3.5 Romans – Cut and Healed

I had surgery this summer.

Most people do not have surgery because they think it is fun.  They have it because they come to the realization that it is the only choice to fix a problem they have.

On a spiritual level, we all are born with a heart problem.  We inherited our heart problem from our ancestors, all the way back to Adam and Eve who made a choice to swap out a part of their hearts, purity and connection with God, for disobedience and sin.  This left us with a hole as well as an extra part, our sinful nature.

The only solution to this problem, which is critical (as in it leads to death), is surgery.  That surgery, performed by Jesus using the Holy Spirit as His presence, first is piercing our heart with a conviction of our sins to send us into a state of repentance.  He then grafts on a new part, His righteousness, which He purchased for us on the cross.

David cried out for this in Psalm 51, “create in me a clean heart, O God.”  Ezekial, the prophet, said it this way when quoting God, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.”

My surgery is over, but the healing and recovery continues.  Some days are better than others.  Some days are painful and I feel like I’m going the wrong direction.  Other days give me hope and joy.  There are others that I work with to improve and gain strength.

I think the same is true for those of us who accepted the “heart surgery” that Jesus performs.  We may be recovering and improving the rest of lives.  We rely on others, especially the word of God, but also pastors, leaders, and others on the same path of recovery.  But not only are we getting stronger, we are becoming more holy and more like Jesus, our Lord and our brother.  We can take the trip every day from our heads down to our new hearts and sit with the Holy Spirit and sign right along with the host of angels and saints in heaven in praise to God.

 

My Answers:

12.
a.
It is an outward expression of a covenant relationship with God as His people through Abraham. It is an exclusive club, predominantly available only by birth or through a member of the club.

b.
wearing a cross, displaying bibles and bible verses, religious symbols on cars, business cards and websites.
Baptism, communion, sacraments. Attending and dressing for church, bragging about bible study groups.

13.
one with a heart circumcised by the holy spirit, pierced and mended by the presence of God in the person leading them to an every increasing state of holiness and a call to share the good news.
Mark 7:15 paraphrased: it is not what is on the outside but what is on the inside.

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3.4 Romans – Moonwalking

As I thought about Paul’s chastisement of the Jews in our lesson today I couldn’t help think about Michael Jackson.  No, I don’t mean that as any judgment of his life or choices in life.  The image that came to mind was of Michael Jackson “moonwalking.”  For those that don’t know the dance step that he made famous in a music video, look it up.  It is a magnificent movement where the dancer, the individual, appears to be taking forward steps, but in fact they are moving farther and farther backwards.  The closest I came to mastering the dance move was by walking slowly the wrong direction on one of the people movers at the airport.

But, it came to mind because it was what Paul was describing of the Jews.  On the outside their every physical motion made it look like they were heading forward, in the right direction, on a path honoring God.  But it was all an illusion, and, on the inside and to anyone who saw the truth, they were moving backward, farther away from God.

Our role as believers is, in large part, to lead others to God.  If we ourselves are not moving forward toward God, then we are leading others astray.  It does not work to go one direction while telling others, do pay attention to what I’m doing, go that way, it is the right path.  If it is the right path, shouldn’t you be on it as well?

But we lie, especially to ourselves.  We convince ourselves that we are very good at hiding the darkness so that no one, not even God, can see it.  We lie that it doesn’t affect our thoughts, words and deeds, and that it has no impact on our relationship with God or with others.  We lie in deceiving ourselves that our sin isn’t so bad, that it is OK, that it is just a habit, that everyone else does it, that it isn’t my fault it is an illness, that somehow it is just OK because, well, we aren’t as bad as those people.  The problem is not that people (us especially) don’t know God’s law (it is written into the fabric or all of creation and into us as well), it is that we choose not to follow it.

But Paul is not pointing this out to the Jews of Rome to condemn them and judge how horrible they are.  He is point it out because he loves them, as Christ loves them, and wants them to change and help him spread the good news to the gentiles.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit does not convict us to make us feel horrible, we are convicted to change and help Him spread the good news.

 

My Answers

9.
a.
The law, God’s chosen people, a covenant relationship through Abraham with the sign of circumcision. They boasted in it, making them superior to others to the extent of being above the law

b.
The bible, BSF, bible teaching church, the honor to teach children. It is always easier to tell others than to put it in practice on a daily basis.

10.
The first three – no other gods, idols, misuse the name of God (also not stealing).
We become proud and boastful. We rely on ourselves and do not repent and change. We make excuses or act like we deserve our sin because it is balanced out by good works.

11.
They blaspheme the name of God. They harden the hearts of those they intended to help. Yes, I’m guilty, every time a sin, my thoughts words and deeds are evident not only to God but to others and my witness is contradicted.

 

3.3 Romans – Finding Yourself

Some spend their lives “trying to find themselves”.  They recognize they are lost and look for answers; trying on different religions and philosophies as if they are clothing, looking for what feels comfortable to them at this stage in their life.  Some have a life crisis and go off seeking, trying to find themselves in new adventures, new looks, new relationships.  Some have a crisis and go off seeking shelter in a bottle in drugs in loathing.

I found it interesting in today’s lesson that that Romans 2 outlines two paths.  Those who seek glory, honor and immortality and those who are “self-seeking”.  Glory, Honor and Immortality are all attributes of God.  They are not things we can control, do or earn.  They are things or God.

If you are “trying to find yourself”, frankly, you are on the wrong path!

But, then, what about the longing we have for identity?  Who am I?  Why am I here?  But if we look to ourselves, self-seeking, for those answers, we always come up short, because the answers to the “… am I” questions can only come from the one who is the “I am.”  Our identity is in God.  Our reason for being is because God loves us and wants us to be a part of His eternal glory and honor.  We are here to see the light of the world and to reflect that light to others.

Isn’t it interesting how, throughout the old testament, when God spoke to people such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, they all answered with the same phrase, “Here I am.”  When we hear and take to heart the Word, the voice of God, we no longer are trying to find ourselves, we immediately know exactly where we are.

 

My Answers:

6.
Wrath. As a repentant believer I am storing up riches in heaven. As an evangelist of the gospel, I’m storing up eternal friendships and family.

7.
a.
First, it is a path that is a daily walk. Second, those who seek God receive eternal life from God, those who seek themselves receive wrath and anger.

b.
Am I sharing God or building myself up? Am I trying to find more about God or am I “trying to find myself”. Is my identity in me or in God

8.
The truth, free of favoritism. There will be trouble and distress for evil doers and glory honor and peace for those who seek God. Judged based on the evidence of the truth that we have been provided.

3.2 Romans – Bucket Brigade

A bucket brigade or human chain is a method where things are passed from one stationary person to the next.  It gets its name from the days before pressurized fire trucks when, to put out a fire, a line of people would be formed to pass a bucket filled with water from the source (a lake or well) from person to person until it was poured out to quench the flames.

Picture that chain, but insert a person along the way who, instead of passing on the water bucket simply says thank you and sets it aside as if it belonged to them alone.  Instead of assisting others, now that this person has lots of buckets of water of their own, they criticized others that they are lacking in buckets.  They judged the others to be insufficient, unworthy, unqualified, lacking.

This is what Paul accused in the behavior of the Jews of Rome.  They had received the quenching water of God, given to the in the Law, handed down from Abraham to generation upon generation.  But they had come to believe that it was for them, something to collect and hold that made them better than others.  All of this while the fires, the needs for the word of God, grew hot in those in their own city.

But don’t we often do the exact same thing.  We talk about being blessed, I’m so blessed, God had given me so many blessings, I’ve been blessed with this or that.  But we forget that we aren’t a warehouse, we are in a fire fight against forces that seek to consume and destroy and there are others that thirst for the living word of Jesus Christ and the salvation it brings.  We tend to collect our blessings and hoard them up, setting them on a shelf or doling them out sparingly to others as if there is a limited supply.

But Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, called to us and said “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”(John 7:37-38)  I’m learning the quicker I pass along the blessings, the gospel, the joy, the love, the truth of Jesus Christ to others, the faster and more that God refills me.  This is the difference between a river and a bucket – it has to flow.

 

My Answers:

3.
They pass judgment on others for the same things they, themselves, are guilty of doing. God’s judgment is based on truth

4.
Judgment is deciding who has done right and who has done wrong (CL) We say this person is good or condemn that person for evil and stay away from them. We judge others every day making snap decisions that are normally at the exclusion of God, it is what I think, not what God knows. It is easy to find fault in others, especially when we hold that fault ourselves. We do not approach it in correction or caring or love of good news but use the news to beat them with it.

5.
God has blessed me so that I can be a blessing. In a study this week one person pointed out that we are to be roadways of blessings, not cul-de-sacs. Another way to think of it is we are distribution centers where we receive God’s blessing in bulk for the sole purpose of dispersing it to others, especially those who do not yet walk with God. So every blessing of God, the ones I count as good and the ones I see as trials or hardships, is from God and better equips me to spread the gospel.