Honor

Romans 16:3b
“. . . my fellow workers in Christ Jesus

Years ago, I received a letter; I had been selected to be awarded for my accomplishments as a teacher. Upon reading the first paragraph, I was honored and somewhat humbled. My ego was stroked, as I was being told of the great responsibility I was fulfilling by teaching others. However, as I continued to read, I discovered any teacher who was willing to purchase the hundred-dollar, leather-bound book, would have their name listed in it. Even though I knew it was a scam, I was still slightly tempted to have my name in a book honoring me for my accomplishments.

We all love to be honored. We love when our accomplishments are recognized and applauded. We will even sit back and watch as others are honored for their acheivements. It is interesting to me, the things for which men are honored. When a person writes or sings a song… Honor. When a person entertains us with their acting, directing or producing skills… Honor. When a person accomplishes extraordinary feats with a ball… believe it or not, Honor. Like the trophies they receive, that honor will fade away and soon be forgotten. What of our accomplishments for the kingdom of God? Jesus told us they are stored away in heaven, where they will never decay.

Here in Romans 16, we are reminded of what is honored in Heaven’s Kingdom. We read of men and woman who we will never find in a list of who’s who among men. If you Google “Famous People”, their names will never show up, nor will their accomplishments be regarded as great. Yet, their names are listed in the eternal Word of God, and their accomplishments remind us of how we can store up treasures that will last into eternity. Some of the things listed include: serving within the church, opening our houses up for a home fellowship, working alongside those who are preaching the Gospel, or teaching the Word, treating our place of business as a means to effect other for the Kingdom of God, sharing Christ, and passing the test that trials place upon us. As I read this list of men and women, I am encouraged by how important the “little” things are to God, and to the Apostle. What joy must have filled Paul’s heart, knowing the church in Rome was filled with people who were dedicating their time and energies to further the Kingdom. The work of ministry was not left to a few, but was supported by the faithful labor of many.

Rather than spending our time trying to gain the fleeting honor of men, let’s determine to live for an honor that will never fade away. Malachi writes of a book in heaven that includes the accomplishments of the saints. (Malachi 3:16) Allow me two final points of application.

First, I believe we would be amiss in our reading of the chapter, if we did not take a moment to give honor where honor is due.The following is a list of people who you will meet in heaven, who are recorded here for their impact upon the world. Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, and his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Second, Paul ends this section by saying, “Greet one another.” It is not just those, who in times past, faithfully served Jesus who deserve honor, but those who are currently involved in impacting the world for Jesus. We should be looking for ways to serve the Lord today, as well as giving the proper place of honor to that service. Rather than looking at serving the Lord as a chore, we should look at it with the honor the Word of God places upon it. What will you do for Heaven’s Kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 16

  1. Who is Phoebe?
  2. According to verse 5, who are they that have a home fellowship in their home? Do you have a tug on your heart to open your home to minister to the saints?
  3. Paul urges the brethren to note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to doctrine. In verse 19, what does he want them as well as us to do?
  4. The Lord used Paul as His instrument to tell this good news. Verse 25 says that God is “able to establish you”….make you strong. Are you strengthened by the gospel? Are you finding strength in His Word?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 9- Needs Met
Nehemiah 10- Neglect

One Mind

Romans 15:5-6
“Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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This chapter contains many prayers of which this is the first. Paul is praying that the church might be like-minded, or rather, have one mind. As we look at the church today we see it is anything but one-minded. Worship styles vary from rock bands to congregational hymns; some churches meet in traditional buildings, while others meet in schools, parks or store fronts. Doctrinally, some churches are Calvinistic, Arminian, or somewhere in between. We have pre-, post- and mid-tribulation teachings, and there are even different views on how to perform a baptism.

Individual Christians, within the same church, also have a wide variety of opinions. From week to week, one thinks the worship or sermon was excellent, while another complains about the length, delivery or content. Who is right? If Paul is exhorting us to have the same mind, which mind should we have? I suggest to you, Paul is not instructing every Christian to have my mind or yours, but to have the mind of Christ. Writing to the Philippian church Paul said,

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, . . .” Philippians 2:5

The mind we must develop is the mind that was in Christ; a mind-set that sought above all else, to be pleasing to the Father. “For even Christ did not please Himself…” (Romans 15:3). Practically, this was worked out as He lived for the things that please God, and exalted others above Himself. As we follow the life of Christ, we read of the needs of others being placed above His own. We know of times where He was hungry and tired, but that never stopped Him from investing in the lives of those around Him. The sick, weak, hurting, and unloved, all found a place of honor when they came into contact with Christ.

When I filter my thinking toward God and others, with the way Christ lived, I will find I am developing His mind. It is seen in laying aside the sinful things in life, placing the needs of others above my own, and seeking to please God above all else. Notice this is a commission given to every believer. It is not for a select few. Every Christian must live life by thinking of God and others, the way Christ did.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 15 

  1. We are to bear the burdens of others and please our neighbor for his good. How are you doing in that area of life?
  2. According verses 5-6, how does our God of patience and comfort enable us to glorify Him?
  3. Who gives us the power and fills us with all joy and peace in believing?
  4. In verse 20, Paul felt it was more important for him to preach the good news in areas that had not yet heard it. Do you have a missionary’s heart? Do you think you are called to be sent out to the mission field?
  5. Verses 25-29 tell us that Paul must go down to Jerusalem to take a financial gift from the believers in Greece to Christians in Jerusalem. Paul said, “It pleased them indeed.” Turn in your Bible to 2 Corinthians 9:7. How is your attitude toward the art of tithing?
  6. According to verse 30, Paul begs the brethren to strive with him for what purpose?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 7- Build Your House
Nehemiah 8- Celebration

No Man Is An Island

Romans 14:7
“For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.”

A Christian by the name of John Donne (1572-1631), is credited for the saying, “No man is an island.” He wrote it in a devotional message speaking of how our lives affect one another. Paul is writing about the same idea, because we are part of the body of Christ, our lives effect one another. The decision I make to follow the Lord will have an impact upon those around me, and their decision will impact me. In more recent times, a song was written with the chorus, “I don’t need anyone, I am really having fun being all alone, I am an island.” The song was a parody, where the artist was addressing the modern idea that our lives are our own, and our sins do not effect anyone else. Paul goes on to write,

Romans 14:8 “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

What a beautiful concept and wise way to live. When we come to the realization our lives do not really belong to us, but have been purchased by the Lord, we are free to live for His glory. There is no greater freedom in life than to live for the purpose for which we were designed. Instead of thinking of freedom as the ability to do whatever we want, we should realize, true freedom is found in living for Christ and others.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 14 

  1. Verse 1 talks about allowing ourselves to be dragged into silly “disputes over doubtful things.” Do you find yourself judging others about their convictions to things?
  2. Where do you stand according to verse 5?
  3. According to verse 8, who are we to live and die to?
  4. Verse 10 is very convicting because who are we to judge? Scripture is clear, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” How are you doing regarding judging others?
  5. In verse 17, the kingdom of God is..?
  6. According to verse 23, if you do anything you believe is not right you are sinning. Have you or are you now going against your own conviction on a certain issue of life?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 5- A Terrible Thing To Waste
Nehemiah 6- All Inventions Are Not Created Equal

Time To Wake up

Romans 13:11
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

I can remember times, as a child, when I had to wake up very early for an event I was looking forward to. I would set my alarm, and a backup, then wake up over and over again through the night to check the time. I did not want to sleep in and miss out. I recall, one morning, hearing the alarm go off, getting out of bed, getting dressed and walking out to the living room, where I put on my shoes. After a few moments, I heard my mom’s voice asking me what I was doing. As I began to answer, I noticed all the lights were on and my parents were watching television. It was eleven p.m., I had only been asleep for about an hour, and had dreamt I heard the sound of my alarm clock.

Paul is writing about the most important of all events, encouraging us not to sleep in and miss out. He writes concerning Salvation, reminding us, we are nearer to the return of Christ than any other time in human history. Just as there are signs that morning is approaching, so there are signs that Christ is coming. It is foolish to ignore the warnings and continue on in our spiritual slumber. Instead, we must live life prepared to face eternity. Paul tells us three necessary things to do in order to be prepared when the trumpet sounds and Christ calls us home.

First, we are to cast off the works of darkness. After Lazarus was resurrected, Jesus commanded that his burial clothes be removed. Those clothes were fitting for a dead man, but not for the living. They would stink of death and restrict life. In the same way, there are behaviors that might have ‘fit’ us before we came to Christ, but we must be cast aside. Paul mentions partying, drinking, sexual sin, lust, envy and strife. These things should remain in our past.

Second, we are to put on Christ. Christianity is not all about what we don’t do. Instead, it is about living for Jesus and becoming like Him. As we focus on growing in Him, we find His character traits become a part of us. We become more loving, merciful, kind, giving, compassionate and selfless. Paul referred to these as the fruit of the Spirit. It is important, at times, to do a Spiritual checkup to see if those traits are developing in our lives.

Finally, we are told not to make provision for the flesh. In other words, we must be careful not to make it easy to sin. If you are on a diet, it is probably not a great idea to watch “Cup Cake Wars”, or hang out at a bakery. In the same way, we all know the temptations we face and must remove ourselves as far from them as possible. Christians who live near the fence are the ones who are constantly falling in and out of sin.

Jesus is coming back! Let’s be ready when He comes. Let’s live so that we hear Him say, “Well Done!”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 13

  1. According to verse 1, all government authorities that exist are ordained by whom?
  2. According to verse 3, what are we to do to be unafraid of government?
  3. In verse 9, all the commandments can be summed up in what way?
  4. Verse 11 gives us the ultimate wake up call. What are we to cast off? What are we to put on?
  5. According to verse 13, we are to “walk properly as in the day.” We are to live in anticipation of the Lord’s return. How does verse 14 describe our walk?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 3- Can’t Spell Team Without Me
Nehemiah 4- Fellowship

Romans 12

Romans 12
Over the years, I have found most of us are trying to determine God’s will for our lives. We have come to understand, His ways are better than our ways and if we desire abundant life, we want to be in the center of His will. Most of us have heard the story of Jonah, a man who refused to go where God wanted him and was consequently swallowed by a large fish. I do not want to spend any time in the belly of the beast, and would much rather go where God wants, and do what God wants. Part of His will can be difficult to decipher and is only determined by following the example of Mary, sitting at His feet. If you are trying to decide what job to take, who to marry, or if you should have another child, the best thing to do is spend time with Jesus.

As you fast, pray and read His Word, you will find He gives direction to your life. But there is another side to the will of God, one that is of even greater importance, and is much easier to determine. It is His will for how we are to live. While at times it may be hard to obey, it it is never difficult to determine. Here in Romans 12, Paul gives 25 specific details as to how the Christian ought to behave.

1. Let love be without hypocrisy.
2. Abhor what is evil.
3. Cling to what is good.
4. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.
5. In honor giving preference to one another.
6. Don’t lag in diligence.
7. Be fervent in spirit.
8. Serve the Lord.
9. Rejoice in hope.
10. Be patient in tribulation.
11. Continue steadfastly in prayer.
12. Distribute to the needs of the saints.
13. Be given to hospitality.
14. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16. Be of the same mind toward one another.
17. Do not set your mind on high things.
18. Associate with the humble.
19. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
20. Repay no one evil for evil.
21. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
22. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
23. Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
24. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
25. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This list gives us plenty to focus upon as we seek to uncover what is next in the plan of God for our lives.
Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 12 

  1. In Romans 12 through the end of the book, Paul gives us guidelines for living and how to behave. In verse 1, the word “beseech” means to urge. It takes on the idea of begging and pleading. What is Paul asking his readers to present?
  2. When you examine your life right now, has your mind been transformed or are you being conformed to this world?
  3. According to verse 3, how are we supposed to think?
  4. When you look at the gifts in verses 6-8, know that God has given each of us certain gifts and ministries to be used in the body. What is or what are your gifts? For other gifts turn to 1 Corinthians 12.
  5. Verses 9-12 describe behavior a Christian should be known for because the Bible says “therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20). As you read this section of scripture, what is God revealing in your own heart that needs attention?

Old Testament:
Nehemiah 1- Dark Days
Nehemiah 2- Be Prepared

Listen

Romans 11:4
“What does the divine response say to him?”

Paul is referring to one of the most difficult times in the life of the prophet Elijah. He lived during a time when the nation of Israel had turned from the Lord and had become steeped in idolatry. As the people stood in the valley of decision, swaying between a decision to follow Jehovah or become more like the world around them, Elijah stood boldly for the Lord and saw the beginnings of a national revival. This did not come without a price. Jezebel, the queen who was openly opposed to the ways of God, began a campaign to see Elijah killed. These were not idle threats, for she had been responsible for the death of many of the prophets of God. Elijah saw no other course of action except to flee. He ran from Mount Carmel in the north of Israel, all the way to the wilderness where Moses had received the Law of God. There, in a place of solitude, he began to cry out to God. “I alone am left of the prophets of God and they seek to take my life.” He truly believed that his life was over and there was no escape from certain death. His fears led his heart to speak, but in the midst of his trial, he heard another voice saying,

“I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Paul referred to this as “the divine response.” In the midst of trial, as his fear caused his heart to speak, God had another message designed to comfort, strengthen and produce hope within his servant, Elijah. He was not alone in this. There is always a divine response whenever our hearts speak to us, and this response is always found in the pages of God’s Word. Peter referred to “His great and precious promises.” (2Peter 1:4) It is critical in our times of trial, we learn to listen to the voice of God which cries out against the voice of fear, depression, temptation, anxiety, worthlessness or any of our other emotions. It has become very common today, when we are faced with indecision, to be encouraged to “follow your heart.” The problem is, our hearts often speak contrary the promises of God. Whenever our hearts cry out, we must look into the Word of God to find divine response.

What is you heart saying to you today? Is fear, doubt or discouragement, causing you to question the ways of God? Take some time to look into His precious promises and allow the Divine Response to give direction to your wayward thoughts.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 11

  1. Why has God not cast away His people?
  2. What is meant by the term remnant?
  3. How did salvation come to the Gentiles?
  4. As Paul is speaking to the Gentiles, who does he refer himself as?
  5. The Lord Jesus is known as the Lion and Lamb. What attributes are given of God in verse 22?
  6. According to verse 26-27, who will come out of Zion? What is God’s covenant with Israel?
  7. In verse 36, everything comes from Him and everything exists by His power and is intended for His Glory. Are you giving God the praise that He so deserves?

Old Testament:
Ezra 9-Drowning
Ezra 10- Where Revival Begins

Deep Desire

Romans 10:1
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

We use the word heart to refer to the seat of our deepest desires. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I love you with all my heart.” The same was true in Paul’s day. He declares, with this expression, one of the things that kept him going in the face of difficulty, opposition, and persecution, was his desire to see his friends come to Christ.

As the chapter continues, he speaks of two actions born out of this desire. First, Paul informs us, his desire led him to pray. Prayer is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of the Christian. With it, we are able to pull down the strongholds that Satan has in a person’s life. In this case, Paul explained, the Jews were held captive by thinking they were righteous enough because of their actions. They thought keeping the Sabbath, observing the feasts, and eating Kosher, were enough to grant them access to heaven. Paul’s response was to explain they completely misunderstood how righteous God actually is. Sin and holiness are contrary terms. Holiness speaks of purity, while sin refers to uncleanness. Since God is perfectly holy, no sin can withstand His presence. Those who think God will ignore their sin because of their good deeds, misunderstand the holiness of God, and are in for a rude awakening when they stand before Him. Paul knew arguing was not the secret to rescuing His friends from this deceit. So he resorted to a much stronger force. He prayed for their salvation. Prayer will soften the heart of the hearer and provide an open door to share the Gospel. Having said that, prayer is not the only weapon in our battle to rescue our friends into eternal life. Paul went on to say,

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

For a person to have their sins forgiven and be made right with God, they must believe they are a sinner, and Christ died to remove their sin. This is not intuitive knowledge, nor is it something revealed in nature. A person can look up at the stars, around at the environment, or down into the seas, and realize there is a God. However, in order to know the Son of God became man, died on the cross, rose again, and that belief in Him results in eternal life, the Gospel must be preached. Paul’s deep desire drove him to bring the Gospel to his friends, even if it meant opposition from the very ones he was seeking to save.

What is your hearts desire? To answer that simply, look at your actions. What do you pray for? What do you spend your time, talents and treasures upon? What do you risk your life for? Perhaps it is time that we develop a greater love for God, expressed in a greater desire to see others come to Christ.

What will you do for the kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 10 

  1. What is Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer to God?
  2. The Jewish people established customs and traditions in addition to God’s Law. The only way to earn salvation is to be perfect and that’s impossible. What did the Lord Jesus accomplish for us in verse 4?
  3. In verses 8-10, how does salvation come to us?
  4. In verse 11 we read that in the natural people will let us down but God is always faithful. God will provide for those who believe! Call on Him and you will be saved.
  5. In verses 14 and 15 Paul asks four how questions about the spread of the gospel. Do you have loved ones who need to hear the good news? The end of verse 15 tells us how God feels about us when we share the gospel. Turn also in your Bibles to Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15.
  6. In verse 17, where does faith come from?
  7. In verses 19-20, many refused to believe in Jesus when He came. Many people who were not looking for Him came to believe. Do you prejudge someone on how they might respond to the good news?

Old Testament:
Ezra 7- Adjectives
Ezra 8- Desperation

Sorrow

Romans 9:2-3
“That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”

We have all had experiences that have saddened us. Sometimes the word ‘sad’ is too shallow to describe what we are feeling, we might say we are sorrowful or even consumed with grief. When a relationship comes to an end or someone we love dies, the sadness is often so deep it becomes difficult to manage.

I find it challenging as I read what saddened Paul so deeply. He does not describe himself as sorrowful when he writes of the great difficulties he faced while following Jesus. It was not shipwrecks, beatings, prison or hunger that broke his heart. Instead, it was the spiritual condition of his family and friends. When he writes of his countrymen, he is referring to the Jewish people. They were the ones he grew up with, went to school with, worked with and hung around, before coming to Christ. As he looks at the accomplishments of his years of serving Christ, he is still saddened by the fact that many, so close to him, have yet to come to Christ. The sadness is so deep, he states that were it possible (which of course it is not), he would trade places with them, taking the punishment of separation from God that they might be saved.

As he continues to pour out his heart for his friends, he gives us insight into the reason for their condition. He speaks of how years before they were born, God had planned for their salvation, yet they refused to believe in Christ and receive the pardon for sin.

Their unbelief was caused by a number of things. First, the message of the cross was a stumbling block to them, because Jesus was not the Messiah they were expecting. Their expectation had them looking for a powerful military leader who would overthrow the Roman oppression and restore the nation to the glory days. Instead, a humble Messiah arrived on a donkey and died on a cross. It is very common today for some to respond to Christ only to reject Him later, because their expectations are not being met. They assumed, following Jesus would mean their troubles would be behind them, their marriages fixed, or their financial burdens removed. When that did not happen, they turned from Christ, returning to the old life. Second, many rejected Christ because of popular opinion.

In the grand scheme of things, only a few of the Jewish people were responding to Christ. Most rejected Him, causing others to reject Him as well. This is still happening today. In a world where Jesus is looked down upon, and belief in the Bible is ridiculed, many refuse Christ because they want to be accepted by others. Third, another reason for refusing to believe in Christ was pride. Pride will always keep a person from Christ. We must humble ourselves and freely receive the gift of Christ to be saved.

Let’s pray we develop a heart like Paul’s, that would break at the thought of people rejecting Christ, and would compel us to share the love of Christ with a dying world.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 9

  1. According to Paul, he wished that he himself could be sent to hell if it would help the Jews to be saved. The Lord Jesus laid down His life for us. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Do I have that kind of heart?”
  2. What is the word of promise?
  3. What did the Lord say to Rebecca concerning her twins?
  4. Concerning unrighteousness, what did God say to Moses?
  5. God is so merciful. Are we grateful that we didn’t get what we deserve?
  6. In verse 27, who does Isaiah say “will be saved?”
  7. Verses 30-33 say that the Gentiles have been made right with God by faith. Even though they were not seeking Him. Israel pursued the law of righteousness but did not attain to the law of righteousness. Why not?

Old Testament:
Ezra 5- Back To Work

It’s All Good

Romans 8:28-29
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

The bible is filled with great and precious promises. Of these, the one recorded here may be the pinnacle. For the past two thousand years countless saints, facing a vast array of difficulties, have clung to this promise and found God to be ever faithful to His word. The promise itself is both simple and all encompassing. We are told, God is able to create good out of all things that life throws at us.

I don’t think it is difficult to understand what Paul meant by the word ‘all’. The English word means, “every member or part of, and the whole number or sum of.” The Greek word “Pas” speaks individually of each and every part of a whole, and collectively, it refers to the sum of all the parts that make a whole. Essentially, Paul is saying that every situation in life, no matter how random, unforeseen, difficult, painful or repeated, is like a tool in the hand of God that will be used to produce good in our lives.

Perhaps the most important word in this promise is the word good. If Paul is suggesting everything we face will ultimately be worked out for good, it is essential that we have a proper understanding of his terms. The word good is defined in the next verse where Paul writes, we are being conformed into the image of Christ. Every thing we face in this life is designed to bring us to Christ, and make us more like Him. My busy schedule, broken leg, fender bender, marriage, difficult boss, or trouble with the kids, are all tools that the Spirit of God will use to conform me into the image of Jesus. He will often do this by exposing things in me that need to be changed, then He will begin the process of removing them. The key is that we learn, in every situation, to cling to Christ as He performs a new work in us.

If you are struggling to see the good in what you are currently facing, remember that the good will come out as you cling to Christ, and allow Him to conform you to His image.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 8

  1. If you are in Christ, how wonderful it is to know that you, we, and us have been set free from condemnation. AMEN!
  2. For what the Law could not do, God did. How?
  3. What happens to those who live according to the flesh and those who live according the Spirit?
  4. What are the results of being carnally minded and spiritually minded?
  5. What did we receive by whom we cry out, “Abba Father?”
  6. In verses 26-27, what is the Spirit himself doing for us?
  7. In verse 28, what should keep us from complaining?
  8. In verses 31 through to the end of Romans 8, these verses give us an account of God’s everlasting love. Do you truly feel comforted and peaceful when you read verse 32?

Old Testament:
Ezra 3- The Verdict
Ezra 4- Guilty As Charged

Life In Christ

Romans 7:4 “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.”

Much of what the Bible says is revolutionary. There are statements, not just shocking to us, but to every generation that ever lived. Jesus spoke to his disciples saying, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24

Perhaps the strongest drive within the human body is the drive for survival. Yet we hear Jesus say, if we try to save our lives we will lose them. Life, according to Jesus, is found in death. On another occasion He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” ( John 12:24) The death Jesus is speaking of is the death that takes place when we come to Christ. Elsewhere, Paul speaks of us being crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). The old life, lived for self and sinful pleasure, is laid down when we come to Christ and we begin to live with a new-found desire to please God. I spent 18 years of my life without Christ, during that time I never once considered if my behavior was pleasing to the Lord. Since the time of meeting Christ, pleasing Him has been my first priority. My old life died the day I met Christ. The benefits of that death are what Paul is speaking of here. He declares,

Romans 7:6 “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Three amazing things happen when we die to the self life and live to please the Lord. First, we are released from the power sin holds over us. We were held captive by it because we saw sin as a means to a happy and full life. When we came to Christ, we realized the destructive nature of sin. When this happened, we began to be repulsed by the very things we once lived for. Solomon wrote, ” . . . the fear of the Lord is to hate evil . . .” (Proverbs 8:13), meaning, when we seek to please God, we will begin to despise sin. Second, death to the self-life will result in bearing fruit to God. The height of life is described by Paul as the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is born when we leave behind the desire to put ourselves first, and we seek to live for the glory of God. Finally, Paul speaks of our serving in the Spirit. The one who leaves the ‘me first,’ sinful life behind, replacing it with seeking to live well pleasing to Jesus, will find a an enabling from the Lord to serve Him.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Romans 7

  1. How have you become dead to the Law?
  2. Now that we have been delivered from the Law, having died to what we were held by, how should we serve?
  3. Is the Law sin?
  4. Fill in the blanks. “The _____ is Holy and the _____ Holy and ______ and _______.
  5. The Law properly understood reveals our sinful nature. In verses 14-25, what is Paul’s and our inward struggle? Paul writes: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Old Testament:
Ezra 1- Is That Possible?
Ezra 2- Incoming Call