1914.) Romans 16

September 1, 2016

This letter from Paul went first to the church at Rome, and then out to all the world.

Romans 16   (NRSV)

Personal Greetings

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, 2so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.

What a compliment! And the Lord has many Phoebes in his church!

3Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, 4and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5Greet also the church in their house.

Rom16 Aquila-Priscilla

To read about Paul’s work with Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18 — click  HERE.

Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia (the region where Corinth was) for Christ. 6Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. 7Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 8Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also. 14Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them. 15Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Rom16 greetings

Paul writes something uplifting about each person, encouraging them in their service to Christ. I also find it interesting that of the twenty-seven names listed, nine are women, with evidently a wide sphere of usefulness and leadership in the church.

16Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Final Instructions

17I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. 18For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. 19For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good and guileless in what is evil.

J. B. Philips has it:  “I want to see you experts in good, and not even beginners in evil.”

20The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

21Timothy, my co-worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my relatives.

22I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Paul’s secretary — the proper term is amanuensis:  a person employed to take dictation.

23Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

Final Doxology

If there is anything that the Book of Romans explains from beginning to end, it is the greatness and glory of this plan of God that Paul preached as a gospel -– as good news. It’s entirely fitting that Paul concludes this letter praising the God of such a gospel.

–David Guzik

25Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.


Having read through Romans, define these words:












I think St. Paul would like this song!  The Concordia Choir of Moorhead, Minnesota, singing Moses Hogan’s beautiful setting of “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord.”

Click  HERE  to listen!

In the Lord.

My soul’s been anchored, Hallelujah,

my soul’s been anchored in the Lord.

Before I’d stay in hell one day

I’d sing and pray my self away.

In the Lord. My soul’s been anchored,

Hallelujah, in the Lord.

Gonna shout and pray and never stop

until I reach the mountain top.

In the Lord. My soul’s been anchored, Hallelujah, in the Lord.

Do you love him? God Almighty?

Are you anchored? My soul’s been anchored in the Lord.

Will you serve him? God Almighty?

Are you anchored? My soul’s been anchored in the Lord.

Hallelujah, will you praise him? God almighty?

Are you anchored? My soul’s been anchored in the Lord.

Lord I’m anchored, Lord I love you,

yes I’ll serve you, Lord I praise you.

Hallelujah! My soul’s been anchored in the Lord.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Roman forum.    http://www.wm.edu/as/classicalstudies/images/romanforumsaturn.jpg
Priscilla and Aquilla.   http://trcbangor.com/wp-content/uploads/2/2013/06/Aquila-Priscilla.png
greetings.    http://www.elcivics.com/esl/images/esl-lesson-greetings.jpg
amanuensis.   http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rak/temp/toronto2/jpgs/John-scroll.jpg

1913.) Romans 15

August 31, 2016

Romans 15   (NRSV)

Please Others, Not Yourselves

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. 3For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Verse 4 is one of my favorite verses! All those wonderful stories in the Bible, and Paul is talking here particularly of those in the Old Testament, have something important to teach us! I spent hours as a child reading Catherine Vos’ Story Bible, and those stories — those people — shaped my life. (For example, I remember praying and asking God to help Peter while he was in prison!) As we read how God interacts with the people in the Scriptures, silly and stubborn as they might seem, we may begin to see our own shortcomings (the same as theirs, usually) in a clearer light. Then we can see how marvelously God will work his good purposes in us and through us.

5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike

7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

Here Paul quotes a series of passages from the Old Testament demonstrating that God intends that the Gentiles to praise Him. Surely there are disputable matters, but Jews and Gentiles (Catholics and Protestants, liberals and conservatives, mainline and evangelicals and charismatics) are commanded to unite in Jesus over the common ground of praise.

“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12and again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rom15 hope-joy-peace-

Psalm 34:5   (ESV) 

Those who look to him are radiant,   
   and their faces shall never be ashamed.



“My Hope Is in the Lord.”  And the Lord is utterly dependable, faithful beyond our understanding.

Click  HERE  to hear the Tommy Coombs Band.


Paul’s Reason for Writing So Boldly

14I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

17In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. 18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.

Illyricum is the former Yugoslavia and Albania. This means that Paul’s ministry spread from Illyricum in the west to Jerusalem in the East.

20Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, 21but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”

Rom15 Africa map

“I have dwelt for years practically alone in Africa. I have been thirty times stricken with fever, three times attacked by lions, and several times by rhinoceri; but let me say to you, I would gladly go through the whole thing again, if I could have the joy of again bringing that word ‘Saviour’ and flashing it into the darkness that envelopes another tribe in Central Africa.”

–William R. Hotchkiss, missionary in Africa in the 19th century

Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome

22This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you 24when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while.

Paul supposes that he will visit the Romans on a future trip to Spain, where Paul will preach the gospel on the frontiers. Stopping off in Rome on the way, Paul anticipates that he can enjoy the support and fellowship of the Romans before he goes to preach the gospel in the regions beyond.  Paul probably wanted Rome to be his base of operations for the western part of the empire, even as Antioch (north of Jerusalem) was his base for the eastern part.

Paul had these plans; yet things did not work out according to his plans. He did go to Rome, yet not as a missionary on his way to Spain. He went to Rome as a prisoner awaiting trial before Caesar, where he would preach the gospel on a different kind of frontier.

God had unexpected frontiers for the Gospel in Paul’s life, giving him unexpected access to preach to the emperor of Rome himself.  After his release from the Roman imprisonment at the end of the Book of Acts, we have reason to believe that Paul did in fact make it to Spain and preached the gospel there.

–David Guzik

25At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; 26for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. 28So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; 29and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

30I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, 31that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

This sounds like the end.  But no!  There’s more!  Romans has 16 chapters.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Hope.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/hope.png
The Child’s Story Bible.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/a8/47/f6/a847f6f0d3b9c75d5782eb1ec300ff6d.jpg
We are one in Christ.    http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~ichthus/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Unity4.jpg
Hope, joy, peace.    https://lifewithmisty.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/hope-joy-peace-brown-art.jpg
Africa map.   http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/1016708/3/stock-photo-1016708-globe-view-africa.jpg
Roman empire map.    http://www.kenney-mencher.com/pic_old/classic_early_christian_byzantine/MapofRomanEmpireFirstCentury.jpg

1912.) Romans 14

August 30, 2016

Rom14 live or die

Romans 14   (NRSV)

Do Not Judge Another

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.

“Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do.”

–Philip Yancey

2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Although vegetarians can perhaps make family gatherings a little tricky, whether or not to eat meat is generally not a spiritual question. But there are plenty of other things where believers may disagree on what they consider spiritual matters. One evening a guest in my home announced over the dinner table that no Christian, in his mind, could vote Democrat, as if that were the eleventh commandment. I have heard bitter arguments about guitars or drums in church — or complaints from successful business people who whine when the pastor doesn’t wear a robe while he is preaching — or judgments on people who have a car or a house that someone else thinks is too big or too expensive. All these from folks who call themselves Christians! You no doubt could add other gems to this list.

Paul says, let other people be. Mind your own business. Just be kind, and honor the Lord in all these situations. 

(When you think about this, it is quite freeing! — and it shouldn’t be that hard to do. Self, take note!)

5Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.


The doctors at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta had just told me my 6-year-old daughter had less than a 40 percent chance to live, and that her best hope was a difficult experimental treatment — would I give permission? We had been with Maureen in the hospital for several months as she struggled with Toxic Shock Syndrome that had settled in her lungs. Her fevers were sky high. Her thrashing about was so violent they put her into a drug-induced coma. She had been on a ventilator for a month because of breathing issues.  My prayers as I begged for her healing seemed to be bouncing off an iron sky.

But I had to give the doctors an answer. So I went upstairs to the chapel. Usually when I went there I read from the big pulpit Bible they had open on a stand. But that day I fell to the floor and buried my face in the carpet, crying until there were no more tears. 

And then this verse was suddenly, clearly, in my mind.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. And with this verse came the assurance that no matter what happened, Maureen belonged to God. And so did I. God is faithful and trustworthy. (This was a true time-out-of-time moment for me, the Holy Spirit at work in my life. I thought later of John 14:26 — But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.) Then I prayed a prayer that seemed to me to reach heaven — “Lord, I give my daughter to you, to live or die, as you choose. But I am her mother, and I beg for her life.” I got up off the floor, went to her doctors, and gave them my permission to go ahead with the experimental treatment.

They were going to start the procedure at 5 PM that day. But at 3 PM, she started breathing more easily, so they delayed it — and little by little, my daughter Maureen improved enough so that she never needed the experimental procedure. God restored her life.  She got well and grew up, graduated from high school and college, married and had two children. She is pictured above with her own daughter, Calli Grace. And I praise God! 

“Whether we live or die” — that covers everything, doesn’t it?! — “we are the Lord’s.” So we can all breathe more easily.

9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Do Not Make Another Stumble

13Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. 14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.

17For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

18The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. 22The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. 23But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.



“I Am Free”  by Jon Egan.  I can remember Maureen dancing to this song. Let’s celebrate our freedom in Christ right now!  HERE.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
whether we live or die.  http://cdn.knowing-jesus.com/wp-content/uploads/Romans-14-8-Live-and-Die-to-the-Lord-green.jpg
turkey talk.    http://s3.hubimg.com/u/610534_f520.jpg
righteousness, peace, joy.    http://www.cfcprinceton.com/media/thumbs/Righteousness_Peace_Joy_20120715.flv.jpg

1911.) Romans 13

August 29, 2016

Romans 13   (NRSV)

In the summer of 386, a young man wept in the backyard of a friend.  He knew that his life of sin and rebellion against God was killing him, leaving him empty; but he just couldn’t find the strength to make a final, real decision for Jesus Christ.  As he sat, he heard some children playing a game and they called out to each other these words: “Take up and read!  Take up and read!”  Thinking God had a message to him through the words of the children, he picked up a scroll laying nearby opened it and began to read:  not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:13b-14).  He didn’t read any further; he didn’t have to.  Through the power of God’s word, Augustine had the faith to entrust his whole life to Jesus Christ at that moment.

–David Guzik

Being Subject to Authorities

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them — unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).

Rom13 obama-clinton-trump

On another note, in this contentious election season, are we as believing Christians praying faithfully for our elected leaders? My Facebook shows lots of (I cannot call it other than) ugliness from fellow Christians, some towards Obama and Clinton and some towards Trump. I find that discouraging. If we are praying with honest hearts for God’s will to be done in our leaders, how can we also badmouth them so unkindly? Surely, we, of all people, should be able to disagree with courtesy and discuss issues without calling names. As Paul will say in just a few verses — “respect to whom respect is due.”

3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.

This has traditionally been understood to mean that what the individual must not do out of a motive of revenge, the state may legitimately do in the pursuit of justice.

5Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Rom13 coin

Mark 12:13-17   (NLT)

Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.”

When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply completely amazed them.

Love for One Another

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.



HERE,  from 1934, is Bing Crosby and “Love Thy Neighbor.”


An Urgent Appeal

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Rom13 closet

So write this verse on a note card and pin it up in your closet — a good reminder every morning as you get dressed!

Romans 13:12  (KJV)

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

And remember this for night time:

Psalm 113:3   (ESV)

From the rising of the sun to its setting,   
   the name of the Lord is to be praised!

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Loving your neighbor.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/loving-your-neighbor.jpg
presidential people.   http://15130-presscdn-0-89.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/obama-clinton-trump.jpg
Roman coin.   http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/caesar_venustrophy2.jpg
Peanuts.   http://www.gocomics.com/peanuts/1959/11/12/
Get Up.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/romans13v11.jpg
closet.    http://1u88jj3r4db2x4txp44yqfj1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/hoarder.jpg

1909.) Romans 12

August 25, 2016

Romans 12   (NRSV)

In chapter 12, St. Paul teaches the true liturgy and makes all Christians priests, so that they may offer, not money or cattle, as priests do in the Law, but their own bodies, by putting their desires to death. Next he describes the outward conduct of Christians whose lives are governed by the Spirit; he tells how they teach, preach, rule, serve, give, suffer, love, live and act toward friend, foe and everyone. These are the works that a Christian does, for, as I have said, faith is not idle.

–Martin Luther, Preface to Romans

The New Life in Christ

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Rom12 Hebrews

Just as the old covenant believer would bring an animal sacrifice in order to maintain a right relationship with God, we are to come as living sacrifices as a reasonable response to the unconditional relationship we have with God, which He has mercifully established. All the Old Testament sacrifices anticipate the final, central sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His death makes the Old Testament sacrificial system redundant. It is superseded by Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. As a result, His death makes the other New Testament sacrifice — the sacrifice of yourself — totally reasonable.

Hymn writer Isaac Watts put it this way:

    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

–David Cook

2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo– describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).  That was a glorious transformation!

The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18:  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.

–David Guzik

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Gifts representing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual gifts —

–are for helping and strengthening others.  “Lord, let me strengthen people’s faith today. Grant that at the end of this day somebody will be more confident of your promises and more joyful in your grace because I crossed his path.”

–and the faith to exercise them are given to us by God in varying measure.  “Lord, let me not think too highly of myself today. All I can do for good is done only in your power and by your grace. Let me serve my neighbors and you with humility.” 

–are to be shared with generosity and simplicity. “Lord, let me not make this too complicated. If I see a need, let me offer to help meet it. If I see an opportunity to speak for you, let me open my mouth. If I feel a nudge to do something kind, even if it is inconvenient for me, let me put selfishness down and be a living sacrifice, to serve others.”

Marks of the True Christian

(While you are reading these verses, think about the Sermon on the Mount — how well Paul knows Jesus’ teachings!)

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

–Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

“Hospitality should have no other nature than love.”

–Henrietta Mears

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

“Let there be such oneness between us, that when one weeps, the other tastes salt.”

16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Rom12 peace

“A smile is the beginning of peace.”

–Mother Teresa

19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

“I don’t care what problem you face; it has no power to defeat the cross of Christ.”

–Jay E. Adams



An old hymn about total commitment to God, written by Frances R. Havergal in 1874, and done  HERE  by Chris Tomlin.  “Take My Life” is a prayer for every day.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
the trouble with a living sacrifice.   http://joemckeever.com/wp/46-cartoons-for-the-study-of-romans-updated/
metamorphosis.   http://imagine-change.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/the-metamorphosis.282120459_std.jpg
Hebrews 10:14.   http://images.knowing-jesus.com/w/400/58-HEBREWS/Hebrews%2010-14%20By%20One%20Offering%20pale.jpg
spiritual gifts.   http://david-christian-network-international.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Spiritual-gifts-list.jpg
sun shining through the trees.    http://www.howtogeek.com/geekers/up/sshot4d8b539739875.jpg
Welcome.    http://www.theartfulstencil.com/pineapple-stencil.html
tears.    http://worshippingchristian.org/images/blog/tears.jpg
Do everything possible.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/26/7e/67/267e67c945d8e5cf19912bf17c1e0bcd.jpg
Victory in the cross.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/r12-victory-in-the-cross.jpg

1908.) Romans 11

August 24, 2016

artwork by Sharon Jensen

Romans 11   (NRSV)

Jews do not believe that Jesus was divine, the Son of God, or the Messiah prophesied in Jewish scriptures. He is seen as a “false messiah,” meaning someone who claimed (or whose followers claimed for him) the mantle of the Messiah but who ultimately did not meet the requirements laid out in Jewish beliefs. According to Jewish scripture and belief, the true Messiah must meet the following requirements. He must:

  • Be an observant Jewish man descended from the house of King David
  • Be an ordinary human being (as opposed to the Son of God)
  • Bring peace to the world
  • Gather all Jews back into Israel
  • Rebuild the ancient Temple in Jerusalem
  • Unite humanity in the worship of the Jewish God and Torah observance

Because Jesus did not meet these requirements, from the Jewish perspective he was not the Messiah.


Israel’s Rejection Is Not Final

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

To read the story of Elijah’s conversation with God, found in 1 Kings 19, click  HERE.

5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

7What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8as it is written, “God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” 9And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs forever bent.”

The Salvation of the Gentiles

11So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

“Paul was saying that the salvation of the Gentiles was intended in the divine providence to arouse in Israel a passionate desire for the same good gift. When they saw the wonder of the messianic salvation, the Jews would want it for themselves. It is a matter for profound regret that just as Israel refused to accept this salvation when it was offered to them, so the Gentiles have all too often refused to make Israel envious. Instead of showing to God’s ancient people the attractiveness of the Christian way Christians have characteristically treated the Jews with hatred, prejudice, persecution, malice, and all uncharitableness. Christians should not take this passage calmly.”

–Leon Morris, Australian New Testament scholar (1914 – 2006)

12Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

13Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.

17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.

22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Rom11 vine

John 15:1-8 (ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

All Israel Will Be Saved

25So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” 27“And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” 28As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Isaiah 59:12-13 (ESV)


For our transgressions are multiplied before you,   
   and our sins testify against us;
for our transgressions are with us,   
   and we know our iniquities:
transgressing, and denying the Lord,   
   and turning back from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,   
   conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

Isaiah 30:18   (ESV) 


Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,     
   and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. 
For the Lord is a God of justice;     
   blessed are all those who wait for him.

33O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35“Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.



These last verses are beautifully put to music by Derek Kuhn. Click  HERE  to watch and listen.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jensen.    http://www.wordcenterministries.org/music–art/bezalel-gallery/romans-11_36-darker-7×5.jpg
Elijah.   http://pastorstrey.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/old-testament-illustrations-106.jpg?w=270&h=193
cross and menorah.    http://reasonradionetwork.com/images/2011/09/Zionist_cross-menorah_shadow.jpg
grafted.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/5e97b-1433536270534.jpg
I am the vine.   http://i2.wp.com/www.yetnotibutchrist.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/iamvine.gif
O the depth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/romans11-33.jpg

1907.) Romans 10

August 23, 2016

Romans 10   (NRSV)

“There really is no need for any Christian mission to the Jews. They are and remain the people of God, even if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Why this is so only God knows. Christians should concentrate their missionary activities on those who do not yet belong to the people of God, and they should court them with a holistic witness in word and deed rather than with polemical argument and cultural legislation. The long history of Christian anti-Semitism calls for repentance, not triumphalist claims of spiritual superiority.”

–Eric W. Gritsch, 1995

How do you think Paul would respond to Gritsch’s idea that the Jews do not need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Rom10 law

No longer is obedience to the law the basis for our relationship with God. Jesus has fulfilled perfectly all the law demands; when we believe in him, we receive “the righteousness that comes from God.” It is not our work that saves us, for only Christ’s work on the cross can do that.

Centuries before Paul, the prophet Jeremiah had told the people of Israel this new way was coming:

Jeremiah 31:31-33   (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Salvation Is for All

5Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Instead of having to go to great lengths to achieve righteousness by the law, we can immediately receive righteousness by faith, by trusting in the word of the gospel. This is cause for great joy!

10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Psalm 91:15 (ESV)

When he calls to me, I will answer him;   
   I will be with him in trouble;   
   I will rescue him and honor him.

14But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noon day bright,
And Christ’s great kingdom
Shall come on earth,
The Kingdom of love and light.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
A song that shall conquer evil,
And shatter the spear and sword,
And shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations,
That the Lord who reigneth above
Hath sent us His Son to save us,
And show us that God is love,
And show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
Who the path of sorrow hath trod,
That all of the world’s great peoples
May come to the truth of God,
May come to the truth of God!



Kiri te Kanawa sings “How beautiful are the feet” from Messiah by George Friedric Handel. accompanied by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Sir Georg Solti conducting. Click  HERE  to listen.


16But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

Rom10 hearing

Romans 10:17   (NKJV)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

For most of history, and even for most of the Christian era, it is true that most people could not read. They learned through listening. Even today, a commonly accepted statistic is that one in five adults in the developing world — almost 862 million people — cannot read or write.

When I tell Scripture by heart to a group, I often introduce it with this verse. To hear a good story told well, with enthusiasm and vigor, is a riveting experience! It can make you feel as if you were present at the event being told; it makes the “there and then” seem “here and now.” Speaking and telling the Word of God is another way, I think, in which the Word can become flesh, and dwell among us. And as we hear the Word, may we grow in faith.

18But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” 19Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” 20Then 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.” 21But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

“All the day did I spread out My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”

The metaphor is of a mother opening her arms to call her child to her embrace. It has often helped me when my faith and love burned low. If God could go on doing such  a loving thing “all day long” for years, and years, could not I go on loving and stretching out my arms too? And so I learned to pray, “Love through me, Love of God.”

He is the God of Patience and of Comfort (Romans 15:5) as well as the God of Hope (Romans 15:13). Paul must often have been discouraged and disappointed, but deep in his heart these lovely names were spoken. They can help us as they must have helped Paul.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Romans 10:9.    http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/reaching-out-romans-10-9.jpg
What part of the law.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/a0/db/f2/a0dbf2af9ff48d9699989ea4f3c7cd51.jpg
Romans 10:9 with white cross.   http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/romans-10-9.jpg
feet.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/3e/cd/9e/3ecd9e64131ad11ec167666c5dcc3a2f.jpg
Faith comes from hearing.    https://dailyverses.net/images/en/NIV/romans-10-17.jpg
mother’s embrace.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/r10-embrace.jpg