Romans 11 B

“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; everything happens through him; everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.” 11:33-36 MSG

love the heart of God; he is never done with us. Even if we’ve been snipped off, like useless branches once crowding a tree, he can still redeem us, graft us back into living, growing species.

“And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn’t going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you’re in the tree, and hope for the best for the others.” 11:23-24 MSG

Believer, take heart. He is never done with you! The pruned branches Paul’s talking about in the verse above is symbolism for Israel, God’s special possession. They were relentless in their disobedience towards God, yet still he loves them and leaves room for them on the tree.

Are you distancing yourself from God because you don’t feel like he could redeem you? 

God can perform miracle grafts. He can soften the most calloused heart, he can breathe like into the lifeless and he can save the seemingly un-saveable. Yes, yes, yes!

 

-Carly

Romans 10 B

“Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’” (20)

Paul is very concerned about the fate of this “disobedient and contrary people.” Israel has been God’s vehicle of Good News for centuries and they had a long history of fumbling the ball. (Picture Mark Sanchez circa Thanksgiving 2015)

The glory of the LORD should be obvious (18) but somehow stewarding it grew complicated. He said, “if you’re not going to share Me with the world, I will bless them Myself”.

Now we are also vehicles of His Good News. Do we over complicate the gospel? Do we make excuses to not bring up His glory? Do we hoard His love and blessings as if there’s not enough to go around?

We can at once praise the Lord we, Gentiles, have been granted access to His love and also accept this challenge to not become disobedient and contrary.

It’s simple. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (13) Let’s have some beautiful feet. What are some ways we can share the blessings of God with someone today?

-Bethany

Romans 9 B

“…Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, 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 instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, ‘I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’ “ 9:30-33

Have you been here before? Getting so wrapped up in the religion and logistics of Christianity that you miss an opportunity to be right with God? Do you miss out on God when he’s right in front of you, like a boulder laying in the road?

Paul reminds us here that God doesn’t want perfection from us, he just wants our trust. 

For me, today, this means reading verses in the Bible that become like a sticky piece of tape and still deciding that I trust God. He loves me, and he has proven time after time that he is holy, perfectly sovereign and I am far, far better off alongside him than apart from him. I read Romans 9, my brow furrows and my questions start firing out like an automatic pitching machine, lobbing one doubt after another. I don’t fully know what to do with the theology from today’s text, and maybe I never will. But I have full confidence that God loves me and his grace meets all my needs. 

Do you feel like you can trust God? Why or why not? You are not doing him any favors by  maintaining an anxious, fear-filled relationship with him. He doesn’t want you checking any religious boxes out of duty. He wants you to exhale in the midst of your doubts and choose to trust him. If you aren’t there with him, where you feel safe and fully trust him, be honest about that! Unpack that with him. Do the internal work it takes to sort that out, heal it and reconcile what’s going on. It doesn’t mean you will get all the answers and it absolutely does NOT mean you won’t go through hard things. But it will bring you into a safe, healthy, BEAUTIFUL relationship with Jesus.

 

-Carly

 

Romans 8 B

This chapter is so richly packed with powerful statements, it’s hard to know what to focus on. It also feels difficult to let any of this theology sink in when it’s coming in such a fire hose fashion.

The fact that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” is perhaps the most outrageous. Thank God, it’s too good and true.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (3-4)

Let’s focus on the Holy Sprit.

He becomes our new source, replacing our carnal background.

He resonates truth in our hearts.

He empowers us to live righteously.

He helps our weakness.

He intercedes for us.

He confirms our identity as Children of God.

It’s incredible that this power is alive and at work inside us! We are the tabernacles of His Presence! How will that change the way I live today?

This is definitely one of those chapters that demands to be read more than once. Read and re-read it with us today and let us know what stood out to you.

-Bethany

Romans 7 B

“Don’t you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.” 7:8-12 The Message

I can’t help but drop my head down in defeat when I read this. Why is that the way it is? Why do I instantly want three servings of cake once I’ve put myself on a diet? How come my son ONLY wants to play with the things I’ve restricted in the house? Why is something deeply appealing once it’s been forbidden?

Our sin nature runs deep, it’s roots tangled up in our Spirit-soaked hearts. Like Paul, I think it’s best to admit this about yourself and then start working around it. But how?

Know what tempts you. I don’t ever feel compelled to steal, but oh man, do I love to join in on gossiping. Where do you find yourself frequently giving in to what’s wrong?

Be above reproach. Once you know yourself and your weak spots where sin seeps in, you can start preventing it. Set up boundaries and accountability for yourself! It’s all in the small, wise decisions that stop you from making giant mistakes.

Lean into the Spirit. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” 7:25

Jesus is our answer, our antidote to the poisons of sin.

 

-Carly

 

 

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