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
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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

 

 

 

 

Freedom IN CHRIST

Monday, September 25, 2017

Romans 8-1-2

Romans has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. God speaks through Paul so powerfully and his words paint such a beautiful portrait of the Gospel. Romans 1-7 seems to just lay it all out and to sum it up, he shares the Gospel story like this: holy God, sinful man, coming wrath, perfect Savior, Jesus Christ crucified and risen, justification by faith, sanctification by faith.

Paul drives home his message in Romans 8:1-2.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin in death.”

That’s it. That’s the central, foundational message of God to the world. The message that we preach. The message that we take to the nations and to our neighbors. The message that we lay down our lives for: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because Christ has set us free.

If you have grown up in church like me, we can sometimes get used to this message. We hear over and over again the message of “freedom in Christ” and too often discount the weight of that phrase. Freedom in Christ– this message should never grow stale! Every day that we walk this Earth, we should be reminded of our freedom found only in Christ. We are free. We are free from death. We are free from finding our satisfaction in this world. We are free from the weight of sin, just as we are free from the eternal consequences of sin. And it’s only because of Jesus Christ that we are we are free.

And although we strive to obey God and walk in the Spirit, we will constantly find ourselves falling short. It is at these times that we must remember the beginning of Romans 8:1 that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But because of Jesus’s great victory, there is now no condemnation for believers. Our sins and failures do not cause the Lord to give up on us or to love us any less, because we are secure in Christ.  In this security found in Christ, we live a life of faith and repentance, continually serving the Lord and putting sin to death.

Tomorrow, we will continue to dive into Romans 8, talking about what it means to put sin to death. It is my prayer that today we will rejoice in our freedom that is found only in Christ.

-Jennie Montgomery

 

And, in case you missed Jennie’s Sunday intro video (sorry for that techie glitch) …

Here it is – enjoy!

Diving into Romans 8

Romans 8-5

Happy Sunday Everyone!

My name is Jennie Montgomery and I am SO excited to study Romans 8 with you guys this week. Here’s a quick video introducing myself and telling you a little bit more about our study this week.

I can’t wait to grow alongside you as we dive into God’s word!

Rom 8-6a.pngRomans 8-6 b

From Jennie…