19.5 Romans – Time Out

God has not rejected the Israelites.  To think such would be to purport that a loving and committed parent rejects their misbehaving child.  They discipline the child.  They remove the child from a situation where they may continue to harm themselves.  They may even put the child in time-out, but they never stop loving the child nor does the child forgotten.  As the child grows to adulthood and rejects the parent, the loving parent will allow them to go off, as we read in the story of the prodigal son as told by Jesus.  But the ongoing desire of the parent is to welcome his child back and rejoice in their return.

Throughout the old testament we saw this play out with God’s chosen people, the Jews.  They rebelled against God and turn away from Him and He turned them over to their wicked ways.  He brought in conquering armies to carry them off in to exile.  But, when they cried out to Him, He rejoiced in bringing them back home.

Would the situation with the Jews be any different during Paul’s time or today?  God is unchanging and always faithful.  His covenant is solid and true.  He will discipline Israel.  He will cause them to be jealous while they sit in time-out.  He will allow them to turn away from Him and go off.  But He will joyfully welcome them back home, back into sonship, back into His arms.

My Answers:

All Israel is all descendants of the faith of Abraham, not blood alone.

God is not cut off from them, they have God’s grace and mercy

God is merciful. He is also just but He chooses whom He choses and does what He does

God gave His one and only son to die and defeat sin so that He might take away the sins of the entire world, Jew and Gentile, all has been paid for all who believe


19.4 Romans – One Tree

Have you noticed how often trees are used throughout the bible to teach us about God and our relationship with Him?  The 2 trees in the garden of Eden.  The trees of Mamre where Abraham settled.  The tree where Deborah judged.  The cedars of Lebanon used to cover the walls of the temple.  The budded staff of Aaron.  Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, He is like a tree.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  The tree on which Jesus was hung.  The 2 olive trees and candle stands of Revelation and the Tree in the New Heaven bearing fruit. To name just a few.

We know that the truth about God is evident even in nature so that all may see and know about Him.  But trees seem to play a prominent role in that revelation throughout the bible.

I think one message in all of this is the fact that we are all part of the one same tree that is our God.  This is important to understand.  There isn’t a Jewish tree and a Gentile tree.  There isn’t an old testament tree and a new testament tree.  We are part of the same tree.

Some were born into the grace and mercy and provision of the tree.  Others were grafted in, but regardless of origin, we all are connected to and dependent on the living trunk and roots for everything.

Why would one branch fault another or claim superiority, if we are all truly part of the same tree?  That  would be an act of getting tangled upon one’s self instead of the right act of growth and bearing fruit.  Our desire as part of the tree of life should be to grow the tree through all means, including bearing new fruit as well as a desire for other branches to be grafted in.

My Answers:

Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious

Being grafted in is not a superiority over God’s chosen people – be humble and grateful, have faith and pray for the cut off branches that they may be rejoined

He does not give me what I deserve but shows grace. He gives me numerous challenges and pain so that I remain humble and trust only in Him.

19.3 Romans – Given Over

I was grateful for the verses that we were provided as background to Paul’s discussion of the hardening of the Jews in verses 7-10.  This is a difficult concept to reconcile with what we know of God’s mercy and kindness and love, especially His love for His people.

On one hand, we might conclude that God hardens peoples’ hearts in a way that prevents or precludes them from believing.  But that is not what is consistent through scripture.  Instead, we find that God allows them to be “given over” to their sinful ways.  It is not that God forces them into sin, but that God allows them to continue undeterred in their sinfulness.

The easiest way of seeing this is found in the term “calloused heart” as found in Matthew 13:15, “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.”  By definition, the way one receives a callus is from repeated pressure and friction, such as rubbing against something that does not fit correctly.

God did not create us to sin, so when we bring evil and wickedness into our heart we introduce something that doesn’t fit.  We try to push the Holy Spirit out of hearts when we want to hide from God because of sin.  Pushing is a form a pressure.  We were not designed for repeated contact with the forces of evil and when we don’t safeguard our heart from wickedness, we end up calloused and hurt.

God does not desire for us to have a calloused heart, instead He wants to renew us and give us a clean heart, but, God will use all things for the good of the people who love Him.  This even includes using a calloused heart, all allow people to turn from Him, while He then brings new believers into His family, those brought in through faith instead of by birth.

My Answers:

They sought to be holy/righteous through works of the law, but holiness and righteousness was granted to some by grace and others were hardened in disbelief

IS: They approached God with human rules and obligation but not with a contrite heart or true belief. They wanted to earn God
PS: They lack compassion, They believe each deserves what they get
MT: Their hearts have become calloused, they hardly hear with their ears and they close their eyes
JN: That Jesus was the Messiah was evident, He blinded eyes and hardened hearts so they could not rely on knowledge for faith
ACT: Others would not believe, They were not allowed to see or hear fully because of their calloused hearts

19.2 Romans – Rebel Alliance

Theory: God has rejected the Jews.

To reject this theory we would need to show a single example where it was not true.

The opening verses of our lesson today from Romans 11 take this challenge.  Paul poses the question and then uses himself as the defining example that the theory is wrong.  If God rejected the Jews and Paul is a Jew then Paul must have been rejected.  But this is not the case, therefore, God has not rejected the Jews.

Paul goes on to point out that not only has God not rejected the Jews but God is trustworthy and faithful in His promises.  Through many times of rampant sin and turning away from God, God exiled His chosen people.  There were also times of other cleansing of sinfulness through everything ranging from conquering armies to plagues and even the ground opening up to swallow the tents of people.  However, through it all, God has always retained a remnant, a select group of people who, not because of their amazing ability to follow the law more closely than anyone else but simply because of God’s plan, His mercy and His grace, that they were held back or set apart from the rest of the nation.

Since the day sin has entered the world, God has always retained and maintained a small group of people to stand apart and rebel against the sinful ways of the world.  These small groups do not conform to the ways of the world or fall to the pressure to become like everyone else, but instead they are protected and held apart.  From the world’s view these believers are the rebels.

God has never given up on His creation.  The size of His rebel alliance has grown and shrunk at different times in the past.  During Noah’s time it shrunk to 8 people on a boat.  During the time of Elijah, he thought he was the last one, but God had preserved 6,999 others.  In Revelation we learn of a time when there will be 2 witnesses, but even then, God’s rebel alliance is maintained.

To which group do you want to belong?  Do you want to conform to the ways of the world and be like everyone else?  As you look around, how is that working out for others?  Would you rather be part of the remnant, God’s Rebel Alliance?  Would you rather be part of a small group that believes and holds together to fight evil and spread the good news or be another gear in the evil empire that is this sinful world?

My Answers:

Theorem: God rejected them, Proof as false: Paul is a jew and God did not reject Him. God told Elijah that God had reserved a remnant for Himself

A remnant is a scrap or remaining piece of fabric when all else is used. God chose and preserved a remnant for Himself and for His purposes

They were not chosen because they were the best Jews, but because God had grace on them and set them apart for His holy purposes

18.5 Romans – Strategic

Our last question today has a great and deep meaning within the wording.  It asks the question, “where has God strategically placed you…”

That is a truth that we often forgot.  Every place we are, everything we do, everything that happens to us is where God has “strategically” placed us in that moment.  Some of it is a destination, such as God has placed me in a loving relationship with my wife.  Some is a transition, such as God is allowing me to go through difficulties with work and family.  Some lasts for a long time.  Some lasts for a day or a moment.  Some lasts forever (my relationship with Him).  But every situation is a situation that God, who is in control of all, has strategically place me in at that very moment.

We minimize and underestimate God.  We forget His word in Jeremiah that before He formed us in our mother’s womb He knew us and set us apart.  There are no accidents in the hands of the Almighty!  But all too often we think that if we don’t understand then there is no meaning or no strategic reason for something, i.e., that it is just happenstance, circumstantial, an accident.

The only way to support this world-view is to assume a distant and uninvolved God.  One who sets things in motion and then gets out of the way and watches, maybe periodically intervening, as things spin randomly.  But there is absolutely zero support for this view in the scripture.  Instead, we see a God who is constantly engaged and working.  Two chapters back, in Romans 8, we read that God works all for the good…  It doesn’t say God works some or that God lets all.  No, it says God is sovereign, completely in control and completely actively working and engaged.

Why then didn’t all of the Jews believe?  Why do some people to this day turn away from the good news and not believe?  It isn’t because God didn’t do something.  It is because they do not want His gift.  One of the biggest stumbling blocks of accepting the Gift of Christ is accepting that we don’t do it on our own, He did it for us.  It means we are not only not gods, we aren’t even able to save our own lives and, not only that, but He doesn’t even need any of our help.  The stumbling block hasn’t changed.  The Jews wanted a Messiah, God with us.  They didn’t want a Messiah, us with God.  The wanted a god who would come along side them, support them, lead them, be with them, they wanted a helper, a guide, someone they could use to rise up and dominate the world.  But God didn’t need their help, He paid the price in full and then issued the invitation to join Him.  They wanted a god who would join their club, not the other way around.  Do you see the same in the unbelievers around you?

My Answers:

He is retracing verses 14 and 15 in relation to the Jews. It was preached, it was heard, it was understood but they did not believe.
hearing is being within earshot of something speaking the truth. Understanding is to have a receptive ground for the seed to be planted, to have a desire and openness. Believe is to take it to heart

the Messiah-rejecting Jews: God would bring the gentiles close to Him to make the Israelites jealous so they would respond, but they did not. God has stretched out His hands to them, but they chose disobedience and to be contrary to Him

Workplace with employees and clients and other business owners. By sharing the truth of the gospel, the depths of God’s love.

18.4 Romans – Prepositions

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

That one sentence has 3 prepositions and each one provides us with a different perspective into the depth and meaning of the sentence.

The first is “from”.  In the sentence it is, contextually, “comes from”.  In Greek the word is “ek” G1537 which means “the origin”.

The second is “through”.  The Greek word is “dia” G1223 which means “the channel”.

The third is “about” or contextually, “the word about”.  In Greek it is “rhema” G4487 which can mean verbally speaking but also carries the meaning of being “the main subject matter.”

What we can take from this is that it is a picture of the interaction between the ‘Word of God’ and ‘faith’, like a drawing showing a chemical reaction between elements or a physics reaction between objects.  In this picture, the result or recipient is faith, but the origin, the channel and the subject matter are all the Word of God.

In this one sentence we see how the Word of God in three different ways and three different forms all work together to start and grow our faith.  What a beautiful picture of the Trinity interacting with us every day, continuously (it does say “hearing” as in ongoing continuing to hear).

My Answers:

The pleasing aroma of Christ is an aroma that demands a response. For some it is the aroma of death for others life. It requires a decision to be made and some want to continue in the shadows and darkness.

from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ
Faith is not something we grown it is something that is grown in us.

Lesson about Job

18.3 Romans – Feet

In a book I’m currently reading by Brene’ Brown, she discusses the advice one mother gave to her daughter to be a better person.  Her advice was simple but uncommon.  She said, when a neighbor has something go wrong, be the one who walks over, knocks on the door and delivers the book or the casserole.  She said to be the one who gets up and goes to the funeral.  Be the one who walks someone’s kids to school for them.  Be the one who picks up the extra flower at the store and walks it over to their house or who brings the extra box of cookies to school for the one who forgot or didn’t have time.

This really spoke to me as I thought about the beautiful feet in our lesson today.  He doesn’t say our hands can’t be beautiful, they can with the work we do for others.  Or that our lips can’t be beautiful, they can when we say kind and uplifting words.  That our brains can’t be beautiful, they can when we share a deeper understanding of scriptures.  That our eyes can’t be beautiful, they can when we see others as God sees them.  Our hearts….  Even our knees can be beautiful when they bow down in prayer to God for others.  But the starting point is with our feet.  It is going and it is showing up.

The opposite of walking across the street is to do what so many others do today.  We gawk.  We gossip.  We blame.  We talk about how awful it is.  We talk about how could that happen in our neighborhoods.  We stand about and separate ourselves and feel better about ourselves because, well, that didn’t happen to us.

But the feet that cross the street, that go to the funeral, that show up and deliver the message of Christ are beautiful because they are the anointed feet of our Lord.

My Answers:

A1: rcv power of H/S, be witnesses: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth
A13: Jews rejected so Paul and Barnabas preached to gentiles – light for Gentiles, salvation to ends of earth
R15: Preach where Christ is not known
2C2:God opens doors and leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal processions to spread aroma
2C10: as faith grows, message is shared to surrounding regions

Missionaries and all who take God’s word and spread it to others. Because they bring good news and proclaim salvation for God reigns

so far to kids… preparing me for something

18.2 Romans – Delivery

In one of the clubs that I belong to, I have a very interesting and fun job: I hand out gifts and money.  I don’t raise the money; it is the result of the efforts of all the members of the club.  I don’t buy the gifts; they are donated or purchased by the other members.  I get to work on a committee that identifies those in need and delivers the money and other donations.  It is a great job.

As I thought about Romans 10, I realized that is also the same description of how we spread the gospel.  We didn’t create the good news.  We don’t work for it.  We don’t gather it or pay the price for it.  We are simply the delivery driver.

God does not need us to spread the message.  He allows us to do it.  We get to see the joy, we get to be a part.  It is a great job.  But God could do it without us.  He could use nature.  He could use the angels.  He could simply do it himself.  He could plant it in us from birth.  But, instead, we get to be the one who delivers the gift to others.

My Answers:

someone is sent, the preach, the message is heard and believed and they call on the name of the Lord for salvation.
Saved as a child, but brought back to a personal walk through wife

Jesus has paid the price for the sins of the world. All who believe in Him in their hearts and declare it with their lips are saved, redeemed and brought to a path of glory to become increasingly more like Jesus as His brother.

As teacher, example, mentor, to live it out loud and to live in a way that does not cause others to stumble.

17.5 Romans – Heart Surgery

We all were born with broken spiritual hearts.  Part of infection that came from sin at the fall of man was that our heart was broken because it was no longer directly connected with God in the way it was originally designed.

We can do all kinds of good works.  We can eat right, exercise, avoid certain things, participate in certain others.  None of that is bad, and it does cover over some of the symptoms of our brokenness, but it nor does not fix what is wrong.

Heart surgery may be the closest physical thing we have to the type of trust that we are called to place in God.  When we turn ourselves over to the surgeon, we are completely putting ourselves in their hands.  We have no ability to participate.  They literally stop our heart from beating and we no longer even control the movement of our blood or lungs.

But God is a great physician.  He has a 100% success rate.  And, He sticks around after the surgery as well.

To someone in denial, it seems foolish to put yourself on the table to undergo heart surgery.  But, to those of us who recognize our brokenness, there is not foolishness or shame.  Those in denial think they can do it on their own, but you cannot perform your own heart surgery.

Romans 10:9 is correct, but sometimes we read it in the wrong order.  It isn’t an equation, it is a gift of an operation.  Our great physician picks us out and says, you will be saved.  He then performs surgery on our heart, transplanting part of Himself into us to make us whole.  This then enables us to speak the truth – He is Lord.

We only need undergo surgery once, but we continue to heal and grow the rest of our lives.   As we learn in Psalms 51, we are to call on God daily, saying: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

My Answers:

coveting and pride can take our heart off course
The mouth speaks what fills the heart
Knowledge is not faith – even the demons know God
The H/S lives in God’s children

My heart is His but my lack of discipline in walking with Him allows sin into my life which weakens instead of strengthens.

Faith in something untrustworthy is to be a fool, to be ashamed of an unwise choice. But believing in Him will never lead to shame. Verse 13 clarifies and reinforce the “Him” to be Jesus, our Lord, who we can call on with a clean heart and share in His justification and righteousness and glory

As a child and again 14 years ago

17.4 Romans – You choose: Life or Death

As we read Romans we need to keep in mind that Paul’s primary audience were Jewish believers in Christ in Rome.  They had a deep foundation in the old testament, especially in the Torah, so when Paul brings a few words from Deuteronomy, we read the few words, but they would have immediately known the full story, characters and messages.

Moses is giving the people a choice that they will have to make just before handing the leadership role over to Joshua to take them into the promised land.  He paints it very clearly: I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  You get to choose.  Love God and follow His commandments or turn your hearts away, become disobedient and worship other gods and idols.  The first leads to life and prosperity.  The other gets you thrown out of the land and leads to destruction.

He prefaces this by explaining, this word, this choice they are being given, is not some deep and mysterious thing to ponder.  It isn’t some riddle whose answer is hidden in heaven or some that is hidden in some distant foreign land across the sea.  It is right here.  You know what it means to choose God and you know what it means to disobey.  No tricks, no riddles, no mysteries.

Paul uses these verses to convey the same ultimate message.  You know the choice.  You choose.  Accept the truth that God raised Jesus from the dead and He lives and confess that with your lips.  Or, don’t.  No tricks, no riddles, no deep philosophical diatribes, no mysteries.  You choose.

My Answers:

He goes back to Moses discussion of the law when it was given. It isn’t something we must climb to heaven for or something that we must cross a great divide. It is something that is near to us, it is in our mouth and our heart so we are to proclaim it (see Deut 30:11-14)

Believe in their heart and confess with their mouth

You will be saved: salvation will be bestowed upon you as a gift from Jesus who alone can provide it
Believe with your heart that He paid the price of your sin and overcame death.
Declare with your mouth what is in your heart, Jesus is Lord (including Lord over me)

This is the only way.