Romans 6 B

“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (10-11)

We can really get in our own heads about the power of sin, since it began as our natural inclinations. Turning around to really believe we’ve been freed from this slavery is also more mental than physical.

Meditate on this truth. Not just the dead to sin part, but what are the implications of being alive to God? That sounds amazing! And it is!

Alive to Him. In tune with Him. Abiding in Him. Depending on Him for the power to produce life-giving, eternal fruit. This is our New Reality in Christ. Access to the Father in a new, pure and powerful way.

We have the alive to God power to live and love selflessly, sacrificially, abundantly, generously, and joyfully.

Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to bring this glorious truth to resonate in the deepest parts of our soul, today.

-Bethany

Romans 5 B

Here’s an overview of the next chunk of Romans.

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” 5:11

Stop a minute and reflect on the concept of being a friend of God. This has always floored me, when I hear it in worship songs or when I read it in Scripture.

I think I’ve always felt slightly uncomfortable with this concept. Friends with God? It seems casual and threatens to diminish God’s place as he reigns over and upholds my soul. But maybe I’m discrediting what it means to be a friend.

Jesus as a friend was (obviously) perfectly holy. He celebrated with his people. He laughed, told stories. Drank good wine and went to weddings and dinner parties. He mourned with them and over them. He welcomed their kids, their families. He advocated for them.

I hope I’m a friend like that to Jesus. He doesn’t need my friendship, but desires it. He desires us to love his people, seek out time with him, grieve the things he grieves, fight for what he fights for.

Evaluate your friendship with God. How could you cultivate a more authentic relationship with him?

-Carly

Romans 4 B

“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (4:16-17‬)

I am thoroughly loving Romans. It’s been a while–two years!–and it is richer the more familiar I am with the whole saga of Scripture.

This is the Good News which Paul was proclaiming everywhere he went.

“And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.'” (4:5-8‬)

Just as ever, faith (believing/trusting God), is what makes people right before Him. Jesus broke the curse for us, and opened up a way for us to be in close relationship with the LORD. Kind of like His friendship with Abraham. What a God we have, that He’s friends with people.

Like Carly said yesterday, sometimes we can get lost in the run-on sentences and close association with the word theology, but the message is intended to be simple: We are all made right before God through faith in Him. Not by laws, customs or anything else, just relational trust.

God can do it. He speaks things into existence. He has done it.

I feel like I need to read and re-read this chapter to really let it all sink in. Why is it so hard to keep the gospel simple? Why is it so hard to accept the grace of God? Why do we love to complicate and confuse? I don’t know, but I know it’s why I must keep reading and thinking about His Word daily.

So glad you’re doing it with me.

-Bethany

Romans 3 B

Sometimes when Paul is really on a roll, I get a little lost, especially when it comes to jargon about the law. I checked out this chapter in The Message translation and understood it a bit better and quite enjoyed it. Bible readers, we live in such a privileged time! We have immeasurable resources, right at our finger tips. I believe that God’s word is alive and absolutely anyone could open it, read it and be transformed (Hebrews 4:12). With that being said, sometimes it’s helpful to have a study Bible with commentary added, or at least a readable translation. Also, there ain’t no shame in my Googling-game. I love being able to look up a certain word, historical reference or to dig deeper into the meaning of something. (Be discerning with your internet sources, of course.)

“God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.” 3:26-28 The Message

We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Its tempting to want God to be merciful and forgiving with you, and come down hard on your enemies. Fortunately, that’s not how he works.

After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is.” 3:29 NLT (emphasis added)

God’s forgiveness, grace and his Holy Spirit are available to all sinners no matter what. 

 

-Carly

Romans 2 B

While, this letter was written to a Jew and Gentile church, this section feels more aimed at the Jews, those with the Law, who felt a moral high ground to judge others. However, this rebuke can be applicable to any of us who fancy ourselves “holier than thou”.

“But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (2:3-4‬)

We should never confuse the grace and mercy of God as a free pass to sidestep His authority.

I grew up in this category of people who should know better. But also, grew to discover just how God’s relentless kindness, not His condemnation, lured me into repentance. It’s a beautiful thing, because it’s so humbling.

You know what else is humbling? People who don’t need as much external government.

“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (2:14-16‬)

All throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites were called out for their stubbornness. Then, Jesus comes along and liked to point out how many Gentiles surpassed a faith found in Israel. Get off your high horse, people!

It’s never our job to police each other or compare ourselves as a measurement of righteousness. So enough with the side eye! I say this to myself as well.

Let’s consider the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience today. Let’s fix our eyes on the LORD and give each other a break from all the comparing.

-Bethany

Romans 1 B

We’re taking these rich chapters one at a time. If you need to, check out a review of the book of Romans.

“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” 1:12

Take a minute and think about someone who greatly encourages you in your faith, just by hearing about theirs.

Last night, my husband and I sat on our porch with dear, dear friends of ours, divided up a bottle of wine and shared stories about where and how God has been in our lives lately. I could talk to these people for hours, and listen to them even longer.

Don’t underestimate the contagiousness of the Holy Spirit. Do you feel like you’re in a rut with God? Kinda bored, maybe kinda distant. Not a lot of motivation to read the Word, or maybe just generally disengaged. That’s pretty normal for any relationship. But don’t stay there!

Ask someone living intentionally for God about their faith. Ask them what they’re reading in their Bible, or something they’ve been thinking about lately. Or the craziest time God has shown up unexpectedly.

Maybe you’re coming out of a season of fullness. God’s presence has been abundant and your faith feels strong and anchored. Share that! Give all glory to God, but go tell it, tell it.

-Carly

Acts 27-28 B

Love Carly’s closing thoughts on Acts from last time.

It’s an epic close to a story that has just begun. These chapters are written in first person, meaning the author, Luke, was there experiencing everything firsthand. The details remind me of how most of my adventure-loving guy friends would recount such a treacherous tale.

It also makes me think about all the other details Luke was intentional to include throughout his book Luke-Acts. It was his assignment to make an account of what had happened, how this “sect” of “The Way” had begun. Was it something totally new? No, it was repeated, over and over, to be a fruition of the Jewish religion.

As I believe I mentioned in a previous post, starting a new religion was a major no no during that time, for it was a disruption of Pax Romana (Roman Peace). Luke brings great detail and repetition to the fact that this started back with Moses. The gospel, as it starts in Genesis, is repeated numerous times in Acts, starting in Genesis.

Sometimes Christianity is still perceived as new, since it birthed the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches, which certainly are “new”. Make sure to never throw out the Old Testament like some washed up thing. It’s the undivorcable beginning to our story.

Now, tomorrow we will start Romans, since that’s where we just left Paul. And I just so happened to be there today (retrieving a lost bag, nothing amazing).

Ci vediamo domani!

-Bethany