He is Our Abba Father {Romans 8}

12:30 AM

Some of you know I was raised in a dysfunctional home. Most of the time my father was away, so I hardly remember any special moments with him.  When I turned 15 my parents divorced so this brought a broader distance between us. Of course, I was left with so many questions and a deep desire to be loved. By the age of 22 this yearning came to an end and a great part of the questions were answered! Psalm 40 can describe what happened (I’ll only focus on the first 3 verses):
I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear [with great reverence] And will trust confidently in the Lord.” 
That was 33 years ago, and let me tell you, since then, Romans 8  has had a great impact on my life!

In the first verses, Paul describes how important it is to recognize that in our walk with the Lord we continually have to fight against our flesh which was for many years directed by the law.  The law can do many things. It can guide us, teach us, and tell us about God's character. But the law cannot give energy to our flesh; it can give us the standard, but it cannot give us the power to live pleasing to God.   But now it is not so: Paul tells us that not only are we saved by the work of the Spirit, but also we must walk by the Spirit if want to grow and pursue holiness in the Lord. We cannot be like some among the Galatians who thought they could begin in the Spirit but then find spiritual perfection through the flesh (Galatians 3:3)”. (Bibleorg)

Now that we are in Christ we do not continue to live according to our old nature, but according to the Spirit which is in us!  At first it might be difficult, but the Spirit will begin to deal with us and convict us. The power for the Christian walk is the Holy Spirit. We will never be alone, because He promised it: "I will be with you to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
By having the Spirit of God in our lives we will experience a life of peace (vs.6). However, for those who live in the flesh, that is, sinful minds, death results because they are hostile to God’s laws.
"It does not say, 'As many as are driven by the Spirit of God.' No, the devil is a driver, and when he enters either into men or into hogs he drives them furiously. Remember how the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea. Whenever you see a man fanatical and wild, whatever spirit is in him it is not the Spirit of Christ." (Spurgeon)

.How does the Holy Spirit lead us?
- We are led by guidance
- We are led by drawing
- We are led by governing authority
- We are led as we cooperate with the leading.

 Where does the Holy Spirit lead us?
- He leads us to repentance
- He leads us to think little of self and much of Jesus
- He leads us into truth
- He leads us into love
- He leads us into holiness
- He leads us into usefulness

Paul wrote: “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!”- Romans 8:14-15

Yes, we have now become His children, and now He is our Daddy! Isn’t that awesome?
"In the Roman world of the first century A.D. an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was no whit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature." (Bruce)
Paul continues to explain: "The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God.  And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.” (8:16-17)  What a privilege and an amazing promise: we are fellow heirs with Christ!
Our life in Christ will not always be easy (“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses…” vs .26 ), but we have our Daddy who will always be with us to help us fulfill His perfect will and purpose for our lives (vs.28); He will always be for us (vs. 31) AND NOTHING will ever separate us from His  LOVE!

I am a living witness of all this and I can’t thank Him enough for His Faithfulness! On June 2013 I received a telephone call from one of my half-sisters (my father re-married after the divorce and raised 3 children), telling me that my father was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. From then on I phoned him on a regular basis, and eventually he surrendered his life to Jesus! For the last 3 months of his life we had the opportunity to share over the phone many things. We knew nothing about each other, but it was especially wonderful for me to share the unfailing love of our Heavenly Father!, I praise our Daddy that on October 2013, he gave my husband and I the opportunity to fly to see him in the hospital. I was by his bed, holding hands with him and praying for him and his family, a few days before our Daddy took him Home with Him. This was something I had never imagined!! His Plans, His Ways are Perfect and His Faithfulness endures forever!

Let me ask you: Are you waiting to come back to your Daddy? His arms are open to you!

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: