Notes from Paul

Romans 13 12

In Romans, Paul is describing the sorrow he feels that the Jews he has been trying to teach have not accepted the good news of Jesus Christ.  Even though he recognizes it is in God’s plan, he is mourning their stubbornness and their hardened hearts.

It is important to God why we follow Him…what motivates us.  He wants us to pursue Him because our faith compels us to do so, not as a result of our obligation to the law.

Paul begins to bring his message around again to the idea that Christ came for all people.  Paul continues to hope that the Israelites will listen and allow their hearts to be opened to God’s message of love and mercy. (Romans 11:11-16)

I believe Paul is saying to the early believers who are not of Jewish descent that they are the branches which come from the foundation of the Israelites.  If the root is holy, then so are the branches. As a result they need to continue to live and work together in the hope that the Jews’ eyes and hearts will be opened to a new understanding of God and Jesus Christ as Savior.  Paul points to this idea more clearly by instructing them in Romans 12:9-17…

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

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.

As we do our best to live at peace with everyone, Paul gets into more controversial subjects next…it could be controversial yet today too.  In Chapter 13, Paul includes the authorities which govern the members of the early church in his statements about how to treat one another if we are followers of Christ.

Romans 13:6 & 7

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I am guilty of not appreciating those who are in authority over me.  I speak out against the actions, decisions and judgements those in civil service make sometimes.  There are many times that I don’t agree and wish the government didn’t appear so corrupt and hypocritical, but rather than allowing my anger to rise and my resentment to grow, I should be praying for those in power.  I should be blessing them…tough pill to swallow Paul, tough pill to swallow…sometimes it is bitter too.  Nevertheless, if I am to be obedient to God’s call on my life, this is one area I can improve…I think Paul was speaking the early believers about this subject because he knew they could do better too.

The next part is a little easier to accept, though not necessarily easier to accomplish:

Romans 13:8-10

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Why do we do this? Why do we live this way?  Because the day is near…

Romans 13:11& 12

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already comefor you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light

Let us also join that high calling, that of putting aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the armor of light…let us love one another in spirit and in truth, in action as well as in word…the day is near

Come, Lord Jesus, Come…

Joyanne Swanson

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Growing Pains

Romans 12

emoyer-growing pains

The Seaver Family became a familiar household name from 1985-1992.   This tight knit family had weekly story lines with the children in the family having common family situations, and even some more serious situations,  such as relationship issues, drinking, violence and gangs.  Each week the show began with the catchy B.J. Thomas tune, “As Long as We Got Each Other”.  The lyrics were:

 

Show me that smile again. (Show me that smile)

Don’t waste another minute on your cryin’.

We’re nowhere near the end (nowhere near)

The best is ready to begin.

 

As long as we got each other

We got the world spinnin right in our hands.

Baby, rain or shine, all the time

We got each other, sharin’ the laughter and love

We all may not have the perfect homes, the perfect bodies, the perfect grades, the perfect relationships, etc… The great thing we do have is a loving Father and so many people in our FUEL family that love us and care about us.  I just looked through the Facebook page for FUEL and there is so much joy and love in the faces of the friends gathered and united in Faith.  Romans 12 verses 9-11 encourage us to love and honor and be faithful in prayer.  Reach out to those friends and encourage them.  As long as we have each other, we can get past some of our daily challenges and rely on His love and understanding.  

-Emily Moyer

Feeling With People

Monday

Romans 12-15

Romans 12:15  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

What is empathy?  For me, empathy used to be one of those words that made sense in conversation, but if someone asked me to define it then I’d be hard pressed to give a good definition.  But over the last two years I’ve had the chance to explore empathy in a variety of ways.

One of the best looks at empathy I’ve found comes from a Social Work professor, Brene Brown.  Check out this really amazing and brief video on empathy (https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw).

Brown describes empathy as “feeling with people.”  It’s the ability to understand, reflect, and share someone else’s situation.  Here’s the thing; I believe that empathy sits at the center of the Christian life.  From the life of Jesus to the letters of Paul and the history of the Hebrews, empathy lies at the core of our calling to follow God and live a holy life.

In Romans 12:15, Paul says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”  If this is anything, it is a call to empathy and empathic action.  And what’s the sub-title for the section this verse comes from?  In the NIV, it is “Love in Action.”

This is what it means to put love into our deeds.  It isn’t to fix things, but to share in life with others.

I hope that today and this week, we can begin to see how acting and living empathically will help us bring the love of Christ into the world.

-Graysen Pack

God’s Will

Friday’s devotion

Romans 8-26

Romans 8:26–27 tells us, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will”

What is God’s will?

As humans, we are always interested in the here and now—what will benefit us temporarily.

God, however, sees things a bit differently. He is also interested in the long term and the eternal.

In other words, God has a bigger plan than my personal happiness in the given moment. He desires my holiness as I am conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

It’s my prayer that we would be conformed into the image of Christ! 

-Jennie Montgomery

Who Can Be Against Us?

Thursday, September 28

Romans 8-31b

 

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:31–34)

There is nothing that we can be accused of or any shame we can ever bear that Jesus has not interceded for on our behalf. Jesus was condemned in my place, and my only hope is to plead his righteousness. Jesus himself is my one defense.

In the gospel, I have found the beautiful, glorious, freedom that comes with knowing that my righteousness is settled. I have freedom to confess any sin, accept forgiveness, and deepen my love for the One who forgives. I don’t have to fear condemnation or shame because of Jesus Christ who took on the punishment of sin. We serve a God who loves us and who is for us. Who can be against us?

-Jennie Montgomery

 

Separation

What can separate us

 

Romans 8:35-39         Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What can separate me from the love of God in Christ? Romans 8 says, “nothing,” but I have my doubts.

I bet I prayed “The Sinner’s Prayer” twenty times growing up. I was always so afraid I’d missed something, or paranoid I’d somehow nullified my salvation since the last time I said the magic words. After walking with Jesus, I now know: there is nothing magical about it.

My words don’t save me. Jesus saves me. My response is to repent of my sins and believe He saves me.

We focus on the exact words we said, the exact time and place we knelt. We make our coming to Christ about our circumstances rather than our Savior. It was never about what I was doing. It was always about what He did for me.

The depth of our need for Jesus is so vast that even our act of coming to Him is flawed, but He is never surprised by this. He knows us fully and loves us still. He came to make everything right, including our half-heartedness and our ill intentions.

Come as you are and bare your soul. Cry out like David cried out in Psalm 51, confessing honestly and openly before the God who made you and promises to make you new, who loves you and stands ready to save. Then come back day after day. Walk daily in the grace you first received, knowing there is nothing you can do or not do to reverse the rescue the cross secured.

-Jennie Montgomery

Learn a Lesson from the Lions

Romans 8 12,13

Tuesday – Romans 8

 

When I was a kid, I saw adorable baby lion cubs at the zoo and ever since, I have tried to convince my parents to let me get a pet lion. Because my house was not suited for a large dog, much less a 500 pound cat, my parents of course said no, but many people have actually gone about raising an exotic animal like a lion cub. However, many times, they become national news after their precious baby lion cub ends up attacking them. Surprised, they question why something that they played with, dressed up, and nurtured one day attacked them out of the blue? You know why? BECAUSE IT’S A LION. It is in its nature to grow up, get big, and attack no matter what setting it is raised in. A lion is TRAINED to kill.

 

I can’t help but think this is true about sin in my life. I start by thinking that small sins, like a lion cub, are harmless and cute and then I play with it and nurture it and one day it eventually attacks me. I buy into the lie that some sins are okay and will not do much harm, but soon enough they turn on me like sin is created to do. Sin is created to DESTROY.

 

So in turn, we must be diligent about destroying our sin. Paul speaks on this idea of killing sin in Romans 8:12-13 as it reads, “So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Paul calls us to live by the Spirit and put to death our fleshly desires.

 

John Piper, in “How to Kill Sin,” Pt. 1, on DesiringGod.org explains, “Putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit – the daily practice of killing sin in your life – is the result of being justified and the evidence that you are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law.” He adds, “If you are not at odds with sin, you are not at home with Jesus, not because being at odds with sin makes you at home with Jesus, but because being at home with Jesus makes you at odds with sin.” The idea is this: the more we delight ourselves in the Lord, the more diligent we will be about killing our sins. We must starve the flesh, but at the same time we must also feed the Spirit.

 

So rather than making our walk with God about the “don’t”s, we should make it about the “do”s. Do spend time in the Word. Do spend time in prayer. Do surround yourself with Biblical community. Do get plugged into a church. And when we grow in doing these things, we will be so delighted in the Lord, we will have no appetite for sin. The more we walk by the Spirit, the less we will live in sin.

 

My prayer today is that the Lord would be our ultimate delight. As we spend time in scripture and in prayer, let’s ask the Lord to feed our Spirit and starve our flesh.

 

-Jennie Montgomery