God forbid!” If sin is dead in us, why would we want to resurrect it? If we have been baptized then we died to ourselves and came out of the water alive to Christ. It is like we are dying with Christ and rising from the dead with him. So we should walk out our lives as new creations. We are no longer servants to sin, but set free. Just like Christ, now death has no power over us. We have to choose to not walk in sin, it is not natural until we change our thought patterns. All we have to do is yield ourselves to God and allow him to use us. I love what verse 14 says: “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” What a great confession when we feel tempted. So the answer to whether we should be sinning under the covenant of grace is still a resounding: “God forbid.” If we do give into our sinful nature then it becomes our master - not God. Then we are compelled to serve it. BUT, if we give ourselves over to God to be his servant then we can be holy. WE DON’T HAVE TO SIN!!! This is something the devil does not want us to get. He wants us to live under the weight of sin and condemnation. God wants us to live free of sin bearing holy fruit that leads to everlasting life. The gift of sin is death, but God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus. Is there any question to which one you want? Lord, help us to live free of sin and condemnation. We yield ourselves as your instruments of righteousness.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Read Romans 5:8-21 It is hard for us to comprehend this but God doesn’t love us for anything we can do or give him. He just IS love. He loved us before we knew him and didn’t know how to act. He loves us even more, now that we are washed from our sins through the blood of Jesus. Now we live unto Jesus, not ourselves. Sin entered through the world through Adam - not Eve. Adam’s willful sin spread to every offspring. Sin brought death. Men sinned before they knew there was a law against their actions - there just wasn’t a law to condemn them. They still reaped the consequences of their sin, no matter how small, which was death. Moses came and brought the law which made them accountable and knowledgeable about what sin was. The reason why Adam’s sin was so great was because he was a type of Jesus. Through Adam sin entered the world so that through Jesus sin could be made void through belief. Adam’s sin brought death and Jesus’ death brought life. God offers this great grace to anyone who believes. Adam’s sin brought condemnation and Jesus’ death brought justification. I love verse 20 because it is so true. If you see a city that has a great outpouring of God’s spirit; it will have a great influence of evil. But verse 20 also tells us which one has the most power - grace. God is alway the winner so there is no reason to fear the demonic. It is a smoke screen to cause us to fear, but perfect love casts out all fear! Lord, help us to walk in the power of grace and what you did for us. May we not ever be afraid of the enemy.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Read Romans 5:1-7 I really didn’t want Romans to go by this quickly but Romans is a book of doctrines. Paul expounds so meticulously on each part that he uses many examples to explain the same thing. He wants to make sure we “get it”. Today’s lesson is in how our faith triumphs through our tribulations. We learned in the last chapter that our faith is what makes us righteous and gives us peace and assurance. Our faith is made stronger when we go through hard times. Trials work patience in us when we don’t get the answer or the deliverance when we expect or want it. It makes us dig deep into our soul and ask ourselves hard questions like, ‘will we still choose to believe God?’. Trials give us experiences that teach us better than any book could. Our experiences bring about hope. It is the stories of the way God moved in our lives in the past that give us hope for the future. I just got back from Ghana, Africa with a team from my church. On the last day we went shopping and one of our team members left her purchases in the van and we were about to get on the plane. We prayed that she would get them back in time. She did. A little later, our leader left her I-Pad at the airport in Germany. She was given little hope that she would get it back. I told her she would. See, I had seen the miracle of the first lady and knew God would do it again. She got an e-mail saying they had found it. Experiences give us hope in a God who doesn’t get weary coming to our rescue. Lord, it is the little “set backs” that give us the greatest stories of your faithfulness. Thank you!
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Read Romans 4 Paul tries over and over again to explain to us that our righteousness doesn’t have to do with our good works, but our faith. Our faith is what makes us righteous. This faith is a blanket over our sins. If we are trying to be righteous by our works we begin to work out of a sense of debt, not sincerity. Our faith erases sin. The truth is that our faith in God will produce good works. Abraham was considered righteous before the law of circumcision was given. Circumcision was a seal over his righteousness like baptism is a seal of our salvation. Abraham is our father even though we no longer circumcise for religious reasons. God’s promise to Abraham was not his if he kept the law, but if he continued to have faith in God. The law causes us to be sinners because we can’t keep it. If there is no law then no one sins. So it is by grace, not law, that the promises of God are made effective. God told Abraham he would be a father of many nations before he had a son so it would require faith for it to come to pass. He had to have faith to believe what he could not see or understand. Abraham chose to believe that he could produce offspring from a very old body whose wife was 100 years old and barren. Instead of stumbling over the obvious, he chose to believe what was obvious to God alone. He chose to believe that God could do what he said he would do however he chose. His faith made him righteous before God. Abraham was our example of what God can do through us if we only believe. Lord, may we put our trust in you and believe the impossible.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Read Romans 2:12-29 Before Jesus came, the Jews lived by the law and were judged according to how they obeyed it. The Gentiles were exempt from being judged by the law because it wasn’t given to them and they were not taught what it said. All the Jewish nation heard the law spoken by Moses but only those who obeyed it actually were justified. Those who don’t have the law know instinctively what is right because they have been given a conscience that becomes their law. They are judged by how they listen to it. Paul asks the Jew, who boasts that he knows the law, if he obeys it or only talks it. It is easy to tell someone else what to do, but not so easy to do it yourself. If a person doesn’t act on what he is teaching he gives the Gentiles a reason to blaspheme God because he is being a hypocrite and making God look like a liar. Paul asks them another question. Why would you be circumcised as an act of claiming allegiance to God, then not show honor to God with your life? Being a follower of God is more than circumcision: it is a heart matter that that comes from your spirit. It is not an act of piety to look good in front of others. How true this is to us. It is not how much we read the Bible or know about God and Jesus; it is how we live for him or better: die for him. If we are dead to ourselves then he is free to live through us with power and freedom. Lord, may we die daily to our plans and live joyfully for you.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Read Ro. 1:24- 2:11 We ended yesterday talking about the idols man made to worship of the things God had created, which he never meant man to worship. God gave them over to this evil practice of idolatry. It included all kinds of perverted sex and lust-driven rituals that included homosexual and lesbian acts that went against the nature of man and God. This practice led to all other sins listed in verse 29 - 31. They did these things knowing that one day they would be subject to God’s judgment and be found worthy of death. But instead of repenting, they judged one another for what they were doing themselves. Only God can judge because he alone is Truth. No one can stand in their own righteousness, so to judge another person is to call down judgment on themselves. To judge is to desire punishment on someone when it is God’s nature to be long-suffering, forbearing, and good. It is God’s goodness that leads people to repentance. If we could really grasp that, we would love more and judge less. It goes back to God’s greatest commandment which is to love God and the second greatest to love one another. He wasn’t distinguishing between Christian and non-Christian - he just said to love one another. If we have hard, unrepentant hearts, all that is in our hearts will be saved up and used against us on the day of judgment. If we patiently continue to walk in doing God’s will, then we will reap glory, honor, and eternal life. If we choose evil, we will reap God’s wrath and indignation, and the tribulation. On the day of judgment the Jew will be judged first, then the Gentile. God will show no partiality in judgment. Lord, help us to love everyone; especially those who are not easy to love.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Read Ro. 1:14-23 Paul felt an obligation to preach the gospel to all people, no matter their nationality or status. He knew that the gospel was something he was proud to share because it was backed by the power of God. It was salvation to first the Jew, then the Gentile. Paul’s mode of operation was to go into a new town and offer the gospel to the Jews first in the synagogue. When they refused it, he was free to preach to the Gentiles. All through the Bible, God taught that justification comes by faith, not by the law. Abraham was justified by his faith. (Heb. 11). Even though no one taught Abraham that to believe was the key, not his righteousness, he knew by revelation. All the hidden things of God are revealed through the things he made. Even the Godhead is evident through nature. Plants have roots hidden beneath the ground that hold the whole plant in place. They stand for God who is our foundation. The stem and the plant springs up from the ground and bears fruit just as Jesus came to earth to bear the fruit of God. Inside the plant is the life and nourishment of the plant which is invisible to the eye. That is the Holy Spirit that brings us life. We can’t even come to God unless the Holy Spirit draws us. He is our life and breath. God’s fingerprint is on everything he has made so we are without excuse not to believe in a God, His Son, and His Holy Sprit. But, instead of being thankful to have such a wonderful God, they became jealous and prideful and they became deceived in their hearts. They thought they were wise like God and made images of Him and reduced him to a bird or a beast. This is Satan’s tactic: take honor from God and make man think he is like God. Isn’t that what he told Eve in the garden when he told her that if she ate the apple she wold be wise like God? Lord, we come against pride that would try to deceive us into thinking we can do anything apart from you and that you aren’t enough just as you are. We praise you!