Measuring Up {Romans 7}

11:59 PM

By Becky Austin

I'm sure that Paul knew every detailed letter of the Law as did many of the Jewish people he was trying to teach about salvation. As Chapter 7 begins, Paul is using an analogy to show his listeners that although the Law is binding, there is a way to be freed from it. According to Jewish law, a woman was obligated to stay married until her husband died.  But if he died, she was free to marry another.  Through the death of Jesus, on a spiritual level, a similar thing occurred. “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” (V4) Jesus did away with our obligation to the Law and became like the "new husband". Our loyalties were shifted from being enslaved to serve the Law and we gained freedom to serve Jesus, and to bear spiritual fruit for God. 

We are no longer bound to the Law but that doesn't mean the Law has no value or purpose.  In fact, Paul says it serves an important role. "If it had not been for the Law, I would not have known sin".  The Law shows us the character of God.  It shows us the righteousness and holiness of God.  “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (v12). 

The Law is not what brings us a death sentence spiritually.  Paul recognizes that it is the sinful nature of our flesh that wants to entice us to do the  opposite of the Law that is the true threat to us.   Unfortunately, he also realizes that even though we are spiritually given God's grace and eternal salvation, we still have bodies of flesh to contend with.  “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (v 14-15)

Do you struggle as Paul did with wanting to please and honor God but your flesh keeps tripping you up? “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. " ( V22-23) As a Christian, this can be very discouraging. And guess what....
That's just what Satan wants you to be.  He wants you to quit, throw in the towel, or maybe he wants you to keep trying harder and harder in your own strength until you exhaust yourself or get swallowed up in defeat and failure.   

Perhaps you ask the same question Paul did. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  (v24).  Notice he didn't ask "What" but " Who".   Paul, who encountered the risen Jesus on the dusty road to Damascus, knew that it wasn't his failures in the flesh  that he should focus on but the perfect work of the risen, glorified Christ whose blood covers all our sins and failures. " Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! "

We're not going to be perfect in these bodies of flesh.  We don't have to be.  We're perfectly represented to God because Christ dwells in us and He is perfect. Living this life is a process of letting The Holy Spirit continue to work within our hearts to mold us, teach us, transform us and draw us deeper and deeper in a dependency relationship with Jesus. Even our failures can be tools of transformation if surrendered to Jesus. 

    " My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. " Psalm 73:26


Winning The Battle Over Sin {Romans 6}

1:25 AM

By Sue Desmarais

This past week has been one of the hardest weeks ever for me! A very close friend’s husband lost his battle with opioid drugs and alcohol addiction. The sad truth is, he died just days after he had told his wife he was ready to turn his life around and come back to be the husband and father God had ordained him to be. His heart desired to turn/repent and do things God’s way, but he couldn’t free himself from the control the drugs now had over his body.

The truth is, he is just one of many!

Sin starts out masking itself as something to be desired. Sin is FUN---enjoyable! Holiness is dull, boring and no fun at all! Right? That what our enemy would like us all to think. No one takes the first drink of alcohol determined to become an alcoholic, or prescriptions drugs planing to become dependant on them to function. No one lusts after things not promised to them in hopes that whatever it is will take them down a path that can ultimately destroy their life and others, especially those they love most! We all think we’re above all that. Just a little won’t hurt, we’ll be able to stop at anytime. I bet most, if not all of us, can recall a time when those very thoughts, or some like them swirled in your mind. What’s important is what we did with those thoughts! This is what Paul is addressing here in chapter 6.

The word that came to mind most as I read over Romans 6 is, SURRENDER. Each of us have a choice before us daily. All of us must choose each day to surrender to the world’s sin, or God’s righteousness. Hear me when I say, you will surrender and become a slave to one or the other, which is why chapter six is so crucial to the book of Romans, because here is where Paul let’s us know that we can live in victory over sin and how; for Christ’s death and resurrection not only paid the penalty for our sin, but also provided the power that we need to overcome sin on a daily basis.

There is so much found in this one chapter that I have struggled on what and where to focus my post, but I finally settled on where we receive the power for freedom from sin!! For, I know none of us, if given the choice, would choose to live as a slave to sin’s power to destroy us and others. The victory over sin is found in Romans 6:3-4, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Baptism is the picture of Jesus’ death (standing in the water -death on the cross), burial (going down under the water) and resurrection (being raised up out of the water to a new life).

Paul goes onto tie these verses with his  first command in Romans 6:11, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” “Even so” means, just as Christ died for our sin, so you too should count yourselves in Him to be done with it. Just as Christ has risen from the dead and now lives far removed from sin, so you too should live in Him, since in the future you will live forever with Him in heaven.”

It’s also important to note that the word,“consider” is in the present tense which means, “keep on counting this to be true.” However, we won’t count it to be true because we feel dead to sin and alive to God, but rather because God Word says that it’s true! Victory over sin begins in our minds, and Paul will go on to speak more about this concept in the chapters to come.

For now, I’ll leave you with Paul’s last words in chapter 6, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23). We’ve been given a gift, the most precious gift. God would never demand anything from us without also giving us the ability to do it! He has given us everything we need in Christ Jesus our Lord. Surrender to Him and His righteousness (way of doing things) and you WILL have all you need to live a victorious life this side of paradise.

I love this song by Nicole C. Mullins It’s a great reminder of what can happen when we call on Jesus:


Rejoice in Suffering {Romans 5}

4:06 AM

By Lisa Thayer

When I initially read this chapter, I thought, there’s nothing more to be said.  This is perfect!  So I read it again, looking for something that stood out.   Then I remembered why I thought this chapter was so good – I had studied it and written about it last year. 

I have been in a state of busyness at my home and having already written something previously has helped me out this week.  I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I have.

Many people feel it isn’t right for God to judge us because of Adam’s sin.  We confirm our unity with Adam by our own sins.  We are made of the same stuff and are prone to rebel, and we are judged for the sins we commit.  Because we are sinners, it isn’t fairness we need – it’s mercy.  

Paul reminds us in verses 13 and 14 that for thousands of years the law had not yet been explicitly given, yet people died.  The law was added, he explains in 5:20, to help people see their sinfulness, to show them the seriousness of their offenses, and to drive them to God for mercy and forgiveness.  This was true in Moses’ day, and it is still true today.  Sin is a deep discrepancy between who we are and who we are created to be.  The law points out our sin and places the responsibility for it squarely on our shoulders.  But the law offers no remedy.  When we are convicted of sin, we must turn to Jesus Christ for healing.

We see in 5:14 that Adam is the pattern.  If you’ve ever sewed or knitted, you follow a pattern.  Adam is the representative of created humanity.  Christ is the representative of a new spiritual humanity. 

In verses 15-19 we understand that we are all born into Adam’s family – the family line that leads to death.  All of us have reaped the results of Adam’s sin.  We have inherited the guilt, a sinful nature or the tendency to sin, and God’s punishment.  Because of Jesus, we can trade judgment for forgiveness.  We can trade our sin for Jesus’ righteousness.  Christ offers us the opportunity to be born into his spiritual family – the family line that begins with forgiveness and leads to eternal life.  If we do nothing, we have death through Adam; but if we come to God by faith, we have life through Christ.

What we have as Adam’s children:
* Ruin 5:9
* Sin 5:12, 15, 21
* Separation from God 5:18
* Disobedience 5:12, 19      
* Death 5:12, 16, 21
* Judgment 5:18
* Deliverance 5:10, 11
* Law 5:20

What we have as God’s children:
* Rescue 5:8
* Righteousness 5:18
* Eternal Life 5:17, 21
* Relationship with God 5:11, 19
* Obedience 5:19
* Deliverance 5:10, 11
* Grace 5:20

John Piper says, “1) First, it humbles us morally and intellectually.  Morally, because I must admit I not only do bad things, but I AM bad.  I not only need natural training, I need supernatural rebirth.  Something about me needs to die and something new needs to be created.  I am deeply in need for something beyond what I can produce.  And I am humbled because this doctrine of original sin, pushes the ability of my reason to the limit of its powers and leaves me behind.  Most of us will have to settle for a large dose of mystery here.  How are we connected to Adam such that it is just for his sin to be counted as our sin, and just for us to be condemned?  Paul does not make that explicit.  We do not doubt the justice of God; we doubt our own ability to explain it.  The doctrine of original sin is therefore morally and intellectually humbling truth.

2) It deepens our gratitude for salvation.  The more we know about our fallen condition, the more grateful we should feel that we are saved.  This is why Paul erupts with thanksgiving in Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart.”  Knowing that we are not just sinners but “slaves of sin” will make us sing for joy to be justified from sin’s guilt and delivered from sin’s power.”

Jonathan Edwards puts it this way, “This doctrine teaches us to think no worse of others, than of ourselves:  it teaches us that we are ALL, as we are by nature, companions in a miserable helpless condition: which under a revelation of the divine mercy, tends to promote mutual COMPASSION.  And nothing has a greater tendency to promote those amiable dispositions of mercy, forbearance, longsuffering, gentleness and forgiveness, than a sense of our own extreme unworthiness and misery, and the infinite need we have of the divine pity, forbearance and forgiveness, together with a hope of obtaining mercy.”


Justification Through Faith {Romans 4}

1:24 AM

By Lisa Moore

In the first four chapters of Romans, Paul makes it very clear that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.  There isn't a sacrifice we can make, a good deed we can do, nor a price we can pay to obtain salvation.  He taught it is only because of grace through faith that we are justified.  Now that was a pretty radical concept to the Jewish people whose whole lives were wrapped up in the Law and a system of works.  After all how could God possibly show the kindness and goodness that comes with receiving His grace so freely, without regard to our worth or merit?  But in Romans 3:28 Paul reiterates, "...a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."  And he illustrated his point with the example of the great Jewish patriarch Abraham.

The word justified means, "declared, or made righteous in the sight of God".  The Jewish people believed that Abraham was justified by his works, because he kept the Law.  But Paul argues that in the Old Testament it is written that "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." (v. 3)  God made a promise to Abraham that seemed impossible. (Gen. 15:1-6)  And even though it took 25 years for him to see that promise fulfilled, Abraham never lost faith.  It was his faith that God counted as righteousness, not Abraham's works.  And just as Abraham was declared righteous because his faith, so are we through our faith in Christ Jesus.  

We are all sinners, whose sin keeps us eternally separated from God.  But because of the work of Jesus on the Cross, by faith in Him we are, "justified by a gift of His grace." (3:24).  Everyone of us is guilty of breaking the Law.  And the Law's penalty for sin was death.  Even though Jesus lived a perfect life, He paid our penalty so we could receive His righteousness. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21) The moment we receive Jesus as our Savior that righteousness covers us.  We are justified.  The Law fulfilled, our sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean.  For as in Romans 8:1 God promises, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1)  Did you get that?  I mean really get that?   No condemnation.  None!  No matter what the enemy may tell you to the contrary.    

God's mercy is never ending, His love unconditional.  He wants for nothing and yet He wants us.  He wants a close and personal relationship with us.  And because of this He provided a path to reconciliation through His Son Jesus.  It is our faith in Jesus that deems us righteous, and because of that righteousness we can receive eternal life.  This is God's precious gift to us.  An irrevocable gift (Rom. 11:29) which can not be earned,  and one offered out of His perfect love.


The Roman Road to Salvation Part 1 {Scripture Saturday}

11:30 PM

By Sandra Wyatt

Welcome to Scripture Saturday!

As Christians we should be equipped and prepared to share with others the reason for the eternal hope we have in Christ. 1 Peter 3:15 says, ”but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” It doesn’t take a degree or a special “calling” to share the Gospel. All you need to share the truth is a handful of Scripture verses and a desire to see the lost come to know Jesus.
The salvation message is found all over the Bible. “We could spend eternity talking about all Jesus has done for us and never reach the end of His mercy and grace.”  However, when God gives us the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus, we may only have a moment of time.

So, to prepare and equip us for that moment, we begin today with our memorization of verses found in Romans which are the first two of what is, “The Roman Road”.  We begin with verses 3:10 and 3:23, in that order.  We will be spending the next few weeks memorizing (or reviewing) “The Roman Road.”

~ “None is righteous, no, not one;” (3:10)  
~ “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23)

Have a blessed and precious day everyone!

Angie Benjamin

When You Don't Feel Good Enough {Romans 3}

2:38 AM

By Angie Benjamin

Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.- Romans 3:23 AMP

Doesn't it happen to you? how we often fall into the trap of thinking we are the worst people on the face of the earth and that nobody does as many wrong things as we do. It happens to me. Specially as a mom. Most times I feel like such a bad mom. But Romans 3:23 says that ALL have sinned and FALLEN SHORT of the glory (excellence) of God. Every man, woman and child that has ever born or ever will, has already a problem with sin. The good news? God provided the answer to that problem.

Just as all have sinned, we are all justified an made righteous through the redemption provided in Jesus Christ. That means that all our "wrongness" has become "rightness".

I know that the enemy wants us to feel wrong, worthless and like such hopeless messes. He likes us to feel like "something is wrong with us". Our enemy knows that if he can keep us in the prison of self'hatred, self-rejection, or simply not liking ourselves we will never step out in faith to fulfill our God ordained destiny. After all, his main goal is preventing us from making progress or being a threat to him and the kingdom of darkness.

It is only when we believe we have been made the righteousness of God that we will start "behaving" rightly. The Bible says that man is as he thinks (Prov.23:7). We cannot produce the fruit of something for which no seed has been sown.

"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him"- 2 Cor. 5:21

Have a blessed beautiful weekend, and remember, you are the righteousness of God! 

Becky Bramlett Austin

Reflections of the Heart {Romans 2}

11:30 PM

By Becky Bramlett Austin

In this 2nd chapter of Romans, Paul really packs a punch.  He asks some heart probing questions that are very relevant today.  His opening statements are aimed to get us to take a hard look at ourselves, especially when we are passing judgement on others. 
“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.” (V1)
Have you ever heard the saying " When you point a finger at another, you have 3 pointing back at you."?  

God wants us to realize that we are all equally guilty.  Knowledge of God's Word should not cause us to point fingers of condemnation at others but rather, cause us to be very grateful for the grace he offered through Jesus that allows us to be forgiven and made righteous. 
“Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 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?” (V 3-4) 

Matthew Henry's comments: What method God takes to bring sinners to repentance. He leads them, not drives them like beasts, allures them; and it is goodness that leads, bands of love. The consideration of the goodness of God, his common goodness to all, should be effectual to bring us all to repentance". 

Next Paul talks about the Law and how it is not enough to be knowledgeable of the Law by studying the scripture.  What truly matters is how well we exercise and apply the Law. “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (V13)  As for those who lack the formal teaching, God expects that there is a basic moral understanding of right and wrong that should prick the conscience of all men. “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them." ( v15). As for those who outwardly and publicly put  on a good show, Paul says God is not fooled for there will come a day when " God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus". (v16)

I'm sure you've heard the common saying that "actions speak louder than words"  and that the most effective teacher teaches through example. Paul emphasizes these concepts as well: “you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?” (v21) He goes on to give other examples meant to probe us to think about if our knowledge is put into practice. God does not want us to be all talk and boasting without a true lived out change of heart. 

Now don't let the emphasis on applying the Law cause you to think that we are to earn our salvation for as we continue into Romans, Paul makes it clear that we can not earn our way into righteous standing with God. We are not capable of perfectly keeping the Law. But, what Paul is teaching is that the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives should be causing genuine heart changing effects that are evident in our daily lived out lives.  The Jews got caught up on outward signs of being dedicated to God such as circumcision. Paul boldly declares that God doesn't care about outward show but He knows who is dedicated to Him because He knows the inward condition of the heart. “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” (v28-29)

Did these questions and teachings of Paul cause you to look at yourself in the mirror?  Did you look deeper than just the outward reflection?  Did you look where God looks...deep into the inner places of your heart?  Ask yourself: Is my heart self- seeking and people pleasing or is my heart dedicated to God?


ROMANS - Paul’s Masterpiece

2:57 AM

By Sue Desmarais

Can you imagine writing a book or even a letter that God will use for thousands of years to impact and change lives for eternity? I’ll be honest, I have longed to dissect this letter to discover all that’s here, and I’m so glad we’ve come to this book during the summer when life tends to slow down a bit, so that I can devote more time to studying it. I’m also thankful we’ll be studying it together and hope you’ll share all your findings as well.

Every theologian I read seem to agree that this is Paul’s masterpiece and “the preeminent doctrinal work in the NT” (J. MacArthur) Therefore, we’re probably going to find this Book of Romans will naturally contain a number of difficult passages to fully grasp and maybe some truths that are foreign to the views you’ve held until now. So, with this in mind, I truly wanted to treat Romans like the masterpiece it is, and begin by giving you some of the background about this book in order to enhance our study even more.

The Author: The Apostle Paul wrote Romans from Corinth towards the close of his third missionary journey (most likely in A.D. 56), as he prepared to leave for Palestine with an offering for the poor believers in the Jerusalem church.

The Recipients: It’s believed that some of the converts on the Day of Pentecost were probably the founders of the church at Rome (Acts 2:10). Paul had longed to visit the believers in Rome, but had been prevented from doing so (Rm 1:13). And because of God’s providence, Paul writes what most believe is his inspired masterpiece.

The Purpose for Writing: Paul’s purpose in writing Romans was to teach the truths of the gospel of grace to believers who had never received instruction prior to this. This letter is Paul introduction to a church where he hopes to visit soon for several reasons:  
  • to edify the believers (1:11)
  • to preach the gospel (1:15)
  • and to get to know the Roman Christians, so they could encourage him (1:12)
Unlike some of Paul’s other epistles (e.g., 1, 2 Cor., Gal.), his purpose was not to rebuke ungodly living, for the Roman church was already pretty doctrinally sound, but they needed practical instruction which Paul provides for them in this letter.

Paul’s Greetings and Introduction: Romans 1:1–15
Paul identifies himself as a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle (one who is sent), and set apart for the gospel of Christ—which is, the promised good news concerning Jesus Christ (His humanity and His divine nature)

Paul then begins by stating  that the gospel of Christ is what was “ promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures”, for he wants them to be sure that he hasn’t made this up; that  it wasn’t his ideas, but rather, it comes to us right out of the Old Testament, which he refers to more in this letter than any of his other letters. He then goes on to explain the gospel further in verses 1:3-7, but let me sum it up by saying, I believe Paul is attempting to convey to us and his readers that the gospel is not primarily about us and how Jesus can help us find happiness and peace and fulfillment. Rather, it is from God and about God. It speaks about His Son, who humbled Himself to come from heaven and be born as a descendant of David to fulfill what was prophesied long ago. After which, He offered Himself up to be crucified on the cross, but God raised Him from the dead and He then ascended into heaven. As Peter put it on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36), “… know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
I truly believe Paul is going to cause all of us, as we journey through the Book of Romans, to look within and make sure that Jesus is not only our Savior, but Lord of our lives!

The Theme: Romans 1:16- 17,For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous will live by faith.”
Every commentary I read believes verses 16-17 are the theme of the Book of Romans, but I had to wonder why Paul used the negative “For I’m not ashamed” instead of a more positive phase like, “I’m confident” or “I’m proud”. I had to wonder, did Paul ever feel tempted to be ashamed of his faith, to hesitate or to keep quiet, as maybe some of us have in the past, or was he referring to others when he was writing?  
We actually need to see the flow of Paul’s reasoning to truly understand his meaning. He begins verse 16 with the word “for”, which automatically connects it with verse 15. Therefore, Paul is saying, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Why?For I am not ashamed of the gospel….” Why?For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.Now how is this gospel the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes? For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Paul then goes on to let his readers know that this isn’t a new idea by quoting Habakkuk 2:4,as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”

In order to boldly and unashamedly proclaim the gospel, we must believe it! And in order to believe it, we must understand it, which is what I believe, was Paul’s main reason for writing The Book of Romans. The gospel is the good news, that God has revealed to us how we can be rescued from His wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:5-10). It is the power of God to save everyone who believes, and  I pray that as we better understand it, we too will boldly and unashamedly share it with others!

The Need of God’s Righteousness 1:18–3:20,
Paul is going to use the rest of chapter one through much of chapter three to speak on man’s sinful state and our need for God and His righteousness, and because I’ve already taken up so much time simply in the introduction, I’ll save all I have to say on this for tomorrow and the next day, but let me close our introduction with the words of a few great theologians on how Paul’s epistle impacted them:

In 1516  Martin Luther wrote, "I greatly longed to understand Paul's epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, `the righteousness of God.' Because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and deals righteously in punishing the unrighteous.  Night and day I pondered until I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby through grace and sheer mercy He justifies us by faith.  Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise, the whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the righteousness of God had filled me with hate, it now began to fill me inexpressibly with a sweet love.  The passage of Paul became to me the gateway to heaven."

In May of 1738, John Wesley attended a society in Aldersgate Street where a man was reading Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans and later wrote in his journal, describing the change which God brought about that night in the heart through faith in Christ, "I myself felt my heart strangely warmed.I felt I did trust in Christ and Christ alone for my salvation, and an assurance was given me that He had taken my sins away, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death."  So it was in Aldersgate Street at the reading of the book of Romans that John Wesley was redeemed.

John Calvin said, "If a man understands it, he has a sure road open to him to the understanding of the whole of Scripture."

William Tyndale wrote in the Prologue to the Epistle to the Romans, in 1534, "I think it meet that every Christian man not only know Romans by rote and without the book but also exercise himself therein ever more continually as with the daily bread of the soul."

Frederic Godet, a Swiss commentator, wrote (Commentary on Romans [Kregel], p. 1) that “every great spiritual revival in the church will be connected as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book.”

These are just a few of the quotes I found on this epistle, and I hope by reading them you’re growing even more excited to dive deep into our study of Paul’s epistle to the church of Rome!! I’ve already started praying that God will use this book to work mightily in each of our hearts over the next few weeks! So get ready… get set… It’s going to be good!

In Him we have our being {Acts 28}

1:37 AM

By Lisa Thayer

We are at the end of the book of Acts, and Paul,  has finally fulfilled his dream of getting the gospel to Rome – nearly 3,000 miles from where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church in that upper room.

In Acts 20, Paul left the Ephesian elders and went to Jerusalem to observe Passover as he had planned.  Some Jewish authorities recognized him and told the Romans that Paul was there to start a revolt, which was a lie.  The Romans question him and realize it’s a lie, but can’t figure out what to do with him, so they send him to Felix.  Felix leaves Paul in prison for 2 years, which seems pretty harsh, except for you and I benefit greatly because he wrote several books of the New Testament while there.  

Then Festus succeeds Felix and discovers Paul is in prison.  Paul tells Festus he wants to appeal to Caesar.  But before Paul can appeal to Caesar, they ship him off to another governor.  Herod Agrippa comes to visit and meets Paul.  Agrippa wants to know why all these Jews hate Paul.  People constantly wanted to know what made Paul tick.

Paul’s manner of life provoked a question.  Our lives should provoke a question.  I remember one day at work when a co-worker asked me how I get through each day.  I had worked with this guy since my first husband died.  And this conversation took place shortly after Andy, my second husband had fallen 40 feet from a tree.  This guy just looked at me in the eyes and asked, “How can you keep coming in here so happy?”  I told him, “Faith.  My faith is my hope – for something yet to come – that’s better than what we have now.”  

Peter said it this way, “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  1 Peter 3:15

Peter is supposing that your life provokes that question.  People should be so intrigued by how you live that they ask why do you do what you do.

Paul says that our work should be done with such excellence and integrity even when no one is looking, that people say, ‘I can tell you work for a different boss than money.’

Paul’s life was on the line – but he’d been given an audience (Acts 26:27-29) to proclaim Jesus.  Is that how you see your life?  Is that how you see your profession?  Maybe you are a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher, or a student.  God’s purpose for you is to bring others to Christ.  Paul saw whatever situation, whether advantageous for him or not, as a platform from which to proclaim Jesus.  Are you doing that?

At the end of this book, Luke tells us that Paul ends up living here for 2 years at his own expense (under house arrest) and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

We never find out what happens when he stands before Caesar.  Paul wrote in the book of Romans that he wanted to go to Spain.  This book ends on a cliffhanger.  Why?  This isn’t about Paul or his dreams.  It’s about the spread of the gospel.  We know from history that Paul is eventually released and went to Spain and gets beheaded by that nasty Nero.  I think Luke ends this book this way to tell all the Nero’s of the world, you may be able to imprison all the Paul’s, even kill them, but you can never stop the Spirit.


Weathering The Storm {Acts 27}

11:30 PM

By Lisa Moore

When we last left Paul, he was appealing to have his case heard in Rome before Caesar.  Not in an attempt to save his life, but to fulfill the will of the Lord who told him in Acts 22:11, "Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also."  This request would indeed get Paul to Rome, but the passage there would thrust him straight into a raging storm so full of fury, it would endanger his life and all of those with him. 

Journeying from Caesarea to Rome, Paul along with other political prisoners, set sail for the regions along the coast of Asia under the charge of a centurion named Julius.  After spending a considerable amount of time in a place called Fair Haven, the Alexandrian ship they were traveling on once more put out to sea; against the advice of Paul.  He warned the crew about sailing so late in the season.  (The fast, the Day of Atonement, was over so the time of year would have been late October to November).  Whether he was told by the Spirit or relying on his own experience, Paul knew of the danger ahead and told the crew, "Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives." (v. 10)  But the men were unpersuaded, and instead relied on their own council and knowledge of the sea.  A prideful mistake that set their course straight into the path of a storm so dangerous, it almost cost them everything. 

Have you ever faced a storm in your life where all hope was lost?  Were you afraid?  Did you get so filled with despair that rescue seemed impossible?  As believers in Christ we are never called to go it alone.  "Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Josh 1:9)  When we walk in faith and obedience to God, we have nothing to fear.  It is when we step outside of His will that the trouble begins.  A lesson I myself have had to learn more than once.  And a lesson the men sailing with Paul were about to learn.  Their ship was violently thrown off course.  They faced cold, hunger, and a despair so strong that Luke lamented, "...all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned." (v. 20)

The crew of the ship knew what the weather was like.  They heard Paul's warning, yet sailed anyway.  Boy can I relate!  Too many times when my own weather got rough instead of turning first to God and heeding His council, I thought I knew better and sailed head first into the storm.  Then wondered why instead of calming, the storm worsened.  How much heartache could I have saved myself if only I had anchored myself to the Lord.  How much pain could I have avoided if I had waited on Him patiently, obeyed Him faithfully, and trusted Him completely.  Paul trusted in the Lord.  He didn't despair or get discouraged.  He knew that especially in adversity God would never desert him.  And God rewarded Paul's faith by sending an angel to  encourage him to be brave, and who promised the safety of all the lives onboard.  Paul stood strong in that promise never wavering, and he encouraged the others to do the same, "Keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told." (v. 25) And God did keep His promise.  Every one of the 276 men on board "were brought safely to land." (v. 44) 

By first seeking God and trusting in His perfect will, we can weather any storm.  His Word is a mighty ship with a foundation so strong, no roaring wind can blow off course.  And when we walk in complete obedience to Him, like Paul we too can trust in God's promise to bring us through the storm and safely to the shore.