Category Archives: Romans

Romans Curriculum again available

If you read this blog through an RSS feed (good for you, my recommendation Google Reader) or through email, you don’t see the changes made to the site itself (not a big deal).

But you might like to know that a year-long Romans’ curriculum is now available.  This was a curriculum developed for 28 adult classes to encourage a review of the Gospel and challenge people to deeper appreciation of their salvation.

Currently all the teacher materials and student materials are available.  I will also be posting audio of these lessons as I taught through the material along with a number of devotional blog post that supplemented the lessons.

The glory of God in suffering

Having just finished studying and teaching Romans 8:26-30 and being reminded of God’s purpose for us–conformity to the His Son. Being reminded that God has a plan for good, our good even in difficulty, but that what is good my not be know until eternity.

In light of that context, I was struck by the simplicity, passion and directness of this video by John Piper. I don’t know that I could say it with the boldness he stated.

But God is not made more glorious when things are easy for me. His glory does not change–His goodness does not waiver whether things are going smoothly or I am experiencing difficulty.

What we have when we have Christ (part 2)

More insights from Paul’s amazing truths in Romans 5:1-11.

5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

This section, often viewed as parenthetical, may actually be one of the main points of the passage.

Since we have peace with God, one my wonder why God would allow a believers to suffer.  So Paul wants us to understand that we have a certain hope, when we have Christ.

The salvation God provides is permanent because of how it was provided and it is able to withstand trials. The Holy Spirit’s presence is an assurance of the future and of God’s love in the present.

Rather than an example of the lack of God’s love, we are assured of God’s love through suffering.

Now I have to admit–this is not how I want it.  I want to escape difficulty.  I want the easy way out.

I recently ask several ministry leaders what enables them to grow (means of growth, spiritual disciplines, etc.).  As they responded (more on their responses another day) we began talking about suffering and how difficulty is often the best teacher.

But my purpose for asking the question was to help in the development of ministries and environments for discipleship.

The reality of life and the lesson from Romans 5:3-5 reminds us that suffering will happen. We don’t have to program for it.  But we also don’t need to fear it–our perspective should be (at least when we are able to look back), “How is God causing me to grow through this?”

And that is the question we should ask when we face difficulty–“Lord, what do you want me to learn?  How do you want my faith to grow?  How do you want me to bring you glory?”

But there is one more aspect, Paul says “we rejoice in suffering.”  Sound like James 1 “count it all joy when you suffer various trials.”

Not only are we to stoically endure trials asking to grow from them, but we are to rejoice.  How? Why?  Because it confirms our hope of the future and deepens our grasp of God’s love in the present.

The ability to rejoice in trials is not natural.

Thoughts?

What we have when we have Christ (part 1)

Romans 5:1-11 is an amazing passage.

In the context, Paul has taught about the problem of sin (1:18-3:20), is in the middle of explaining the provision of salvation (3:21-5:21) and will turn his attention to the power for sanctification (6-8).

As he develops the provision of salvation, Paul lays out what God has done through Christ (3:21-31) to enable sinful man to have a relationship with Him by faith (chapter 4).

That’s where chapter 5 picks up–“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

The present reality of a past action.

When we place our faith in Christ’s cross work, God declares us to be in a right relationship with Him (the removal of guilt, the bestowal of positional righteousness) and replaces hostility with peace.

From this first verse, we can see that we can know for certain that we are justified (“have been justified”). We can know for certain we are saved.

And that’s just verse one of this great passage.

New Blog

I’ve been enjoying writing on Fluency for almost 6 months now.   I have to admit it has been more about creating a discipline in me to continually stay in God’s Word–think deeply about God, His Word, the church and the world around me–than writing to be read.  But it has been fun to interact with those who have commented.

Along with Fluency I am also starting a second blog  http://devotional.calvarychurch.org.  This blog will serve to supply devotionals related to the coordinated curriculum on the book of Romans that I have been creating for all the Adult Bible Fellowship Classes at Calvary Church.  Along with the Sunday morning study my hope is that people will “live in Romans” for a full year.  This will hopefully include preparing for class by using Personal Bible Study preparation sheets (PBS) and reviewing and applying the truths learned through reading devotionals written by the church staff, elders, deacons, ABF teachers, missionaries and any others I could get to write.  (There are also generic handouts and will be audio files of the lessons in future weeks.)

I have had the privilege of writing a number of the devotionals for Romans.  Some of which originally appeared on Fluency.  But rather than double post, I would encourage anyone who is reading Fluency to also begin reading devotional.calvarychurch.org.  The easiest way is to subscribe by email or use a blog reader.

I would love your feedback on the new site as much as I want your continued feedback on this site.

Mind, Memory and Meditation

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)

We can not renew our minds without the Word.
We can not renew our minds without reflecting on the Word.

We will not change without the word and reflection on the Word.

But some would say “I find that my mind and memory don’t work as well as they used to. I can’t remember as easily and I can’t keep track of details as quickly as I once did.”

But just like any other muscle, we can exercise our brains, our minds and memories.

The more we tell a story, the easier it is to recall the details.
The more we sing a song, the easier it is to recall the words.
The more we quote a verse, the easier and more naturally we use it.

It may not be easy, but it will be productive.

And even if we can’t memorize every word, the more we rehearse a verse, the more we meditate on the message of a passage the more likely we are to live its truth.

There is no short cut. It takes time. It takes purposefulness. It takes quite or at least less noise.

So mediate on God’s Word–exercise your mind, develop your memory, be transformed.

Living Grace Filled Lives

Romans 2:1-5 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (ESV)

God’s grace is amazing–beyond what any hymn can state.

Living a grace filled life has at least two sides.

First, learning to accept and appreciate God’s grace toward us.

A grace that is abundant–it can’t be exhausted.
A grace that extends and covers all our weaknesses and sins.
A grace that guarantees love and acceptance in spite of our failings.
A grace that comforts us with the truth we can do nothing to make God love us less–nor can we do anything to make Him love us more.

Amazing, Astounding, Awesome–Actual Grace.

But second, learning to live a grace filled life requires us to look at others and live with others with grace. To extend to others the same spirit of grace that God extends to us

A grace that is abundant–that doesn’t count the wrongs committed (Matthew 18:21-35), that keeps no record of wrong. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
A grace that extends and covers weakness and sin–for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
A grace that guarantees love and acceptance in spite of our failings–for we all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2)
A grace that comforts others with the truth that God’s love doesn’t change and we will remain faithful.

If we don’t live grace filled lives we are treating God grace, love, kindness, mercy and patients with contempt.

It’s like say to God–I only value you and your character when it is applied to me. That reminds me of Jonah after God forgave a repentant Nineveh.

Jonah 4:1-2 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. (ESV)

Notices verse 3. Jonah makes a great statement about the character of God being gracious, merciful, slow to anger, steadfast in love and relenting of punishment–awesome, amazing grace. But to Jonah that was negative because it was a grace displayed towards someone else.

May we live grace filled lives that extend the grace we have been sown, liberally on others.

May we be patient, kind, and merciful to those who disagree with us and with those who dress differently than we do. To those who annoy us or interfere with our plans or want to consume our time, may we extend grace and love.

May the church be grace filled.