Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Romans 1:5-7 We Are Called!

5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 1:5-7 NIV

Because of Jesus' sacrifice, the power of God on just the chosen ones - Israel - is no more. We can all receive His grace which is an undeserved right to forgiveness and eternity with God. His love extends to all men, women, and children. We have all become His chosen. 

And when we accept the call to "obedience that comes from faith," we choose to step into the unknown each day for His glory. Our lives are no longer our own - but they are His. But this is only for a time. You see, the faith it takes to surrender each day will one day in heaven no longer be needed. "12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

The faith leading to obedience is only needed now while living in the middle of the chaos. In heaven, we will see Him whom we love and serve. We won't need faith; we will just be. 

But for now, we are all called to walk by faith. It's not a burden, but a privilege because we are among the called. And by that same faith we share with others this privilege of being called to the faith of the redeemed. 

Father, thank you for the provision of faith given to us all. Help me to walk in the obedience of that faith and share it with others until one day we can see you face to face. Your grace and peace covers me daily. So be it. 

Further Thoughts:

  1. Why were the Israelites the chosen ones?
  2. Why does Christ's sacrifice make us all chosen?
  3. In the "obedience that comes from faith" how are we to obey?
  4. Restate why we only need faith here and now before Jesus comes again. 



Friday, January 23, 2015

Romans 1:4 He is God and Lord!

4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 1:4 NIV

This is the verse that makes you want to jump up and down and cheer. We serve the One and Only. 

He is the One whom the Spirit of holiness (The Holy Spirit) declared with power (not in weakness, in power) to be the Son of God (an heir to the throne and He is God) by his resurrection (He had the power to overcome sin and death. He was the final sacrifice, but He didn't stay there. He rose up to conquer that which would conquer us without the Him.) Jesus Christ (the name that is above all names) our Lord. (Not only is He our Savior, but He is our Lord - Master, King, the ultimate Leader of our hearts and our lives.)

See why I want to jump up and down? Romans 1:4 is my salvation. It is my hope. It is my eternal address. In Him and only in Him will I live and breathe and serve. 

Lord, I am weak. I can't do anything without the power of You in me. Thank you for your sacrifice -- for paying the price so I won't. I worship you as my Savior, Redeemer, and Lord. So be it.

Further Thoughts:

  1. How is the trinity declared in this verse?
  2. How is His resurrection a declaration that He is the Son of God?
  3. What is the difference between Jesus as Savior and Jesus as Lord?
  4. Have you moved into the realm of living with Jesus as Lord? You can start today.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Romans 1:2-3 The History

2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David....   ~ Romans 1:2-3
Here we see the history of the gospel. The plan before Jesus ever arrived. Now we knew of the trinity from evidences of a divine 3-in-1 existence before this point. But the prophets laid out the specifics. And then even more important to the culture, we see the lineage of Jesus to show His humanity. I just love that the Messiah was a descendant of a man whom God used in powerful ways who was also the youngest of his family and from the least of the tribes. He wasn't expected to do anything, but by God's power, David became a mighty warrior and king. That always gives me hope - He can use even me, and He can use you to do great things for His glory. 

I serve a wonderful God who has a plan. A plan for me. He doesn't just set us to "be" in the world and when we are done, we are done. He loves us so much that He provided a way back to Him way before Jesus was born. 

Jesus was always the plan and He still is today. What hope that brings to a world who so desperately needs Him!  

Lord, help me to show others the plan so they too can have the hope only You can give. So be it. 

Further Thoughts:
1. What Scriptures are the evidence for Jesus' existence from the beginning?
2. Search the prophets for the foretelling of Jesus' birth. 
3. Why does this being the plan all along bring hope?
4. Who do you need to tell today about the hope of Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Romans 1:1 A Servant of Jesus Christ

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-- Romans 1:1 NIV
 
Paul opens his letter to the church at Rome with this declaration of who he is and his authority. 

- a servant of Christ Jesus - Here the Greek word for servant means 1) slave or bond servant - obligated and bound to serve a master 2) servant - one who chooses to serve a master. It's interesting to me that it means both an obligation and a choice. As believers we have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, but in that choice, we are reminded of who we serve in that He is the most high. Our lives should be lived with each step directed by the master. However, today's definition of a slave is counterproductive in thinking this way. The modern definition of a master would include greed, control, tyrant, merciless, malice, etc. Traits that could never be applied to our Lord. He is the antithesis of this definition. So we tend to lean toward the "servant" definition to soften the picture. What we must remember that while we are choosing to serve, we are still serving the Master, all be it a loving, generous, and grace-filled one. It is a 24/7 service. We don't pick up and go home from working for Him to follow our own path. As the Master, we must follow His guidance in every area of our life. We surrendered our life to Him; now we must live it out as He leads. For some, that may be frightening. However, I find great comfort in knowing the Almighty God of the Universe has my back. He loves me and knows what is best for me. That is an easy surrender in my book.

- an apostle - one who is a representative or messenger specifically chosen for this purpose. We are all representatives of something or someone. Every day our lives proclaim a message. Hopefully, as believers, our message is of the love and hope of our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, our message may be communicating other things - anger, hopelessness, negativity, self-promotion, greed. Who are we representing when we get up from our bed in the morning? That's when it begins - our choice to represent the One and Only Hope of the world.

- set apart for the gospel of God - Paul declares here exactly Who he is an apostle for, the good news of Jesus Christ. He is not living for self-promotion or company promotion or government promotion. Paul's life is to spread the message of Jesus Christ and the hope that He brings. He is "set apart" for this task. 

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all to be His obedient servants, representing His message of hope to a dying world. That is our calling and our hope.

Holy Spirit, guide me each day, each moment to represent You and only You. Let my life reflect the hope you give to a world who so desperately needs hope.

Further Thoughts:  
  1. Write down a list of what or who your life may be representing to the world. How can you change that? (i.e. Maybe you are only representing your company.  That may be your job. But how can you make being a representative of Jesus Christ the priority? What will change about your approach at work?
  2. What does it mean to be a representative of Jesus Christ? List some of the attributes. What ones do you do well? Where are you challenged?
  3. What does it mean to live like Jesus? You may have heard that phrase for years, but write down what it means. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Romans 1:1-7 The Gospel and Commission in 7 Verses


1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-- 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

 It's amazing how much Paul packed into these seven verses. In them we see the trinity, prophecy, the gospel, the lineage of Christ, our calling as believers, and our hope. As well as a greeting to the Romans.

Over the next few posts, I will need to break this passage down verse by verse. But today, I wanted to look at it in its entirety simply to see that being a Christ follower is not complex. Here we see it summarized in six short verses. Isn't that amazing? The power of the Creator who sent His Son to change the world and bring it hope can be written about in just a few words. And yet, we want to make it so complicated.

Jesus Christ did come to upset the apple cart, but not to complicate. In fact, His presence brings more clarity to our lives than we will ever experience through any other means. He is our only hope. We simply must believe and walk in that faith. How beautiful is that?

Father, I continue to complicate your gospel and commission by placing it in time and space; by breaking it down into too many parts; by letting it be overshadowed by my sin and chaos. And it is much simpler than that. Forgive me, Lord. You love me; I accept Your love and forgiveness; I will live to serve You. Period. So be it.

Further Thoughts: 
  1. Read this passage again 2-3 times slowly. Let your mind and heart absorb all it has to say. 
  2. Read this passage here in other versions. Notice below the passage, you can click on "view in parallel." Then you can select other versions to read. I particularly like the English Standard Version of this passage.
  3. Define gospel.
  4. Read The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.
  5. Write out for yourself in a few words a definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission. Memorize it to be your 30-second explanation you can give if someone asks you what you believe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

1 Samuel 3:1-10 God's Voice to Each of Us

This post comes out of a group discussion with some very dear people I met at a coaching training.
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of theLord was rare; there were not many visions.One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.Samuel answered, “Here I am. And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealedto him.A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
In this passage the boy, Samuel, is living in the house of The Lord being raised by Eli, the priest. One night when Samuel was sleeping, he hears his name being called. He goes to Eli and says, "Here I am." But Eli had not called him and told him to go back to bed. This happens two more times. (Now if I were Samuel, I would have been freaking out just a little by that point.)

Finally on after the third time, Eli realizes that God is calling Samuel and instructs him to say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."

So why didn't Samuel know who was calling him? The Scripture says that Samuel did not yet know God. Therefore, he had no experience in recognizing God's voice.

Eli gave Samuel a great gift that night. He did not say to Samuel, "It must be God. I'll talk to Him and let you know what He has to say." Instead, Eli told Samuel to respond and listen.

That night Samuel learned to listen for himself. He discovered what God's voice sounds like and that God would speak to him directly. And through that, Samuel experienced God.

Too often we try to be the voice of God for others forgetting that the same Holy Spirt who guides us can guide and counsel all people. In fact, He is even drawing to Himself those who don't yet know Him.

Father, thank You for Your own voice in my life. Use me to point others to You - to hear Your voice - and be forever changed. So be it.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Who does God need you to direct toward Him?
  2. How often do you try to be the voice of God for others? What harm can that cause?
  3. How can you better listen for the voice of God?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Matthew 11:28-30 Perspective

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

You may not recognize this passage in The Message, but it is where Jesus says to join Him because His burden is light.

I love how this version stated Jesus' invitation to join Him. To get His perspective. To walk in His directives, not in my own. To learn from Him.

I especially love the line, "Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."

Being a follower of Jesus does not have to be labor intensive. But it must be intentional. Living as Christ lived is not easy, but it is freeing. Too often I can get caught in the "immediate." What do I have to do today for work? Who needs me to be where? What spinning plate have I let fall? And I forget to maintain perspective. If I would just look at what is happening in the world around me - near and far - I would begin to see my little "to do" list in a different light.

God calls me to work - but my job is not my most important "occupation." God calls me to be available to others. But my most important relationship is with Him. God calls me to diligence. But are all my plates God-appointed?

Jesus is calling me to walk alongside of Him and only Him in everything I do. I want to walk with Him and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 

Father, teach me to remain focused on You and not the immediate. To grasp the power of Your Presence and not the pull of my calendar. Train me in the way of the unforced rhythms of grace so I may be more like you. So be it.

Further Thoughts:
  1. In what ways have you lost perspective? How do you regain it?
  2. How do you maintain "life" and keep your focus on Jesus?
  3. What does it truly mean to live in the unforced rhythms of grace?