Category Archives: Romans

ESV Speaking for Itself

Isaiah 29:16
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Isaiah 45:9
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?

Isaiah 64:8
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Job 10:8-12
Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?

Jeremiah 18:2-6
“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Romans 9:20-22
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

2 Timothy 2:20
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.

Thoughts

NASB Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

You’ve probably heard these ideas before: the mind is the battleground of our life of faith; or every sin begins with an idea.  I know you’ve heard of the helmet of salvation.  It’s an interesting thing to ponder.  Only humans, of all creation are made in God’s image and have been given His unique mindset and dominion over all the earth. Dominion includes the extraordinary responsibility to think and evaluate, categorize and store information based on that image and that mindset.  No wonder we need a protective helmet.  “Whatever gets your mind gets you.” [author Rick Warren]. 

“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

The Real Purpose

NASB Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8 is one of the most meaningful chapters of the Word of God for me.  It’s the ultimate message of just how loud the love of Jesus is.  It all starts with verse 1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  I have joked that I was raised to be in charge of peace in the entire free world.  That exaggerated sense of what I should be able to control and my inability to manage that responsibility has been the source of personal condemnation for me more than any unacceptable personal behavior.  Maybe you’re there too.  Let me comfort you with this truth.

Jesus would never, NEVER use condemnation to correct you.  Period!  The one who has placed his own Spirit inside you has invested himself completely in changing your mind about the real purpose of his life in you.  “By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he [Jesus] offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God.ª”  

That’s the assurance of the correction that will change your mind about the reality of what loving God, Jesus and, yes, even yourself looks like. 

ªHenri Nouwen – Spiritual Formation.

Intimacy of Inadequacy

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

There’s a reassurance in being part of a church body and all the services that body offers.  We share a focus, we share some like beliefs, we meet together and sometimes we even share our innermost thoughts.  Church is a spot dedicated to “family” intimacy but learning obedience to our faith with that kind of intimacy is hard.  It’s not purposely hidden but in my experience it doesn’t happen frequently either. 

There are moments in life with God that may be so meaningful and intimate they are closely guarded because they’re soul-bearing revelations.  That kind of intimacy strips away all our pretensions of adequacy and sophistication. It’s that intimacy of inadequacy that reveals the real and absolute naked truth of our need for God. God bless and multiply those moments when that kind of intimacy makes it plan for us to see it’s how the “righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.”

The Prayer of AND

Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Definition:
AND – a conjunction used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly.

There are some people who can thrive and grow together debating their significant differences on various topics.  I want to be one of them.  I’d rather talk about the things that we agree on even though I may think something different.  That’s not endurance or encouragement, that’s avoidance.  Mind and voice are not exclusive, they’re connected by divine design.  That’s how I happened to notice every “and” in these two verses of Romans. That one little word can make such a big difference in my “attitude of mind” if I pay attention to my need for it.

It’s become the basis of my simple prayer for today.  “May the God who gives…” give me endurance AND encouragement; one mind AND one voice so we can grow AND thrive together to glorify the God AND father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen

Romans 12:1 & 2 –

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV

Creatively writing about the Word and how it impacts my daily life has become a form of prayer for me. “Creativity” and “God’s mercy” are all I’ve got when I write.  There are no theological credits after my name.  My words feel like a sacrifice of worship.  When I see them in black and white I begin to recognize the challenges of the renewal and transformation of my own mind.  Writing becomes a metaphor for that process: pray, read, write, edit, rewrite, think, pray again and finally post what I’ve written knowing full well the moment I hit “Publish” there will be better words and further editing to come.  

“We let our mind descend into our heart and there stand in the presence of God.” Henri Nouwen in Spiritual Direction

Treasures God Creates our Blessings From

MSG Romans 12:1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Life is familiar, complicated and sometimes even confusing.  I want to honor God.  I want to be faithful.  I want to be obedient.  I want to do what’s right.  I want to be a good citizen.  I want to be a good wife. There’s nothing in that list I have’t failed at more than once.  There are just times when I need to hear: “So here’s what I want you to do…”  

As I thought about the rest of these two verses it reminded me of when our children were small [back in the olden days].  There were little handmade gifts often prompted by a teacher in school, maybe more a duty than the reality of their own hearts at the time.  Sometimes they were made of pieces of crumpled tissue paper in the shape of a heart glued to construction paper and decorated with their own shaky printing.  They were childish efforts meant to express some level of caring.  I saved them for many years and eventually some were returned to their “all grown-up” creators.  It was a way to let them know their simple gifts had been my treasures.

I think that must be how God deals with our offerings.  Ordinary life offerings may feel more like duty but they are the reality of our own heart right then.  They don’t have much material value but he saves them to be returned to you.  Our simple gifts are the treasures God creates our blessings from.

“So here’s what I want you to do…
• If the only way you honored God this week was to swallow some critical words rather than speak them…
•if the only way you were faithful was to open your Bible first even though you didn’t really feel the inspiration…
• if you did the right thing even when it wasn’t what you really wanted to do…
• if the whole political environment makes you want to gripe more than pray…
• if after decades of marriage you’re still in a slight period of adjustment…

Those are the crumpled pieces of tissue that are the shape of your heart at this moment.  Add your own shaky words of confession …”and place it before God as an offering…fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

That’s the blessing that will be returned to you [soorner rather than later I hope].  It’s your treasure “pressed down, shaken together, and running over” to remind you how priceless a childish gift really is to God.  Amen!