Sunday, May 14, 2017

Day 44~ Romans 7-9

I find it funny that Peter, an apostle, admits that Paul’s letters “contain some things that are hard to understand” 2 Peter 3:16. (So true!), but it’s not funny when he warns that “ignorant & unstable people distort his letters”  😳 That would be a good reason to read Paul’s letters in their full context and not be guilty of using some verses out of context.  This is one benefit of reading through the whole New Testament in 90 days, it is easier to pick up the whole gist of the points being made! 

We read some verses today where I have heard Christians, even a pastor once, apply them incorrectly.  
Have you ever heard a fellow Christian describe themselves by quoting Romans 7:19? “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.”   “Good thing I am forgiven by Christ so I am forgiven for the things I keep doing!” “I have a desire to do what is good, but I can not carry it out”. (7:18) 😣

This is a prime example of using scripture out of context!  A Christian (with a saving faith) cannot describe themselves like 7:18-19, because Paul was using this wording to describe one under the law (that is everyone that is not a Christ follower). 
He goes to great lengths to describe how we are no longer under the law.  He uses the illustration of a marriage, when a death occurs, the partner is no longer bound to the marriage.  In the same way, “by dying to what bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit…” (7:6). 

Paul expounds on that point by describing a pre-Christian man in verses 7:7-25, struggling with sin; that man is “wretched” (7:24).  However, this is not us now!!!!!!  The description of wanting to do good, but can’t, no longer applies to us (or Paul at the time)!  “Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord! (7:25).  

As Christians, we need to focus on this verse, “You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Sprite of God lives in you.” (8:9).

Remember, we can do all things (do what is right) through him who gives us strength. (Phil 4:13) and we can say no to sin because “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (8:37)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Day 43- Romans 4-6

So, I have been in communication with a guy named Bart Campolo.  I think it has been over four years ago that he renounced his faith in God.  He is now a secular humanist (after being a professional Christian speaker for over 20 years).
I listened to a video he did around 2010 when he was still claiming to be a Christian.  His theology was way off then, so his derailment doesn’t come as a surprise. 😔

I am giving you the link so that you can see how some Christians can get REALLY confused with the teachings of Christ if they aren’t doing their own personal reading.  
I am giving it to you now because our reading today is the clearest rebuttal to Bart, even though the theme of atonement is weaved through the entire Bible.  (Skip the ad, the video is only 2 minutes long.)  

I was so disturbed when I saw this!  I was wondering how I would have responded in person if I was having a conversation with Bart.  To be honest, I don’t think I would have come up with an articulate answer right away.  But, now that I have Romans 3-6 fresh in my mind, I think I would do OK! 😏

I reviewed the reading we did yesterday before I started today’s, just to get my mind back on the subject Paul was talking about.  I am glad I did because 3:25 really stood out to me and it would be the ONE scripture I would use to respond to Bart.
“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice…”

Yes, Jesus does speak to us about forgiving our neighbor 77 times (Matt. 18:22). That is OUR job.  But he also tells us, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” in Romans 12:19.  That is HIS job.  And, we are thankful for that because we all have it in our heart that things should be fair!!!!  We take heart in knowing “God is just” (2 Thess 1:6).  It wouldn’t be fair if God “just forgave us” as Bart says. It wouldn’t be fair if there was a line of criminals that were released with the simple words, “I forgive you” and no one pays!  Where is the justice in that?  

So, with all that in mind, our reading today explains that, “ to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness. (4:5)  and because we have been justified, “we have peace with God” (5:2)  I talked about that on Day 35.  We don’t need to worry about the punishment that would be ours because out of love, Christ took it for us.  Poor Bart, he missed the whole point of Christ!  And ironically, that short video clip is titled, “What’s the point of Christ?”

Friday, May 12, 2017

Day 42~ Romans 1-3

I have heard that Rom. 1:17, “The righteous will live by faith”, is the verse that brought Martin Luther (the German theologian from the 1500’s) to genuine faith.  He had been trying to appease God through his works.  By reading Romans 1:17, he recognized that righteousness comes as a free gift of God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ.

The verse that stuck out to me was 1:5, when Paul said we have been called “to obedience that comes from faith.”
So, how I see it from these two verses is, we are righteous as a result of our faith and we are obedient because of that faith.

So, to answer yesterday’s question, “How would you prove to others you were a Christian?”…….

Well, one way is to show our obedience to God’s word (“The very words of God” 3:2!!!)
So, do what it says!  Good thing we are doing this 90 day reading so we can learn what to do!  (Plus we have the Holy Spirit who teaches us as well, John 14:26).
For starters we can look at today’s reading for things we can do to obey, like:
vs.18- Don’t suppress the truth,
vs.21- Glorify God & give him thanks 🙌🏻,
vs. 24- Don’t let sin into your life or else God may give you over to it! 😳
vs. 28- Consider it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God! (keep reading!) 🤓,
vs. 32- Don’t go along with the crowd and approve of the bad behavior listed in verses 29-31.

When we have saving faith, obeying and doing the above list would be…almost natural or at least we would feel “the calling to obedience” that Paul was speaking of.  

All this leads into Ch 2~ hypocritical judging.  I think this is one of the most misused scripture in our culture today!! Would anybody want to guess why I think that?🤔

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Acts 28- Only one chapter!!! This can be a catch up day!!! Day 41

We finish Acts today!  That was fast!  We have read about how the church started and how the Christian movement spread across the whole Mediterranean area.  

Reading about how those first believers experienced miracles (3:6, 5:12, 14:3) and “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (4:32) sharing what they had with one another, you would think that they would have had a good reputation.  You would think that everything would have been honky-dory in the early church because they had the best of the best teaching! Right?!
Yet, they didn’t have a good reputation (sounds like the church today)! 

The Jewish people in Rome said they wanted to hear what Paul’s views were because “people everywhere are talking against this sect”  Against the sect??? Why weren’t the stories spread of how loving these first Christians were; how giving; how miracles happened around them?  Why didn’t they have a good reputation?……How sad!  But in reality, that is also the reputation of the church today. Nothing has changed.

“Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe” (vs 24) It’s the same today!

It doesn’t matter how loving, giving and inclusive the church is, there will be those who “talk against this sect”.   And the reason…..there are some who DO NOT want to hear what Paul preached then or what we preach today, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31) & “he commands all people everywhere to repent” (17:30).
It’s this message that has people talking against “the sect”.  

Yes, I believe there is room for improvement in how the church conducts themselves, but I don’t believe that the church is responsible for the bad rap.  Those that don’t want to believe, will find excuses and blame the church (i.e. “they’re such hypocrites”), but the bottom line is, it is their own hardened heart that does not want to repent (John 12:40). That is what needs to be blamed for their unbelief, NOT the church! 

Now, on to the letter written to the Romans!!!….. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Day 40!!!!!!! How's your reading going???

Acts 25-27

Did anything stick out to you in todays reading?

I liked how Paul summed up the Christian message when he was talking to King Agrippa in 26:17-20.

“I preached that they should repent and turn to God (that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith, vs.17) and prove their repentance by their deeds.” (vs.20)

That sums it up!  So simple! 
However, some Christian teachers in our culture today, fear the concept of “works for salvation” so much, that they tend to ignore that last line, “..prove their repentance”.  Yet, it was part of the few words Paul chose to sum up his message…….Interesting….

Our pastor asked the congregation last Sunday, “How would you prove to others you were a Christian?”  Good question, don’t ya think?  Get’s you to think……

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day 39~ Acts 22-24

The scene in Acts 23:3-5 stuck out to me today!…..Awkward! 

“Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.”  

When Paul says “for it is written” he was referring to Exodus 22:28, “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.”

I was just thinking…… people who claim to be Christians, in our country, should keep scripture fresh in their mind…..or else they tend to forget what it says……

Good thing scripture was fresh in Paul's mind and he was quick to admit his error. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Day 38~ Acts 19 & 21

Sometimes I think it can be hard to interpret what the Holy Spirit is telling me!  I wanna be more like Paul!  He was confident that he heard from God!!
God speaks to us in several ways; through His word (2 Tim 3:17), fellow Christians (Prov. 11:14, 27:9) and also through prayer.  He may just place a burden on your heart that you know is from him. (John 10:2-5, Romans 12:2) 

Yet, if I had been in Paul’s shoes (sandals) I would have been confused and gone back and forth about this trip to Jerusalem!  
Paul was “compelled by the Sprite” to go to Jerusalem (20:21), even though the Holy Spirit also warned him that he would be facing prison and hardship (20:23). Christian friends in Tyre and Caesarea urged him not to go.  In fact, Luke writes that it was “Through the Spirit” that they urged him not to go! (21:4)  Wouldn’t that get you to second guess yourself?

I just read in Proverbs the other day, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (12:15)  I think I would have pulled that scripture out of my back pocket to convince myself I was not to go to Jerusalem.  Wouldn’t you feel that this proverb and the wise counsel from your friends would be enough to keep you from doing something you thought God was telling you to do?  I would!  As a result, I would have been caught in the “paralysis of analysis” and miss out on what God wanted for me.

HOWEVER, even though I tend to stick with the more concrete ways to hear God (scripture and friends), I am reminded that God also speaks to my heart directly since the Holy Spirit lives in me, and this story is a perfect example!  Paul, “knelt down with all of them and prayed” (20:36)  Paul knew this “compelling” was from the Holy Spirit and he obeyed.  I find it impressive that Paul did not allow the other factors (that seemed good and right) to dissuade him.  In fact, it is possible that the warnings he received from his Christian brothers had strengthened his resolve.  At first he says, “I am going to Jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there.”(20:22).  But after seeing the visual Agabus gave him in 21:11, he knew exactly what would happen.  How sweet of the Holy Spirit to give Paul a look into the future so he could be mentally prepared and ready for what was to come.  

Even though I don’t know a prophet that can give me a heads up on the outcome of a decision I need to make, I can still rest in the same knowledge that Paul had, “The Lord’s will be done.” (21:14 & Proverbs 16:1,3,9 & 33).   I need to remember that Jesus can and does “compel” me to do things that ultimately honor him.  My job is to trust Him and act in that faith.  Thanks for the lesson, Paul!