06.5 Romans – Finished Project

I was working on today’s lesson and thinking about the relationship of faith and the law and Christ I glanced over at a pile of wood in our neighbor’s driveway.  They are having some repairs done to their house and had the supplies they would need delivered.

It made me realize that this is what the law was.  It was the raw materials and the plans.  God delivered it to the Jews, His chosen people, and had them set about working with it, building skills, developing their talents, but also so that they would learn and realize that they did not have the ability to take it from the raw materials stage to the finished project.

But Jesus came and took the law and, with it, built a bridge.  He was present at the creation of the world and He was the builder to repaired the damage caused by sin to reunite us to communion with God.

We aren’t called to sit back and admire the bridge, although it is a very beautiful bridge.  The bridge Jesus created is not simply a piece of art, it is functional.  With the power of the Holy Spirit, He guides us up and onto the path.  Actually, that’s not all; He invites us in to His vehicle and offers to drive us across. (I never thought about Jesus being the first Uber driver, before!)

If we stand on the side of the road, continuing to believe we do not need to obey the law, we, in essence say, “I’ll wait for the next car.”  We are not an example, we are not accepting the gift.  We are tourists, not participants and players.

To reject the law is to reject the building materials that the builder, Jesus, used.  It simply does not make sense to think we can or should separate the building components from the final building, to accept a building but reject the beams and joists and siding and rock.

My Answers:

Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17. Faith in Christ is faith in that fulfillment. That the forbearance of God to our rightful punishment was laid on Jesus on the Christ who paid the price of sin for all since He himself was without sin. We follow the law to honor God.

Hypocricy is what is seen by others. They claim to be followers and lie, cheat and steal. This is a stumbling block (and wrong)

06.4 Romans – Graciously

I loved the wording of one of our questions today.  It asked, how we could respond graciously to people who had wrong beliefs about God.

I liked it because it really hit at the core of our lesson this whole week.  Is it about me or about God.  Boasting is just another way of saying, “look at me.”  Faith is just another way of saying, “look at Jesus.”

GRACE, by definition, is the act of someone of authority and power willingly stepping down to a lower level to provide help to someone else with no recompense.  An acronym that has been used to describe this definition of grace is God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.

Given that definition, I cannot, on my own, be respond graciously to people who have wrong beliefs.  Those people and I are both human, we are both sinners, we are both intelligent, we both have core beliefs and we both lack the power and control to our present life on our own much less what happens to us after death.  But, God does.

What this tells me is that the only way I can graciously respond is be immediately and continually praying to God to intervene.  If I take pride in my ability to argue, I will fail.  If It take pride in my example, I will fail.  If I take pride in my superior intellect, I will fail.  If I do anything to elevate myself in the response, I put the other person down.  That is not gracious.

But if I immediately and continually call on God’s intervention and power, I tap into the power that created everything.  If I call on the King, He responds by graciously sending the Holy Spirit to soften hearts, open minds, and to provide and guide the words that are being spoken.

We should interpret “graciously” to be the same as immediately calling God to the conversation, not as our backup, but to take the lead.

My Answers:

Non-Jews, largely pagan worshipers. They were not “the people of God” like the Jews.

There are many different gods that are worshiped today – god of money, god of self, “the universe”, pagans and idols
There are also others who claim there is one God, but many paths to Him – i.e., can accept God but reject Jesus (which makes no sense since He is God.)

To ask them to think and respond deeper. How is that possible? In other words, how can a religion who believes Jesus is God be compatible with another religion who rejects Jesus as God? They cannot both be right. That defies logic.

06.3 Romans – Want vs. Plan

A book I’m reading included a quote from John Piper.  In it, he says the reason most believers do not have a deeper relationship with God and a more enriching study, worship and prayer time with Him is not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t plan to.

The lack of planning does not normally lead to miraculous, spontaneous experiences.  Instead, it normally leads to the ruts.  If we don’t make plans to do something else, we sit around staring at screens and not getting anything accomplished.

A Christian life is not one to be lived in a rut!  God calls us for more.  He reaches down to pull us out of our ruts, but He also gives us the freedom of choice and not making a plan is, by default, a plan to live in the ruts.

There are three components that each of us should be planning and scheduling time for each and every day: intake of the Word of God, Meditation, Prayer.  The first is our food; taking in the nutrients of the holy scriptures.  The second is digestion and includes thinking about and pondering what we have read, journaling, doing homiletics, thinking about and writing down how these words should become alive in our lives both in what we need to add as well as what we need to stop, thinking about and writing down how we are being called to support and care for others.  Finally, we take all of that, all of our thoughts and notes and bring them in strength of the word and confidence in the promises to God.

One of our kids had a violin teacher who said, “you don’t have to practice every day, just on the days that you eat.”  What if we had the same approach to intake, meditation and prayer?  What if every day that we chose to feed and strengthen our bodies we also intentionally chose to feed and strengthen our walk with God?  How can you make this a habit in your life?

My Answers:

correct: faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Incorrect: leap of faith, faith in yourself, just have faith (not in something but as its own entity), blind faith

It is a “whole hearted” faith, one that comes from fully trusting in God for life (both here and eternally). It is not a blind faith, it is one rooted in the knowledge of God either through direct exposure to God’s word or indirect such as through prophets, the law and the scriptures. It culminates in Jesus Christ.

Study and put in to practice spiritual disciplines including scheduled time for intake, meditation, prayer and fasting. Also to schedule time to connect with others.

06.2 Romans – Circumcised Heart

Many of us live compartmentalized lives.  We have our work self, our family self, our alone self, our church self, our outgoing self, our introspective self, etc.  We don’t bring work home.  We don’t bring personal problems to the office.  We don’t discuss our walk with Christ at work.  We don’t share the details about our lives but instead wear a mask that everything is as we try to make it appear on fakebook.

But the Holy Spirit does not seek a closet in our heart.  God wants and deserves our whole heart.

As we get deeper into the word and walk with Christ every day, we begin to tear down walls.  We live our faith out in every part of our lives.  It is the connection that makes us a whole person at work, school and home.

But, for many of us, the last and most difficult part of our heart to give up, to “circumcise” is our pride.  We feel like we need to do something to earn God’s love and forgiveness.  We believe that we need to be seen as good.  We hold on to my strength, my will, my fortitude, my intelligence, my works because we want them to reflect well upon ourselves.

But, this part of our heart does not work with the rest of the rebuilding of our heart that needs to take place.  Faith is not paint that is slapped on the outside.  Faith is concrete of a foundation that builds to holiness.  Our refusal to circumcise our pride is not cosmetic, it is a weakness in the foundation and a limit to the new heart that God promises in Ezekial 36.

Paul teaches us that pride/boasting is not something to be “covered up,” or “worked on”, it is a part of our heart to completely cut off as part of our new covenant relationship with the Lord.

My Answers:

Bumper stickers and decals, making sure they are seen going to church. Using “christianeze”. Acting superior.
It does not bring others to Christ. It does not add value. It robs God of the credit He deserves when we take it ourselves.

Works, better than the majority, through supplication and sacrifice, through family legacy, through faith in Jesus Christ. Only the last has merit.

Uncircumcised heart. Pushes H/S out to make room for pride.
Daily intake of the word of God. Meditation. Prayer for self and others. Doing work to teach and love without self-glory.