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Thirteen Fascinating Expressions in Hebrews 11!

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2021 in Hebrews 11

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #29 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 1

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.

I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s begin our multipart study with verses 1-2.

As we go through these 24 imperatives, you will notice that I’m including some of my notes & observations in the passage. I’m all for actively reading Scripture, marking up your Bible, bolding and highlighting and underlining what you notice.

The first critical imperative that I see is —

1. The believer is to OFFER HIS BODY AS A LIVING SACRIFICE! (v. 1).

Now, I know very little about the whole sacrificial system. I’m glad I don’t live in a culture where the blood of goats and lambs and pigeons was required to make atonement for the people.  But the Apostle Paul uses this imagery for a Gentile audience!

God cares about our bodies — and He wants them — as living sacrifices! Notice that this sacrifice is to God “holy and pleasing.” God cares so much about our offering our bodies to Him that He calls such an act “your true and proper worship”!

May I ask you, dear friend, have you done that? Are you doing that?  Are you and I daily offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices? Someone has said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps jumping off the altar! Done any jumping lately?

Today’s challenge: Personally and privately give your physical being to the Lord, asking Him to use you today as a true and proper act of worship before a watching world.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #28 “What I DO Understand in Romans 11!” (A Study of Romans 11)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 11 each day this week.

1. There are two categories of people: Israel and the Gentiles.
2. There are some clear advantages to being born a Jew (v. 1).
3. There is a remnant chosen by grace (that we may not be aware of) (v. 5).
4. Grace versus works is a fundamental conflict (vv. 5-6).
5. There were/are two categories of the people of Israel: the elect and the hardened (v. 7).
6. Somehow God is involved in the hardening of some (vv. 8-10), as predicted in the Old Testament.
7. But Israel’s “fall” was not “beyond recovery” (v. 11).
8. Israel’s transgression = salvation has come to the Gentiles (v. 11).
9. Somehow envy is important to the Lord (v. 11).
10. Israel’s transgression means riches for the world and their loss means riches for the Gentiles (v. 12).
11. But there is hope for their “inclusion” (v. 12).
12. Paul takes pride in his ministry to the Gentiles, as the apostle to the Gentiles (v. 13).
13. Somehow arousing envy in God’s people will save some of them (v. 14).
14. Their rejection brought reconciliation to the world (v. 15).
15. Their acceptance will bring life from the dead (v. 15).
16. We get the imagery of dough, firstfruits, and branches (vv. 16ff).
17. The Gentiles are a wild olive branch that has been grafted in (vv. 17ff).
18. The branches were broken off because of unbelief (v. 20).
19. We dare not forget the kindness and sternness of God (v. 22).
20. Israel’s “hardening” awaits the full number of Gentiles coming in (v. 25).
21. In some way all Israel will be saved (v. 26).
22. God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on all (v. 32).
23. God’s plan and purposes should drive us to praise (vv. 33-36).

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2021 in Romans 11

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #27 “Spiritual Botany 101” (A Study of Romans 11)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 11 each day this week.

I will be the first to admit that I know virtually nothing when it comes to botany. I was cursed with a black thumb (except when we lived in Manitoba and everything grew like crazy!).

Here in Romans 11 Paul is discussing Israel and the Gentiles. And he resorts to a botanical metaphor. Following are a few of my observations on this passage:

1. If the root is holy, so are the branches (v. 16).
2. Some of the branches have been broken off (v. 17).
3. The Gentiles are called “a wild olive shoot” by Paul (v. 17).
4. They, this “wild olive shoot” have been grafted in among the others (v. 17).
5. This grafted in shoot now shares in the nourishing sap from the olive root (v. 17).
6. There is no reason for that grafted-in wild olive shoot to consider itself to be superior to those other branches (afterall, it did not graft itself in!) (v. 18).
7. If that wild olive shoot does think itself superior to those other branches, it should be reminded that it does not support the root. The root supports it (v. 18).
8. The wild olive branch might say, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” (v. 19).
9. Okay, but those branches were broken off because of unbelief. And the wild olive branch is challenged to “stand by faith” (v. 20).
10. That wild olive branch is also challenged to not be arrogant, but to tremble (v. 20).
11. Why should that wild olive branch tremble? Because “if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either” (v. 21).

My takeaway?
As a “wild olive shoot,” I’m grateful for God’s mercy in grafting me in to the nourishing sap of this olive tree! I want to beware of unbelief in my life and I long to “stand by faith”!

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2021 in Romans 11

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #26 “Ten Questions on Romans 10” (A Study of Romans 10)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 10 each day this week.

1. What is your heart’s desire when it comes to the salvation of others? (v. 1).

2. How do people today seek to establish their own righteousness? (v. 3).

3. What does it mean to “submit to God’s righteousness”? (v. 3).

4. What are the two kinds of righteousness, according to vv. 5-9?

5. What is this bringing Christ down concept? (v. 6).

6. What are the two steps that lead to salvation? (v. 9).

7. Define the terms “believe,” “justified,” and “saved” in v. 10.

8. What are the critical four steps concerning salvation in vv. 14-15?

9. How does the testimony of nature fit into Paul’s argument in this chapter? (v. 18).

10. How does God treat Israel in His program of redemption? (vv. 19-21).

What questions do you have as you read this chapter?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2021 in Romans 10

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #25 “Metaphors of Belief” (A Study of Romans 10)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 10 each day this week.

What does it mean to “believe”? Here are several ways Paul explains belief in this chapter:

1. Belief is a zeal based on knowledge (v. 2).

2. Belief is submitting to God’s righteousness (v. 3).

3. There is righteousness for everyone who believes (v. 4).

4. This righteousness is by faith and involves declaring Jesus is Lord with one’s mouth and believing in one’s heart that God raised Him from the dead (vv. 6-9).

5. One believes with one’s heart and that brings justification (v. 10).

6. One professes faith with one’s mouth and that leads to salvation (v. 10).

7. Scripture teaches that those who believe in Him will never be put to shame (v. 11).

8. Belief = calling on the Lord (v. 12).

9. The guarantee? Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved (v. 13).

10. One needs to hear of the One to believe in Him (v. 14).

11. Belief = accepting the good news (v. 16).

12. Faith comes from hearing the message (v. 17).

13. Belief = seeking and asking for the Lord (v. 20).

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2021 in Romans 10

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #15 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #4

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s notice this morning the fourth blessing: WE CAN NOW BOAST IN THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD (v. 2).

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a clue what that expression means! Boasting in the Lord makes perfect sense. Boasting in our salvation — brought about by His grace — makes perfect sense. What does it mean to “boast in the hope of the glory of God”?

We will see in our next blessing that we are to “glory in our sufferings”! Perhaps this boasting in the hope of the glory of God is one way to describe our settled position in Christ. We have the certain hope that we will share in His glory and live forever in the presence of the beauty and magnificence of the Trinune God.

But right now — I’ve got some boasting to do.  And so do you. Talk about your hope in Christ today — and brag about His grace and mercy in saving you!

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #14 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #3

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s notice this morning the third blessing: WE HAVE GAINED ACCESS INTO THIS GRACE (v. 2).

The exact statement is: “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” We have obtained entrance into God’s concert of grace. The ticket that let us in was not obtained by our works, but by the finished work of Christ. No bouncer can kick us out. We have every right to enter fully into God’s saving grace. And we are to stand strong in that grace.

Today, thank the Lord for your free and complete salvation in the Lord Jesus — by grace through faith in Him! And stand in that wonderful truth!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Five Truths You Need to Believe about . . . Faith!

Five Truths about . . . FAITH:
Everyone, to some extent, lives by faith. I read somewhere that a question was sent in to a newspaper answer-man: “How does an elevator work?” The answer-man responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, held up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”

We blithely eat the sandwich prepared for us at Subway without asking about the artisan’s background or hygiene. We (usually not men) ask total strangers for directions when we’re lost. We trust our political leaders — sometimes. Everyone “walks by faith” in some sense.

Faith can refer to one’s belief and confidence in how one looks at life. Or faith can refer to the content of truth which God has revealed to us. It is this latter definition that we want to closely examine.

“The FAITH” is used in the Bible to refer to the truths that God has disclosed to us about Himself, His world, and our need of a Savior. And we are to defend that faith vigorously (Jude 3).

Five Issues about FAITH:

1. The SOURCE of our FAITH: Where do we get our beliefs? Some cite their own reason or their experience for what they believe. Others will say they believe what some church authority tells them to believe. But the CHRISTIAN FAITH is derived from God’s supernatural revelation to us in the 66 books of the Bible.

2. The STUDY of our FAITH: We are to study the truths — the doctrines — of the Christian faith as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. If we want to study, for example, the glory of God and we begin at Genesis and work our way all the way through the book of Revelation, that is an approach called “biblical theology.” If we collect all the Scriptures about the glory of God and put them into logical categories, that is an approach called “systematic theology.” Both study methods are useful and focus upon the data of God’s Word.

3. The CHALLENGES to our FAITH: We must ask, “whatever happened to heresy?” The term “heresy” literally means “a choice.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics because they choose to deny the deity of Christ (as well as other doctrines). We must be aware of false teaching in our time and culture in order to refute it and present God’s truth. [I’ve touched on the issue of reading “boiling books” here].

4. The IMPLICATIONS of our FAITH: The Christian “faith” (the content of truth that God has revealed to us) has been given to mature us, to make us more like Christ. Knowing the truths of God is not enough. They must transform us. Our priorities, worldview, daily choices, affections must be challenged and formed by the biblical beliefs we affirm.

5. The SHARING of our FAITH: We are not to keep our FAITH to ourselves. We are under the great commission mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28).

 

TODAY’S HOMEWORK: Ask someone who is a friend what they understand by the word “faith.” When asked, explain to them the idea that one’s “faith” is one’s worldview, how one looks at reality. Feel free to write out a comment below!

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2020 in beliefs

 

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Five Truths You Need to Believe about . . . An Introduction to the Series

Introduction to the Series:
These posts are in preparation for my writing a series of 30-page booklets which will be designed to teach and apply fundamental truths of the Christian faith. While they do not pretend to address all the issues in a particular area of Christian belief, they will cover some of the basics which every Jesus-follower should affirm and put into practice.

Theology — the study of God and the things of God — is, for most people, as attractive as an appointment for a root canal. But I have often said that “Theology is not boring. Theologians are boring!” The precious truths given to us by a loving and powerful God should excite us and empower us to live for Him. Spiral bound, these lay-flat booklets will provide space for study notes and exercises.

Unfortunately, many Christians look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice. Some act as if, when they came to Jesus, He gave them a misery pill and told them to go out and medicate the world!

Professional Christians (pastors, missionaries, Bible college and seminary professors) often seem to reflect the idea that doctrine is boring or irrelevant. Listen to what Dorothy Sayers said about such ministers:

“It is not true at all that dogma [doctrine] is ‘hopelessly irrelevant’ to the life and thought of the average man. What is true is that ministers of the Christian religion often assert that it is, present it for consideration as though it were, and, in fact, by their faulty exposition of it make it so. The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls.” (from Creed or Chaos).

We will show the biblical basis for each of the five truths we will discuss in each of these booklets. We will also take seriously the “So what?” factor. In other words, if I really believe X, what difference ought that to make in my life? Right here? Right now?

So, we will list and discuss the five truths about a particular area of Christian belief, investigate some of its practical implications for the believer, and recommend several resources for further study.

We will begin with . . . FIVE TRUTHS YOU NEED TO BELIEVE ABOUT . . . FAITH! in our next post.

Today’s Challenge: Ask yourself the question: Do you really believe the fundamental truths of the Christian faith? How can your beliefs be tested and lived out?

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2020 in beliefs

 

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