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.
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.
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!
I’ve been starting each morning with a very simple short prayer. “I love you Lord, please lead me.” Then I start reading and wait for that to happen.
• Thursday: Waiting
Read Esther 1 👎 [that’s a thumb’s down sign]
Scanned Joel 1 👎
Read a new resource: Os Hillman TGIF [Today God Is First] on BibleGateway.com. The apostle Paul said, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13)
…He [God] has foreordained that we should accomplish great things in His name – not so that we will be accepted or become more valued, but to experience the reality of a living relationship with a God who wants to demonstrate His power through each of us.”
• Friday: Still Waiting
Read Oswald Chambers
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
“Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness.”
• Saturday Morning: Read Philemon👍
At last, Scripture that catches my attention! Has God been leading these last few days while I thought I was floundering? Re-reading all my notes…again. Finally I do see a thread in one single verse that ties these last few days together!
• Sunday Blessing: Seeds of Grace
Philemon 1:25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
God wants to demonstrate His power through each of us as the Spirit of God works into us this sense of indebtedness. That’s where our understanding of “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” is revealed as more than comfortable personal assurance and becomes the Seeds of Grace to share with each other. That’s the blessing.
Colossians 4:3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 18…Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
This is Master-full writing and really good news. No more how-to books on evangelism, no more intimidating classes and no more role-playing exercises needed. This is Paul’s perfect, clear and concise plan for speaking of the mystery of Christ.
• Proclaim it clearly
• Be wise in your actions toward outsiders
• Make the most of every opportunity
• Let your conversation be always full of grace
• Seasoned with salt
What…you’re a little intimidated…don’t know how to answer everyone? Well Paul has covered that for us too in v18…Remember my chains.” Was Paul only speaking of actual iron chains? I don’t think so.
Those three words were not his plea for sympathy. They were his reminder that the power of his words was bound to the “mystery of Christ” by Chains of Grace, not ability as a public speaker or personality and certainly not circumstances.
• Remember my chains. Grace…
That’s the vital last line to the list.
Hebrews 7:11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
Barclay on Hebrews 7: “…religion is access to God…That was the theory of the matter. But in practice life showed that was precisely what the priesthood and the sacrificial system could not do. There was no escaping the human estrangement from God which followed sin; and the problem was that not all the efforts of the priesthood and not all the sacrifices could restore that lost relationship.”
There’s a whole slew of words that might apply to this odd [and confusing] reference to Melchizadek who apparently had no genealogy at all. Call it an allegory, parable, analogy or metaphor. No matter which word you choose it speaks of a change that was A Big Shake-Up.
Jesus has completed the complexity and confusion of that old system to restore us to God. It’s called the reality of grace and forgiveness. We no longer need to be in the right place at the right time making the right sacrifice to cover the right rule…it’s finished.
I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known…13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
How in the world do you love as Jesus loved…when some people just seem to deserve our criticism or even contempt? It would be so good to have a manual for this. A book that would help us look at them with eyes that see past what they say and how they act and see them made in God’s image. Oh wait…we do.
Spoiler alert: You aren’t perfect either and one sin isn’t worse than another. We have all broken Jesus’ heart. Jesus came to you in a relationship of Potential rather than problems. Thank God for that kind of love. It seems the very least Jesus might expect is that we let our hearts be broken for the potential of others in his name.
Romans 1 – New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was borthe Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I first read this passage my inclination was that it didn’t meet my study criteria of looking for ways to understand the effect and application of Grace in today’s world and in my life. Here’s what changed my mind.
“…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;…” And here’s why.
This Sunday I’ll be in church. I’ve chosen my churches carefully since becoming a believer. I know it’s just a building filled with people who are drawn there for many reasons. It’s likely there would be a very small number of people who would declare one of those reasons to be “needing the obedience of faith.” But up in front stands a man who has been given that charge of Grace, “in His name,” regardless…
• Regardless of what we think we need or what he knows we need, he speaks of offered Grace.
• Regardless of our recognizing his elevated status he confesses his own need for Grace.
• Regardless of strife in the body, he hopes Grace will prevail.
• Regardless of exhaustion when sacred and moral duties use up all his energy and time, it’s Grace that makes him put one foot in front of the other.
• Regardless of sometimes being a wounded target, it’s Grace that heals and encourages.
• Regardless of all the evidence to the contrary it’s Grace that lets him look out at our faces and believe “you also are the called of Jesus Christ.” That’s real-time, real-life Grace…Regardless.