Thursday, April 19, 2012

He Alone is God....Part 4

Romans 9:19-33

This next portion of scripture starts out with an arrogant question on the part of humanity.

“Why does he (God) still find fault? For who can resist his will?

Again we need to remember who God is and who we are not (see previous post) Who are we to question God? We who are but clay in the Potter's hands.

There is such arrogance in humanity. It's been there since the dawn of creation, actually before creation with the fall of Lucifer. It began at creation when Adam and Eve desired to be like God and choose to disobey and sin. Today I marvel (not in a good way) at the arrogance I see in mankind. How we shake our fists at God and demand our rights as superior creatures. Who is God to say I am worthy of salvation or not. I am worth it because I am superior! (right). But God.....

We see ourselves as all that, but what are we really? Clay. From the ground. Dirt. Mold-able. Fragile. Temporary. We come demanding response. He is there with great patience!

The truth is only God knows who will come to him and who will not. He alone knows those vessels prepared for destruction and those vessels of His mercy. His patience is amazing, allowing the full number of those he called to come in (Romans 11:25; Luke 21:24; Revelation 7:9) He never losses one of those he calls (John 6:39; 10:28; 17:12; 18:9) either. He exudes the greatest of patience and love towards a fallen, egotistical humanity. He will hold out until all he has called has come to him. Not only from his chosen race, but from the Gentiles as well.

Paul concludes the chapter stating that only a remnant of his countrymen will be saved, and not only that but a people who did not pursue righteousness will be saved. That's us!! Paul quotes from the books of Hosea and Isaiah to show this amazing truth. Of course there's always that remnant! God always keeps his promises and he is going to do that for the nation of Israel, but first.....

Those (Jews) who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because unlike the Gentiles they did not pursue it by faith, but stumbled over the Stumbling Stone (Christ), whom God appointed. And those who did not pursue it (righteousness) have attained it. Why? Faith in the One (Christ).

So here we are at the end of Chapter 9 with so much more to understand about our amazing God, and maybe understanding him a smidge better. What it all boils down to is.....

HE ALONE IS GOD!!!!

Are you able to rest in that?

1. Do you often find yourself questioning God or his motives?

2. Do you see how great his mercy is to those who he has “prepared before hand for glory?”

3. Do you also see his “great patience” with the vessels of wrath?

4. God always has a remnant. There is never large numbers, but few. How does that affect your view of the visible church?

5. Are you pursuing a works based faith, missing the mark, or one you firmly cling to, the True Rock?

post signature

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He Alone is God....Part 3

Romans 14-18

As we continue to wade into Chapter 9, I believe its a good idea to think about who God is...

He is Love; He is Holy; He is Healer;

He is Kind; He is Creator; He is Father;

He is Just; He is Sustainer; He is Mighty;

He Is Ruler; He is All-knowing; He is Forever;

He is Good.....

etc.......

I wonder what characteristics you came up with that I didn't? Now I want you to do one more thing as we consider who God is, after the word “He” add “alone”. Does that give us a good position to start in? I think so.

Another thing I think we need to do is recognize who we are or better yet “who do we think we are?” This passage speaks of God having mercy on whom he will have mercy and harden who he will harden. That is a hard saying, but here is where we need to have an attitude check. Are you ready to hear it? None of us deserve mercy, but God gives mercy to some, because of his great love! PERIOD. We have no righteous ground to stand on. We might think we're all that because of our over inflated human ego, but as we'll see in my next post, we are just a lump of clay in the potters hands. A loving potter who knows before hand what that lump of clay was made to be.

O.K. Now that we have a proper perspective let's dig in.

Paul begins this section with a question. Is there injustice on God's part? He quickly answers ~ By no means! Paul quotes from Exodus 33:19 where God says to Moses “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” In the NLT I like how it states “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, etc....”

It is because of God's great mercy that “anyone” is saved. It's not a question of “why not everyone?”, but a question of “why anyone?” In verse 16 it states it does not depend on man's will or (from the ESV) “exertion”, but on God who has mercy. The word “exertion” speaks of spending ones strength in performing or attaining something; of those who run in a race course. I get that. When I run I am pushing to go beyond what I feel I can, it's all effort. God is saying here ~ you cannot work hard enough to earn salvation, it's all about me and my mercy. Simple. Rest in that.

Paul goes on to quote from Exodus 9:16 concerning Pharaoh of Egypt and how he came to be. God raised Pharaoh up so that (God's) power might be shown and God's name proclaimed. Many rulers on earth have come to power and have been brought down since the dawn of creation. Not one still stands, except God! He alone sets up rulers and disposes them. I am reminded of Daniel's prayer in Daniel 2:20-23, “He removes kings and sets up kings”. (See also Daniel 4:17; 5:20; Psalm 75:7; and Romans 13:1). It's all God and for God!

In verse 18 it mentions of God hardening those who he wills (desires, chooses). I have gone through several commentaries to help really understand this area, and this is my findings. God hardens those hearts that are already hardened towards him. He gives them over (Romans 1:28). In essence he gives them what they want (ala Rob Bell; my sarcasm inserted here).

I think we often loss sight of God's great mercy, when we are wrestling with the hard truths of scripture. What we always need to remind ourselves of is, who God is (refer back to beginning of this post), who we are (or are not), and trust him.

I think we need to stop there and take up the rest in another post. The more I read verses 19-24 the more I know it needs further study.

Question 1: Do you often find yourself questioning God or his motives?

Question 2: Do you see how great His mercy is towards those who he has “prepared beforehand for glory?”

Question 3: Do you also see his “great patience”?

post signature

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Romans Chapter 9 ~ He Alone is God....Part 2

O.K. Here is where we're stepping in it people! This is where it begins to get dicey!

Paul starts out this section stating that even though there are many of his countrymen who do not know Christ, God's word hasn't failed. Why? Because as Paul says “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel”. What? How can that be?

Paul goes on to show how this can be. In simplest terms, God never promised that all Israel would be saved (think remnant). Paul goes on to state the case for this statement. Even though Israel is descendant of Abraham they are not all his children. In John 8:31-36, Jesus has a discussion with certain Jews about this very issue, which of course made them livid. ( You know I have to segway here for a minute ~ In verse 33 of John 8 these Jews say they've “never yet” been slaves to anyone....Um....what? I can remember a few times in history where they've been slaves to one nation or another. O.K. Maybe not technically slaves, but captives nonetheless!) O.K. Let's get back on track here: The true children are not of the flesh, but of the promise, as stated in Genesis 18:10,14. Remember that Ishmael was Abraham's fleshly descendant, but Isaac was a child of a promise made to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. This promise is also further explored in Galatians 4:23, 28.

Paul also uses the example of Jacob and Esau. Before they were even born, before either could do right or wrong, God choose Jacob over Esau. He choose the younger one over the older one. He choose Jacob knowing full well who he was and rejected Esau. He did this why? Verse 11 tell us “in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works (we know what a stinker Jacob was in the beginning), but because (OH this is good) of HIM WHO CALLS! (my emphasis added). It's all God and his choosing. Is is not based on one single thing we can do. I think 2 Timothy 1:9 is another great verse that speaks to it being God who chooses and not how well we do things, or who we are. Ultimately it is always God, and ultimately it is for His glory!

I want to go over one last thing in this section. This has been a verse that has always bothered me. It's verse 13 ~ “As it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” quoted from Malachi 1:2-3. I can see it differently now through the lens of God's sovereign call, but did God actually “hate” Esau? In reading my ESV and other commentaries I have come to see it as “Jacob I loved (choose), Esau I hated (rejected). A verse that helped me is Luke 14:26. Does God really want us to “hate” our parents, wife, children, brothers and sisters? No ~ for one he says we are to “obey our mother & father. What he is saying (I believe) is “I must come before any of these”. When it comes to choosing “hate”, “reject”, them for me. Other scriptures that show this contrast are: Genesis 29:30-31 (the account of Rachel being loved and Leah being hated), and Matthew 10:37.

Always there are concepts in scripture that we will struggle with. As we search God's word more and more, he will most definitely make himself known to us. But I also believe that God is so much bigger than what our minds can even conceive. So when we are reading and studying the harder passages we remember ~ He Alone is God.......

Question 1: How do these verses set with you?

Question 2: Do you understand there is nothing you can do (good or bad) that changes God's decision?

Question 3: Is he calling you?

post signature

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Romans 9 ~ He alone is God...Part 1

These next few blog posts will try to put into words what God has been showing me in the 9th chapter of Romans. I've been told I am studying "what some consider to be one of the most difficult passages of Scripture." So I sheepishly wade in hoping that I am hearing the Holy Spirit correctly, doing this passage justice, and bring God glory!


We begin with the first five verses.


Paul is very much Jewish. We must remember that. Even though God has given him a passion and calling to the Gentiles, he never loses his passion for his "own race". Paul knew the direction in which the Jewish nation was headed. He saw their obstinate resistance to Christ as Messiah. He desires them to come to know Christ so much so that he writes "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." This was Paul's desire, but he knew there is only One who can be the perfect atonement for man, that is Christ.


I can feel Paul's passion for his people can't you?! Have you ever felt that passion for a loved one? How our hearts desire and break over the spiritual lives of our families. How our hearts also break over the spiritual life of our nation. We wish so much that we could do something, anything to draw them to Christ! We desire for them to know how the truth will set them free! We who are learning to study scripture see the truths that will happen to those who are not in Christ Jesus and we want to save them from that end! Here I am reminded of how Paul was not the first to weep over Israel. Jesus in Luke 19:41-44, wept over Jerusalem and what they failed to see in his coming and also what would happen to them because of their blindness. Oh that our unsaved relatives and this nation would turn to God and seek His truths! But we have to know that not all will come to salvation. God alone knows who will come, it is part of our purpose to speak His truth to all and bring into the fold those whom he has called according to His great mercy.


We cannot forget the Jewish nation was and is special. God set them apart to be the vessels by which he fulfilled his plan. He redeemed them and called them his own. In 2 Samuel 7:23 it says:


And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God.


The writer of 1 Chronicles says virtually the same thing is 17:21-22. Other wonderful passages that speak to how special Israel is: Deuteronomy 4:32-39;7:7-8; 10:15; 26:18-19; 33:29, as well as so many more! Search them out and see what God says about this nation, elsewhere in scripture.
But here Paul sets forth a list of what is Israels, and the special place they hold. Namely:


The adoption
the glory
the covenants
the giving of the law
the worship
the promises
To them belong the patriarchs,
and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all!


Amazing the heritage they have isn't it!! Israel took great stock in this heritage, so much so that it blinded them to the one who all this heritage pointed too. We will see in a future post how Israel counted on that tradition. They were zealous for the law without knowledge (Romans 10:1-2). They were under the false understanding that it was their heritage and adherence to the law that would save them.


I believe the same can be said today about those of us who have grown up going to church. Our spiritual heritage or denominational heritage become very important, to the detriment of our relationship with Christ. Again we will touch on this more later.



Question 1: Do you sorrow for a brother/sister who is lost? Do you pray over our nation and it's continual falling away from God? We need to speak the truth of God's word in love, leaving the work to the Holy Spirit to convict those whom He has called.


Question 2: Are you one that has all the riches of your ancestral traditions without faith?
Seek out Christ and his truth, and he will set you free from the bondage of tradition, to a life that is full of joy and peace in Him!

post signature

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In God We Trust ~ Does it really matter?

I've gotten your attention haven't I?! This morning when I was running WCSG (again) played a song that spoke to my heart. I am completely frustrated now because I am having a block to the name of the song, and the artist, but I remember the part of the song that got me thinking. It said something like "it doesn't matter if the money says "in God we Trust", he still owns it".
That got me to thinking. Here on Facebook I see a lot of people up in arms about:

  • "In God we Trust" not being on our money any more.
  • This no longer being a Christian nation.
  • In the 10 commandments being taken out of courthouses.
  • Of we no longer being able to pray in public schools.
It's almost as if you think God's power is diminished by these things. Well I'm here to tell you that is far from the truth!!
  • God continues to sit on the throne despite what man thinks or tries to do. The progression that the USA and for that matter the world is of no surprise to Him. Look at what it says in 2 Tim 3:1-3
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
  • God has never left the public schools. Just because we cannot pray openly doesn't mean there is no prayer. Just because we can't say he's there, does not mean he's not. Just because "man" says do not speak His name does not somehow weaken God. If your children attend public schools (as mine do) do not fear that God is not there! Just because some Christians have left does not mean he is gone.
God says in Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave you or forsake you", and also Jesus said in Matthew 28:20b "and behold, (I)I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
  • Like I said above ~ he owns the money it doesn't matter if it says so or not. Psalm 50:9-11 says:
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
In James 1:16 & 17 it says:
"Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows"
So what am I ranting about then anyway, right?!
Well here it is. Stop worrying about all that you think is being taken away from this "christian nation" (which if I may say this has never been a Christian Nation, there has only (possibly) been more Christians in government then now, but saying we were a Christian Nation is basically incorrect) (Tee Hee, I'm sure I stepped on some toes there!!)
Any who, where was I? Oh yeah, don't sweat it, what God want is this. ARE YOU READY TO HEAR THIS?
HE WANTS YOU!
You are to reflect Him!
You are to shine His light in this world!
You are to proclaim him to the lost, and those in bondage!
You are to proclaim freedom through Christ!
You are to stand for Truth (the truth of His word)!
So where are you at? Do you get upset at these things that don't really upset God, but don't live a life that is in earnest, passionate, relationship with him? If you don't follow Christ, why are you so upset at the world doing what they are and will naturally do?
I'm not speaking this in judgement, but just to get you to see, Are your priorities straight? Are you following Christ faithfully, and proclaiming him, or are you so worried about a few things that "man" is trying to strip away and afraid that God is to small to fight it?
God is not to small. Man can and will continue to strip Him from public view, but I'm here to tell you, it does not effect God one iota! He is still on the throne and all will end as it said it would.
Trust Him and Obey Him alone, then what "man" does won't matter as much.
Shalom
post signature

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Art of being last.... Part 3

This last post has been a long time coming because God has really be impressing it on my heart and soul. For me (and maybe you) this part is where the rubber meets the road in our walk with Christ.

But before I begin I'll let you know the verse that started it all: Romans 12:10 "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Actually it was that last part "outdo one another in showing honor". Well I have to admit I for one have not been good at doing that!

In the context of this chapter, Paul is speaking to his "brothers". This is the church he is speaking to; he is saying "offering your bodies as a living sacrifice to God" - God first; "don't think of yourself more highly then you ought" - yourself last; and now put others before yourself, "outdo on another in showing honor".

Life within the "body of Christ" can be hard. People not being perfect, and sometimes living in the flesh, do things that hurt you or others. It's a product of this sinful world we live in. I'm not excusing the behavior, just acknowledging why it happens. I (you) have been hurt by someone in the church, or I (you) have hurt someone in the church. This portion of scripture tells us how to move past the hurt, and towards a fuller, more intimate relationship with Christ. Let's take a look at Romans 12:9-21, and list what it says we are to do:

  • Love genuinely (the NAS version of the bible says "let love be without Hypocrisy ~ Ouch) Can I ask you a personal question? Have you ever loved with hypocrisy? I have and that one hurt!!! Fake! I always say I know when someone is being fake and I hate it. How often have I been fake??? Ugh!
  • Abhor what is evil (Abhor means to "have a horror of ~ how often are you in horror of any particular sin, either in your life or others? Are you horrified by gossip? We're all horrified of the BIG sins, but what about "all" evil, which includes our "little" sins.)
  • Cling to what is good (To cling means to glue together, cement, to join. You should be permanently attached to the good around you.)
  • Love one another with "brotherly" love (I find it interesting that Paul mentions love twice here don't you?) (This is a love you should have for a brother or sister, familial love, ~ one that sacrifices for the good of the other. There's that word again "sacrifice".
  • Outdo one another is showing honor! Oh that verse! Go out of your way to show preference to someone else! Does it say those that do good to you? No, it says one another. Could that include someone who has hurt you? I think we'll find out in a little bit.
  • Here Paul gives a short list of other to do's and when I hear these I think of those verses in Colossians 3:17, 23. Do them unto the Lord:
  • Do not be slothful in your Zeal. In other words: Don't be lazy! Be passionate for Christ!
  • Be fervent in spirit. In other words: Be on fire in the spirit!
  • Serving the Lord.
  • Rejoice in hope.
  • Be patient in tribulation ~ Boy that's a doosy isn't it?! I'm not often the most patient person around, especially when there is a trial. I want it done, and yesterday!!
  • Be CONSTANT in prayer. "CONSTANT" I love the definition of "constant", but here is one part that I will pull out ~ to persevere and not to faint. How often do we give up in prayer when a situation is not handled as timely as we think it should be? (Please see "Be patient in tribulation").
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints. We are the "saints"! Remember we are set apart, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5). The definition of "contribute" means to:
    1. to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner
    2. to enter into fellowship, join one's self to an associate, make one's self a sharer or partner
  • Show Hospitality (The definition of show includes: pursue, press on towards) This means even though it may not be easy for you to do hospitality, it is still required. God gives to us what we lack. I for one have a hard time practicing hospitality, but I now know God calls me to it, especially to my brothers & sisters in Christ.

Now we come to verses Romans 12:14-21. I believe we are still talking about the church here, and look at Paul's words. How does he start off? "Bless those who persecute you". Whoa, wait one minute here, I am suppose to bless those who persecute me? What?! Bless and do not curse?! Really?! Yes really, look also at what is said in Matthew 5: 43-44, and Luke 6:27-28, and in 1 peter 3:9, it addresses the same as in verse Romans 12:17.

This is right where God has had me for awhile now. One thing I am good at is avoiding people who have hurt me. I think this is a family trait, avoidance. Well God will no longer have any of that with me. He has said "enough Kim, let's get on with obedience!" He has also brought to my mind the fact that when I say I've forgiven, I really haven't. YIKES!! (Do you see where that loving without hypocrisy hit pretty close to home?!) Over and over again He is showing me where I need to be genuine in my love, where I need to put others before myself, where I need to let go of the past, and let him handle it. WOW! What freedom is in that!! Someone actually told me lately that my countenance had changed. She could see more joy in me. Why? Because I am learning to truly forgive and not to harbor feelings that will only keep me in bondage! Hallelujah he came to set me free (Isaiah 61:1 and Galatians 5:1)!!

So what about you?

1. Do you find it easy to love others? How about those who have hurt you?

2. How do you see the part of verse 10 "outdo" each other in showing honor? What does that mean to you?

3. Forgiveness is hard in our humanness, but necessary and possible with the Holy Spirits help. We leave it to God to handle the sin. What do you need to forgive and receive freedom from?

Oh I so hope this has been a blessing to you, and something that spurs you to a closer more intimate relationship with Christ!! If I don't blog before I so hope you have a blessed Christmas! Remembering HE came to set your free!!

post signature

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lessons I learn from the Dogs....


You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Psalm 90:8

My dogs hate to "go" outside, especially Gizzy.. They will do everything they can to prolong the inevitable. Champ even has gone so far as to circle the deck and come back to the door, making it look like he went down the stairs. I have to tell my kids "if their paws aren't wet (from dew), then don't let them in.

So now when I put them out I either have to go with them to the top of the stairs, or stand at the slider. Yesterday as I stood there, and they did their normal looking back, checking to see if I'm still there, it brought something to my mind.

"Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 23:23-24

Aren't we like that? We have a task to do, and it's something we do not want to do, so we keep looking back to see if anyone notices that we're being disobedient. We will do everything in our power not to do what it is that we need to do, and is really for our benefit in the end. Others may not see my disobedience, just like sometimes I miss the dogs disobedience because I walk away. But God never walks away, He is always watching, He is always on the throne. When we look back, we see Him. He knows what is best for us. He gives us tasks to do, sometimes hard tasks, but they are meant for our good and his glory! He also gives us the power to do the task, but at times we doubt that power. Our looking back robs us of our peace, and joy in Christ.

And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."

Mark 4:21-23

Do not allow Satan to rob you of what God has for you! Is the road easy, no. Is it worth it, YES!

post signature