But What of Israel–Romans 9 Part 1

Paul’s greatest sadness was watching the children of Israel reject the free gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Amazingly, this Pharisee turned Missionary had started a movement throughout the Roman Empire that would ultimately bring Christ to the world.  Yet, in spite of his great impact, he felt useless in bringing Christ to his own people and culture.

 It was not that the Church in Israel was not thriving—It was.  But the people of Israel had been indoctrinated and engrained with the notion that their relationship with God was dependent on the things they did—following laws, making sacrifices and checking the boxes all good Israelites checked.  This message of freedom from the law and grace from God was absolutely inconceivable to them.  Paul knew that better than most—after all, God had to take dramatic measures to bring him around.

 In our world, We all still struggle with God’s gift being freedom to follow him.  Like Israel, it is just easier to complete tasks and be good.  To have to live our lives by faith, yield to God’s leadership and ultimately trust God is more than most can handle.  God simply wants us to trust and follow him—ironically, that is about all most people are unwilling to do.

 God Bless You

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.

It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[b] In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”[c]

Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love–Romans 8 Final

In this journey, there is one promise that supersedes all others—Nothing can separate us from the Son of God. For a society that is rejected routinely and left hopeless and loveless, the promise of unconditional love given by our Savior is a promise like none other.

Our attitudes and behaviors are as predictable as they are disappointing. We cannot help ourselves. We lean toward selfish and self-absorbed. Even at our best, we struggle to walk in a way that honors God. Still, God loves us. He protects and provides for us. His spirit prepares us for the days and battles ahead. As any father, he will discipline us and guide us to the truth.

The awesome fact is—on our good and bad days we are his chosen—loved and held in his hands. Please help me, Lord to rest in your love and continue to conform to your image.

God Bless You

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

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.

Justified, Sanctified and Glorified–Romans 8 Part 4

First, when we realize that we cannot reach God on our own and call out to him, he gladly accepts us into his family and we are then JUSTIFIED.  The concept is that the slate of our sins ore completely deleted from  the hard drive and cannot be recovered.  It is JUST as IF had In any way nEver happeneD.  Justified.

 Next, as we walk with God, we are being conformed into his image.  That ongoing process is called Sanctification.  The best analogy for me is training camp.  We go on this amazing Journey, with the Holy Spirit, other Christians and life events constantly chipping away at us until one day we look a great deal (Spiritually) like Jesus.  Sanctification is slow, tedious work That God promises to continue until his final return.  Like any warrior, we have to continue to train to be ready for any eventuality.

 Finally, we are Glorified—Graduation!!! One day we will stand with Christ and we will be accepted into eternity with him to enjoy life the way God intended.  The Bible accounts sound mind blowing.  The great news is that when that day comes we will look back and see a lifetime of preparation that has perfectly equipped us for the celebration.

 Salvation is simple—but, make no mistake, it is in no way easy.

 God Bless You

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified

All Things Work Together for Good–Romans 8 Part 4

It is a difficult concept—“All things work together for the good for those who love God and called according to his purpose.” Paul, the Pharisee turned missionary to the gentile world, knew better than any other person that life’s difficulties were not a sign of God’s favor or disfavor.  He understood that like any soldier or athlete, the harder the training and the greater the tenacity—the better chance the soldier or athlete could overcome any difficulty. 

 Most who follow God want and expect Him to make life great and easy.  Sadly, while easy is fun, the easy times do little to prepare us for the battle that is the spiritual war his chosen must face.  Paul spent years facing trials of every kind.  In those trials, not only was Paul made stronger—but he affected the lives of the world outside of Israel.  The impact Paul left changed the world.  Half of the new testament, the concepts of grace and mercy all became the most prominent concepts of faith—because Paul preached them across Europe and Asia.

In our lives, we have to face trials and tribulation.  As we face them, we should do so with the warrior’s mentality. We press forward knowing the trials  prepare us to handle all circumstances.  We enjoy the great times—embracing each moment as the gift it is.  We then face the difficulties of life with equal intensity knowing God allows them to make us great.  Never lose hope.  Never grow bitter! Press forward and use the times to make you complete in him.

 God Bless You

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Anticipating God’s Plan–Romans 8 Part 3

In this life there will be trouble.  Any adult—and most kids, now know that life is a challenge.  Like most Journeys, there are up hills and down hills.  There are detours and difficult stretches that often seem impassible.  Paul wanted the Romans and the Church to be clear on that point.  BUT, he also wanted them to keep life in perspective.

 As Paul compared the present struggles to the joy and abundance of eternity, he said there is no comparison.  That is no small statement for a guy that had beaten multiple times, in shipwrecks, blind and soon to be executed for his faith.  Still, he realized that this present suffering was nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul made his position clear—“I have learned to be content in all circumstances—whether well fed or hungry living in plenty or in want I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13

 What about us?  If these times are the training grounds for the days to come; have we learned to be content?  The trick is knowing that, as in any army, training is always ongoing.  It changes to prepare us for every eventuality, and it does not let up–so that we will remain prepared.  We need to stay sharp, stay ready and stay focused on the prize—eternity with him.  Never lose hope, never give up and never give in to the enemy’s deceptions or attacks!  We are his kids—chosen and protected by a father that loves us!

 God Bless You

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this

The Spirit of Adoption–Romans 8 Part 2

How serious does God take the relationship he has with his chosen ones?  Well, he adopts them as his own.  That is no small thing.  The covenant of adoption has great weight.  While in many cultures one can disown and disinherit one’s biological children—many courts preclude that for adopted children.  If one is willing to go through the process to adopt a child—societies have said time and again, that choice is forever.

As adopted children, we are loved by choice.  As my dad told me as a child, “Son we did not have you, we picked you!!”  There is no greater gift  than being able to love a child that you were able to adopt.  God, who is perfect, demonstrates that beyond any measure of man.  He took us as broken vessels, paid with his life to redeem us and  walks with us daily in order to transform us into someone far greater, co-heirs with Christ our Savior. 

 With that gift as a backstop, how could we ever walk away from the love and the life God offers?  It seems unreasonable, impractical and even ridiculous for us not to accept his gift and follow him daily.  I am proud to be his adopted son and am grateful each day for the gift.

 God Bless You

 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

There is Now No Condemnation–Romans 8 Part 1

One of the great promises in the Word of God resides in the 8th Chapter of Romans.  As people who are in Christ Jesus, Christians should celebrate daily that there is no condemnation for those that follow him.  Paul made it clear that no matter how hard men try they remain sinful.  He admitted to his own frailty as a man.  Paul’s point was and is that it is God’s plan, his spirit and his sacrifice that offers the alternative to eternal condemnation.

As his chosen, we are a part of a different realm; not subject to this world’s culture or condemnation.  Instead, we are a part of Christ’s kingdom and, therefore, live under his sovereignty and his protection.  He set the rules and he provided the redemption.  As his followers all we have to do is—well follow.  It is truly the greatest gift ever offered to the human race—one we should accept and treasure for now and eternity.

 God Bless You

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

We Simply Can’t Help Ourselves–Romans 7 Part 2

While we serve a God of grace and love, we still lean toward spiritual independence from Him.  Paul was completely transparent to the Romans—Living the life of a follower of Christ is tough.  One of the toughest parts is walking away from the sinful life that calls us, indwells us and constantly tempts us to walk away from God.

 Paul openly admitted that he failed at that battle often.  He, the Pharisee turned missionary knew the law and he was the king of checklist followers.  God had changed his heart and his life. Paul was now one of the most spiritual of apostles—but, he was still a human.  Humans cannot help but sin.  What is worse, the more clearly the sin is defined—the more likely people will try to skirt the law and dive in. 

Today, not much has changed.  We have the gift of grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit—still we want to walk away from God and follow our old nature.  The bad news is we too fail.  The good news is God’s grace is sufficient to forgive our sin and he will continue to transform us into his image and fill us with the desire to humbly follow him. Chances are we will never be perfect, but, with his help, we can be more like him and less like the world each day.

 God Bless You

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin

Freed From a Checlist Life–Romans 7 Part 1

As the bride of Christ, the church has a great deal in common with the normal married person.  The Covenant to Christ is forever.  His love for us is unconditional.   Prior to our starting a relationship with him, We were married to the world and bound to a hopeless life with a hopeless end. But, Like a person whose spouse has died, when we started the relationship with Christ, our old spouse, the law—died and we were free to follow our new life in Christ.

 The new relationship is so different from the old.  Our old life was filled with guilt and a desire to complete checklists to earn our way to Heaven.  The guilt never ceased and the checklist was never completable.  The problem is our nature does not allow us to be perfect.  Instead we struggle and continue to fail at sin and realize that being good enough is at best a temporary proposition.

 We, in our new covenant relationship, are free to simply follow Christ.  Our behavior often improves, but, that has no bearing on God’s commitment or love for us.  We simply have his love and commitment because we are united in Christ—NO prerequisites, no goals and objectives—just a commitment for life with Christ from now through Eternity!

 God Bless You

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Wages and Gifts–Romans 6 Final

Men were created with an innate desire to serve someone.  Since the fall of man, people have done all manners of evil in the name of serving someone.  It was often selfish—helping themselves to other’s things, other’s lives and others freedom.  Sometimes that was through war, sometimes through rape and pillaging and sometimes just individual crime and graft.

 But, also there has been a group that has desired to serve God and live lives that are selfless.  In them, there is purpose, peace and blessing.  When Christ came and died, he freed men from the slavery of the Law and slavery to the entanglement of sinful desires and selfishness.  He gave us, as a free gift, an opportunity to follow him freely and without the chains of the world.  There would never be a price tag—simply because the gift was too valuable to earn.  God made himself the price tag.  He came and died—then broke death’s bond to offer us the freedom of eternal life– if we would simply trust and follow him.

 It then becomes our choice—do we take what we deserve—Slavery to sin and selfishness; or, do we accept the free gift God offers and trust and follow him?  The former offers an empty life on earth and eternal separation from all that is good and Holy for eternity.  The latter offers peace and purpose here and eternity with the Lord that loves us and gave himself for us.  Seems like an easy choice to me.

God Bless You

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.