September 7, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 6

Have you ever “re-gifted”? Wiki defines it as “the act of taking a gift that has been received and giving it to somebody else, sometimes in the guise of a new gift”.

While some of you may plead your innocence (and are lying), I am definitely guilty. Serah and I got two identical wedding gifts from friends that befuddled us. They were portraits of a white couple in their wedding attire, dancing and celebrating their big day. Yes, a white couple, and yes, we got two of them!

I don’t know if you’ve seen me recently, but I am not white — I am 100% Indian.

Thus, the gifts were only 50% accurate. I couldn’t figure out why someone bought us these, so the next anglo-couple weddings we went to, we “re-gifted” these. (I hope that nobody in this gifting cycle is reading this!)

While those portraits were nice, they weren’t appropriate gifts for us. What Paul is talking about in Romans 6 is not “re-gifting” an inappropriate gift. God didn’t give us second-best. God didn’t give us something cheap as an afterthought. God’s gift of grace was His best: His Son Jesus. No heavenly “re-gifting” going on here.

Since the gift was God’s best, Paul’s admonition to us is not to take it lightly. Grace isn’t to be cheapened. It isn’t meant to be taken advantage of. God put His own Son on the wretched tree that we deserved and then raised Him from the dead. This is the best gift ever, and when we come to know this gift, it changes everything! That is the heart of Romans 6. It’s almost like you can hear Paul saying:

“Sin more? No way! Grace is too good.”

“Go back to the old life? Why?! God gave me His best, and now I have the power to be different!”

One of the coolest things about this gift of grace is that we can “re-gift” it. Giving away the gift God gave us isn’t inappropriate… it is a command! We can tell others about the hope we have in Jesus. We can show grace as an example of Christ.

The best thing about it? When we “re-gift” God’s grace, we still get to keep it.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

September 6, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 5

This chapter is chock-full of good truth! Let’s walk through it together.

Read verses 1-2. These verses show us the value of faith.

1) Faith makes us right in God’s sight (v.1)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

2) Faith brought us to a place of undeserved privilege before God (v.2)
3) Faith gives us confidence (v.2)
4) Faith brings us joy (v.2)
5) Faith will take us to heaven (v.2)

Do you realize how valuable faith really is? Verses 3-5 remind us that trials are good although they may not feel very good. What trials are you going through? How can you see God’s hand at work through them?

These verses show us a process:
TRIALS – produce – ENDURANCE – produces – STRENGTH OF CHARACTER – produces – CONFIDENCE

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Read verses 6-11. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us. We can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Verses 12 – 21 remind us that although sin came through Adam, there is salvation through Christ. Thank you, Jesus, for your incredible sacrifice; thank you for grace!

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

Posted by: Tim Parsons

September 5, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 4:1-25

FAITH… what God is all about…

What a passage! I know it can be tough to read a passage like this and understand all of Paul’s (God’s) implications. I will attempt to do justice to the text and be true to what God is saying in this passage. This chapter in Romans has one over-arching theme. It is not broken into segments of topics, but has one main idea. So instead of breaking this up verse by verse, let’s talk about it as a whole.

What God is saying here is that from the beginning of time and during the time in which we live, God has justified by faith. He has made us right in His sight through faith, NOT by observing the law (doing good works). It may seem, as you read the Old Testament, that God once (a long time ago) justified the people by their works. But I propose that the law served two main purposes: 1. To show people their sin. Verses 14-15 say that the without the law, people would have never known what sin was and because of that, they would have never known that they fall short!! The same goes for us. Without the law, we could never believe what Romans 3:23 says. By the way, the LAW is referring to the 10 commandments and God’s other “rules” of how to live. And because He has given them to us, we know that we can never keep them! This shows us our need for a Savior! 2. Obedience shows our faith.

You see, in the Old Testament, God did not intend to justify the people by their obedience to the law, because He knew that they could never keep the law perfectly!! If you have ever read it, I know it seems like their obedience is what made them right in God’s sight. The whole Old Testament is filled with the idea of obedience. But, let me ask you this: who in the world would try to live by all these rules IF they didn’t believe (have faith) that there was a God?!? No one! Who would have sacrificed thousands and thousands of dollars worth of animals for a sacrifice if they didn’t believe that God was real? No one! You see, their obedience in following the law SHOWED their faith that God was real and that He kept His word. That’s the second major reason for the law. By obeying it, they would show their faith in God. Now stay with me, with all that said, we can see that God has always operated on terms of faith. After the sin of Adam and Eve, He knew that we couldn’t obey perfectly. God has and always will operate on terms of faith!

In this passage, God uses Abraham as the chief example. Turn to Galatians 3:7-9 for a second. This shows that God had promised Abraham that He would “bless” the world through His seed, and I think Abraham knew a little more than we give Him credit for, because Abraham knew about what happened with Adam and Eve and He knew that the world needed a Savior for sin. So Abraham BELIEVED that God was going to do something MAJOR like atone for the whole world’s sin through His seed, and BECAUSE he believed that, he followed God and did exactly what God said to do. Don’t you see? Abraham’s obedience SHOWED his faith.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Now, all this information can be simply head knowledge if we are not careful. Romans is a theologically packed book! So how does this apply to us? How can we take this knowledge and make it real in our lives today?

Well, to do that, I want to land on the second major reason for the law. That OUR OBEDIENCE SHOWS OUR FAITH. That is the whole reason why we obey! We already read from this text, that our works don’t make us in any better standing with God. And the purpose of our life as Christians is not to just “get better.” That is self-motivated obedience! Does God fix our life in the process? YES! But that’s not the heart behind it! Our obedience to God shows that we believe that He is God and we are not. It shows that we believe that He is true to His word. It shows that we believe that Jesus is Lord. It shows that we have faith and that He knows what is best. You are not going to live a life of dying to your own “wants” unless you believe with your whole heart that God is true.

So, let me ask you this: do you have an obedience problem? Well, I think that maybe it’s a belief problem. If you really believe God and take Him at His word, you will obey. Maybe you need to get at the root of your obedience problem and ask yourself, “Do I really believe in God?” “Do I really believe His words?” “Do I really believe His way is best?” “Do I really believe that Jesus is Lord?” Because your obedience will show your faith. Let the whole world see your faith, by your works and obedience to the Father.

Two ways to help you fix this problem in your life:
1. Read the Bible (“faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God”).
2. Beg God. Don’t stop begging Him to give you a kind of faith that shows itself through obedience.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

September 3, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 3:21-31

Have you ever seen someone walk a tightrope? Some of you have probably been to a circus before and seen one in action, but I never have, so I decided I wanted to check it out. An internet search found all kinds of videos, most of which were failed attempts, highlighting the difficulty of the task. Watching the videos, I couldn’t help but feel a deep respect for the art of tightrope walking. One slip, one wind miscalculation, or even one moment of broken concentration and it’s all over. There are certain truths or laws that one has to obey when completing this task not the least of which is the law of gravity. I cannot imagine wanting to even attempt this task because of the risk; I know that I would not be disciplined enough to survive this acrobatic. I am pretty sure concentration is one of the laws that I would have to obey and my fear of heights would contradict it.

Just as my fear of heights contradicts my abilities to walk a tightrope, so my sin contradicts the law of God. At least in the tight rope example there is hope that one could survive since we have examples of people accomplishing the goal. However, since we all have a sin nature, the law can only condemn us. So why have the law in the first place? Wouldn’t it be easier just to bend the rules so that there would be hope for us?

The law is the reflection of God’s character and perfection. The law cannot be upheld without perfection which only He possesses. That is why in verse 20 of this chapter it says that “through the law comes knowledge of sin”. When we are compared to the character of God, His perfection reveals our imperfection.

So where does our hope come from? We see the answer in verses 21-22: God reconciled us to Himself apart from our obedience to the law. God sent His Son who was able to live up to the standard set by the law because He was fully God, and He was our representative of righteousness because He was fully man. Now, there is no hope in the law itself, but there is hope found in the “law of faith”. Our faith in Christ allows us to be reconciled to God because Christ satisfied the wrath that our sin brings.

Does this mean that the law no longer applies and we can throw caution to the wind? Of course not; we should be compelled by grace to uphold it all the more (v.31). Grace gives us the courage to live by God’s word because perfection is no longer a requirement. Like a safety net to a tight rope walker is grace to the Christian. It gives us freedom to move forward.

Posted by: Chad Wiles