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Romans 16 - Apostle

What is an Apostle? The American Heritage dictionary puts it this way.

  • a One of a group made up especially of the 12 disciples chose by Jesus to preach the gospel.
    b. A missionary of the early Christian Church.
    c.  A Leader of the first Christian mission to a country or region.
  • On of the 12 members of the administrative council in the Mormon Chruch.
  • a. One who pioneers an important reform movement, cause, or belief.
    b. A passionate adherent; a strong supporter.

What about the Greek? Well, the word is; Apostolos. It means;

1. a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders

a.  specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ
b. in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers

 

"Why are you belaboring this point Jan?", you might ask. Well, I'll tell you. It is because of the following verse.

Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Note the names of the two apostles that Paul is sending a greeting to. Are they listed among the original twelve disciples? The answer is no, they are not. What this implies is that the title of apostle, or messenger, is one that is given to anyone that is truly effective in spreading the Gospel of Christ. It is not limited to the club of the original twelve.

Also of importance is the fact that Junia is mentioned. Junia is a woman. Quick, what is an apostle? An apostle is a messenger. So don't ever let anyone tell you that women do not have the right to share and spread the Good News of Jesus. Paul affirmed her right by naming her as an apostle.

Heavenly Father, thank You that we all are called to spread Your message. Some are called to lives of doing so, please bless these apostles in their missions. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tell the Good News! Jan
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Romans 15 - Peace, Joy and Hope

I noticed an interesting repetition from yesterday's chapter. Look at these two verses.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

i see the common theme of joy and peace coming from God. I have no great insight into this. I just like it.

Thank You Father for beautiful nuggets of truth. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Blessings, Jan
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Romans 14 - Offense

My men's group, The Wildmen, have just finished studying the book The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere. What an amazing journey! The basic premise is that we will get offended in life. However, what we do with that offense is the key to our Christian walk. Today in Romans Paul speaks against being a stumbling block to our brothers in what we eat or drink. But is that all he was speaking to? Was it just about food and drink? I thought so until I noticed this verse.

Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

If you missed it, there are three words in the middle of the sentence that completely change the picture. Those words are, "nor do anything".

There are many things in life that we can do that would cause another Christian to stumble. If I know that a brother or sister in Christ has any complusive habit, that I don't share, and I openly display the behavior that is destructive to them, I am sinning against them. This could be something as innocent as inviting a brother to a buffet eating establishment. I may not have a problem with compulsive eating, but if I know, or suspect that he might, I should choose a place that serves specific sized portions. Otherwise I am the one that is leading my brother to a place of weakness enabling him to stumble.

Heavenly Father, please grant me the grace to be sensitive to those around me and to minimize the offenses that I cause. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness, Peace and Joy to you, Jan
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Romans 13 - Vote

I doubt if it is a coincidence that today's reading should fall on election day. God has a way of setting these things up. Here I see the Apostle Paul telling his readers that they are to obey the laws of the land.

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Obviously if a law of man directly contradicts a law of God, we are to obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

However, in the absence of any biblical contradiction, we are to obey the laws of man.

Those of us that live in this Democratic Republic known as America have the privilege and responsibility of the vote. This is something that is denied to probably half of this world's citizens. What this means is that if we do not like the way our government is doing something, we can vote to change the laws and to empower representatives to ensure that our voices are heard.

I have heard it said for years, and I will reiterate it now; If you are a US Citizen and do not participate in the political process by voting, then you have no right to complain about anything the government does. If you do not have the right to vote and live in this country, then you should ensure that you are part of the process of informing others of what the candidates believe in so that those that can vote will hopefully do so in a manner consistent with your conscience.

If you do not inform yourself of the issues and where the candidates stand, regardless of political party affiliation, then you are throwing your precious right of the vote away.

I'm not telling you who to vote for, that is between you and God. But you must ask yourself at least one question before you do. It is, "If Jesus were standing next to me, would he approve of the person that I'm selecting to represent me?"

Heavenly Father, thank You that You have allowed me to live in a country where my voice does still matter. Please give me wisdom in choosing representatives. Sometimes it is a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. Please guide me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Make your vote count! Jan
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Romans 12 - Jezis te miluje

I have in my life a person that I've come to name "my troubler, my joy." It is a reference from a daily devotional book named Daily with the King. During one of the day's readings, it taught on how to view those that constantly trouble us. In my life this person is the father of my wife's children. I had nothing to do with the destruction of his marriage, that happened years prior to me meeting his former wife. No, his hatred of me stems from the fact that I am in a position now that he can never be in again. So, how am I supposed to respond to the constant barbs, and outright subversion by this man?

Romans 12:14-21 Bless those who persecute you. Bless them, and don't curse them. Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be arrogant, but be friendly to humble people. Don't think that you are smarter than you really are. Don't pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone. Don't take revenge, dear friends. Instead, let God's anger take care of it. After all, Scripture says, "I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back, says the Lord." But, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed." Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil with good.

Ouch, nothing can spoil your attitude toward self-serving revenge like a bit of scripture. I myself cannot do what Paul says I should. It is too hard. So what hope do I have? The answer is that it is not me that does it, it is the power of Christ living in me. I recently read a wonderful explanation of how I am to pray for someone that I am at odds with. It came from the teaching of John Bevere in his book The Bait of Satan. I am to pray for this man those things that I personally want God to do in my life. As he explained in the book, at first I will not truly feel it, but God honors the obedience behind it. Therefore I obey.

My stepson Sam recently advised me, "Why don't you learn to say, 'Jesus loves you.' in different languages. That way when dad is shouting at you, you can bless him." What a wonderful idea. Mind you, I have no intention of putting myself into a position to enable a confrontation, it is pointless. But if the need should arise. I pray that the Lord will enable me to say:

  • Jesus het jou lief - Afrikaans
  • Jezis te miluje. - Czech
  • Jesuys vous aime - French
  • Jesu liebt dich - German
  • Yesus cinta kamu - Indonesian
  • Gesu it ama - Italian
  • Jezus kocha Ciebie - Polish
  • Jesus alskar dig - Swedish
  • U Jeso Uya Kutana - Zulu

May you also learn to say "Jesus loves you" when you are insulted, reviled, and mistreated. Why? Because that is exactly what He did.

Luke 23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people, because they don't know what they are doing."

Show love, speak it. Jan
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Romans 11 - Person Zero

My wife brought up an interesting thought in conversation a few nights ago. It was something that I had never considered before. That thought is that, there are a certain amount of people that God knows will accept His Son. He knows who they are. She asked me the question, "Imagine if you are the messenger that leads the very last person, who is going to do so, to accept Christ." I see that very thought confirmed in today's reading.

Romans 11:25-26 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

Paul says that Israel will continue to be hardened against Christ until the full number of Gentiles has come in. There is a definite number. There is a definite person. The countdown began over two-thousand years ago. Very likely he is living among us today. Can you imagine being the one that leads person zero to Christ? What amazing indescribable emotions would flood your soul. I suspect that at that exact moment the rapture will happen. It could be me who ushers it in, it could be you. There is only one thing needed of us to ensure that we are in this heavenly contest to bring in the last sheep.

Romans 10:14-15 But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News? ...As Scripture says, "How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News."

Have beautiful feet, enter the contest. Jan
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Romans 10 - Tito Huckfeldt

In a former epoch of my life I had the opportunity to work with with an amazing youth worker by the name of Tito Huckfeldt. It was a time that I was working with middle schoolers at Youth for Christ. Tito preached a message to them once, based upon today's reading, that I will never forget. It was that profoundly powerful.

Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

The profound part of the message was the invitation. He told all of the youth to look at him, no heads bowed, eyes closed, no anonymity. He told them that if they could not stand up where they were for Christ, in a room full of people that were enthusiastic about them making this decision, then they would never be able to do so. He asked those that wanted to acknowledge their allegiance to Christ to stand. Some did, some who had never professed Christ before! It was an awesome moment.

Then came the twist. Tito began a countdown. He said, "I'm only going to count down from ten. You don't have as much time as you think you have." No movement. "Nine. Do not give up this opportunity. You never know how much time you have left." "Eight..." And so on all the way down to three. Then he said, "Time's up! I told you that you didn't have as much time as you think you had." You could have heard a pin drop in that room. He had made his point quite eloquently. Several kids accepted Christ that day, and I learned a lesson about how He should be acknowledged before men.

Many years later I borrowed this theme from Tito and taught a lesson to our youth group entitled "Time". It was about the briefness of life and their need to choose. The end result and effect was nearly identical to the message Tito gave. The youth that were there still talk about it, many years later.

If we are truly to be saved. If we are to do it right, then we must verbally acknowledge Christ before others. Jesus Himself said that if we deny Him before others, that He will deny us. Don't let yourself, or those you lead to Christ become guilty of silence. God does not have undercover Christians. We must be a light to a dying world.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for hiding my light so often. Help me to keep my wick trimmed and to keep the light burning bright. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Be vocal. Jan
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Romans 9 - I did it my way.

My Pastor hates the song, "I did it my way." As a Christian my focus should be on doing it God's way. However this song and the majority of the world do just the opposite. I see this presented in today's chapter.

Romans 9:7 Just the fact that they are descendants of Abraham doesn't make them truly Abraham's children. For the Scriptures say, "Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted," though Abraham had other children, too.

If you recall this story, Abraham was promised that he would have a son. When he didn't see it happening, he did it his way. As a result Ishmael was born and we have the Arabs. With the anniversary of the Twin Towers attack coming up soon, I don't think I need to elaborate too greatly on the grave consequences of that particular act of faithlessness.

Romans 9:31-32a But the Jews, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith. They stumbled over the great rock in their path.

Again I see an instance of "doing it my way". The Jews were given clear examples from scripture (Abraham eventually became one of those examples) showing that faith, not works, is what justifies. Yet they continued, and continue to this day, to "do it my way", trying to keep the law by their own strength.

Romans 9:8 This means that Abraham's physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. It is the children of the promise who are considered to be Abraham's children.

I am one of Abraham's children of promise according to the next scripture!

Romans 9:25-26 Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, "Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before." And, "Once they were told, 'You are not my people.' But now he will say, 'You are children of the living God.

Thank You Father that through the shed blood of Your Son Jesus, I am now one of your people. You have grafted the wild olive branch into the vine. May I prove to be fruitful to Your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Do it His way! Jan
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Romans 8 - What we aren't & what we are.

There is a neat contrast in this chapter of scripture. I love the visual that it invokes. Look at this:

Romans 8:14-15 For who euere ben led bi the spirit of God, these ben the sones of God. For ye han not take eftsoone the spirit of seruage in drede, but ye han taken the spirit of adopcioun of sones, in which we crien, Abba, fadir.

Oops, sorry. That was the Wycliffe Bible written in 1395. Aren't you glad that you don't have to try to read that version.

Romans 8:14-15 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family calling him "Father, dear Father."

I love this, we should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. A bit further we find what we are truly are.

Romans 8:37 But in all these things we are overwhelming conquerors through Him who loved us.

Did you catch that? We are Overwhelming Conquerors! I get the mental picture of a dam bursting and a wall of water sweeping everything in its path away.

Yet, there are times that my old flesh nature rises up and I begin to feel like the cowering, fearful slave. It is at those times that I must remember that; neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We win!

Thank You Father for the victory through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Victory! Jan
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Romans 7 - Kill the Law!

The opening few verses of this chapter have been used to cause much pain in countless people's lives. It is a true shame too, for they are misreading them and are inserting something that isn't there. First let's look at the scripture section, then I'll give the explanation.

Romans 7:1-6 Now, dear brothers and sisters you who are familiar with the law don't you know that the law applies only to a person who is still living? Let me illustrate. When a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries. So this is the point: The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died with Christ, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit.

Look again, did Paul mention the word divorce or separation anywhere in the text above? No. So, let me make this clear, if the woman in the above example married another man, she obviously would be committing adultery because she is still married to the first husband. No termination of marriage had occurred that would have permitted the second marriage. It is not saying that after a divorce you are somehow still married to the first husband.

This passage of scripture is referring the the law, not divorce and remarriage. Divorce was granted for reasons of sin. In Paul's example, the Law is the husband. Can the law sin? No! It is impossible, the law is perfect. Unfortunately for us, the bride in the example, the law also cannot die. So God made a way for us to get out of our binding marriage with the law. When Christ died on the cross, as we read in Romans 6:3, we also participate in his death. That is, our old nature dies. Thus since we died, we were freed from the marital bond of the law. So since we are not married to the law any longer - we have been freed by our death, for the law cannot die - we are now able to marry grace.

We are free! Jan
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Romans 6 - Weapons

I always look for something different, something that I have not seen before in my daily reading. In studying today's chapter I saw these verses in the Rotherham Bible version.

Romans 6:12-13 Let not sin, therefore, reign in your death-doomed body, that you should be obedient to its covetings; Neither be presenting your members as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin, but present yourselves to God as though alive from among the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness unto God.

What a neat word usage in verse 12, death-doomed. That describes all of us! Unless Jesus returns first, all of our bodies are going to die. However, that is just the body, our souls will live on. The question is where?

The second thing that stuck out to me was the usage of the word weapons. Immediately upon seeing it in this context, it makes sense. Our bodies are either weapons that will be utilized by Satan to keep others from Christ, or we will use our bodies as weapons to beat back the hordes of hell and save others from eternity without Christ. The choice is ours, how will we wield our weapons?

Present Arms! Jan
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Romans 5 - Motivator

Again today I find a compelling rendering from The Message version of the bible.

Romans 5:12-13a You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in - first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses.

I like this explanation. Sin disturbed the relationship that we had, or were supposed to have, with God. However, we didn't know how bad we really were until God revealed His laws to Moses. Then we saw how far we were falling short.

Romans 5:20-21 All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life - a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

Laws are there to show us where we fail, however they cannot do anything to make us want to obey them. Sure there are harsh penalties and fines, and fear of consequences is certainly a motivator, albeit a poor one. But, due to God's unmerited kindness towards us - grace, a more perfect motivator has come into play. That motivator is love, which is brought by the Holy Sprit living within us.

Romans 5:5b For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

It is because of God's love and grace towards us that we can have freedom from the fear of death and truly live the God life. It is His Spirit living in us declares us justified - not guilty, not any action or inaction on our part.

Thank You Jesus for paying for my sins, before I even knew of You. Please give me the strength and the will to show my gratitude. Amen.

Live in grace. Jan
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Romans 4 - Contract or Trust?

The Message version of the bible words this section of scripture so well. It clearly shows in today's language what the Lawyer Paul was attempting to explain.

Romans 4:3-5 What we read in Scripture is, "Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own." If you're a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don't call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you trust him to do it - you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked - well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

We are obviously saved because of a gift of God. Not because of something we did. There was no way we could have earned it. Paul goes on and further expounds this point.

Romans 4:14-16 If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That's not a holy promise; that's a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise - and God's promise at that - you can't break it. This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God's promise arrives as pure gift. That's the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father - that's reading the story backwards. He is our faith father.

The law, as Paul explained in the last chapter, cannot save us. It merely made us aware of sin. It was the contract that we could never collect on.

Romans 4:22-25 That's why it is said, "Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right."

But it's not just Abraham; it's also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

Just as Abraham trusted in God's promise and was declared righteous, without doing anything other than demonstrating trust. Likewise we are declared righteous when we trust in Jesus' sacrifice for sins that set us right with God. Only by accepting Jesus living in us and empowering us can we live the way God intended. It is Jesus who makes us righteous. Not anything that we could ever do. I am so thankful for that, because I know that I need Him, there is no way that I could have done it on my own.

Thank You Jesus for being my righteousness. Amen.

He is our righteousness. Jan
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Romans 3 - Weasel Words?

I love lawyer jokes. I think the only people that don't are lawyers, and if they would be honest, many of them probably like them too.

Here are some of my favorites.

What is the difference between a lawyer and a bucket of dirt? The bucket.

One lawyer was complaining to another, "It's not fair that 99% percent of the lawyers give the rest of us a bad name."

The list could go on. But I'll mercifully stop here. My friend Mark, a lawyer, has something in common with the writer of this book, the Apostle Paul. Paul was a lawyer. That is what it meant to be a Pharisee. So I suspect that when Mark reads this book, he probably sees it from a slightly different perspective than the rest of us. He probably sees the mind of Paul, the lawyer, building his case. I've personally always called most lawyer's words, "Weasel Words". But words, if used properly, can be used to bring clarity and purpose. That is exactly what Paul does in this section, where he describes the relationship that Moses' Teachings, The Law, have to us who are now under Jesus' grace.

Romans 3:20-28 Not one person can have God's approval by following Moses' Teachings. Moses' Teachings show what sin is. Now, the way to receive God's approval has been made plain in a way other than Moses' Teachings. Moses' Teachings and the Prophets tell us this. Everyone who believes has God's approval through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no difference between people. Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory. They receive God's approval freely by an act of his kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free [from sin]. God showed that Christ is the throne of mercy where God's approval is given through faith in Christ's blood. In his patience God waited to deal with sins committed in the past. He waited so that he could display his approval at the present time. This shows that he is a God of justice, a God who approves of people who believe in Jesus. So, do we have anything to brag about? Bragging has been eliminated. On what basis was it eliminated? On the basis of our own efforts? No, indeed! Rather, it is eliminated on the basis of faith. We conclude that a person has God's approval by faith, not by his own efforts.

The allusion the "throne of mercy" is referring to the place in the temple where the sacrifice for sin, and the spilled blood of that sacrifice, was offered up to God. It was by sacrificing an innocent, spotless animal there in that spot that a person's sins were temporarily covered. The animal had paid the penalty. Paul explains that Jesus is now our "throne of mercy" and His very own blood was spilled so that we may receive an eternal covering for our sins. Jesus paid the price, once and for all.

As Paul showed, we are not justified by keeping the law. No, we can't do it. The law merely made us aware of how far removed from God's standard we truly were. The only way to be justified is by trusting in the one that fulfilled all of the requirements of the law for us. Jesus paid it all.

Thank You Father for this free gift. In Jesus' name. Amen.

You are free. Jan
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Romans 2 - Justified How?

In today's chapter I find a continuation of the thought from yesterday's reading.

Romans 2:6-7, 13-16 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life... For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

I see that in the last chapter, God says He is clearly revealed to all men. In this chapter I see Him saying that His law is written on everyone's heart. Therefore further expounding on the question, "What about those that have never heard of Jesus?". In fact I believe that this section of scripture completes the answer.

I may be wrong, but I see Paul saying that if they have not been given the opportunity to receive Christ, then the law is in effect and they will be judged by their works. Is it possible to live righteously under the law? I say yes, it is. Look at this conversation between Jesus and a rich young man.

Mark 10:17-22 As he was starting out on a trip, a man came running up to Jesus, knelt down, and asked, "Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked. "Only God is truly good. But as for your question, you know the commandments: 'Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Do not cheat. Honor your father and mother.' " "Teacher," the man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a child." Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him. "You lack only one thing," he told him. "Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this, the man's face fell, and he went sadly away because he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God!"

An amazing thing is shown here. The man says that he has obeyed all of the commandments since he was a child. Jesus' reaction shows that He did not find anything wrong with that statement. However, the man was now confronted with Jesus, the Son of God, and had to make a choice as to follow Him or not. I believe that if He were never presented this choice, then on the merits of obeying the law, he would have been saved. However, Jesus was clearly presenting the Good News to him and he rejected it. I suspect that very few people of the human race can make the statement that young man did - that he had indeed obeyed the law. That is why we truly need a savior.

Father, thank You that I have been presented the Good News and have accepted. Because I know that I have not obeyed the law since my youth. In fact I'm sure that I've probably disobeyed the law even today. Please continue to empower me to live a live yielded to You. Please give me the courage and wisdom to share the Good News with others. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Where there is life, there is hope. Jan
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Romans 1 - What about the natives in Africa?

I love this chapter of scripture. It clearly answers the question that many non-believers ask about God. They ask, "How can God send someone to Hell for not believing in Him if they have never heard of Him? What about the natives in Africa?"

Romans 1:19-25 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people, or birds and animals and snakes. So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.

Note the section that I italicized. God has given all of us the ability to come to Him if we truly are seeking Him.

Many years ago there was a mighty wave of revival sweeping through the islands of Indonesia. This area of the world still has people groups that rarely if ever see outsiders. In his book, Like a Mighty Wind, Melchior Tari (a native of Timor Indonesia), wrote about his experiences during this amazing move of God. On one occasion, he and his team were led by God to a remote jungle village. However, when they arrived, they did not find the typical pagans that were so common. No, they found a village full of believers. They were astounded. This village was remote and did not receive visitors. So they inquired as to how this happened.

They learned that the man that was the village's medicine man was practicing his magic one day, and suddenly he realized that nothing was working any more. Now he was a devout man that practiced his religious beliefs to the best of his ability. So he could not understand what had gone wrong. It was then that Jesus himself spoke to him. He told him that he was preventing his practices and instead would show him the correct way. The man wrote much of what he was told and taught in his own form of hieroglyphic writing. He was the only one that understood the meaning of the scribbles. Yet, when he read from these writings to Mel Tari's team, they found that they were hearing portions of scripture!

God will not refuse the penitent man.

Thank you Father that You make a way when there seems to be no way. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Rejoice! Jan
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Who am I?

I am a Christian man in his mid 40's. Like many men, I struggle with daily life issues. I know that my wife and children deserve to have a man of integrity, a man of courage, a man of passion, in short - a warrior for God, as head of our home.

Therefore, one of the things I have resolved to do is to chronicle my bible readings as the Lord Jesus gives me strength and ability. I am doing so with several other men that God has placed in my life. It is a concept that you can find on www.dbrag.org. I encourage you to follow suit.

Remember, if you are in Christ, you are blessed!

More recent view of me. I've upgraded from savage to knight!

Jan Broucinek

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