Believe and confess

Good morning my fellow Romans readers!  We are more than half way through Romans; do you have a new found appreciation for Paul's intellect and God's grace?

I want to focus on verses 9-13 today.  Wow, this is a powerful passage!  The first thing I noticed is that Paul is quoting scripture in verse 11 & 13.  Where are these from?  Verse 11 comes from Isaiah 28:16 and verse 13 is from Joel  2:32.  I encourage you go to read those verses in context and see how they relate.

This passage sort of sums up the road to salvation: believe and confess.  Yes, it's that simple.  All the lessons learned over the last 2 weeks about the Law and sin and putting our trust and faith in God and important, but I love this reminder that to gain that freedom in Christ is really quite a simple act.  Now, for some, getting to that point is a long hard road with many battles as they try to hang on to their old selves, to the supposed freedom with which sin deceives.  But, when we come to that moment when we are ready to freely give ourselves to Christ, there's not a long list of requirements--believe with your heart, confess with your mouth.

I was so blessed to grow up in a home, a family, where God was the center and, thankfully, my path to salvation was fairly free of obstacles and road blocks.  I gave my heart to Christ in 5th grade.  Later, I struggled with the validity of my salvation--there was no big moment or change in my life, so was it real?  Then a very dear friend of mine pointed out that I should be thankful that I didn't have to go down a difficult path in order to find a need for Christ, He was just always there and it was very easy for me to believe.  I rededicated myself to Him in college when I realized what a blessing my path to salvation really was.   I would love it if you would share a little of your story today!

p.s.  is everyone else asking the same question I am:  Where's Grant?


Chapter 9

Sorry--I'm late in the day and this is a short posting, especially compared to the material in Chapter 9.  What jumped out most to both Darin and I, was verse 32.  What God brought to my heart are people in my life that think their works are enough.  And, I was convicted in prayer for them.  It reminded me of Megan in first grade.  

She wasn't being challenged at all and this became very clear one day when we were running late for school.  Her spelling list was lying on the table and, realizing we hadn't studied for it at all, she grabbed it, then laid it back down mumbling to herself "I don't need to study.  I know them all already.  I always do."  And, she aced the test.  My point?  It was very difficult that year to teach her study habits that she would need later on in life when she didn't need the studying to do well now.  When people think their works are "good enough", it is often difficult to get them to realize and accept a need for Christ.  It's that "why change what you're doing if it's already working for you?", kind of thinking.  It made me examine my attitude today and how I'm doin' on my Walk.  I need to be careful to not equate my works for Christ with my living for Christ.
One last thought:  I also like how I read it in The Bible Exposition Commentary, "They (Israel) rejected "grace righteousness" and tried to please God with Law righteousness." There's that Law versus grace thing again.  Thank God for His grace to those who believe!


Hope and Victory and Life, Oh My!

Whew! Those first few chapters of Romans have been a lot to get through. Let’s move on.

What I noticed first about this chapter is all of the well-known verses. Here are the ones that popped out at me:

v. 1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
v. 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
v. 35a “Who shall separate us from the love of God?”
v. 38-39 “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.

All of these verses by themselves have great impact, but when you see them in context, you realize the weight of their great news! We should jump for joy; we should go skipping along the yellow brick road as we realize what great hope we have in Christ. The Law, sin, and inherent death of the flesh all give way to a great victory…new life in Christ.

Personally, verses 26 & 27 tugged most on my heart. Let’s get some conversation going today; what verses most reflected the hope in your heart and life today? Please share!


Laying down the Law

Let me start by admitting that this was a tough one for me—bring out the commentaries!

Legalism seems to be the running theme; that point at which obedience to the law becomes the route to holiness. And, often leads to self proclaimed judgment superiority. Paul shows us that while the law is important it should not be our ruler. But we are divided—flesh and soul. Our flesh is grounded in man’s sinful nature and uses the law as a temptation.

As a mom and former preschool teacher I know there are certain phrases you shouldn’t say to a young child:

“Johnny, here’s the scissors. Cut the paper, but whatever you do, don’t cut your hair”
“Mommy needs just a few minutes of peace and quiet so please get along and don’t hit your sister”
“Don’t put that in your mouth!”

What does each of these phrases carry the potential to do? That’s right! It plants the idea—one that may not have existed before. This is what Paul is conveying. The Law which is God given, has been corrupted: “sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of ‘forbidden fruit’ out of it” (The Message).

When we died to our old selves, we died to the Law. The Law that perverts, condemns, and misleads. Ugh! About now my head is starting to go fuzzy. How do we find the balance between obedience under the Law and living for the Law? WE don’t. Only through the leading of the Holy Spirit can our flesh be defeated and our obedience manifested in Him.

What do I take away from this? My life and walk with Christ should not and cannot be a list of do’s and don’ts. I must daily surrender both my flesh and mind to Him and the Holy Spirit.


Dead end

Some very dear friends of ours have a teenage girl whose life over the last few years is a great picture of Romans 6. She has been in a constant state of rebellion towards God and her parents. She finally admitted to me a couple of weeks ago that she will be happy when her parents just do what she says and let her do whatever she wants. In other words, she wants freedom. Freedom to live as she pleases with no boundaries placed on her by those troublesome adults living in that house with her. Along with many other words of advice and Truth, I shared with her that if her parents chose to give her all the freedom she wanted, as soon as poor choices and consequences caught up with her, she’d be blaming them for not making her follow rules and so on and so on.

This is exactly what Paul is talking about in our reading today. Freedom outside of God isn’t really freedom because it leads to nowhere good. In fact, it leads to death. We, as humans, need God’s boundaries so we don’t stray off the path of righteousness. And God knows that. But He allows us to make that choice so we truly appreciate His grace and the freedom of living….now and forever with Christ.

And don’t you just love the beautiful picture of baptism that God gave us symbolizing this very thing? Every summer Scottsdale park and rec sponsors a mud fest at Chapparel Park. Ever been? There is mud everywhere. Mud piles, mud obstacle courses, mud, mud, and more mud. I took my kids ONCE. Before they could even get in the car, I made them strip down as much as they could and sit on towels in the car, then straight to the bathtub they went. We all know what it feels like to be covered in filth, then washed clean with water. You think you’ve never felt cleaner. That’s the picture of baptism—to be washed cleaner than ever, whiter than snow. To be buried to your old self, then raised with new life. Sin no longer is your master or has a hold on you, although Satan sure tries.

What old sin has been trying to retake you? Today, think back to your baptism. Remember that “you” died to live in Christ. Sin is a dead end, but life in Christ is ever new. Live as proof that you have life abundant.