Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Holy Spirit

So far in Romans - bad news = all sin and are separated from God
                           - good news = in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God

So --- have a new standing with God, but the still have same struggle with sin!   Rom. 7:15-25

NOW Paul presents a new helper --- THE HOLY SPIRIT - to help with this struggle
(Note:  chapters 1-7 of Romans - "spirit" only mentioned 43 times.  Chapter 8 "spirit" mentioned 21 times with new emphasis!)

Who is this Holy Spirit?  - He works within us to help with the battle against sin.
(1)  The Spirit of God  (often Christ, truth, eternal spirit, etc.)
(2)  3rd. member of the Trinity - (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) - 3 persons, one being.
(3)  living within the Believer!!

Quick look back to John 14:15-17 - day of Jesus' arrest.  Some last words:
(1)  another counselor (comforter, advocate) - like Jesus
(2)  to be with you - (in Jesus' absence - because He's leaving them tomorrow)
And: (3)  to be IN you!!   John 14:25-26 - New dispensation

Indwelling Holy Spirit to Assist in the struggle against Sin.  (see Rom. 8:1-17)
How does the Holy Spirit assist (in this struggle)?

#1.  He leads  (guides)
#2.  He illuminates  (light - gives new perspective)
#3.  He enables (strength) - ability
#4.  He assures - faith  (confidence in God)
Look for these in Rom. 8:1-17  (Rom. 8:8 = one of the strongest vs. in the Bible)

Holy Spirit's ministry = not just change you, but grow you into what you should be.  This process = sanctification.

This list = some of the Spirit's work within you.  - leading, lighting, encouraging, enabling

PROBLEM!!!  This is something HE does (within you)
However, He doesn't do it without your cooperation!
example:  Rom. 8:13  ".."(you) put to death..." = Do it!!  " ...By the Spirit"
A blend of (1) "Do" and (2)  "Let it be done to you"

Illustration:  on a lake - in a sailboat - no paddle, no motor, no oars.
Told to "go to shore!"
On one hand, you can't do it without WIND - the power is the wind
However, you must raise the sail, man the rudder, wait for the wind!!

Holy Spirit is faithful (will do His part)

Your part?

#1.  Position yourself for wind - places Holy Spirit is known to move.  ie:  the Word, quiet time, prayer, church
Must put yourself in a position to hear, feel, be moved

#2.  Be Open - attitude, heart and mind preparation.
IF He moves - are you OK with that??
IF He doesn't move - are you OK with that??  - many saints experienced what they called "The dark night of the soul" - example:  Job

#3.  Be Discerning - 1 John 4:1 (measure against the Word) - not every spirit that moves us is the Holy Spirit.

#4.  Be Responsive = Obedience - John 13:17

#5.  WAIT ... IMPATIENTLY!! - ie.  a healthy tension between
          A.  trusting God to work  (move)
and     B.  longing (anxiously waiting) for Him to work  (move)

Sometimes real growth is slow, so we wait impatiently!!

Closing Scripture:  Phil. 1:3-6


Monday, November 4, 2019

The Moral Law

Book of Romans:  B.N. (bad news) = all sinned and are separated
                            G.N. (good news - ie:  gospel) = forgiveness & reconciliation is available in Christ.
Paul emphasized THE problem in the first 7 chapters:  SIN therefore  Matt. 1:21

IF sin = violation of God's (moral) law(s) ...
THEN ... moral laws must exist!!!

MRP definition of laws:  (1)  Rules - not suggestions.  Are commandments.
(most Reverend Pastor)      (2)  Established by an Authority
                                         (3)  Which are obligatory - have to follow
                                         (4)  Carry a penalty for violation (or consequence)
                                         (5)  Authored for the benefit of society/individual/group

Question:  Does this definition fit:
                 A.  Man-made laws?  ie:  federal, state, etc.
                 B.  Physical laws?  - ie:  gravity
                 C.  The Mosaic Law?  - (10 commandments plus,  613 total)
                 D.  The Moral Law?   Definition of Moral Law - universal, fixed laws of right and wrong

All people of all generations and all races recognized SOME form of moral law!!

Will look at 3 views of moral law you are likely to encounter (in 21st. century America)

      ( A.)   There seems to be a universal sense of right and wrong
But, (B.) it originated in the evolutionary processes, not God or divine source.  Is in man for survival, etc.

        (A.)  morals have Divine Source  - example:  Declaration of Independence
But  (B)  only generally known  (principles)
Example:  Rom. 1:20,  Rom. 2:14-15
Theses principles can be known through;;;;
      Reason - (observation/experience/logic)
      Inago Dei - (with vestiges remaining)

So... to the original definition we now add...
            (6)  generally known to all men

III:  THE BIBLICAL VIEW = all the above definitions PLUS
            (7)  can be SPECIFICALLY known through Revelation.


#1.  moral laws exist - everybody admits to this
may not always know what's right, but do know that there is a right!!!

#2.  They are established by THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY.

#3.  They are not randomly chosen - (compare to Basketball rules)
They are:       (A)  an extension of God's Person, Nature, Character
Therefore are (B)  an expression of what = right/wrong!  (expressing His character)
Therefore are
#4.  Universal & Eternal
(God's nature, character doesn't change!!  So neither to these!!)

#5.  They exist for our benefit  (individual and corporate_
So we ought to seek to discover and live by them - if they are, in fact, for our good!
AND we ought to seek to use them as the foundation for our man-made laws
There has never been a law that doesn't have to do with right and wrong.
NOTE:  We may misunderstand the law, but it never changes.  God does not change!!

#6.  Violations are called "SIN"
This is more than a mistake.  It = Rebellion against God's Law(s).
(Changing the name of the violation won't change the nature  (example:  you can call a grizzly bear a teddy bear, but that doesn't make him one)
What does it say about Christians who violate this (water it down)

#7.  Sin has consequences - Example: Adam and Eve
maybe Penalty, maybe Consequence
#8.  Obedience also has consequences!!  (called Blessings) - Gal. 6:7-10
Works both ways!!!

The Moral Law is amply Revealed and Recorded in Scripture.

IF man without scripture can be judged as "without excuse" (Rom.1:20)

then ... how will we be judged who have Scripture??

(if they are obligated to the Moral Law... how much more are  we obligated to it)

Moral Law = powerful thing!!
BUT = limited in its power.  Rom. 8:3
This is true of the Mosaic Law and true of the Moral Law!
These LAWS can not save our souls.  Only Jesus Christ can save.

Moral Law does NOT have the power or the means to save.. It is weakened by our sinful nature.

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 5:15-17


Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Christian and the Law

Romans so far:  all have sinned and are separated  (Bad News)
                        Forgiveness and reconciliation is available in Christ  (Good News)

Primary focus of Chap. 1 - 7 has been THE problem ...... ie:  SIN 
It has skirted a parallel subject -  ie:  THE  LAW

Rom. 8:1-4 - IF Sin = violation of God's law.... then .... there must be  LAW(S)!!!

So we find "law/s" in Romans more than in any other book!!!  - (74 times)  - most in 1st. 8 chapters.
Why??  Because Paul is focusing on Sin and Sin = violation of the Law

"LAW" used of (1) man's laws (Chapter 13)
                        (2)  physical (natural) laws - Jeremiah - "fixed laws of heaven and earth"
                        (3)  The Mosaic Law - Law of Moses - (God gave to His people through Moses)
                        (4)  The Moral Law

Mosaic Law = the 10 words (commandments) plus - was developed over the years
Moral Law = universal, fixed laws of Right and Wrong - exist eternally and do not change.
(also called God's law, Christ's law, law of the Spirit)

NOTE:  can distinguish between the 2.  BUT cannot completely separate the 2..  Know they will overlap!!

Is a vast subject - so - today = Mosaic Law
                               next week = Moral Law

Definition of "LAW":

(1)  Rules - limits, boundaries, regulations, do's and don't's - (any law)

(2)  Established by an authority - (individual, governing body, majority, etc.)  And that authority has the right to enforce.

(3)  which are obligatory - mandatory, binding, not suggestions!!

(4)  carry a penalty for violation  - (punishment +/or consequences)
(5)  (supposedly) authored for the benefit of society  (household, community, nation)

Now:  Apply definitions to the Mosaic Law 
(1) Rules ?  613 laws
(2)  Authority?  God/YHWH
(3)  Obligatory?  10 Suggestions???
(4)  Penalty?  +/or consequence
(5)  Benefit?  to help God's People .... ISRAEL!!!  - not to harm but to help!
The Jews considered this the Law of God - given to them to obey!!

The Question:  Does the Mosaic law = Rules for Us?  today?
Are we Obliged to them?  or Freed from them?
If freed ... how free?  Example:  the 10 Commandments
If obliged ... how much?  ie:  food laws, etc

The Problem:  Scripture Sometimes indicates are obliged to, and sometimes points to freedom from?

A Helpful division of the Mosaic Law:

CIVIL - (laws)  - to govern society  - examples:  theft, property boundaries, etc.
CEREMONIAL (laws) - priesthood, sacrifice, holy days  (ritualistic laws)
MORAL (laws) - Right and Wrong!

I)  The Civil Laws (of Israel) - we're not obligated to these, but should
    (1)  examine the Moral laws the underlie the Civil laws
    (2)  seek to pattern our civil laws according to those moral laws!!

II.  The Ceremonial Laws - "fulfilled" (completed) in Christ - example:  passover lamb, scapegoat
Matt. 5:17 - He 'filled in' what was lacking!

So.... we are not obligated to the ceremony  However, are obligated to what the ceremony depicts - example:  Passover Lamb - "apply the blood"
The rituals they were obliged to keep were empty pictures.  Christ came and fulfilled these.

III.  The Moral Laws -  stand, unchanged, universal, eternal.  Nowhere have they passed away or changed in any form.
On the one hand, we are NOT obligated to the Mosaic Law
However, are Not free from the Moral Law contained therein!!
Rom. 6:14-15 = contract under law/under grace
(still UNDER .... rule, authority, obligation of grace!!)

Matt. 11:28-30 - change yokes!!!
1 Cor. 9:19-21 = free to practice, not practice Mosaic Law BUT never free from God's Law!!

Note:  what No LAW(s) can do!!!
Rom. 8:3 - Not man's law, Mosaic law, moral law - can never save you eternally.
Salvation is found in Christ Alone!!!

Closing Scripture:  Rom. 3:19-24

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Sin - The Ongoing Struggle

Romans so far:  Bad News = all sinned and are separated from God
                        Good News = forgiveness and reconciliation is available in Christ

in Chapter 7 - And STILL talking about SIN!!
Why so much about Sin??   Answer:  SIN is THE Problem!!
The problems in our life is ultimately the result of SIN.

so... Sin:
I)  Definition = (1)  any violation of God's law(s) - (missing the mark)
                      (2)  any lack of conformity to God's law(s)
Actions AND attitudes!

PLUS:  II)  (last week) Sin is more than rules, pushing boundaries, violations
SIN = a presence/energy/sinister force  (Chapter 6)
NOT alive, NOT a personality, BUT with personal traits!! - persistent, persuasive, demanding, coercive
Are not talking about Satan and demons

Last week  "Battling Sin" - (Chapter 6)
(1)  you are dead to sin - (not obligated to respond to it)
(2)  you are a new creature - example:  Born Again - are different, new heart
(3)  you have a new master - "Lord Jesus Christ"

BUT Sin is not dead to you!!!  will continue to harass and seek to dominate!!

Therefore:  you must "Reckon" yourself  dead to sin, alive to Christ
(example:  mathematical term - "count", tally, calculate)

On one hand, the Victory (over sin) IS Certain (but not yet).   (secured by Christ on the cross)
On the other hand, the Struggle Continues  (ongoing)

Rom. 7:15-25 - (read and see if you recognize yourself!!)   Sound familiar?  Recognize 'self? - Recognize your adversary??

Some things to recognize , anticipate, understand, and to Utilize in this struggle:

(1)  A knowledge of right and wrong (that there IS a right and wrong)
Doesn't mean we know all, always
Rather = we usually know - by means of....
    (A) inherent knowledge - conscience  everybody has one but it has been marred by sin.
    (B)  revealed knowledge - the Word and the Holy Spirit
    (C)  acquired knowledge - experience   Example:  Adam and Eve - got a new understanding when they sinned)

With that knowledge comes  (particularly for the Christian) -
(2)  A desire to do good (right)
on one hand, this is not exclusive to believers!  all = "in His image"
However, with the new birth comes renewed mind, heart, affections

AND... (3)  The presence of Evil  (Rom. 7:21)
On one hand this = a real and powerful presence  Compare  Gen. 4:6-7
However, it is NOT dualism!  Example:  Star Wars "FORCE" vs Dark Side

(4)  Feelings of guilt
On one hand is GOOD (IF) you are guilty!!
                                    (IF) it leads to "Contrition" - Isa. 57:15-19
(Contrition = being sorry for your sin itself, not that you got caught.)
IF Guilt leads to Contrition and that leads to confession which leads to repentance leading to correction = GOOD!!!

However, IF guilt leads to feelings of despair, worthlessness, etc.??  Sin will use this to beat you down and make you useless in the kingdom.
Christ did not come to crush and destroy you!!!
Example:  contrast Peter and Judas Iscariot.  Peter repented and turned.  Judas went out and hanged himself.

Note, Observation:
The Closer to Christ you are, the more AWARE of and Sensitive to sin you become!!
Which will lead to:
(5) Mental (and spiritual) Distress - Rom. 7:24
OBJECTION:  I thought "Fruit of the Spirit" - PEACE!!!
There should be a healthy balance and healthy concern.
"healthy tension" leads to Matt. 5:3,4,6 - on one hand, "blessed", however distressed.
It's not all about "happy".

For the Christian this Distress should not lead to Despair!!!  (example:  never gonna get it right so why bother)
But to.....
(6)  HOPE - Rom. 7:25 with Rom. 8:1
In Greek this word = confidence in His Love, My standing, His Presence, the Ultimate, final Victory

1 Cor. 15:55 - "where O death is your victory?  Where O death is your sting?"
We need to know that He's right here with us, to deliver us

When we sin, fail, fall.. you should (as a Christian)
(1)  confess - to yourself, to God, (to others if appropriate)
(2)  accept forgiveness (wallowing in grief will not help!!)
(3)  get up
(4) "Reckon" - add it us, not responding to that anymore
(5)  re-adjust
(6)  Press on...

(Words from Paul at the End of his ministry!) - Phil. 3:12-16 - already know, already have received

Closing Scripture:  1 John 1:9-10, 2:1-2

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Battling Sin

So far in Romans..... why we need Salvation, How we obtain Salvation, and (some of) what we acquire at Salvation.  Example:  bridge illustration

Now.... How are we to live AFTER Salvation??
(last week "Sin" - again this week with additional perspective)

Sin = any transgression (violation) of God's law(s)
Also = any lack of conformity TO God's law(s).
ie:  sins of commission and omission.
Anything outside God's will = sin
Anything that should be inside God's will  = sin

In Addition:  Sin is often portrayed as a Presence!!
On one hand, is NOT (exactly) alive, NOT (exactly) a personality.
However, clearly a FORCE, Power, Energy which leads to persuasive, coercive, oppressing, demanding, relentless, strong
This is NOT Satan - no mention of Satan or demons in this text, although he makes use of this "force".

So.... "Sin" is NOT Satan or a demon, but is far MORE than breaking rules, regulations, boundaries, limits
Rom. 7:21
Is something NOT alive but Almost Alive?!  And YOU must fight against it!!!

IN this battle (and in this text) Paul emphasizes:
For the Christian --
(1)  You are (now) dead to Sin - sin is not dead to you.
Therefore, you don't have to respond to it.

(2)  You (now) have a new Master - the Lord Jesus Christ (have accepted Jesus and Savior and Lord)
are no long in bondage to/obligated to sin.

(3)  You are (now) a new man (person) = Born Again (new beginning, new start)
There has been a MAJOR INTERNAL change which should manifest itself in External behavior.  ie:  "fruit".
This "fruit" should match the change.

BUT!!!  The old man still persists!  demanding attention, seeking to dominate
AND you must (now) battle against that!!  (against him!!)
Col. 3:9-10 - off with the old, on with the new.    Eph. 4:22-24 - have to actively do this.

Important distinction:  on one hand you are dead to Sin!!   However, Sin is not dead to you!!  He'll pursue!!

In Rom. 6 we find a number of considerations in dealing with sin --- one of the most important =

"Reckon" - Rom. 6:11  *consider/calculate*
This = a mathematical term!  to calculate, tally, add up, compute, ... use your head.
Point??  "Add up all I've told you.  The Sum is You don't have to RESPOND to Sin!!"

Rom. 6:1-23 - You are never your own master.  We will serve someone.  Biblical choices = Christ or Sin/Satan

You need to combat this "sin" (presence, power) with:

(1)  A new beginning  "Born Again" - change of who you are
2 Cor. 5:17 - why are you acting like what you were?
1 Cor. 6:11

(2)  A Spiritual awakening - Holy Spirit enters heart and something happens.  1 Cor. 2:9-12

(3)  right thinking - new knowledge and insight leads to changed mind leads to changed heart and changed hands!!.

(4)  a reckoning - add it up!!  tally!  calculate.
From Christian (Biblical) viewpoint - ALL SIN IS IRRATIONAL!!!

(5)  an offering ... ie:  of self ... TO God.  Rom. 12:1

(6)  an active, intentional pursuit of righteousness
Example:  Jesus - "why call me Lord, Lord and Not DO...."
               Paul = "Put off / Put on " - (lay down, take up) = action!

Christianity is more than head and heart ... it = HANDS!!

(7)  repetition - This is not a 1 time decision!!  (over and over again)
On one hand, you are NOT alone when you battle sin...
(have Scripture, knowledge - Divine Presence - Holy Spirit - church body)

However, you must decide what you are going to do with sin.
You must act ... Repeatedly!!!

Closing Scripture:  Rom. 8:12-14

Monday, October 7, 2019


Book of Romans - so far - Bad News = all sinned and are separated from God.  (relationship is shattered)
                                      - Good News = in Christ there is forgiveness and reconciliation

Rom. 5:1-2 - we have peace - many people claim to have this but is from their perspective, not God's

Paul already pointed out the extent of Sin - Rom. 3:23
No he expands on the subject.
Sin involves ALL people.  The entire bible deals with sin - from Eden to Revelation.

DEFINITION:  SIN = any transgression (violation) of God's law(s)
                                = any lack of conformity to God's law(s).
(Sins of commission and sins of omission)

God's Will therefore =
(1) action
(2)  in-action
(3)  Attitude  (example:  covet, adultery in heart)
(note:  boundaries are for protection NOT suppression) - example:  Adam and Eve and the serpent
God is NOT trying to keep us from enjoying life, but to enjoy it to the fullest according to His design and plan)

Paul points out (here) 2 problems we have with sin:

#1.  We all commit sins - compare  1 John 1:8, 10

#2.  We all inherit a sin nature / a tendency toward sin
ie:  Adam and Eve sinned - and it affected them in such a way as to pass that on to their offspring!!
(The Bible doesn't address 'HOW' - simply states as fact!)

More Bad News!!!  ie:  born with sin nature!!

But .... Good News = what God accomplished in Christ (grace of God, gift of God) FAR EXCEEDS the sins of Adam and Eve and all mankind!
ie:  God's GIFT is greater than man's TRESPASS!! 

Rom. 5:12, 15-19 - no matter how big the sin and damage of that sin, the gift far exceeds it.

What's wrong with this world?
Biblical Answer = SIN
ie:  Sin is the problem with government, neighbor, marriage, YOU!!

I)  Sin disrupts all peace and harmony - example:  Adam and Eve and their relationship with God ... one another ... themselves

II)  Sin has disrupted the creation - Gen. 3:17-18  (Rom. 8:20-21)
(again - no explanation as to 'how' .... only stated as fact.

THE REMEDY?    According to:

1)  the naturalist - "no God, no law, no problem"--- BUT there clearly IS a problem!!! - sin, evil, suffering

2)  the deist/universalist - "win exists BUT WE CAN FIX IT!!
ie:  through education and progress will eventually fix social ills and physical defects!

3)  Biblical View - the remedy is found in Christ - who defeated sin and died to eliminate sin and all the effects of sin!

I.)  He has already delivered us from the Penalty of Sin - we have redemption.
   (past tense - Justification)

II.)  He IS delivering us from the Power of Sin - (present tense - Sanctification - Romans chapters 6,7,8)

III.)   He will deliver us from the Presence of Sin in the end.  (future tense - Glorification)
   (the Restoration will be Beyond Eden)

According to the Bible:  "the process has begun, is ongoing, and will certainly find completion."

So .......... My part??   Your part??   Application?  Response?

#1.  Examine the Biblical Worldview
On one hand, it won't answer all your questions.
However, it answers more than alternative views.

#2.  Recognize and Admit your part in all this - ie:  Your Sin is part of the problem!!

#3.  Recognize and Admit your need  Example:  Step #1 in A.A. = "I'm an alcoholic".  Step #1 in salvation = "I am a sinner and I can't fix it."

#4.  Accept Christ  (as Savior)  John 1:10-13
Receive forgiveness, start anew, be 'born again'

#5.  Follow Christ  (as Lord)  which = "live for Him according to His law/rules ... preview ... Rom. 6:12-13

#6.  Promote Christ = evangelism, discipleship.  shape the world, build the Kingdom
(is ongoing task - because Every generation must be evangelized anew!!

#7.  Wait for Christ in faith - final redemption will be at His return.
Rev. 6:9-11 - The Kingdom is NOW .. but NOT YET!!    It's not over.  God is in control.  Be assured the it will come to pass.

Closing Scripture:  1 Tim. 1:15-17

Monday, September 16, 2019

God's Presence in Our Suffering

Book of Romans so far:
Bad News = all sinned and separated from God
Good News = reconciliation is available!!  - by grace, through faith, in Christ!!!

So... Rom. 5:1-2 - can have Peace - Access - Hope
and Rom. 5:3-4

Last week = 2 reasons to "rejoice in sufferings"

#1.  Suffering can be productive - Rom. 5:3 with Rom. 8:28

#2.  (today)  God is with you in the suffering.  
Rom. 5:8-10   IF He did this while you were separated from him, "how much more" now that are reconciled?!!  Do you think He would abandon you now??

Rom. 8:31-32, 35, 37-39  - He is not going to withhold His presence from you.

The study of evil and suffering often is divided into 2 parts:
#1.  the Why - why does God allow evil and suffering?  - theodicy - argument or intent to explain why He permits this.

#2.  the Wherefore - how are we to respond to evil an suffering?

Short version = we are to respond as Christ responded! - 1 Pet. 2:20-21  Example:  "suffer well" - He suffered perfectly - the way suffering should be handled.
As a Christian, we are called to suffer well.  To this you are called.  Christ left us an example.

When suffering ... knowledge, confidence, faith, surety ...  helps!!

When you suffer, you can be sure of:
#1.  God's Permission - is a *hard pill to swallow!!*
Example:  Peter's sifting    Job's trial   Christ's crucifixion
Satan couldn't do any of this without God's permission.

Either it happens with His Permission,  OR He is NOT God!!
And (then) you have NO HOPE!!  example:  naturalism, dualism

BUT - with the worst come the Best --
#2.  God's Presence - examples:  Matt. 28:20, Heb. 13:5
Isa. 43:1-3  - "... your Savior"
Isa. 43:5  "... with you."

The Good News = presence always with us.
Bad News = not always FELT!! - Examples:  Job's complaint  "dark night of the soul"
Know He's with you in you head, but no feeling of His presence.

Can also be sure of:
#3.  His Care   (provision, assistance)
Throughout scripture "go and I'll go with you"
Examples:  Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, Disciples

This is more that His Presence .. = His Assistance!!  - ability to push through
Jer. 1:6-8 - strength, courage, guidance, comfort
Preached 4 years - not a single convert recorded

Which leads to:#4.  His Ability  (re-visit Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, disciples....)
His Presence was more than to strengthen, comfort, etc.
His Presence = to Accomplish His will, purpose!!  - He worked through them!!

His plan is more than to work in/on you, it is to work through you!! - 1 Pet. 4:10

#5.  Personal Compensation
Mark 10:28-30
2 Cor. 5:10 - rewards or loss of rewards
Rom. 8:18 - present suffering not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed
2 Cor. 4:16-18 - light and momentary troubles achieving for us eternal glory

and ..
#6. Final Victory
Rev. 1:17-18, 20:14, 21:3-5 - all that is wicked and evil
This = all things made right!!
This = (1) the Christian HOPE
       = (2) your soul's anchor - Heb. 6:19 - "...firm and secure"
Knowledge of this helps to carry us through.  Doesn't relieve the pain, but carries us through.

Suffering is inevitable  (in this life)

BUT ... in God's hands and with God's Presence - suffering = Bearable, Valuable

Question:  How then will you suffer??  well?? Properly?  as a Christian should? as Christ did?
"to this you are called"

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 33:18-22

Monday, September 9, 2019

Rejoice in Sufferings

Romans .... so far:
Bad News!  All sinned are separated from God
Good News!  Reconciliation if available.
                            By grace (free to us)
                            Through faith
                            In Jesus Christ - John 14:6 - words of Christ Himself

Rom. 5:1-2 - therefore we have:
                       Peace - (with God)
                       Access - (to God)
                       Hope -  (of glory) - expectation of glory to come

So.... Rom. 5:2 - "we rejoice....."

Now ... Rom. 5:3 ... "..... in our sufferings"  ! ?

Question:  How can Paul claim this?
                 Why should we rejoice in sufferings?

Two reasons given here;

#1)  Suffering can be productive  (can achieve things in this life)

#2)  God will be with you  (in sufferings) - (we are never alone in our sufferings)

Rom. 5:3-11 - will examine these 2 reasons.

This week:  (#1)  Suffering can be productive - Rom. 5:3-5
Perseverance leads to Godly character leads to hope.

Compare:  James 1:2-4  (fall into does not mean leap into!!)  if you create your own fire, don't be surprised if you get burned.
                 1 Pet. 1:6-7  (proved = refine/shown to be pure)
                  Phil. 4:10-13  (where/how did Paul learn this?)

Observation:  Suffering has Potential / is not a given!!!
Luke 22:31-32   Satan's intent?  = destroy, discredit
                          God's intent?  improve - all the bad sifted out
                          deciding factor?  Peter's response!!  -
            Example:  Judas Iscariot - when sifted, turned out bad.
Paul writing to Christians here to whom this should always be true.

Observation:  Suffering does not Produce:  GOD PRODUCES!! - example:  the Cross
Suffering in and of itself is not bad, but what we do with it.
Gen. 50:19-20

In God's hands .. suffering has Potential to produce good:  (we weren't designed to suffer.  Suffering was part of the curse!!)
1) in me and for me!
example:  metal int he hands of master Blacksmith  Difference = metal is not actively resistant!!

2)  for others through me!
Example:  early Christian martyrs ... inspired people to believe ... therefore altered Eternity  (Shaped eternity)

Quote by Paul Billheimer - "Don't waste your sorrows" - are going to have plenty of them.  They can accomplish something.

(1)  This is not Rejoice because of your sufferings.
       It is Rejoice in the midst of suffering

(2)  Rom. 8:28 - does not mean you'll see the good (in this life) ...
                        - means He'll work for good in every situation

(3)  This knowledge/understanding won't relieve the pain  (dispel all doubts).
 It will give additional reason to:
     (a)  Endure the pain  Examples: Paul's thorn - God's answer - "my grace is sufficient" - Paul's response - "good enough for me"

     (b)  Expect God's involvement - Heb. 12:7, 11, 12

     (c)  Rejoice in the midst of sufferings
Example:  Paul says  "we know..."
Clarify ... "I Know" does not mean "I understand!!"
Rather means you've given a reason that is beyond my comprehension... AND I trust you --- to know what's good, to do what's good.

Job 13:15 (KJV) - "though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

Closing Scripture:  1 Pet. 5:8-11


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Romans: Peace, Access, Hope

Book of Romans - the message so far:
I)  All have sinned and are separated from God
Therefore, stand in (1) a state of condemnation - already
                             (2) need of Reconciliation  - already

This is BAD NEWS!!  Because (3)  the damage is irreparable!!

BUT there is Good News!  (the Gospel - Old English = godspel - good tale, good story)

II).  Reconciliation is available!!
       (A)  to all!!
       (B)  at NO COST!!  (ie no cost to you!! - tremendous cost to Christ.  Just no our work!)
it is:  (C)  By Grace .... Through faith .... IN Jesus Christ!!

So........ Rom. 3:20-24 - Review:  righteousness = ability to stand at ease in God's presence.  Vs. 23 - to all who BELIEVE!!  Example:  Abraham - Rom. 4:1-5
He believed God!!  left his homeland - went to Canaan -- believed the land would go to his heirs (though he had no heir!!) - believed in 'son of promise'  (though was OLD!!) - believed enough to offer (sacrifice) that promised son!!

Abraham believed God and "it was credited to him as righteousness"

On one hand, Abraham didn't get everything right!!!
However, he believed and obeyed which counted as faith, which credited as righteousness!

Now ... from was'm to is'm - Rom. 4:20-25  We get salvation the same way.
Is for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus from the dead.

Rom. 5:1-2 - "therefore" = because of His Work and our response ... we (now) have:   Peace .... Access .... Hope

I.  Peace with God = harmony, fellowship, friendship, reconciliation
Example:  Contrast Adam and Eve's relationship before and after sin.  Sin has separated sinful people from fellowship with God.

Note:  Peace greater than feeling = actual, factual state of being.

You may say "God and me are on good terms!'
BUT .. is that what God says???

Options:  Therefore = (1)  trust your notions/feelings,
or                               (2)  trust the person and words of Christ!!

II.  Access to God
On one hand, God = omniscient and omnipresent (aware and available)
However, this access = for those in "Right Standing"

Illustration:  the temple layout
Center = Holy of Holies (High Priest has access once a year) , in front of that = the Holy place (only the priests can minister here),  then court of Israel, then court of Jewish women, then court of gentiles.

On one hand, all are free to approach and pray.
However, only the High Priest could enter into God's symbolic Presence!  - UNTIL ... Matt. 27:50-51

This access is:  (A)  initial (salvation, reconciliation) - when initially crossed the bridge
                       (B)  continual - Heb. 4:14-16 - the irony is that when we need His mercy and grace the most, we avoid Him.

Because of His work and our Response ... we no have ...
          I)  Peace with God
         II) Access to God
        III)  Hope for the future.

III.  Hope for the future   (hope for the glory of God!)
"Hope" = (confident) Expectation  (joyous) Anticipation - based on fact!
Is more than dream, wish, desire, longing, which is the current use of the word.  ie:  I 'hope' it rains.  I 'hope' I pass my test.

"Glory" = all the glorious things He has promised in this life AND (especially) in the NEXT!!

So.... Titus 1:1-2,  1 Pet. 1:20-21,  Col. 1:26-27

Because of ... what HE has done  (the cross), (plus) what I have done  (crossing over) = Reason to Expect (Anticipate) all the glorious things He has promised!

Rom. 15:13 - He is the GOD of Hope.  We are the People of Hope.

So..  Rom. 5:2 - "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

On one hand we have Hope (expectation) for the future!!
However, we live int his present, troubled world!!

So........ (meanwhile)  - Heb. 6:19  "... firm and secure".  - anchor for the soul.

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 10:13

Monday, August 26, 2019

By Grace ... Through Faith

Romans 1 - Gentiles are without excuse (had some light) - rejected the light that they had.
Romans 2 & 3 - Jews are without excuse (had a great deal of light) - manipulated, danced around, didn't live up to the light they were given.
Summary = Rom. 3:23  ALL

BAD NEWS!!!  Sin separates, brings Wrath + Condemnation!! 
AND it is (1) Universal + Irreparable!!  Example:  the gap in the bridge illustration.  Talking about the relationship we were created to have with God.  Irreparable due to sin.

BUT ... There is Good News!!  Rom. 3:20-24
On one hand, sin and separation = Universal and Irreparable
However, forgiveness and Reconciliation is Available!!  (relationship restored)

So.... How to access this Bridge?  God's Presence?

Some Common (American) answers:

(1)  Atheist view = is no God, no bridge, no need

(2)  Agnostic view = can't know so why bother?

(3)  Apathetic view = don't know, don't care

(4)  Good Works view - examples:  (a)  tip the scales argument  (b)  better than Joe Blow argument  (c)  God know my heart argument  (good old boy)

(5)  Salvation by affiliation view = I'm a Jew!  American, Catholic, my daughter goes to church.

(6)  Universalist view = I'm OK, you're OK, God = grandfather!!  Includes "reconciliation by death" - no matter how you lived your life, when you die you go to heaven!

(7)  Biblical View - by Grace (freely given) ... through Faith.

Paul gives that view with 2 Old Testament character illustrations:
#1.  Abraham - Rom. 4:1-5 - "believed"   "credited"  (counted, calculated)
Note:  faith and believing are the same word in the Greek.

#2.  David - Rom. 4:6-8

In the Old Testament, Salvation = by faith!!! Trusting God AS HE HAD Revealed Himself!!

In the New Testament, Salvation = by faith trusting God AS HE HAD Revealed Himself!!

Only difference - N.T. revelation makes it clear that Jesus is LORD and CHRIST!!! - Acts 2:36

Nearly 200 times in the New Testament, FAITH is declared to be the Sole condition for salvation.
Examples from John:
John 1:10-13
John 3:16-18
John 3:36
John 6:40
John 11:25-26
John 20:30-31

Define this "faith  (Reformers definition)  (MRP adaptation)
Biblical faith requires....
(1)  (proper) Content - means more that just believe = believe the right stuff!   Acts 2:36

(2)  (personal) Assent  (agreement)  Acts 2:37

(3)  (active) TRUST  more than head = hands!!! Example:  the demons believed Acts 2:41-42 and they weren't saved.
Acronym = C A T  - if don't have this, not FAITH!!

Therefore:  Salvation = by Grace through Faith.
Are no works required?  Answer - yes, no, yes....

On one hand, you must receive the Gift.  Compare to a check:  must receive, endorse, deposit it!
However, No!!!  Nothing beyond that is required!!

BUT, if there are no subsequent works - is NOT Biblical faith.  Not works to BE saved, but works AFTER saved.
C.A.T. - Active Trust!!!

Note:  Matt. 7:20
           Matt. 3:7-8
           James 2:14-26

Yes, it is Salvation - BY Grace ... Through Faith!!  (apart from works)

BUT!!!  "faith without works is dead"
or  Col. 2:6

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 11:1-2,6

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Big Words -- Bigger Concepts

Rom. 1 - Gentiles received some light and rejected it.  Therefore are "without excuse"

Rom. 2 & 3 - Jews received much light and juggled it, misapplied, mishandled it --- therefore, are without excuse"

Which leads to BAD NEWS!!  Rom. 3:23
But, there is also Good News!  Rom. 3:24 - all are capable of being justified

Expanded version:  Rom. 3:20-26 - primary text

Paul uses Big words and Bigger concepts!!  Example = in the text:  righteous, righteousness, justify, justification, redemption, atonement, propitiation

So:  terms defined with (1) bridge illustration  (2)  Bible - lev. 16:6-10, 15-16, 20-22

This = Foreshadow:  a vague, partial picture of that which is  to come!
These goats, this ritual (sacrifice) did not remove sin!!!  Heb. 10:3-4

This ritual/ sacrifice/ goats ... pictured  (portrayed, foreshadowed) the act that WOULD remove sin!!

Today:  look at Big Words and Concepts Paul uses that are illustrated by the Bridge illustration and scapegoat.

#1.  Substitution  (substitutionary sacrifice)  - goats for Israel   Christ for us

#2.  Propitiation/ Atonement  (interchangeable)  to Cover  therefore Satisfy therefore deflect consequences.
Example:  = cover your debt, satisfies obligation, deflects consequences
Rom. 3:25   1 John 2:2
(Hebrew = Kipur  where they get Yom Kipper - Day of Atonement)

#3.  Expiation - "ex" out of, removal - hence -- SCAPEGOAT  - 1 Pet. 2:24

#4.  Redemption  (Ransom)
payment for deliverance from bondage to sin.  Example:  in a kidnapping - pay a ransom to win freedom of on kidnapped
1 Tim. 2:5-6   Matt. 20:28

#5.  Justification (legal term)
payment made, now justified
just demands of the law now met... on one hand known to have been guilty, however now not viewed (treated) as guilty!  Rom. 3:23-24, 26  - back in right standing

#6.  Righteousness = right standing, ability to stand at ease!  (Old English "right wise" - compare to "crosswise")  Rom. 3:21-22

#7.  Reconciliation = restore to proper relationship (in agreement, in harmony) -Rom. 5:1-2, 11

ie:  to be rescued from, delivered from  - example:  "saved by the bell"

What is the Christina saved from?  Matt. 1:21
(primarily) the Consequences of sin!!!  - 1 Thess. 1:10 - rescues us from the righteous anger of God

So:  substitution
    + propitiation
    + expiation
    + redemption
    + justification
    + righteousness
    + reconciliation___

Is this "salvation by sacrifice?"
on one hand, "yes ---His sacrifice makes all this AVAILABLE!!

However, (technically and practically) Salvation is by FAITH in His Sacrifice!!
examples:  cross the bridge, bend the knee, bow before, make Him Lord, etc)

"BY GRACE ................ THROUGH FAITH!!"
Example of what Paul calls "the foolishness of the cross"!!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Everyman's Gospel

Last week = Paul's charge to Rome's pagan society!
Those who rejected God's revelation, God's will - Rom. 1:18-20  - (they received some light from God but refused it = "without excuse"  They rejected the light they had been given.

This Week:  Romans chapter 2 - Paul addresses Rome's Jewish community.
Look how he begins :  Rom. 2:1 - "without excuse"
Have rejected God's will in an internal sense.

So:  On one hand, pagans received some light -- (general revelation) but refused it, therefore subject to God's wrath!  (ie:  righteous anger)

However, Jews received much light (special revelation, scripture).  They received it but did not practice it internally - therefore subject to God's wrath!  (ie:  righteous anger)

Paul's Point:  Rom. 3:23 - all sin, are separated, need a Savior - not just the pagan gentiles

So:  Paul's words to Jewish community:
Rom. 2:1-24, 28-29, 3:1-4, 9, 19-20

He's talking about the attitude toward God's word.  Vs. 11:  God doesn't prefer Jews over Gentiles

Now a closer look:

I.)  1st. Century pagan - received some light (general revelation) yet rejects God's word and will.  Therefore, without excuse and subject to wrath  (righteous anger)

II.  1st. Century Jew - received much light (Old Testament Scripture) yet found ways to manipulate that revelation - example:  Matt. 15:1-9.
Therefore, without excuse and subject to wrath  (righteous anger)

Question:  Any application for us today???

III.  21st Century Neo-pagan (new pagan - return to pagan thinking, worshiping nature rather than God, etc.)  They (likewise) received some light, BUT rejects, refuses it ... therefore without excuse, subject to God's wrath (righteous anger)

IV.  21st. Century Cultural Christian - (goes to church once in a while, maybe at Easter or Christmas, attends church weddings, is not Hindu or Jew or Muslim, so must be Christian.)    Has been exposed to much light!  (went to Sunday School, VBS, lives "good" life)  BUT picks and chooses from Scripture, ignores that which is inconvenient, etc.
Therefore, without excuse and subject to wrath  (righteous anger)

CONCLUSION:  Rom. 3:23   - That's BAD NEWS!!!

Question:  Why is Paul so passionate, emphatic, insistent about BAD NEWS???

Some reasons:

(1)  Sin Separates  - example:  Bridge Illustration
which places man in position of condemnation. - John 3:18
Which is NOT God's desire - John 3:16-17, 2 Pet. 3:9

(2)  Sin incurs God's wrath - (ie Righteous Anger!!)
Wrath may be Passive                 active               Future
                  (backs away)       (intervenes)         (final judgment)

Note:  sin doesn't always lead to immediate wicked behavior  Rather ... SIN leads to distorted thinking which leads to wicked behavior.
Example:  Adam and Eve - Romans 1
This is why repentance, conversion is more than a change of action, behavior.  It = change of MIND!!

(3)  Sin is universal - Rom. 3:23 - 1 John 1:8

(4)  Unless and Until man sees his sin, he will not address it as sin!!  Example:  Step #1 of AA?  - admit you have a problem)

(5)  the Holy Spirit uses the proclamation of sin to convince(convict) man of sin.  example:  Acts 2:37.
Rom. 10:14

So.... Paul IS passionate about the BAD NEWS.
BUT ... even more passionate about the GOOD NEWS!! - Rom. 3:21-27

One issue within the church today - the emphasis/proclamation of the GOOD NEWS ... (loving God)
with out proclamation and explanation of the BAD NEWS!!! - separation, wrath!

Focus = Love  (agape).  Mercy - compassion - forgiveness

without righteousness, justice, judgment, wrath

The cross proclaims BOTH!!

The proclamation of one is incomplete without the other!!

This doesn't mean we should exclude Love, doesn't mean should move away from Love.
BUT should present His live within the proper framework of Everyman's Gospel

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 3:16-21

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Romans 1: 18-32

Book of Romans - condensed:  "Paul, an Apostle, concerning the gospel (good news! - evangelical witness) of Jesus Christ."

The Good News = you can be right with God (ie:  in right standing; able to stand "at ease" in His Presence - won't be condemned)

BUT ... it's preceded by the BAD NEWS!!  ie:  (until you come to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.....) you are NOT in good standing with God!!!
Illustration:  the Ugly Pill.   Fellow says to his friend,  Good news!  We have discovered a pill that will cure ALL the uglies no matter what.   The bad news is that you need this pill!!!
This is why the gospel is so offensive!

Romans Chapter 1, verses 18-32 = the BAD NEWS!!
Is a lot of heavy content therein!  So..... before reading it, will define some terms!!

(1)  Righteousness = able to stand "at ease" in His Presence.  Talking about our righteousness here.  God's righteousness = He is always right, all the time.
Two types of righteousness - (a) Positional righteousness = in right position with God
                                            (b) Practical righteousness = practice of right living

(2)  Sin = any transgression of God's law, or any lack of conformity to God's law.  (commission & omission)

(3) Wrath of God = Anger!!  emotional response to evil and injustice.
it = righteous anger - always
it = settled (or studied) anger  (not sudden) - rational, reasonable, thought out.

Also note:  Active wrath  (in anger He intervenes)
             w/ Passive wrath (in anger He withdraws) - We see this passive anger in this passage

(4)  Revelation  = two types:  general revelation - general in scope and content - given to all people
                                             special (specific) revelation - available in scripture.  Example:  Christ's substitutionary death.  Would not get that from general revelation.

(5)  Free Will - which = on one hand, the freedom to choose, however is NOT freedom to choose without consequences.  Choices have consequences.

(6)  Progressive Depravity - ie:  moral corruption in a downward spiral

Text:  Rom. 1:16-32

  • Rom. 1:18 - present tense; wrath not primarily against men, but against the godlessness and wickedness that men do;  suppression - holding down with force something that will pop back to surface if released.
  • Rom. 1:27 - current wrath;  punishment for sin is sin itself.  (continued downward spiral)


  • 1.  God takes sin seriously  
  • 2.  A just God deals with sin .... justly!!  But,
  • Mercy is also available!  
The most vivid display of God's righteous anger against sin = The CROSS!! - Matt. 27:45-46

The clearest demonstration of God's love and concern for His creation = The CROSS!! - Rom. 5:8-9

Put love and justice together --> 2 Cor. 5:21
(it's fitting that the symbol = CROSS - where love and justice meet!!)

"Good news" - labored over the next 8 chapters, but, we must be convinced of our "lostness".  1 Pet. 3:18

Are 2 paths available:  (1)  Justice  (which = wrath) - take your chances with God.  Get what's coming to you.

  or (2)  Mercy --- you choose!!  

Closing Scripture:  Rom. 8:12-14

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Romans: 2nd. Introduction

Last week - Introduction to Romans - Rom. 1:1-7 in a nutshell - "Paul, an Apostle, to the church at Rome .... concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ"

Question:  Why study a letter to a specific people group 2,000 years ago?

Answer:  Because:
 #1 - the letter has universal application!!  - it could have read:  ".... to the church @ Octavia"
And, #2.  DOCTRINE MATTERS  - What we practice (how we behave) must be based on truth.

So, the 2nd. Introduction.  Rom. 1:8-17
Paul hopes to visit Rome (and will in chains!  Acts 28)
He hopes to accomplish:
(1) fresh harvest - (non-Christian to Christian ratio at this time, 100 AD = 360:1)
No Apostle had ever been to Rome at this time.
(2)  Spiritual edification  = build up!!  Most of these letters written to churches!
(3)  mutual encouragement  ie:  to bless and BE blessed by

So Paul says ..... I am.... (1)  obligated - ie.  by Christ!!!
                                      (2)  eager   BUT!!  (approaches with fear and trembling) 1 Cor. 2:3
                                      (3)  unashamed .....then and now!!                                   

Because  the Gospel is  (1)  The Power of God
                                    (2)  for salvation  (to effect)
                                    (3)  to all who believe  
Rom. 10:9-10,  John 14:6

How can a story effect salvation and transformation??

Answer:  Rom. 1:17  (abbreviated)  "the gospel reveals a righteousness from God that is by faith"

This Righteousness is right standing (relationship) before God
ie:  the ability to stand at ease in His Presence - Rev. 1:17

This Righteousness comes from God  
This is more than words, outward actions ... Matt. 7:21-23

AND .. The Gospel reveals all this!   (makes it known!)

Example:  Bridge Illustration:
1.  Right Standing - (in His presence, at ease)
2.  from God - He built the bridge
3.  Obtained ... by faith = CROSSING!!  Believing is not faith!
4.  Revealed in the Gospel!  Hands, heart, head - all together

This gospel has been the power of transformation in billions of people.

Closing Scripture:

Monday, July 22, 2019

Introduction to Romans

Paul - to the church @ Rome
which = (a) mix of Jewish and Gentile believers
            (b)  founded by unknown persons.  Paul had never visited Rome, no apostle had visited Rome at this time, but the church was well established.

Letter was written ... approximately 56 - 58 AD = 25 yrs. after the Resurrection  (Paul had been preaching less than 20 years)

On one hand, though Paul never visited Rome, he knew people in the church - Rom. 16:1-10  (29 names listed in this chapter)

So, the church had trusted friends, solid believers, competent leaders, but had no Apostle or trainee of an Apostle  (examples:  Timothy, Titus - trained by Paul)

So.. While Paul was concerned for their Practice (behavior), he was MORE concerned with their Doctrine (beliefs!)

Why??  Because Christianity is NOT BUILT on Practice, but BUILT on Doctrine/Beliefs/TRUTHS!!!

So - Romans = heavy on doctrine because DOCTRINE MATTERS.  Without proper foundation, a building will NOT STAND!!  Romans deals with fundamental, primary views of the Christian faith.
Example:  ancient builders - Roman library - 6' wide 11' deep - building is gone, foundation is still there.

The Christian view - doctrine = this is what we believe.  Therefore, this is how we should behave (practice)

So Paul for example:  spiritual foundations - Matt. 16:18,  Essential beliefs, eternal truths!!  1 Cor. 3:10-11

Chapters 1 - 11 = Doctrine.  Then Application/Practice - Chapters 12-16

Rom: 1:1-7 - (we often skim the introduction to a book, but here = good material.

Vs. 1 - Paul = willing servant - by choice hence loyalty, service
                      called - by God - to ministry
                      set apart FOR the Gospel (from godspel = good tale, good story)

Vs. 2 this gospel =
           promised by God
           revealed through prophets
           recorded in Scripture
Point:  this was not new!!  Was now brought to fullness in and by Jesus Christ!
The Roman Christians didn't have the New Testament - built on what was written down by the prophets

Vs. 3  This gospel is "regarding His Son".
There Is NO Biblical Gospel apart from Christ!! - John 14:6

Vs. 4(a)  Who (Jesus) on one hand was Son of Davis (human and qualified to be Messiah)
However, was Son of God through the Spirit of Holiness  (therefore qualified to be the substitute sacrifice!)
HOW BOTH??  - don't know but Col. 2:9

Vs. 4(b)  who is clearly shown to be God's Son .. By the Resurrection!!!  Jesus Christ overcame death, defeated death.  Was a sign that He was who He said He was.
This = unique claim of Christianity - founder is still alive.  No other religion can make this claim!!

Vs. 5  Apostolic task includes:
           Call people
           to obedience born of faith
Christianity IS a religion of works!!  BUT - works = born of faith!!!!  Don't obtain salvation by works!!!
Eph. 2:8-10

Vs. 6 - you are among the called
Vs. 7 - you are called to be saints
In Rome then.  In Octavia now!!
Paul wrote to the Romans but through the Holy Spirit wrote to us today.

Closing Scripture:  Rom.12:1-2

Sunday, June 30, 2019

God & Country - A Biblical View

Definition:  blending Faith and Patriotism - honor or nation AND the God who gave it.
The people putting this together had high recognition that God had a mighty hand in establishing the nation.

Biblical examples.... of men who qualified as patriots.

#1.  Jeremiah - preached destruction under 5 kings for 40 years!! - condemnation by the hand of God.
Jer. 5:26-31, 19:7-9  Not a popular message.
But known as "the weeping prophet" - which led to him writing Lamentations.  He wept over his people and his nation.

#2.  Ezekiel - preaches the message of Jeremiah's letter to the people exiled in Babylon.
Jer. 29:4-7 - deported into Babylon.  Ezekiel - not popular either.

#3.  Daniel (carried away in the first exile) - served Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, & Darius as a favored advisor, yet  ... Dan. 6:10, 9:1-3 - patriot of Israel

#4. Nehemiah - faithful servant of Persian King Artaxerxes - (100 years after the return) - Neh. 1:1-4, 2:4-6 - don't know if he'd ever been to Jerusalem

#5.  Jesus - Matt. 23:37-38, 24:1-2 - total desolation 35 years later

#6.  Apostle Paul - Apostle to Gentiles!!  - Rom. 9:1-5, 10:1

These men shared some common national views ... that serve as Biblical models for us.

(1)  They loved their nation - (why did Jeremiah weep??)
(2)  They sought the good of their nation -
which = why in every instance = "return to the LORD"
Additional:  they loved enough to give back - most of these men died martyrs.
Example:  Declaration of Independence signers:
56 signatures - their fate?
5 captured and executed as traitors
12 had their homes ransacked and burned
 2 lost sons in the colonial army
 9 of the 56 fought and died of wounds or hardships of the war
several others lost their businesses and personal holdings to the British Army
Francis Lewis saw his wife jailed for being married to a patriot - she died in that jail
Thomas Nelson authorized the shelling of his own home - which was occupied by British as a headquarters
Carter Braxton lost his shipping fleet to British navy.
British soldiers looted the property(s) of at least 8 others.
Point =  they sought the good of the nation at their own expense.

Example:  statement by JFK - "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"

BUT  (3)  they put God before their nation
   (a)  the nation is NOT the Lord    (b)  the nation is temporary!
Phil. 3:20, 1 Pet. 1:3-4

(4)  they recognized the sins of their nation AND owned selves as part of the problem!!  Dan. 9:4-8

(5)  They believed God would RIGHTLY judge their nation - whether judgment = blessings or curses ... it'll be RIGHT!!

(6)  They believed in God's good will toward their nation - in fact ... toward ALL nations!!  Jonah 4:1-3

and so... John 3:16-17, 1 Tim. 2:1-4 - this is the heart of God.

(7)  They believed God would not abandon their nation  (His people)  Jer. 29:10-14
short range pessimist / long range optimist

put together ... (8)  they always held forth HOPE for their nation.  Lam. 3:19-24  The prophets never ended on gloom and doom, but on hope!

How can I make a difference?  I'm not a prophet - statesman - wealthy - influential ... only a drop in the bucket!!

On one hand - you may be only a drip, however, you are called to be a Faithful drip!!  Do what God calls you to do - drips accumulate and make a difference when all together.

Closing Scripture:  Matt. 5:13-16

Monday, June 24, 2019

Biblical Guidelines for a Prospering Nation

Opening introduction:

Article written by Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman - published in American Political Science Review - 1984 - "The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late 18th. Century American Political Thought"/

15,000 writings were reviewed of the era between 1760 and 1805.
Of those they selected 916 previously published items for their research.  (books, newspaper articles, pamphlets, etc.)

Then they counted citations (reference made to previously published works) within these writings as a means of measuring the influences upon our Founding Fathers (as they hammered out constitution for this new-found nations - the United States of America.

Of 3,154 citations found in these 916 publications, 34% were quotes from the Bible!!!  - Apostle Paul was most quoted.

"...the Biblical tradition is most prominent among the citations .... It is relevant ... to note the prominence of Biblical sources for American political thought, since it was highly influential in our political tradition and is not always given the attention it deserves."

Question:  What book of the Bible most often quoted?  Answer:  Deuteronomy.
Why?  note the (1) historical setting, and therefore, (2) the content and (3) parallels

Question:  IF the bible was relevant to the colonials in late 18th. century (ie: in developing our constitution)
THEN is it relevant to us in early 21st century?

11 years ago, preached a sermon entitled "Biblical Guidelines for an Aspiring Nation."
Better = "Biblical Guidelines for a prospering Nation"

Because, the words, instructions, warnings are (mostly) for once they are IN the land ... settled, prospering....  Deut. 8:10

On one hand, we recognize America = a prospering nation
However, also fear it = a faltering nation!!

So, (as approach our 243rd birthday) - lets looks at some
"Biblical Guidelines for a Prospering Nation"

Note:  this is not a message to the nation.  Rather = a message to individual citizens of the nation!!
Because - a _________ nation is made of __________ people!  (fill in the blanks with the same word)

So.... (1)  the setting of Deuteronomy
         (2)  the parallels to the colonies  (& to us!)
         (3)  the text - Deut. 4:1-2, 5-6, 9
                              Deut. 8:1-20
God's will is never done corporately until it is done individually first.


#1.  Be Reasonable - Deut. 8:17-18
our prosperity = result of ..._____?

#2.  Be Thankful - Deut. 8:10
Example:  saying grace at meals - is not necessary, but is appropriate - Psm. 50:23

#3.  Be Careful - Deut. 8:11-14
Be careful to (A) remember  (16 times in Deuteronomy, 166 times in scripture)
                    (B) not FORGET
(prosperity tends to pride ... which = forget Him and focus on ME) - not good for us, not good for the nations.

#4.  Be Wise - Deut. 30:11-16, 19
wisdom is more than knowledge = practical application of Knowledge!  (which = relationship with God through Christ)
Biblical wisdom is using knowledge in a wise way!

#5.  Be Instructive - Deut. 4:9, 6:4-9
IF national blessings = result of following God,
then why are we not more vocal about the need to follow God.   The Jews were supposed to be a mouthpiece for God.

#6.  Be Evangelical - Deut. 4:6
Israel's calling included making God known therefore drawing people to Him
The church's calling includes making God known.... through Christ and the Cross

#7.  Be Faithful (to keep what He instructs)  - Deut. 8:6 - "observe" - this means more than stand and watch!!
Examples:  holy days, festivals, rituals = FOR the people (not for God).  When a people neglect, ignore God's institutions .. that people will suffer loss!!  Example = church.  Christ died for the church!  Is His bride!!!

The audience = common folks!  Believers who want God's blessings on themselves, their children, their neighbors, their nation!!!

The choice/decision we (like they) must decide how we will respond to:
(1) these vast blessings and
(2) the God who provides them.

This can be a corporate, national choice ONLY if it is 1st. an individual choice!!!
Because ... a ___________ nation is made of __________ people!!

Close w/Jesus' words - John 13:17

Closing Scripture:  2 Chron. 7:13-14

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Biblical Submission and the Christian Family

Ephesians = typical Pauline - ie:  Theology AND Application

So:  Eph. 1:1 - addressed "to the saints".
Then - Chap. 1-3 - the Theological foundation for Christian life
followed by Chap. 4-6 - the Application, Lifestyle, and Practice

Eph. 5:21-6:9 = Classic passage on Christian Family 
Address:  Wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves, masters  (ie:  a Christian household)

This passage = many issues but has a COMMON theme!!!   SUBMISSION

Most often noted and quoted scripture = Eph. 5:22
Usually overlooked = (1)  this = POINT of the entire passage!
                                 (2)  it Applies to all family members!!

Before looking at the passage, look at Biblical view of submission.   (We have developed a cultural description of submission, not a Biblical one)

The word in the Greek is:  hupotasso = military term/ to rank under

We are familiar with this in, for example, the military, workplace, etc.
here Paul applies it to the Family  (household)

BUT ..... a big difference!!!
(1)  This is talking about a Family!!  Not military, workplace, etc.
(2)  = Christian Family - instruction for them
(3) = Biblical View of Submission!!!  ie:  God's view  (not the world's, society's, culture's)
On one hand, it's the same word and are many legitimate parallels 
However, Christian understanding and application will be different and enhanced  (compare the many forms of love with Agape love (God's love)
Phileo = brotherly love
Stergo = love for family
Eros = passionate love
Agape = love of God
When translated into English,  all the same word - LOVE - but in the Greek were different.

So ... SECULAR (world's view)  Vs. BIBLICAL (God's view)

(1)  Secular man measures status by how little he must submit.  Less means he's higher up in the rank,
Biblical view measures status (of a man) by how much he is willing to submit!!   Mark 10:42-45

(2)  Secular submission (typically) is compulsory, imposed upon us
Biblical view = self imposed, voluntary - John 10:17-18 - you take that position.  Example = Christ
Eph. text ... is:   Never  "subject another..."  Always "submit yourself"

(3)  Secular submission (typically) is motivated by self - interest.  (ie:  "I submit because it's best for me!!)
Biblical Submission = I submit because it's better for others!!
Rom. 15:1-2

(4)  Biblical Submission is not merely to a person (officer) BUT to a role, calling, responsibility  (a ministry!)
Example:  Jesus to Peter - "feed my sheep, nurture my lambs" = Submit self ... to ME, to Role, to Flock
So,  1 Pet. 5:1-4 - hence --> 1 Pet. 5:5

(5)  Secular view - "leadership and submission is contrary to one another"
Biblical view - "leadership and submission = complementary to one another!!
Biblical view says the greatest leaders are those who would submit to those they lead.

(6)  Secular submission seldom acts silently.  (either (1) protests  or (2)  flaunts the sacrifice)
Contrast Christ:  "silent before accusers"
1 Pet. 2:21 - "to this you are called!"

(7)  Biblical submission is more than action, = ATTITUDE!!  - Phil. 2:5-7

Some Observations:

Chaos was born from a refusal to submit!  - (Satan and demons refused to submit to God)

The Fall occurred when man refused to submit  (Adam and Eve and to us)

Therefore, Redemption = result of willing submission.  OF Christ ... to the Father, to His role, to the Cross!!

Personal Salvation = available ONLY to those who will voluntarily submit to Christ (to grace) etc, etc, etc.

In light of this (and much, much more!)
How is it...???
That something as fundamental, necessary, valuable, honorable, laudable as Submission can fall into such disfavor with man?
TO the point that it is considered and Inferior action and a BAD word!!!!!

ANSWER = We (mainly Americans and even some Christians) have fallen for AND Embraced the world's view.  (a secular view) of submission.... AND Rejected God's View!!!
NOTE:  Rom. 12:2

With this in mind, Eph. 5:21-6:9

Summary:  (1)  Submit yourself to Christ
                 (2)  Submit yourself to your family
                 (3)  Submit yourself to YOUR ROLE within the family
Prov. 14:1

Closing Scripture:  Prov. 8:1-6

Friday, June 7, 2019

Children: A Blessing From the Lord

Differing views regarding children.

Christian's view developed around Scripture.
Biblical view = "Children are a blessing from the Lord"
Psm. 127:3-5, Gen. 1:28 - part of blessing for creation = children
Mark 10:13-16 - Example:  picture of Jesus with the children

On one hand, Bible presents children as a Blessing.  However, Biblical writers were NOT ignorant of the BURDEN.
They have many needs:  (physical, psychological, spiritual)
At least are intrusive, demanding.
At worst = tyrannical!!  -  (if don't believe that, sign up for nursery duty!!)

They are the source of great joy!!  However, also source of great grief, sorrow, disappointment, heartache
Examples:  Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Samson, Absalom

Nevertheless, in spite of the burdens, the Biblical message remains:
"Children are a blessing from the Lord"

Note:  (1)  not just a potential blessing, simply "a blessing"
           (2)  a blessing not just to parents/grandparents - but to US , to community, to society, to mankind!

IF it be true (that children = blessing from the Lord), THEN there are additional Biblical Issues to consider:

I.  Receiving Children 
Reword to "A benefit bestowed (blessing/gift)... by &  from the LORD! - Isa. 29:22-23 - Isaiah's message to Israel as being carried off to Babylon

21st. Century view?  Even a staunch atheist considers a baby - wonder/awe/"miracle"

Application:  to parents (grandparents) - easy!!!
But to non-Parents???  Example:  introducing new babies to the church.   Pleased, proud, because = Gift to US!!

II.  Stewardship:  manager of another's property.
Biblical sense = manager of what God's placed in your care. - New Testament = steward

Biblical Steward = manage - WISELY - FOR the Master.
Non - Parents?  we have also received and been Entrusted  - 1 Cor. 4:2

III.  DISCIPLINE  which = corrective and punitive
But comes from the word Sozo and Phronema (save & mind)
Literally = "Saving the mind"

Now - Heb. 12:5-11
still corrective, punitive, but also formative, developmental, building, training, shaping.  Example:  athlete

(1)  not to love would = ungodly (un-God-like)
                            not to discipline = the same!!!
(2)  NON-Parents ... your punitive options are limited, but your developmental options are not!!

With  issues of Stewardship and development, comes:

IV.  Self-Development - because can't give what don't have  (example:  wisdom)

IF the point = Raise child UP, then I want to be as tall as possible!!!

Also touch on
V.  Success and Failure  
(1)  You will fail sometimes - Rom. 3:23
(2)  You will FEEL like a failure - MANY TIMES!!

Continue to tell 'self what you already know ...
 (1)  raise child for Long Haul!!  (example:  Jacob == Israel)
 (2)  child has free will - NO guarantees!! - Prov. 22:6 - "train up" = general promise)

VI.  The Common Foundation  (where we started the series) - Matt. 7:24-27
Upon this foundation  (1) you build 'self
                        ...       (2)  you (attempt) to establish your children

Closing note:  Matt. 7:28-29 - (with "these words are trustworthy and true")

Application:  if have never built on the Rock, need to do that!!

Closing Scripture:  Prov. 2:1-6

Monday, May 27, 2019

Personal Baggage in Marriage

During counseling sessions, often must distinguish between:
1)  marital problems
2)  personal problems.

(1)  Marital Problems = problems caused by the union/  issues that did not exist prior to the marriage.
Examples:  money management by 2, child discipline, blended family, sexual incompatibility, in-laws

May be gender differences, personal preferences, issues of cooperation.
BUT = common, predictable

(2)  Personal Problems are not problems caused by the union.
Rather = un-resolved issues brought into the union.
Examples:  chauvinism, frigidity, lying & deceitfulness, extreme selfishness, verbal & physical abuse

These cause problems within marriage, but are not caused by the marriage.

Example: what a Combat Vet or POW might bring into marriage.
ie:  anger, violence, stubbornness, fear, suspicion, timidity, withdrawal, fear of intimacy, fear of bonding

These often are hidden, masked, controlled, BUT tend to surface in intimacy of marriage

Some descriptive terms  (to help define this!)

Baggage - because bring in and unpack in marriage.

Personal - because = yours!  Belongs to YOU!!
(will cause problems for spouse, BUT are not spouse's problem!!!)

Emotional - because deep seated feeling, logic resistant, may even be UNTRUE!!  Examples:  anorexia, inferiority complex

Problem - because = Problem!!!!
hinders personal development, damages the relationship.

Origin??  - may be
(1)  inherited - stubbornness, depression, anxiety - fallen people born to fallen people

(2)  learned - example:  kids in foster care system

or (3)  combo of these

Whatever the cause, the outcome = unhealthy FEELINGS which leads to improper ACTIONS which leads to relational TURMOIL

(again) these may be masked during courtship, but will surface in intimacy of marriage!!!

#1.  We ALL have personal baggage  
because = sinners, raised by sinners, in a sinful world.  Rom. 3:23

#2.  emotional baggage comes in all sizes. 
Examples:  handbag to steamer trunk,  termites and tornadoes

#3.  The emotional health of a marriage cannot exceed the emotional health of the individuals in the marriage.    "a __________ marriage is made of __________ people"

#4.  the emotional health of 1 partner cannot (fully) compensate for the emotional baggage of the other.  example:  marital math - a 7 + a 3 does not equal 10  (=5!)

#5.  emotional issues in 1 partner tend to create emotional issues in the other.
Example:  an abusive alcoholic brings down wife.

#6.  emotional issues in the parents tend to create emotional issues in the children.  
Extreme example:  who is most likely to be physically or sexually abusive??  Answer:  the one who was raised in that kind of environment.  Hence:  chains of Baggage!!

Question:  How important is all of this???  (for Christians???)
Matt. 22:36-40

Your emotional health affects
(1) your Personal development
(2) your relationships with others
(3)  your influence, impact on others  (especially your kids!!)

Objection!!  too much psychology!!  Not enough Bible!!
So....... use a Biblical word, term, concept!!

SIN:  any attitude, behavior, response outside of or contrary tto God's will for you.

Distinction!!  having baggage is not necessarily SIN!!  It = the response to the baggage that determines  SIN!! 
Example:  tortured POW,  sex slave - horrible conditions.  How respond in current situations determines.

Unbiblical Responses??
denial, indifference, downplaying, stonewalling, blame transfer, defeatism

Biblical Response?
A)  Examine - James 1:21-25  Heb. 4:12
B)  Admit - 1 John 1:8-9
C)  Repent
D)  Repeat - over and over again, til head and heart are in agreement

May require additional help!! - friend, pastor, counselor, etc.

BUT - 1st. and biggest issue = DECISION - John 5:6

So... who's Boss of your marriage??
        who should it be???
Prov. 14:1