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Romans 8

A good reminder from Fabs:

For us

Posted: 23 Jan 2013 06:53 AM PST

          If God is for us, who can be against us?

I know. I know. Surely, I’ve posted enough on this verse.

I just can’t get over it you see.

Don’t let those words gloss over you this morning.  Stop.  Pray right now and ask God to make them mean something to you.  Ask His Spirit to enliven your heart to be overwhelmed by that reality.

God is for us.  If we are in Christ He is really and truly for us.  Nothing that happens to you today is happening because He’s mad at you.  There is no anger left.  He is for you.  He’s on your side.

And because of that – no one can be against you.  Even those who intend to be against you will end up being for you.  Just like Joseph’s brothers, selling him into slavery in Genesis, satan, your enemies, whatever comes your way – it is for you. It will never be against you again.

If God is for us who can be against us.

I don’t know what drew you to this page today, but I know behind it is a sovereign and gracious God longing for you to take just a moment and sit in the glorious purchase of the Cross: your God is for you.  He is on your side.  I know that sometimes it may not look that way.  I know there are days when you might not feel that, but Christian, grasp at whatever faith there is in your heart right now: God is for you and therefore nothing and no one can be against you.  He will make every effort intended to set you back bring you forward.  Every weapon fired your way will turn out for your good.

Because God is on your side.

You know how I know that?  The Cross.  He gave you Jesus.  Do you really doubt that He’ll withhold from you?  Hasn’t He proved He holds nothing back from His kids?  Not even His Son.

Single, you are alone today because God is for you.  Barren wife, you are without child today because God is for you.  Wounded widow, grieving mother, abandoned child, forsaken wife know this: loss is in your life because God is for you.

And while that may taste bitter and hard, it is the sweetest truth in all the world.

Don’t let Satan distract you with a false and temporal offer of comfort.  There is no comfort to be found in thinking that anyone but God has power in your life.

Today will bring with it lies and deceit, attempts to derail and untold obstacles.  And with this promise, each obstacle becomes an opportunity; a chance to display to the word that you believe the truth that if God is for you, no one and nothing can prevail against you.

If you are in Christ, shut your eyes.  Right now.  Fix your gaze on the cross and hear the voice of God speaking clearly into your soul: I am for you.

Morning thoughts

Today is the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. I will be the first to tell you that I am not a political person. (I actually shy away from the topic as much as earthly possible.) But, days like today make everyone a political person. This is a day of elated joy for the Democratic citizens of America, and it is a day of sour discontentment for the Republican members of our country. Some of us are just plain torn over the situation. Why? Is it simply because of differing political views based on moral beliefs held by each unique individual? Perhaps. We are each allowed (and encouraged!) to form our own political stances based on our solemnly held beliefs. But, should the posture of our hearts and thoughts of our minds be redirected to embrace another attitude? An attitude that forgoes our own gut reactions? A more Godly attitude?

These were my thoughts this morning. Should I be more impassioned by Christina’s ideas or God’s ideas? I awoke to live media coverage of the presidential inauguration on every cable channel imaginable. It was my first reaction to spend time in prayer for President Obama, the administration, and our country as a whole. But, I found my heart torn and my mind thirsting for more information concerning His perspective on elected government. What stance would the mind of Christ take in this situation? I immediately narrowed in on Romans 13. I know that Romans 13 and the sovereignty of our LORD command us to rest assured in the selection of empowered leaders in our nations. But, I stumbled across something else that I thought was interesting… Yes, we are to revere the leaders instituted by God, but there are also countless examples in scripture where God stirred the hearts of His children to act contrary to the mandates of an ungodly government in specific instances of unrighteousness. Please don’t take my word for it, take a look at these sections of verse:

  • Exodus 1:17,21
  • 1 Kings 18:4-16
  • Esther 4:16
  • Daniel 3:12-18
  • Daniel 6
  • Matthew 2:12
  • Acts 5:29
  • Hebrews 11:23

Please do not think that I am stating (in any way!) that we should somehow act against our government! I am not saying that at all (…so I hope the CIA or USSS does not come nocking at my door, lol)! What I am saying is that perhaps we should continually take stock of our governments’ requests of us. Duh, no brainer, I know. I honestly felt encourage this morning to not be a blind consumer of government, and I wanted to share that truth. Pray for our government, and trust in His establishment of leaders. Support our government via taxes and regulations, because He ordained their establishment. Also, be cognizant of the fact that perfection does not exist in a broken world…especially in an ungodly nation. Chastisement is very real and it is a due result of wayward behaviors. Yet, embrace the gifts of democracy. I can write this blog and pursue my faith because of the freedom that it provides! Most importantly, be sensitive to the Spirit of God. We are all accountable for our actions, so let those actions be in faith and conviction of the Spirit.

Democrat or Republican (or somewhere in between), we must continually remind ourselves that God is more powerful than the fiercest of human powers. No person or people group is greater than He. Ever. Past, present, or future.

Hope I didn’t step on too many toes,

Christina

The root of sin

Fabs did it again…

Disobeying God: cause or effect?

Posted: 15 Nov 2012 07:31 AM PST

Listen to this list of things:

  • the lusts of our hearts to impurity
  • the dishonoring of our bodies
  • dishonorable passions
  • a debased mind
  • all manner of unrighteousness
  • all manner of evil

Those things sound like they might be the main problem between us and God.  But here’s what crazy Paul says in crazy Romans: these things are not the primary cause of our separation from God, they happen because we are separated from God.

Our broken faculties – these things we label as ‘sin’ – are the consequence of the real issue: our worship problem.

The root problem that you and I have is that we don’t respond to God as God.  We see that He is God.  We look at Him and we’re like: yup, that’s God.  But, according to Romans, we don’t see fit to respond to Him that way.  We don’t want to honor Him as God.

This kind of changes things.

If we think that our ‘sin’ tendencies are the source of the problem, it will lead us to a gospel of behavior management.  If those things on that bulleted list are the root of the problem, then it makes sense to live in line with an Islamic or Jewish faith: fix those things and you’ll fix the problem.

But if those things are the penalty – the result of the problem – then fixing them will (a) be impossible and (b) won’t save us.

This changes how we view the sin of others. They church in Romans was having a hard time not judging splashy sinners.  They had a hard time sharing the Gospel with those who looked beyond hope.

So Paul rolls up on them and explains – hey, don’t judge their actions as if those actions are the MAIN issue. The very things that we think are the root of our separation from God, are not.  They are the evidence of our separation from God, rather than the cause.

When we see folks acting like crazy sinners without a care in the world – that’s the result of the divide between us and God.  It’s the tragic penalty of a ‘bigger wrong’: not honoring God as God.  Every time we judge the splashy sins of those around us we testify that we don’t understand the real problem of sin at all.  What sinners need is not a change in behavior, it’s a change in worship.

We can fix everything on the outside of those around us and we are still left with the cancer inside: an unwillingness to worship God as God.

This changes how we interact with sin.  Instead of seeing our sin primarily as an issue of breaking a moral law, we must grasp that we break the moral law because of our sin.  Breaking the law is not the issue, it’s the result of the issue.

Which means, if you and I want to wage war on our sin, it has to be on the root.  We have to wage war on our idolatry.  We have to battle to honor God as our King and Lord and Savior and Ruler.

This levels the playing field.  The Gospel is the great leveler.  The issue that has led to our separation from God is the same in every single heart.  Whether it plays out as pride or envy or adultery, it’s the same problem: we don’t want to honor God as God.

That means that we don’t have to just say ‘we’re the worst of sinners’, we can actually believe it. Because sin is not defined by what happens on the outside, it’s defined by the moments when we would rather have a husband than God; the moments when we find our identity in our kids, in our work, in being loved by one another instead of Him.

Those are the sins that led to all other sins.

We need a Savior who isn’t just going to teach us how to act differently, but one who will worship God in us.  And that’s the very thing that Christ purchased for us: His Spirit, worshipping God perfectly as God, every minute of every day.

Who will save us from this body of sin and death?  Thanks be to God, Christ Jesus.

For completion AND comprehension

Another goodie from John Piper via the desiringGod ministry. This time he is discussing the power, purpose, and benefit of reading. He also emphasizes the call we are given to read intently. Highly encouraging words that inspire me to continually pick up that thick ole Book with my listening ears and thinking cap on. Read the deep stuff and think on it.

November 12

A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind
John Piper

I was reading and meditating on the book of Hebrews recently, when it hit me forcefully that a basic and compelling reason for education — the rigorous training of the mind — is so that a person can read the Bible with understanding.

This sounds too obvious to be useful or compelling. But that’s just because we take the preciousness of reading so for granted; or, even more, because we appreciate so little the kind of thinking that a complex Bible passage requires of us.

The book of Hebrews, for example, is an intellectually challenging argument from Old Testament texts. The points that the author makes hang on biblical observations that come only from rigorous reading, not light skimming. And the understanding of these Old Testament interpretations in the text of Hebrews requires rigorous thought and mental effort. The same could be said for the extended argumentation of Romans and Galatians and the other books of the Bible.

This is an overwhelming argument for giving our children a disciplined and rigorous training in how to think an author’s thoughts after him from a text — especially a biblical text. An alphabet must be learned, as well as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, the rudiments of logic, and the way meaning is imparted through sustained connections of sentences and paragraphs.

The reason Christians have always planted schools where they have planted churches is because we are a people of THE BOOK. It is true that THE BOOK will never have its proper effect without prayer and the Holy Spirit. It is not a textbook to be debated; it is a fountain for spiritual thirst, and food for the soul, and a revelation of God, and a living power, and a two-edged sword. But none of this changes the fact: apart from the discipline of reading, the Bible is as powerless as paper. Someone might have to read it for you; but without reading, the meaning and the power of it are locked up.

Is it not remarkable how often Jesus settled great issues with a reference to reading? For example, in the issue of the Sabbath he said, “Have you not read what David did?” (Matthew 12:3). In the issue of divorce and remarriage he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4). In the issue of true worship and praise he said, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matthew 21:16). In the issue of the resurrection he said, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” (Matthew 21:42). And to the lawyer who queried him about eternal life he said, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26).

The apostle Paul also gave reading a great place in the life of the church. For example, he said to the Corinthians, “We write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end” (1 Corinthians 1:13). To the Ephesians he said, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3). To the Colossians he said, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). Reading the letters of Paul was so important that he commands it with an oath: “I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren” (1 Thessalonians 5:27).

The ability to read does not come intuitively. It must be taught. And learning to read with understanding is a life-long labor. The implications for Christians are immense. Education of the mind in the rigorous discipline of thoughtful reading is a primary goal of school. The church of Jesus is debilitated when his people are lulled into thinking that it is humble or democratic or relevant to give a merely practical education that does not involve the rigorous training of the mind to think hard and to construe meaning from difficult texts.

The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God’s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. It would be better to starve for lack of food than to fail to grasp the meaning of the book of Romans. Lord, let us not fail the next generation!

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Another good one from Fabs

Something worth remembering

Posted: 02 Nov 2012 11:07 AM PDT

I don’t write posts about God’s love often.  That’s not because I don’t love God’s love. I do. I cling to it. I depend on it. I live in it.

But the word love is thrown around to talk about food and music and movies and art.  I love the paint colors in our new house. I love my dog. I love sleep.

I want a better word to describe this obscene and glorious thing we call ‘God’s love’.  His love is like no other.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:3-8 ESV)

Here’s what that just said:

We can rejoice even when hard things come; even when we have blah days.  Because we know something that the world doesn’t know.  We know that all this stuff that is happening to us is really happening for us.  It’s making us look more like Jesus and that’s a good thing because it reminds us of our hope:

There is a day coming, a glorious and terrifying day, when all mankind will feel and see the full uncensored force of the glory of God.  And for those of us in Christ, that glory will wrap around us with unspeakable delight and joy.

And we can be sure of that.  We can hope in that without being worried or nervous.  You know why?  Because if Jesus gave up His own life for us while we still hated him and cursed him, why would He turn us away when we actually look like Him?  God’s going to receive those He transforms into the image of His Son, and we can be confident of that because He gave Himself up for us while we looked NOTHING like His Son.

Know this today: there is no love like His.  No one in your life loves you that way.

You may know some folks who would die for you.  Maybe.  But if you turned on them, if you hated them, if you betrayed them and ignored them and hurt them at every turn – I promise – they wouldn’t die for you anymore.

There is no love like His.

Rejoice.  Nothing that this day brings can shake those that stand in that kind of love.