21.3 Romans – Fully Connected to God

When we contemplate the attributes of God, his might and power and creator and glory, it is amazing that we can even think about having a personal relationship with Him.  The people of the old testament took these attributes far more to heart than we do, today.  They knew reverence for God and while they desired to see Him directly, they also shook in fear when they heard the rumbling of His mountaintop presence and fell to their knees and face.

God did not decrease in His attributes.  He is immutable, He doesn’t change.  But the death and resurrection of Jesus tore down the curtain of separation and allows us, in Christ, to be in communion with our creator and Father and friend.  It is an unimaginable relationship and it is one that is impossible save for the mercy of God.

In the first sentence of Romans 12, Paul addresses this fact.  He urges, he directs, he encourages, he implores the believers in Rome (and us via proxy) to participate in “true and proper worship” with God.

How are we to do this?  Paul, knowing His audience, calls on what they know – the sacrifices of the law – as the example, but with a new twist to reflect the new state.  When we think of the sacrifices of the law, they were things, the best things, that were fully and completely given over to God.  When a Jew brought a bull or a lamb or a bird to be sacrificed, it was all in, fully given and fully consumed.  They were not leaving with a t-bone or lambchops.  This was fully and completely given over to God.  In the same way, Paul explains that communion with God is based on fully and completely giving over our lives to Him.  The payment of death is has been fulfilled.  Christ paid the price.  But, we still have a hunger to see and know and commune directly with God through worship.  We want that connection through Jesus.

We do that by fully connecting with God.  Jesus is our port, our outlet, our connector, that has, through mercy, given us the ability to connect in a way that was not available to the patriarchs of the old testament.  We don’t connect through death, we connect through life in Christ.

Unlike salvation, this connecting is a day by day, moment by moment thing.  When we accept the gift of Jesus, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, but God gives us the free will every minute to commune with Him or to pull the plug and go off on our own.  He doesn’t hold us hostage, but accepts us as His children.  To make it easier to stay connected to Him each day, He shows us His mercy each day.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  You may remember the old Hymn, “morning by morning, new mercies I see” based on these verses.  Every morning God shows us new mercy so that every day we can choose to stay connected with Him, for Him, through Christ.

My Answers:

6.
9:15 I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and compassion on whom I have compassion
9:23 riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory
2: because of His love, God rich in mercy made us alive w/Christ, by grace you have been saved
1:3 In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the rez of Jesus Christ

7.
Innumerable – the time and location of life, the blessings of family and church and work, the gift of education and knowledge and Godly mentors and friends

8.
Sacrifice is to give something fully and completely for the glory of God. The old testament was a sacrifice of death. The one Paul discusses is a living sacrifice.
Lev: day of atonement
Heb: Christ’s Sacrifice once for all
Rom: We participate in Christ: baptized into His death, buried and raised from the dead through glory

9.
tithing of time, service to others, teaching and preaching. Some serve in dangerous lands or put themselves in harms way for the spreading of the gospel or to serve others

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21.2 Romans – Call to Action

Therefore… The close of Romans 11 is the close of Paul’s doxology of praise to the Lord.  It is an acclamation and affirmation that God is engaged in everything.  Everything is from Him.  Everything flows through Him and, everything is for Him.  To him be all glory.

So?  What do we do with that?  Do we sit and ponder it?  Do we wilt away in insignificance?  Do we shy away in awe?

While there is great benefit in meditating on the word of God and the attributes of God, there is also a time for acting on that word and those attributes.  As Paul opens Romans 12, he begins with the “so what”, the “therefore”, the call to action.

What a blessing that this week we focus only on the first three sentences of this chapter.  To me they cover 3 key things that we’ll discuss in our lessons this week:

  1. Being fully connected to God
  2. Being fueled up by God
  3. Being on a mission for God and with God

My Answers:

3.
His doxology and the verses before when he was discussing God’s provision for gentiles and Jews

4.
Commit themselves to God, praise and worship Him. Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God

5.
God’s mercy, our worship of Him, the renewing of our mind, the ability to test and approve God’s will – My wife and her commitment to prayer

20.5 Romans – Cheering

The third reason we praise God is to cheer.  Have you ever been so engaged in watching a game or athletic performance that you are propelled to stand up and just start yelling and screaming encouragement?  I know people who do this even when they are watching it on television!  We shout, “go, go, go, watch out, keep going, way to go, yes, you can do it, you are great, wow, yes!”

This is also an element of praise.  It does two things.  First, it is a way of praying for what we want and need.  “Over here God, look at this big opening, God help block that evil.”  God want to answer our prayers and this is one way we can shout out the goal-lines we want God to take us across.  The second is that it allows us to take part in God’s glory.  While God doesn’t need our efforts, He blesses us by letting us be part of the team.  We aren’t just cheering from the stands, we get a front row, on the field, opportunity to run alongside God as, well, as He is being God.

In Paul’s doxology we see this in verse 36.   “For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen.”  It may not translate well from the Greek, but I hear Paul shouting that out every bit as much as the cheers from any proud teammate running along the sideline as the star player takes the ball all the way down the field.

One last note on verse 36.  A couple of weeks ago, I focused on the prepositions in another verse about “faith”.  In verse 36, Paul points out that God is the source of all things (from Him), the channel of our things (through Him) and the subject of all things (for Him).  Isn’t it beautiful how this exactly matches the verse, “Consequently, faith comes FROM hearing the message and the message is heard THROUGH the word ABOUT Christ.”  God is in charge and control of all things.  Nothing happens without God.  That is not to say that God is a fan of our things, such as sin and evil, but He still is in control and He does not shirk this control.  We sometimes are tempted to think God is in charge of good things and the devil is in charge of bad things, but sin has no power outside of control of God.  While this is difficult for us to understand, it takes us back to Paul’s initial praise of God’s wisdom, knowledge and plans.  Amen!

My Answers:

12.
Salvation! Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness!. I will give Him praise with every breath

13.
Only what He gives us… LOVE

14.
“make a deal” God, if you… then I will..

15.
It means God is in the center and the whole. It also matches the “faith comes…”

16.
For His glory

20.4 Romans – Reminder

The second reason that we praise God is for us.  It is to remind us of our relative position in the grand scheme of things.

Paul does this through the questions he poses in his doxology.  Do we give counsel to God?  Does God need to repay us for something?  Do we even have the capacity to understand the degree of God’s knowledge?  These are all framing questions to re-orient our thinking to a right position in relationship to God.

Without this type of reminder in our praise, we can very quickly get big headed and fall into the most common sin of man, that we want to be god.  This was the temptation in the fall of man and has been a key temptation ever since.  Even when we make other idols in our lives, they are always ones that we have made placing us in a position above them.

As Christians, we can just as easily fall into this trap as anyone else and the demons take far more delight in seeing us fall.  We can say things like, “I’m doing this for God” or “I’m giving this up for Jesus.”  God doesn’t need your stuff.  He doesn’t need your money.  He doesn’t need your activity.  He is everything, He owns everything, He created everything including you and me.  We cannot do something to make God better off.  We also say things like, “I don’t want to let God down.”  Newsflash: You aren’t holding Him up.  God is perfectly able to stand without your support.

Understanding our position is not to be confused with the lie that we are worthless.  Sometimes in imaging the vastness and glory of God we start to feel a bit smaller than an ant.  However, in God’s eyes we are His precious creation, made in His image and He loves us so much that He offered His own Son for us.  We are not worthless, we are of immense value to God.  Not because of what we think, say or do, but because He is God and He loves us and we are His children.

My Answers:

9.
Who knows more than God or gives Him advice? NO ONE

10.
We “do things for God”, but He doesn’t need our help. We don’t “want to let God down” but we aren’t holding Him up. We think far more highly of ourselves that is right. God gives us talents and treasures and allows us to participate in His will. He is the creator and master of all. God is creator, we should repent. God gave man dominion over the world (not over God), He alone is majestic. the nations are as nothing, no one is God’s equal

11.
I get big headed and start to believe I have a job to do to “help God”, not that He has mercy to allow me to participate

20.3 Romans – Right and Worthy

The first reason we praise God is because it is right and He is worthy.  The verses telling us to praise God are all over the bible, Old Testament and New Testament, in the Law, books of History, books of Wisdom, poetry, prophets, gospels epistles even (and especially) in Revelation where we witness the praise that occurs in heaven.  If you get nothing else from these verses, understand that we are called to praise God.  It is our vocation in our spiritual life to praise God.

Fortunately, this vocation is not difficult because God is fully worthy of our praise.  Like Paul, our praise often starts with acknowledging an attribute of God.  Paul picks 2 right off the bat:  God is rich in Wisdom and Knowledge.  After the roller-coaster Paul has been on in the last couple of chapters about the current and then future relationship between the Jews and God, the gentiles and God, the Jews and the Gentiles and God and finally that all Israel will be saved, it is good to remember that God is wise and knows everything.  He adds to it that God has a plan for wise judgment and a path, and He is guiding and directing us on this path that is beyond anything we could understand and imagine.

We have lots of attributes of God that we can draw from.  The BSF school program has a different attribute every week.  If you need a starting point, this list is available.  By focusing around one or two of the true characteristics of God it helps take our praise from the general to the specific, from a broad-brush stroke to a single feature of our God.

My Answers:

6.
God’s wisdom and knowledge

7.
1K: God knows everyones’ hearts so He alone can judge , forgive or act
J9: Wisdom is profound and power is vast
J28: God’s wisdom and understanding, He alone in the world understands all
P147: determines the number of stars and calls them each by name
P3: wisdom: laid earth’s foundations; by understanding, set the heavens in place

8.
God has brought each of the right people in to my professional life at the exact right time to help me grow and to steer me on a path of using our business as a means of ministry

20.2 Romans – Doxology

The word doxology is a combination of Doxa meaning opinion/glory and Logia meaning expressed in writing or verbally.  It is a way of naming the act of praise where we express in writing or verbally statements about God’s glory.  A doxology can be really short, “I give you honor and praise” or really long.  The doxology that we are most commonly familiar with (praise God from whom all blessings flow…), is actually just one verse in 17 to 20 verses of the full praise.  It can be, and often is, a song or poem, but it can also be any other form of expression.  Paul’s is clearly poetic and possibly a song.  I likened it to his High School Musical moment of breaking out in song in the middle of a deep letter on theology.

At its heart, a doxology is always a form of praise.  We need to understand what that word means, especially since over and over again we are called, in the bible, to praise God.  Praise and worship are related but not the same thing.  Think of it this way, worship is sitting down to dinner with God.  It is a time of community with God of pouring out and receiving of asking and learning of confession, repentance and forgiveness and healing.  Praise, on the other hand, is a love letter.  Where worship is multi-directional (me, God, others), praise is uni-directional (me to God).

There are three primary reasons why we praise God and, since our entire lesson this week is on a doxology of Paul’s praise to God, we’ll go over the three reasons as we dive deeper into the verses.

My Answers:

3.
The joy that God will save the full number of Gentiles and Jews

4.
The gentiles are saved by faith in Jesus and to make the Jews jealous so they will turn back to the Lord

5.
His provision of family and a loving wife.

 

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:

11.
All Israel is all descendants of the faith of Abraham, not blood alone.

12.
God is not cut off from them, they have God’s grace and mercy

13.
God is merciful. He is also just but He chooses whom He choses and does what He does

14.
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