10.5 Romans – Fully Changed and Fully Charged

There is nothing I do or can do that adds to what Christ has already done.  His gift is sufficient.  The price to pay is paid-in-full.

While I am not required to do certain acts, when I became a believer and every day since God gives me power and that power should change me.  Most days I don’t recognize and appreciate this power, but it is still there.  Ephesians 1:19-21 explained the power this way: “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

The question isn’t whether we have the power or not, the message of the bible is clear – ask and it will be given.  The question is how we use the power.

Unfortunately, most of us simply don’t.  We compartmentalize our lives.  We are this person at home, this person at church, this person at work.  We blame others for the walls we create that hem us in (I can’t say this at work because…, I can’t do that at church because someone else is…, my family doesn’t like…).  But we create those walls when we compartmentalize.  We try to put God and God’s power in a box and store it on the shelf.  It doesn’t work that way.

Nor is it about us.  Notice that it is God’s power.  We are a conduit.  God’s power is to flow through us.  We are not a power generator.  We should not be power resistors.  We should be connectors letting the power of God flow.

But what if I can’t say something?  Then let the power flow through your actions and behaviors.  Be a person of peace.  If you are a person of peace in today’s world, you will stand out!  Trust the Holy Spirit.  When He prompts you to act, act.  When He prompts you to pray, pray.  When He prompts you to speak, speak.  It isn’t you and it isn’t about you.  It is God’s power – let it flow.

Start by breaking down the walls you have built by compartmentalizing your life and how you act and speak and behave in different settings.  Always be a Christian, in all places and in all settings.  Always be a child of God.  Always bring honor to our Lord.  Always be ethical.  Always control your tongue and your temper (with God’s power).  Always give joyfully. Raise people up, first in prayer and then in words and actions.

My Answers:

We know, Christ was raised from the dead, Christ cannot die again, Death has no mastery of Christ, Christ died to (our) sin, Christ died for us once for all, Christ lives, Christ lives to God

To be joyful, at peace, to pray as a family, to lead as an example to children and spouse, to put God first and family before self interest, to be a joyful giver, to worship

To lead with Christ, to be bold in prayer and compassion, to be ethical in every transaction, to be a positive witness never causing others to stumble

To say “here I am”, to be bold, to pray earnestly for others, to teach, to give joyfully, to work in unity, to worship whole heartedly

10.4 Romans – Opportunity to be United

As we are studying Romans, I’m also reading through the old testament and I have been convicted of something that I, too often, have taken for granted.  We have been given the opportunity to be united with Christ.  Wait, stop and actually think about that for a moment.  We have actually been given the opportunity to be united with God.  United, not see His back as He passes by while we hide in a cleft in a stone.  United, not just see His presence in a pillar of fire or smoke or as a storm on a mountaintop.  United, not just hear His voice or read His word.  United, not just walk and eat with him as the apostles did.  This is a really big deal.

I’m reminded by how many times God told Moses to step out of the way so that He could destroy this “wicked and stiff necked people.”  And, if I’m honest, my life has been as one of those people, wicked and stiff-necked!  But instead of destroying me, God has chosen to provide me with the opportunity to be united with Him!

There is a lot of words and language in our passage today.  Lots of analogies and metaphoric or symbolic language.  But through all of that, hopefully, we don’t miss the miracle of grace in the message – being united with Christ!

My Answers:

United in death, united in new life

The person we were before accepting the gift of salvation, before becoming believers

I know I am dead to sin, but still feel the pull of temptation and weakness. I lack confidence in speaking boldly and I turn to Him in prayer, too often, after instead of before

10.3 Romans – Re-Do

What if you were born in to an absolutely evil family.  One that wants only hurt and suffering for you and wants you to be a slave.  In my illustration with the kids I’m using the story of Cinderella (I know it is her step-mother and step-sisters, but I think the kids will be able to see past this to the point).  If you were born into such a family what would you give to have a re-do?  What would you give to be born again, but this time into a family that loves you and wants nothing but good for you?  That wants to serve your needs in love rather than treating you like a slave?

This is the situation we all live in.  We are children of Adam, born into the family of sin.  Sin is from Satan and he is the father of lies who wants us to be a slave to sin and to experience pain and suffering for all eternity along side him.

But we have the opportunity for a Re-Do.  Paul tells us that through baptism we share in the action of Christ’s death.  We die to our present family of sin and then are reborn into Christ’s family.

Jesus tried to explain this to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of God.  We must be born again.  Nicodemus asked, “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”  Jesus explained,  “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”  We can’t be in two families.  By flesh we were born to the family of sin, but we can die to that family and be reborn in and through the Spirit into Christ’s family.  We get a re-do!

The part about the Spirit is a big deal.  When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit permeates into us, changing us.  This is something that is repugnant to the family of sin.  It is unforgivable.  The image it brings back for me is from the movie The Jazz Singer, the Neil Diamond version.  The main character is a Jew with a father who is saturated in the law.  His son goes off and lies to his family and moves in with a gentile woman.  When his father uncovers his betrayal of his faith and family, he rips his clothing and declares to his son, “you are dead to me.”  The person who was his son is no more, he is out, disowned, dead.

The words we use are “we are dead to sin”.  Notice the nuance in that wording, our family of sin has disowned and disavowed us.  When we accept the Holy Spirit, the father of sin rips his clothing and says, “you are dead to me.”

Going deeper, think back to the story of Ruth and Boaz.  Before Boaz could take Ruth as his bride, there was another who had first rights, just as sin has first rights to us.  But, when sin disowned her, Boaz made her his bride.  She was free from that family and re-born into the family of Boaz.

Are we tempted by sin still? Of course.  But we are no longer in sin’s family and we can never return.  Christ never will release us and sin has no power of Christ.  We are dead to Satan.  He loves to use us to cause others to stumble, but our aroma, which is a sweet perfume to our Lord, is stench to him because it comes from the Holy Spirit.

My Answers:

Those who have been saved by grace in Christ’s death and resurrection – believers. I, through Christ, have died to sin; how can I live in it any longer?

Baptism of the Spirit, where the Spirit of God, in grace, is poured out over us as a covering of Christ and to permeate into us to make us into a new creation, one capable of holiness to enter the very presence of the Lord.

Through baptism we are buried (going under and coming back out)just like Christ, and also like Him, we may live a new life to the glory of the Father. Living it as a testimony, through teaching, through work, through family.

10.2 Romans – God Cares

Sometimes I think that our desire for attributes of God is bi-polar.

On one hand, we really want a caring God.  We want a God who cares for us when we are in pain, when we are lost, when we need help, when we go through any trial.  We want God to be a God of Love and Compassion.  Love, love, love, compassionate and caring across any and every circumstance.

Then, on the other hand, we really want a God who doesn’t care.  We want to believe that God won’t care if I lie a little bit.  God won’t care if I’m a little bit unethical.  God won’t care if I curse this one time.  God won’t care if I lust after this or covet that.  I mean, God knows everyone else is doing it, we are all sinners, right?  God won’t care. It’s just not a big deal.

While we as humans may be unreliable and unpredictable, sometimes caring and sometimes not, God is true and reliable and predictable and consistent.  God always cares.

All sin is against God.  Everything belongs to God, including every minute of every day of our life.  He gives us the free will to decide how we spend those moments, but don’t mistake freedom for not caring.  He wants us to choose to be true because we love Him, not because He forces us to.  He cares because He cares about us.

The next time you are in a situation where you start the lie to yourself that God won’t care if I…, remember it is a lie and there are no lies in God.

My Answers:

where sin increased, grace increased more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness

We dishonor God, we weaken our witness for the Lord, our friends, families and business suffer, we suffer, we do not receive our full inheritance

The small cheats in life, the temptation to speed, to curse, to drink, to indulge. It is disrespectful to God.