Tag Archives: Romans

Job 23

God’s Commands

I read something today that made me stop and think.

I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart. – Job 23:12

What commands?

The events of the book of Job would have taken place around 1700 BC.

God’s commands won’t be written down until hundreds of years in the future (about 1500 BC) when Moses receives them on the tablets, and then by direct conversation with God during the sojourn in the wilderness. So what commands is Job referring to?

In doing research, I found that there were earlier codified forms of law.

The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known tablet containing a law code surviving today. It was written in the Sumerian language ca. 2100-2050 BC. – Wikipedia

Then there is the famous code of Hammurabi.

The Code of Hammurabi (Codex Hammurabi) is a well-preserved ancient law code, created ca. 1790 BC in ancient Babylon. It was enacted by the sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi. One nearly complete example of the Code survives today, inscribed on a seven foot, four inch tall basalt stele in the Akkadian language in the cuneiform script. – Wikipedia

And there were others. So it would appear that there was enough law available from which of determine right and wrong. At least right and wrong as defined by man. But what about God’s definition of right and wrong?

For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. – Romans 1:19-20

The writer of Romans makes it clear that from the time the world was created people have had knowledge of God. The only issue has been, what they do with that knowledge.

Father, unlike Job I actually have your written word, your will for my life readily available. May I have a burning desire to do what it says so that in all my ways I please you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read it, Live it. Jan

1 Timothy 1

Unsealed Orders

During WWII my grandmother, then in a German slave-labor camp with her family, was given sealed-orders to bring to the commander of a different camp to which she and her family were being transferred. Her maiden name was Hoffman and she was trying to convince them that she was of German descent. Non-Germans were often worked to death, whereas those of German origin were treated less harshly.

Prior to arriving at the other camp my grandmother carefully steamed the envelope open, unsealing the orders. They stated that if the commander was not fully satisfied that she and her family were German, they should be taken out and immediately executed.

In reading Paul’s letter to Timothy I noticed some unsealed-orders.

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they give you the confidence to fight well in the Lord’s battles. – 1 Timothy 1:18

Paul gave him instructions that were going to be crucial in aiding Timothy in the great war in which he was engaged. So what were those orders that inspired confidence to fight well?

  • Don’t let people waste time in spiritual arguments. – 1 Timothy 1:4
  • Cling tightly to faith in Christ. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Always keep a clear conscience. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Pray for everyone. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Plead for God’s mercy for everyone – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Give thanks. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Pray with actions, not just words. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Pray free from anger and controversy. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Be faithful. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be self-controlled – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Live well. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Cultivate a good reputation. 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be hospitable. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be a capable teacher. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be temperate (not a drunkard). – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Be gentle – peace loving. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Not motivated by money. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Manage your family well. – 1 Timothy 3:4
  • Don’t be prideful. – 1 Timothy 3:6
  • Have integrity. – 1 Timothy 3:8
  • Be responsible. – 1 Timothy 3:10
  • Receive everything with a thankful heart. – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
  • Don’t waste time in arguments. – 1 Timothy 4:7
  • Exercise both physically and even more spiritually. – 1 Timothy 4:8
  • Work hard, suffer if you must. – 1 Timothy 4:10
  • Teach others; insist they learn. – 1 Timothy 4:11
  • Your youth is not an obstacle. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Be an example in; life, love, faith, and purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Encourage others by teaching them from the scriptures. – 1 Timothy 4:13
  • Be enthusiastic in your mission. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Let others see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Check regularly to ensure you don’t stray from the truth. – 1 Timothy 4:16
  • Never speak harshly to elders. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Speak to younger men as you would your own brothers. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Treat older women as you would your mother. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Ensure that true widows’ needs are met. – 1 Timothy 5:3-7
  • Those who work hard for God should be paid for their work. – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
  • Unless there are 2 or 3 witnesses, do not listen to accusations against leaders. – 1 Timothy 5:19
  • Publicly rebuke those who sin. – 1 Timothy 5:20
  • Be impartial, no favoritism. – 1 Timothy 5:21
  • Take your time in appointing leaders, don’t be hasty. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Don’t take part in other people’s sin – stay pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Take your medicine. Being sick doesn’t help anyone. – 1 Timothy 5:23
  • Workers should honor their employers by working hard. – 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  • Teach these truths to others and encourage others to obey them. – 1 Timothy 6:2
  • If your material needs are being met, be content. – 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Don’t let money tempt you and derail you. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Run from evil things. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Pursue, run after, a godly life. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Continue to fight God’s battle. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Hold tightly to what you’ve come to believe. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • In purity obey Christ Jesus’ commands! – 1 Timothy 6:13
  • Trust the living God. – 1 Timothy 6:17
  • Know that God richly gives you everything you need for enjoyment. – 1 Timothy 6:18
  • Tell the wealthy to use their money to do good. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • Guard what God has entrusted you with. – 1 Timothy 6:20
  • Avoid foolish godless foolish discussions with those who think they are wise. – 1 Timothy 6:20

Wow, what a list! And I’ve probably missed some.

Father, thank you for inspiring Paul to write this. Please help me to make this part of my life as Timothy did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And yes, my grandmother did convince the German commander. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Jan

Romans 16

Mission Possible

I used to watch the TV series Mission Impossible. I think every episode started with a tape recording device playing an assignment for the team to undertake. The last thing you would hear from the tapes was, “This tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds. Good luck Jim.” Jokingly, I used to change that to, “This tape will self-destruct, you have 10 seconds to reach minimum safe distance of 3 miles. Good luck Jim.”

I’ve been entrusted with a secret mission. One that my creator planned from the founding of the world.

God is able to make you strong, just as the Good News says. It is the message about Jesus Christ and his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. – Romans 16:25

My mission is to tell the world about Jesus. Yet some people won’t believe. In fact some people will oppose me and even lie about me and the message. Just like the self-destructing tape, these people are destined for self-destruction. I’m commanded to keep a safe distance from them.

And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. – Romans 16:17

Unless you want to be in the blast radius when God deals with them, follow Paul’s instructions and stay away.

Father, thank you for entrusting me with the mission. May I do my part well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Good Luck, Jan

Romans 15

Just as I am

The hymn “Just as I am” is a salvation classic (if there is such a term). I would venture to guess that more people have come to Christ hearing that song play than any other in all of recorded history. It was written by a woman named Charlotte Elliot in 1835.

“An elderly man asked Charlotte Elliott if she were a Christian; she felt insulted, and told him to mind his own affairs. But after the man left, she could not get the question off her mind, and she went back to ask the man how to find Christ. He told her to come just as she was. She did, and wrote the beautiful song, “Just As I Am.” – By B. A. Scherr”

I wonder if Charlotte Elliot had any idea of how far her song would go when she wrote it ?

The title of that song came to me as I was reading the following verse from Paul.

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified. – Romans 15:7

What kind of person was I at the point Christ accepted me? What kind of person were you? Did you have your life cleaned up, no issues, no problems, no hangups, no idiosyncracies, no prejudices, no sins, no faults?

Or were you like me, a person deserving of hell?

If we’re honest, we all were. Yet Christ accepted us.

Paul very clearly says in the verse above, that just as Christ accepted me, I’m to accept others. That means before they are clean, whole, and holy I am to accept them. Just as they are. And when I do, I bring glory to God. Why? Because I’m behaving like his son; I look like his son and thereby reveal God’s glory.

Father, may I be more like Jesus every day. Please give me that desire deep within that cannot be contained. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Without one plea… Jan

Romans 14

I’m not God

It is so easy to fall into the trap of judging or condemning someone else. They may not be doing work the way that I think it should be done. They might simply be sitting around… Paul had some rather blunt words for people who are quick to judge.

Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. – Romans 14:4

Although Paul is specifically speaking about eating certain types of foods, and observing or celebrating certain days, the principle holds for nearly everything in life. To emphasize the fact, he reiterated the point one more time.

So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say,

‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow to me
and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.’

Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God. So don’t condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian’s path.  – Romans 14:10-13

Since I’m not God, I have no right to decide how one of his servants is doing as long as they are not in outright sin. However, if I am entrusted with leadership over someone, then delgated authority comes into play and I am commanded to exercise the authority invested in me by Christ.

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. – 1 Corinthians 5:12

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of sin. It is our job to ensure that the sin is not contaminating the rest of the body of believers.

Father, may I know when to shut-up and when to speak; when to act and when to watch. Please give me wisdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m just me. Jan

Romans 13

Love

I know a man who recently posted the following on his web blog. It was about the subject of love.

“What is the TEST” to see if they are really Christians…? Or Not…? Is it ‘Love’… or is it… “Truth?”

Is it “Love”… or is it… “Belief in the Total Authority of the Word of God… that Identifies a “Real Christian”… a believer in “Christ Jesus”…?  I believe that the Teaching of the Word of God… identifies that one… by their… “Validity of the Authority of The Word of God!”

Yes, the strange capitalization and punctuation are his; I did not embellish or alter anything. He is a rather unusual man who, whether he knows it or not, revealed the true problem with his belief system in the above sentences. He does not understand love, nor does he truly intimately know the author of love. If he did, his relationship would not be based on works of law, but on works of love. Paul wrote about works of love in Romans 13. In fact he called it our debt.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. – Romans 13:8-10

Did you catch that last statement? Love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Period.

Jesus said something very similar.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:38-40

I used the King James Version because I love the symbolism of the word “hang”. Loving God, and Loving People are like two nails, or pegs which up hold the entirety of the law on a shelf or dangling from a rope. If you pull a nail or peg out, the shelf comes crashing down. Now, notice that it isn’t just some ephemeral love. It is specific. Jesus said to love God with all we’ve got, heart, soul, and mind. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We don’t serve God out of duty or a compulsion to fulfill the obligations of the law. No, we serve out of love for him. Likewise, if I love someone in the same way I love myself, I do not want that person harmed. I want to see good for them, which includes knowing Christ as their savior. By doing this, I’m upholding all of the law in the process.

Father, may I show love, your love, to everyone. Please give me the grace and courage to do so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, and love some more. Jan

Romans 12

Value by Faith

There is a famous Bible quote about the subject of faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

Sort of cryptic isn’t it?

In a nutshell, it says that faith is the tangible part of the expected, what you don’t have yet. It is the thing that you can sort-of touch, the thing that you have some control over.

In reading today I noticed that we are to measure our value by our faith.

As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. – Romans 12:3

Hmm, I find that a strange statement… measure my value… I was under the impression that we are all equally valuable to God. After all, Jesus died for me. That means that God placed the highest value on me he could when he allowed his son to be sacrificed in my stead. So I guess that means that this passage in Romans is referring to something other than personal worth. But what?

I think the section that follows it brings that to light. Notice the operative words that I’m italicizing below.

We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. – Romans 5b-8

Everything that follows (all the way through the end of the chapter) is in the context of others.

How is your faith lived out? What is your value? How do you know how much faith you have?

It is in the context of how others benefit from it.

Prophecy is for the benefit of others. Teaching is for the benefit of others. Sharing means others benefit. Leadership is helping others get to where God wants them. And the list goes on; honor others, be helpful, be hospitable, bless, share in joy and sorrow, live in peace, do good.

Why?

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. – Romans 12:11

Because when we do this we are actually serving the Lord.

Father, may I live in such a way as to be valuable. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faithful one, are you valuable to others? Jan

Romans 11

Little Flowers

Today as I was reading I was reminded of the book, Little Flowers by St. Francis of Assisi. In it is the following account of a trip he took with a fellow friar.

CHAPTER VIII
HOW ST FRANCIS, WALKING ONE DAY WITH BROTHER LEO, EXPLAINED TO HIM WHAT THINGS ARE PERFECT JOY

One day in winter, as St Francis was going with Brother Leo from Perugia to St Mary of the Angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him:

“Brother Leo, if it were to please God that the Friars Minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy.”

A little further on, St Francis called to him a second time: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

After proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: “O Brother Leo, thou little lamb of God! if the Friars Minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters – write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, Brother Leo wondered much within himself; and, questioning the saint, he said: “Father, I pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy.”

St Francis answered: “If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, ‘We are two of the brethren’, he should answer angrily, ‘What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone I say’; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy.

And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, ‘Begone, miserable robbers! to to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!’ – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, ‘These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve’; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.

And now, brother, listen to the conclusion. Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt; for in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God, according to the words of the Apostle, ‘What hast thou that thou hast not received from God? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’ But in the cross of tribulation and affliction we may glory, because, as the Apostle says again, ‘I will not glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.”

I was reminded once again that there is nothing that we can give to God to compare with what he has given us.

For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen. – Romans 11:34-36

The only thing we have that we can give God, that has any worth whatsoever, is how we respond to circumstances of this life. Do we bring him glory through it or not?

Father, may I bring you glory in whatever comes my way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Practice Perfect Joy. Jan

Romans 10

Been there, Done that

Have you ever done something in a way where you are convinced, even adamant, that your way is the right way, only to find out later that you were wrong? Dead wrong?

The Apostle Paul was just such a man. He was raised to be a leader among men, taught by the best teachers. He knew the Law and the Prophets better than most. When Christianity appeared on the scene he was convinced that it was perversion of all that he knew and held to be true. Only when confronted by Christ Jesus himself on the road to Damascus did he recognize the depth and breath of his error. His enthusiasm and zeal for what he thought was right had actually been working against the very thing he’d been working for, hoping for, and longing for his entire life. So, when Paul penned his letter to the Roman Christians, he knew that he’d been there, done that.

I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Instead, they are clinging to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. They won’t go along with God’s way. – Romans 10:2-3

Eventually, as we know, Paul did go along with God’s way. He listened to the Good News.

Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news—the Good News about Christ. – Romans 10:17

God can use anything from our past to help someone else, even ourselves. But we need to let him.

Lord, thank you that Paul did listen. Help me to look for ways to encourage others with the lessons that you’ve taught me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t go there, don’t do that, Jan

Romans 9

My Purpose

I used to joke with people that the purpose of my life was to serve as a warning to others. The statement comes from a de-motivational poster.

However, today I read this from the Apostle Paul.

For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you, and so that my fame might spread throughout the earth.” – Romans 9:17

Um, kinda sounds like the poster. The purpose of Pharaoh’s life was to serve as a warning to others.

But imagine knowing your purpose, knowing exactly what you were built to do and then following that path unwaveringly. Appealing isn’t it?

My family and I have been watching a SciFi channel program on DVD, StarGate Atlantis. In a recent episode, Dr. Rodney McKay created an artificial human using nano-technology – a Replicator. This machine’s sole purpose for existing was to serve as a weapon against an enemy comprised of other sentient nano-technology Replicators. In the fulfillment of her purpose she would be destroyed.  As they are approaching the time and place where she would deploy a very interesting exchange of dialog occurs.  “Fran” is the name Dr. McKay gave her – Friendly Replicator ANdroid.

(Fran the Replicator is gazing out of the window as hyperspace rushes past. It turns and looks at Rodney as he types on a computer tablet.)
FRAN
: This is quite exciting, isn’t it?
(Rodney looks up at it awkwardly.)
McKAY: It’s a bit nerve-wracking, yeah.
FRAN: I quite look forward to it.
McKAY: You do?
FRAN: One always wishes to fulfill one’s purpose.
(Behind Rodney, Radek is frowning at Fran in surprise.)
McKAY: … Right. And you’re fine with all this?
FRAN: Why would I not be? It’s my reason for being.
McKAY: Well, I know. It’s just that you’re … you’re gonna cease to be.
FRAN: Yes.
McKAY: Well, I just … I just imagined you’d rather keep being than, uh … uh, than not.
FRAN: Certainly you’re not worried for me, are you, Doctor?
McKAY: No, no, that would be silly.
FRAN (smiling at him): Yes, it would.

One always wishes to fulfill one’s purpose… Am I doing that? Or do I complain or try to avoid the things I feel, or even know, that my creator has ordained for me to do? Wouldn’t that be silly?

Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction. He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy—even upon us, whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. – Romans 9:20b-24

God has a purpose for each of us. If there is a conviction of sin in you, if you feel the weight of wrong when you do it, that means that God has given you the gift of being able to receive his mercy. Otherwise he would not torment you with guilt that cannot be assuaged. And if you know you are not right with God there is always hope. I know, I’ve read ahead to the next chapter.

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:9-13

The word anyone means just that, anyone. If you believe (not an intellectual exercise, but one of obedience too) then you will be saved.

Father, thank you for making me. May I fulfill my purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I quite look forward to it… Jan

Romans 8

Not an absence of war

I noticed something today while reading in the book of Romans that I’d not seen before.

If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

The word peace jumped out at me. It is the greek word “Eirene” it means; peace, quietness, rest, and an additional thing, one.

What I was struck by was the difference I’ve seen in people who truly are controled by the Holy Spirit and those who are not. Those who are controled by the Spirit not only have peace, they are peace. They bring it to wherever they go. That peace is tangible, they exude a quietness and gentleness that brings a true oneness to those of like mind – those controled by the Spirit.

Lord, may I exude peace. Please give me the grace to truly allow the Holy Spirit to control my mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be peace, Jan

Romans 7

My Debt

I have a debt I can’t pay. The debt is solely mine. Even if I could borrow and beg from every one of my friends, even dare to steal from those not so friendly, I can’t come up with enough. The bill is gathering interest continually. There is seemingly no way out, and Lex, the collection man is getting closer each day.

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?  – Romans 7:24

There is an answer. If I die there is nobody to collect from. Since this debt is mine alone, the only thing that can be done with it is to write it off as uncollectible after my demise.

So this is the point: The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. – Romans 7:4

Yes, I’m refering to my debt of sin. And when I willingly chose to die with Christ Jesus on his cross, accepting his payment, in full, for my sin-debt. It immediately became uncollectible.

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:25a

And now as a result of having the unpayable debt lifted from me, I am free to produce fruit that goes toward Christ and his kingdom, not toward a creditor – the law – that I could never hope to pay off.

Father, thank you for the gift of new life, a fresh start. In Jesus’ wonderfilled name, Amen.

Paid in full. Jan

Romans 6

Live for the Glory

St. Ireneus said that, “The glory of God is a man fully alive”.

In light of that statement I found the following verses of particular interest.

He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:10-11

What an unique way of looking at how the glory is revealed. I suppose we are like a seed planted in the ground. The seed, while fascinating, is not something glorious to behold. However, let it germinate and then flower; what glory bursts out! We too, are dark crusty seeds. Only when planted in the death of Christ, can the resurrection of our souls happen. Only then is the husk of our sinful nature shed to fully reveal the glory concealed within, a glory that was placed there at our creation.

You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. – Psalm 139:13-17

God made you and me to reveal his workmanship, his glory to the world. He knew exactly what type of unique flower would burst from the dead husk of my sin to grace a dying world with his beauty and fragrance. He made me come alive for his glory.

Father, may I reveal your glory in the way you intended. Please give me deep roots and plenty of nutrients – your word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Push deep roots into his word and push high toward the son. Jan

Romans 5

Triumph in the Air

Many years ago, when Christian Rock was still somewhat of a novelty, I discovered an artist who had a unique operatic, epic quality to her vocals. Her band members were all accomplished in their own right, and together they made for an amazing presentation. They even had lights, lasers, and smoke generators! For a teenager it was all very exciting.

Now days most people know this person because of her involvement with Women of Faith or possibly with her past involvement with the 700 club on Christian TV.

As I read the following passage I was reminded of her.

The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17

What specifically brought her to mind were the words “triumph over sin”. One of her songs was entitled “Triumph in the Air”.

Yes, it is Sheila Walsh. And she is still living in the triumph that Jesus provided for her. It is because of another item that stuck out in that same passage of scripture, the word righteousness.

You see, righteousness in the context above, is a gift; it is not something that we work toward, or somehow arrive at. No, God gave us righteousness.

That means that when he looks at you and me he see us as right in his sight.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life.  – Romans 5:18

And since we are right in God’s sight – righteous – we have eternal life.

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:21

Because we know that we will have triumph in the air, we can rejoice in all hardships. We can endure all scorn, shame, and deprivation. For we are friends of God.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. – Romans 5:11

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus and his reconciling of us to you. Thank you for your kindness, for making this possible. May I never cease to be amazed by this gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Triumph indeed. Jan

Romans 3

An Unpayable Debt

When I was about ten years old my brother and I had way too much time on our hands. My mother worked a late shift at a factory, and my father, exhausted from a long day of work gave us boys freedom – too much freedom.

Wherever they go, destruction and misery follow them.
They do not know what true peace is.
They have no fear of God to restrain them. – Romans 3:16-18

One evening we found ourselves in a condominium project that had apparently run out of money to complete the construction. Something is hard-wired in a boy to where they love to see things break and blow up… We found some chunks of concrete and started breaking things. To make a long story short; the event involved police, a ride in the back of a cruiser, humiliated and mortified parents, angry construction project owners, and two very guilty boys.

For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. – Romans 3:23

It was clear that my brother and I had sinned, sinned against the owners of the condominium, our parents, and against God. We had broken laws and hearts. Our parents could never afford to replace or fix the damage that my brother and I had caused…

Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. – Romans 3:24

I do not remember his name and I don’t know the exact details, but the owner had mercy on my parents. He worked out an arrangement whereby my brother and I would spend every day after school, and all day during summer, working in and around that condominium complex cleaning, doing whatever grunt work was required. We were forgiven a debt we could never repay and in its place asked to do, what now in retrospect was, light, easy work.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.  – Romans 3:27-28

There was nothing we could have done to make up for our sins, but we were forgiven. In comparison to our mountain of crime, our “good deeds” didn’t amount to a feather-pillow. Yet by the time our term of service was over we were free. We had faith that when the man in charge told us not to return that we would never face punishment for that crime again. The unpayable debt had been forgiven.

Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.  – Romans 3:31

Likewise, when we come to Christ Jesus we have a mountain of sin piled up that we could never remove ourselves. We must trust the man in charge who states, “I forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” By believing, accepting his words as true – that the sin is indeed paid-in-full – it is. And thereby the law and its need for retribution is fulfilled.

Father, thank you for sending your sinless son to do what I couldn’t. He took the weight of my sin and set me free. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Go and sin no more. – Jan

Romans 2

Revealed Truth

Ouch! Paul pulls no punches in this second chapter of Romans. He started out in chapter one by praising the Roman Christians, and then spoke about how sinful the world is. Now he lowers the boom on the Roman Christians.

You may be saying, “What terrible people you have been talking about!” But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? – Romans 2:1-4

I have to wonder, does he know about something specific, or is he simply laying out a foundation for more later?

As further chapters will reveal, that is exactly what he is doing – establishing groundwork for a discussion.

But, what about the Romans reading this letter. Would they have known nothing of Jewish laws and customs that Paul would write to them as if they were wholly ignorant?

In his Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus mentioned that in about 40AD 8,000 Roman Jews had sided with someone in a lawsuit. Since women and children were not permitted to take part in a lawsuit, that would mean that there were upwards of 40,000 Jews living in Rome around the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. From inscriptions on ancient tombstones in the Jewish catacombs it can be determined that there were at least 12 different synagogues in and around the city of Rome. So it is not like there was no knowledge or awareness of Jewish laws and customs among the Roman Christians. Further, statistical probability would indicate that not all of the new converts were of non-Jewish origin.

From this evidence it is clear that there certainly should have been knowledge of Jewish laws among the Roman believers.

I think the following verse supports my thought that Jews were part of the Roman church.

If you are a Jew, you are relying on God’s law for your special relationship with him. You boast that all is well between yourself and God. – Romans 2:17

Paul is clearly working on ensuring that the foundation of the Roman Christians’ belief system is one that conforms to what he understands to be the truth as revealed to him personally by the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, I solemnly assure you that the Good News of salvation which I preach is not based on mere human reasoning or logic. For my message came by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ himself. No one else taught me. – Galatians 1:11-12

Therefore, since Paul knew exactly what it was to be a Christ-follower, he wanted to ensure that these converts, that he had no personal involvement with, would receive the truth as it was revealed to him; not as Jewish converts would have them believe.

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people. – Romans 2:28-29

The truth is that an inward change, a change of heart produced by God’s Holy Spirit is the mark of being a believer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Paul’s tenacity. It is because of his determination to ensure the complete truth was shared that we know what it really means to believe in your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Shalom, Jan

Romans 1

Miracle Grow

The first chapter of Romans is such an interesting chapter of the bible. Paul is writing to a church of non-Jewish believers that he personally had not started. He was somewhat pleasantly surprised to learn of their existence. He writes about hearing of their faith, praying for them, being proud of them. Then he writes the following:

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can share a spiritual blessing with you that will help you grow strong in the Lord. – Romans 1:10-11

Miracle_Grow

I find it fascinating that he assumes, no he knows, that he possesses some spiritual blessing, some spiritual gift as other translations state, that they have not already received. This gift, when delivered will help them “grow strong in the Lord”.

I’m definitely curious as to what this miracle grow that Paul has to deliver is all about. What about you?

Well, hopefully as I continue reading in the book of Romans it will come into clearer focus.

Father, thank you for spreading your gifts among your people as you see fit. Please help us to willingly share them so that we can help others grow strong in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do you have a delivery to make? Jan