Category Archives: Romans

No Plan B

Romans 16:25-26 All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. 27 All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes! MSG

Is spiritual strength your goal? Good! The incomparably wise God is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ.
There is no Plan B.

The Secret

NCV Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

We read the Scripture because we believe they were “written to teach us.” Learning from them is a very good reason but I don’t think that alone would keep us coming back day after day or account for the impact the Bible has had for such a long time on so many lives. There’s something far more personal happening “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

We read because we believe our faith is a gift from God that we want to learn about. We read because we believe our relationship to Jesus has brought us grace and forgiveness. We come back and read some more because we discover within those pages there’s something that gives those ancient words new life for today. We read because the secret of endurance and encouragement lies within us, the Holy Spirit – hope, that has promised to reveal the mystery of our personal connection to God and help us navigate in this foreign land we call life.

Custom Fit

Romans 14:6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. MSG

I had to smile when I read this version of Romans 14 because of thanking God for broccoli. It’s a lighthearted paraphrase and a very good reminder “it’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—.”

It’s the mystery of faith. On one hand it’s completely personal, custom tailored for you…not by you…but it grows and matures in the midst of our very public relationships as believers.

If the way you live is consistent with what you believe you can trust that God will make the necessary alterations to that custom fit as you grow so your faith and your relationships always make you look your best.

Traffic Light

Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.

“My dear friend, In my last Letter I said that in the Bible there is more that FINDS me than I have experienced in all other books put together; that the words of the Bible find me at greater depths of my being; and that whatever finds me brings with it an irresistible evidence of its having proceeded from the Holy Spirit.” ‘Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Be subject to” is a phrase that conflicts with individual choice. It requires surrender of control and a degree of trust that a response is not only necessary but right. We experience the wisdom of governing authority, at its simplest level, while driving. We respond as required at every traffic light because if we subject ourselves to that authority our journey will be safer and more orderly.

I think Coleridge is right. The Word you read in the Bible does find you at the “greater depths” of your being and becomes the green light of “irresistible evidence of its having proceeded from the Holy Spirit.”  That’s the governing authority, the holy traffic light if you will, established by God within you for your journey of faith…and it gets even better!  That “traffic light” makes possible a two-way street of unique interaction that will bring you the priceless reward of personal intimacy with God.

Contrary

Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

con·trar·y –
1. opposite in nature, direction, or meaning.
2. perversely inclined to disagree or to do the opposite of what is expected or desired.

The word “contrary” came to mind when I read these verses from chapter 12. They are so contrary to our human mindset of justice. It’s tempting to add “today” at the end of that last sentence but it seems the Bible would remind me to add “always” instead.

Romans 12 confronts our need to live by the grace of God that will enable us to express true and proper worship through a renewed life. Clearly the old laws of blame and punishment were intended to reveal sin and they worked. What seemed new to the Romans was the idea that God was in charge of renewal as well as justice and revenge.

We may pride ourselves as modern-day believers that we understand that kind of grace but it’s apparent to me those long-ago instructions from Paul are still a necessary reminder that our human nature has to struggle against the desire to repay evil with revenge.  That’s contrary!

Grafted In

NIV Romans 11:17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports

MSG Romans 11:16-18 Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.

Good grief! That was all I wrote as I read two different versions of Romans 11 this particular morning.  I am in so far over my head theologically that my only hope is this small portion to try to wrap my head around and hoping that will come tomorrow. It’s only later in the day that God gives me a real-life application.

My husband is on the phone with his brother reminiscing about their sister who died last month, sharing stories and memories. She’d entered their family as a teenager in the late 1930s. She was “the wild olive shoot” God chose to graft into their family as surely as any natural born sister could be. I’m listening to “good grief” between these brothers and that reminds me of my own morning comment and these words from Romans about how God chooses to prune…and to graft.

My father-in-law was in the ministry. They already had four sons and another daughter in a time when their annual income was about $1500 dollars…but there was that “primary root.” That turned out to be enough to feed and nourish one more branch. God planted this sister in their family, and then honored his word in all their lives, and now mine.

“If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit” and then for all of us who are also grafted in to “Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.”

The Gap in Between

NIV Romans 10:6 & 7 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

MSG Romans 10:6 & 7 But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story—no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah.

There are two points of Romans 10 for me; seeking righteousness … and finding faith. Verses 6 & 7 fill the gap in-between these two important points. I’ve read them before but apparently only as a convenient bridge from one big idea to the other without giving much thought to them in particular. That’s my alert to re-read them in another version like the Message. I want it all to be important.

Seeking righteouseness … and finding faith are big commitments. Commitments take work, and work involves time and effort. It’s pretty easy to forget in the midst of trying to live those big commitments, you can’t cross that gap without that bridge in place. It’s important to pay tribute with my words to what I see as the big ideas but I don’t want to miss the “main” point.

I want righteousness that comes from God √. I want faith that comes from God √. No matter how much time and effort I commit to those two big ideas can bridge the gap between them. No words I write can give life to a Messiah that can save me or anyone else. Not even my best success at seeking righteousness … and finding faith could rescue Jesus from the death he endured on my behalf to fill that gap.. It just can’t happen without the bridge. Thanks God!