Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Romans 8:31-39 . . . one more time

One of the verses in this passage that I usually gloss over is interesting . . . FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED. This comes right after Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Hold on . . . why are we being put to death all day long? What kind of love considers us as sheep to be slaughtered?

This passage used to be one of those sappy passages for me: "Oh!!! God loves me!!! Yea!!!" This is true, He does love me. He loves me so much that he refines me. He slaughters my flesh, so that I can live anew in Him, bkz He continues with . . .

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So He loves us . . . and absolutely nothing can separate us from His love which is available to us only bkz of Jesus Christ.

Back to Romans 8

Last night, our small group was dissecting Romans 8:31-39. Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in Scripture (along with Philippians 4), so I was excited to cover this chapter in our small group.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NASB)

It was the one of the same parts that usually sticks out to me, but in a different way. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? The first thought was, how could tribulation, distress, etc separate us from Christ's love? Does the fact that we have nothing to eat change the fact that God loves us? Then it clicked. No. It doesn't separate us from His love. But when we are in the pit of despair and things are going badly, we say "Why God? Why don't You care what I'm going through? Where are you?" He is right there with you!

He promises that no matter what you are going through is going to separate you from His love. You don't have to ask where is He! He is right there with you!!! He loves you!!!

. . . . more thoughts on this passage tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Philippians 4, especially vs 4-9, seems to always be on my heart. I guess bkz it is so outside of our box to rejoice in all things & be anxious about nothing. Things haven't been going so well the last several weeks, and I've been very anxious & depressed about them. I've been trying to pull myself out of this funk, but the more I try, the more deeply I descend into the pit of self-pity & such. Many times I go to Psalms when I'm feeling like this, but sometimes I go deeper into the funk when I'm in Psalms. Today, I needed a life preserver, not someone to associate with my griefs.

Remembering that Philippians is the book about joy, I opened it up. I read it the whole book, but since Philippians 4 has always been a favorite spot, I camped out there a little bit. Verse 5 has always seemed a bit out of place to me. I'm still not sure that I completely understand its place, but I think some light may have been shed on it today:

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

In my anxiety & depressed mood, I've become irritable, short with people, unloving, etc, etc. I've been doing everything in my pain, but having a gentle spirit. So Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! I don't feel like rejoicing. Then Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. But I don't have a gentle spirit. Then get one bkz the Lord is near!!! You should be contented & joyful bkz He is right here! So . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

God, Thank you for being near. I need your help to rejoice. I need your help to have a gentle spirit, but when I remember that You are near, it helps so much. Help me not to be anxious. Help me to seek hard after You on my knees being grateful for what You are going to do. Your peace will protect my mind & heart that get a bit out of control sometimes. Help me to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise not things that are anxiety provoking, fear-based, false, ugly, sinful, etc. Help me to rejoice, be gentle, & be at peace in Your arms.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Cliches drive me crazy, but unfortunately, they are cliches for a reason. Why? Bkz most of the time they are true or at based in truth. There are some Scripture verses that have become cliche:

For God so loved the world . . .
Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . .
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . . .
But the one I think I hear the most is based in Romans 8:28: all things work together for good. I think I hear this one the most bkz even unbelievers essentially quote it when they say, "it will all work out for the best!" Not necessarily . . .

Look at Romans 8:28 (NASB) in its context. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom he predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

God causes all things to work together for who? For those who love God & are called. What is good? to be conformed to the image of His Son. It isn't necessarily happy or fun. Most people don't like the process of being conformed to the image of His Son. But those who love God and are called are content with the outcome of that process. So be careful where you throw this verse around. BUT, be encouraged! God makes all circumstances in the lives of those who love Him and are called, to make them more like Him. That is the goal of life to be like Christ & give Him all the glory.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leviticus & Numbers

I've not been posting much recently bkz I've been reading Leviticus & Numbers. It was really tough. I'm not finished with Numbers yet, but I'm about half way. I prayed several mornings for understanding. Why does God go into such great detail about how to build the tabernacle, how to transport it, endless numbers of laws? Why are women created to be "unclean" for a week every month? But then I realized that men are unclean often as well, maybe not for a week at a time, but pretty often.

These last 2 questions were the most intriguing to me. Then it hit me. People have said that all the lists of laws & such are reminding us how holy God is. I sort of understood, but when I really mulled over why God would declare women unclean for 12 months out of 52, He said, "Bkz you ARE unclean." We aren't worthy of Him. He is a holy God, and we in and of ourselves, are unclean. We can't truly know the Lord and understand salvation for all it is without realizing that we are unclean.

Hence the message of redemption. I love how even in the Torah tells us about the Gospel. All of those laws are just saying, "You can't possibly keep all of these laws. You are going to break some. You need a sacrifice to pay the penalty."

I think I forget how much I need a Savior too often. I think I do alot of things that "good Christians" do. I go to church, read my bible, pray, etc. So what do I need forgiveness for? Alot of things, but lets start with just bkz I'm human . . .

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life from Death

It is interesting how so many things in Scripture defy what we commonly believe. Things like "he who is least among you all--he is the greatest" (Lk 9:48). The one that I've been learning the most is how life comes from death. Things have to die in order for other things to live. A seed has to die in order to produce more fruit. Christ had to die in order for us to have an opportunity at life. We have to die to ourselves in order to have life in Christ.

The unfortunate reality is that we all fight death. We do whatever we can to avoid it. We'll do whatever we can do to keep something alive whether a business, organization, church, etc, but sometimes God's will is for it to die, so new life can come from it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should all commit suicide & die. But, one day we are all going to die physically, and what an amazing life lies beyond for those of us who know Him! We'll live forever! So start now, "die" to yourself and live completely for the Lord.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why God?

There are many times that we don't understand what is going on in our lives, and I find myself asking God why? The question comes often, but I'm rarely left wanting as I'm assured in Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." I can't completely understand God (Romans 11:34, "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?"), so don't fool yourself that you are going to understand with a finite mind what the Lord is doing. However, I've found that the more I seek Him, the more I look to Him, the more I see how He has done things in Scripture, the more I am in His word, the less I argue with Him . . . whether I understand or not.

1. Why does God allow a 4 year old to get 3rd degree burns on her leg? 2. Why does God take a mom from a 13 year old girl and her family? 3. Why does God allow people to go long periods of time without work? 4. Why does God seem to be silent sometimes? 5. Why does God allow people to be abused by their parents or anyone? 6. Why does God allow marriages to dissolve? 7. Why does God allow people to be raped? Can I answer any of these questions? Not exactly, but the more I know the Lord, the more I can understand a bit more.

Here are some things that I've learned throughout my life some from personal experience, some vicariously. 1. So a small child can be saved by her brother & begin to understand unconditional love . . . something that originated with God, and thus can only point to Him. (John 15:13). 2. To take away a child's idol and bring a family to a point of desperation that we can only seek after Him for true healing (among 1000s of other things). If I could tell you the stories about that one! 3. So we learn that we don't provide for ourselves, the Lord is the One who provides. To increase our faith. 4. To increase my faith in what is true. Even when He is silent, we need to trust that He is who He says He is & believe. Will I believe even when I don't see or hear Him. 5. To understand that only the Lord loves perfectly, and we are all searching after Him. 6. Again to understand that the Lord is the only one who loves perfectly & completely. Humans can't be a substitute for God. He is to be the only God in our life. To understand that we are only completely fulfilled in Him. 7. To understand what God did when He forgave us. To understand that only God loves perfectly.

I could go on and on, and I've not completely answered any of these. So my goal isn't to make anyone angry at my very simplistic answers. But we are here to bring glory to God. Everything is here for the purpose of bringing Him glory. We need to be able to know Him well enough that we can see outside of ourselves and our pain, and see the only One who can truly bring healing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stop the Madness!

I had a student the other day ask me how to stop thinking too much. He is constantly thinking, and thinking again, and over thinking some more, and analyzing everything. It was driving him mad! It was one of those moments that I just wasn't sure how to answer him, and I just shot up what my colleague calls a "flare prayer," truly having no idea how to respond to him. The next thing that happened was pretty amazing. It has happened a few times in my life, and I just stand in awe after it happens. A word came out of my mouth. My mouth moved. My vocal chords vibrated, but it wasn't me saying the word. "Trust" is all that came out of my mouth. At first, I panicked wondering, "what just happened, what did I say, and was it true?!?!" It took only 2 seconds to return to a state of peace as God quickly helped me understand what He just used me to say.

I am so important in my life that it is up to me to fix and solve everything. When I trust, there is a sense of overwhelming peace & rest. My mind isn't in overdrive anymore.

The student & I weren't communicating well until this point, so I was pretty frustrated, but after that word came out of my mouth, we both stopped and pondered. The Lord spoke, and we were both pondering the amazing truth that we have to trust or we'll drive ourselves mad!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This morning, I was sitting out on my front porch swing wrapped in a blanket bkz it is starting to get cool here in the mornings! I just wanted to be still for a few minutes before I began to read. I heard hundreds of birds chirping. You know, the sound that for those of us who have seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds causes us to want to run inside at the sound bkz we have been classically conditioned to fear that sound! Anyway, since I'm talking about learning (classical conditioning), I've learned by association that when I hear that sound, it triggers a memory of sitting in a Bryan College chapel a few years ago. Forgive me bkz the details won't be exactly accurate, but you'll get the gist. A missionary came to tell us about his ministry in South America. He led a witch doctor to the Lord. The witch doctor's specialty was being able to interpret the noises that animals made into English. As the missionary & the former witch doctor were talking one day, they heard a bunch of birds, and the missionary curiously asked, "When you were a witch doctor, what did you hear the birds saying?" The former witch doctor smiled, and said, "Glory to God in the Highest! Blessed be the Lord!" (Now the quote of the interpretation may not be exact, but the point is, the birds were praising God!). So I think of that story all the time when I hear birds chirping. I like that reaction a little better than the reaction I used to have from The Birds.

It was interesting too, that all of a sudden the chirping stopped in unison. I wonder if they were having church up there and they had all just been singing praise together! The song was over ;)