Saturday, February 25, 2012

Romans and salvation

Following Romans 3:23, Paul turns his focus from sin to salvation.

"But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:25

This is one of the most powerful passages in the Bible.  

Think of a person on trial by a judge.  As sinners, we are all in need of forgiveness. We know that we are guilty and stand in judgement by God. 

Yet, instead of the sentence that we have earned and deserve, God pronounces our innocence and right standing with Him. 

What just happened?  Was it something that we did?

No, we simply went in humility to God and believing not on our own inadequate work, but on the perfect work of Christ which God then reckons to us.

This pronouncement immediately changes our relationship with Him. 

We are no longer guilty.  Our sin debt has been paid completely.  We are now in Christ and have right standing with God.

Was there a cost to us for this gift of salvation? No, it is a gift freely given to us by God, its basis being God's own grace.

Father, we thank you for you gift of salvation made available to us through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.  Though His blood, we are saved and come into right standing with You. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Romans and sin

I'm currently studying Romans in Disciple class.  Our teacher divides Romans into five parts: sin, salvation, sanctification, setting aside of Israel, and service.

The first part deals with sin.  

Sin is any action of man that separates him from God. Sin came into the world through Adam. Paul makes it clear that all mankind is under judgement for sin.  No one is exempted.

In chapter one, Paul identifies several areas where man's sin is condemned by God. 

The first is man's ungodliness and unrighteousness.  Since the creation of the world, God's eternal power and divine nature have been made clear to man by that which God has made. Therefore man is without an excuse. The result is that God has given them over to the desire of their hearts. Romans 1:26

Man's failure to acknowledge God results in God giving them over to a depraved mind. Romans 1:28

Man is also condemned for judging others. 

"Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else.  For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things." Romans 2:1-2

 This sin results in God's judgement. Romans  2:3

God also condemns the Jew who teaches his children the law, but does not carry it out himself. Romans 2:17-22  

Paul goes on in quote the Scriptures to demonstrate that all of mankind is under judgement for sin. Romans  3:9-18

Paul rests his case that all are under judgement in Romans 3:20:
"For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20

We acknowledge that we are all under judgement for the sin we have committed again You. We cry out for your mercy!  We repent and accept your gift of redemption and salvation through Your Son's work on the cross.  We pray in the name of Christ. Amen

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend to Remember

Jaime and I returned home this afternoon from  "Weekend to Remember" held in Montgomery.  This is our second.  We attended in Atlanta in 2010.  George and LeeAnne attended Atlanta in 2011.  Jay and Jessica, Orlando in 2011.

If you are not familiar with "Weekend to Remember", it is a marriage ministry of FamilyLife. It is designed for couples interested in growing stronger marriages by incorporating God's truth into our relationship.

We joined 250 couples seeking to experience renewal and growth in our marital relationship.  

I'm not going to try to outline or condense the weekend, but I'll mention a few points that were important to me.

Marriage is designed by God and is defined by God. It is about more than just our happiness.  Marriage is at the center of God's purpose for mankind.  

God purpose for marriage contains three concepts.

First, marriage is intended to mirror God's image.  

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27
Jesus spoke of the  oneness of marriage, created by God in Matthew:

"…Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female,  and said 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." Matthew 19:4-6

Jesus also prayed for us that believers who are of one flesh may also become one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"The glory you have me, I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one -- I in them, you in me -- that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me." John 17:22-23

Second, marriage is intended to mutually complete one another -- to experience companionship.Companionship in marriage is God's provision to replace isolation  and meet our deep longing for a close intimate relationship.  This relationship comes ahead of our relationship with our children.  It is also important that children see their parents' marriage as the priority relationship.

Oneness in marriage is only possible when we consider our spouse before ourselves.

In Philippians, Paul says:

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 

Finally, marriage is designed to multiply a godly legacy.  Marriage provides the divine context for having children.  Neither women nor men are made emotionally, spiritually or physically to raise children by themselves.  Child rearing requires a united effort.

And God blessed them.  And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Genesis 1:28a

Lead us down the path that brings oneness to our relationship with our spouse and with You.  Keep us reminded that if we fail to draw closer to each other and to You, we can only be drawn apart and into isolation. We pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

God's Word

Believers talk to God through prayer and listen to Him though His Word. The Bible is His divinely inspired Word.  My focus here is on God's Word.

My first memory verse is:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful in teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16

God did not physically write the Bible himself.  Instead, the scriptures have been written by the hand of man, but divinely inspired by God.

As believers we accept the Bible as God's truth and the revelation to man of God's character. Though written over a period of over 1500 years, on 3 continents, and by more than 40 men, the Bible remains inerrant.  Neither does it contain contraction.  

When we read the Bible, we should read it expectantly, listening to God as He speaks to us. Sometimes we are convicted of a sin that God makes known to us.  Other times we are uplifted by His love for us. We may receive guidance in times of difficulty and support in times of sorrow.

My second memory verse is:
"Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you will be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

In this verse, Joshua refers to the "Book of the Law" or the Torah.  We know this writing as the first five books of the Bible, God's divinely inspired Word, written by Moses.

Don't let it "depart from your mouth", but keep it on your lips each day.

We are commanded to meditate and to do it.  Read God's Word.  As you read, listen, allowing God to speak to you through His Word.  

But meditation is not enough.  We are tasked to "do everything in it." This means that God wants us to apply His Word that He speaks to us to our lives.  He wants us to live obediently.  

Yes God wants us to live obediently, but look at our benefit. The result will be that we will live lives of prosperity and success!  

Our grandmother has a wonderful poem entitled The Bible.

O Word of God eternal, preserv'd through all the ages,
O gift of God supernal, with wisdom on thy pages.
O lamp of life, so radiant, shed light upon my way,
O pow'r of God, invariant, save souls today, I pray.

O book of inspiration, by the Holy Spirit sent,
God's message of salvation, for the whole wide world 'twas meant.
O word of revelation, the love of Christ revealing,
The one book of creation, no act of God concealing.

O sword of God, so piercing, that severs joints and marrow,
The love of God rehearsing, who cares e'en for a sparrow.
O wonderful discerner, of the thoughts of ev'ry heart
Oh, let me be a leaner of every sacred part.

O hammer of God, that breaks the stubborn and stony heart,
O comfort of heart that aches, with balm for every smart;
O wonderful Word of God, unerring and unfailing,
Applied to my sinful heart is sure and all availing.

Cordelia Hawkins Gatewood

Father, we thank you for Your Word.  We thank You that You speak to us through Your Scriptures.  We lift up Your Name in praise and thanksgiving for all of Your many gifts. We pray in the name of Christ. amen