Nov 17, 2019
Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
Series: Romans
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  • Nov 17, 2019Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
    Nov 17, 2019
    Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
    Series: Romans
  • Nov 10, 2019Romans 14:1-12 “Strength and Weakness”
    Nov 10, 2019
    Romans 14:1-12 “Strength and Weakness”
    Series: Romans
    In every church from the very beginning, there have been people that have been in different places in their faith walk.  Truth be told, in Jesus’ ministry, we see Him interacting with people that were all over the map with regards to their maturity and understanding of faith.  From Pharisees to the woman at the well to Mary Magdelene the reformed prostitute, Jesus provides an example of love, acceptance, and even challenge in these relationships. Paul, with this in mind, applies Jesus’ teaching and example in the shadow of his own teaching on the command to continual (Agape) love (Romans 13:8) in the way that we interact with each other.  Specifically, he talks about how believers should interact with each other. Paul speaks at length about “Christian freedom,” how that freedom is governed by the command to love is precisely what he addresses here. Questions to take home:
    1. What are the images of “strong” and “weak” faith that Paul sets up here?  How does he describe them? Does any of that surprise you? How does it impact how you think about your own faith journey?
    2. Paul uses the example of “sacred days” in the exercise of faith, referring specifically to Jewish high holidays and feasts.  What do you think he is really getting at here? What “disputable matters” do we find ourselves quarreling over and how can we learn from this?
    3. One of Paul’s main points here is that “we belong to the Lord.”  What do you think he means by this? How does that impact how you think about your life and faith?  How does it change how you view others, particularly other believers?
  • Nov 3, 2019Romans 13:8-14 “Wake-up Time!”
    Nov 3, 2019
    Romans 13:8-14 “Wake-up Time!”
    Series: Romans
    Everyone has a particular way that they like to fall asleep.  Whether it’s pulling all the blankets over your head, reading a good book, or falling asleep in your chair watching TV, each one of us goes through the various motions of turning our brains off as we drift off to dreamland.  But how do you know when you are asleep? Realistically, though, we aren’t aware of our unconsciousness until you wake up. This is the essence of what Paul has been and currently is saying in his letter to the Romans.  Being “conformed to the pattern of this world” is much like being asleep. It looks “normal” and feels “normal” to the point that we may not even be aware of it.  Paul’s words here are like an alarm clock, jarring us awake to the realities of what a life surrendered to Christ looks like. Christ’s resurrection brought about the “morning” of new life and this is no time to sleep in! Questions to take home:
    1. Paul writes, “Owe nothing to anyone…” at the beginning of this section.  This one verse has carried with it multiple interpretations from everyday finances to forgiveness.  What are some ways that you would interpret Romans 13:8?
    2. Read 1 John 4:7-12.  Love is a word that, in our cultural context, has been infused with many meanings.  How does the Scriptural definition of love (“Agape” Love), as it is shown in Jesus, impact the way you read and apply this Romans passage?
    3. The imagery of darkness (night) and light (day) is not unique to Romans.  Read Isaiah 9:2, John 1:4-5, John 8:12 and 1 John 1:5-7. What does it mean to walk in the light, as in the daytime?  How are you doing that well? Where is the Spirit convicting you here?
  • Oct 27, 2019Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”
    Oct 27, 2019
    Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”
    Series: Romans
    From the perspective that we have as citizens of the United States of America, hearing Paul’s words at the beginning of Romans 13 doesn’t strike us as being too out of place.  Despite some of the disfunction, our government could hardly be compared to some of the dictatorships or other corrupt, abusive governments that exist in the world today. We are blessed to live with such freedoms and protections as we have here. It is no secret, however, that even the best governments in the world deal with corruption and acts in ways that are clearly outside of God’s desires.  Paul was writing in the midst of a corrupt government structure, not just to encourage Christians, but also to remind governments where their authority comes from.  We submit to governing authorities with an eye on the one and only, true source of all authority in heaven and earth. Questions to take home:
    1. Paul uses the word “subject” or, in other translations “submit” verse 1.  What does this word mean? Another place that this word is readily used is Ephesians 5:21-6:10.  How would you define the word “submission”? What is it’s implications in your life?
    2. Reread Romans 12:17-19.  How are verses 3-5 informed by the latter part of Romans 12?  Paul speaks of God using governments and authority as part of His judgment and wrath against sin.  How do you feel about this? Does it make you see things any different?
    3. Why do you think Paul felt it important to include verses six and seven with regard to taxes?  Read Matthew 22:15-22. What does Jesus have to say about this? Why do you think this is an important part of how we live out our faith in Christ?
  • Oct 13, 2019Romans 12:9-21 “Sincere Love”
    Oct 13, 2019
    Romans 12:9-21 “Sincere Love”
    Series: Romans
    Some of my favorite movies find their scriptures based on a plot that involves both revenge and some manner of a romantic love relationship.  Often, the main character has been wronged or experienced a great loss at the hands of some evil force and, in his or her campaign for revenge, meets a person that they eventually fall “in love” with.  It is a basic plotline, but apparently it makes for good cinema. Neither of these notions, however, have much of a Biblical foundation.  Paul calls those who are “transformed by the renewing of their minds” to a Biblical definition of love for one another and a redefined way of thinking about our interactions with others, especially (and specifically, in this case) those whom we feel have wronged us.  If we have crowned Jesus as Lord of our lives, then we are called to trust Him with everything, even matters of justice for ourselves. Questions to take home:
    1. 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 have a similar ring to Romans 12:6-8.  Both are followed by statements regarding love in relationship to the use of spiritual gifts.  How is Romans 12:9-16 and 1 Corinthians 13 related and what are they telling us?
    2. Read Matthew 5:38-48.  What similarities do you see between Jesus’ teaching and Romans 12:17-21?  How does this relate to the perfect justice of God?
    3. How do you think the specifics of chapter 12 (right thinking about ourselves, being part of the body, appropriate use of spiritual gifts, being sincere in love, and revenge) are related to the main theme of the chapter: not conforming but being transformed?
  • Oct 6, 2019Romans 12:1-8 “Living Sacrifice”
    Oct 6, 2019
    Romans 12:1-8 “Living Sacrifice”
    Series: Romans
    All throughout my time in school, whether it was pre-college, under-grad, or seminary, I found myself in classes being taught things that seemed to have little to no impact on my life.  What I, at the time, thought of as the endless droning of teachers and professors appeared to (and in some cases) be worthless information that I would likely discard from my brain after the coming exam, if not before.  In my head, I was asking the question “So What?” Romans 12 begins the section of Paul’s letter that is dedicated specifically to answering the “so what” questions.  Paul has, in a number of places, already done some application work (see Romans 5-7), but here he moves into specific examples and statements about the impact of the theology he has been teaching on the lives of Christ-followers.  For Him, all theology has practical application because being in Christ means your life is and will be changed! Questions to take home:
    1. Why do you suppose that Paul uses the term “living sacrifice” rather than just “sacrifice”?  What do you think the difference is? How does this difference impact how you live out your faith day today?
    2. Read verses 2 -5 again.  How does the renewing of our mind help us with regard to how we think about ourselves?  How does the Holy Spirit help us in this process transforming to better recognize our place in the greater body of Christ?  How does this help us to better recognize our God-given Spiritual gifts?
    3. Are you familiar with your spiritual gifts?  Are you putting them to use on a regular basis in the church and in your life?  Two places you can check out are: www.giftstest.com and www.fivefoldsurvey.com.  Both can help you begin to discover your unique gift-set and how you can better put them to use in your life and building up the church!
  • Sep 29, 2019Romans 11:25-36 “Mystery Solved?”
    Sep 29, 2019
    Romans 11:25-36 “Mystery Solved?”
    Series: Romans
    Many people love a good mystery, one where the answer is right in front of you the whole time but you don’t necessarily see it until the end.  This is kind of what I think of every time I read the word “mystery” in Scripture. Paul has been working out the question of what happens to ethnic Israel now that Jesus has come; how do the promises of God get applied to them? As we have talked about at length over the past several months, God’s answer to His promises (and therefore the answer to Paul’s question in chapters 9-11) is Jesus.  There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to God except through Him. And, interestingly, this has been the case all along.  It was and is the Messiah of God, the one promised all those years before, and the grace of God received by faith that God’s people are called to, which ultimately made them the truest sense of who they are. Questions to take home:
    1. What ‘mystery’ is Paul referring to in verse 25?  Who do you think Paul’s statement of ‘all Israel will be saved’ refers to (see 9:6 and 4:16 for some insight)?  How do these two things fit together and why does it matter for us?
    2. How does verse 32 act as a summary statement for all of Romans 1-11?  When you think about others in your life, whether Christian or not, how does this verse measure the status of these people?  How does it change the way you think about them?
    3. We’ve covered a lot of theological ground in the last 5 months.  Paul pauses here before he moves on to some practical application to praise God for His infinite wisdom. Take some time, wherever you are, to pray and praise God for His wonderful gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
  • Sep 22, 2019Romans 11:11-24 “Sibling Rivalry”
    Sep 22, 2019
    Romans 11:11-24 “Sibling Rivalry”
    Series: Romans
    Road construction season is always a hassle for drivers.  It seems like, no matter where you drive, there are always orange cones and signs that divert you, taking you on a roundabout way to get to your destination.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just go straight from point A to point B? Certainly, but only if the road were intact. Paul describes Jesus as kind of like these detour signs.  While the ultimate destination, that being salvation, has not changed, Jesus’ seems to present (from the Jewish perspective) an alternative pathway to salvation.  It isn’t until we realize that faith in the Messiah was the right way all along to we realize that Jesus isn’t a “detour sign” but actually a warning sign that the pathway of “the Law” was never meant to be a road in the first place.  The question then becomes: do you drive full speed into the barrels or do you heed the sign and turn? Questions to take home:
    1. Genesis is full of stories about brothers.  Cain & Abel, Ishmael & Isaac, Jacob & Esau, and the story of Joseph.  In each one, the older takes issue with the younger, often stumbling over the blessing they receive from God.  How do Israel and the Gentiles fit into this paradigm? Can you see the church… our church… fitting into this paradigm?
    2. Read Luke 15:11-32.  Based on Romans 11, who do you think the prodigal son represents?  Do does it clarify the language of “jealousy” that Paul uses to talk about the Jews who did not believe in Jesus?  Where do you think you fit into this parable? What about HCC?
    3. Read John 15:1-8.  How do Jesus’ words here speak into Paul’s teaching in Romans 11?  How does the image of grafting, or the language of adoption Paul uses in Romans 8:15 & 23, expand your view of our relationship with God in Jesus Christ?
  • Sep 15, 2019Romans 10:20-11:10 “Remnant”
    Sep 15, 2019
    Romans 10:20-11:10 “Remnant”
    Series: Romans
    Elijah had just experienced a great victory against the prophets of Ba’al, seeing it’s prophets destroyed and it’s alters torn down.  Just when the reader would think that he was set for life, the wicked queen Jezebel puts a bounty on his life. Scripture records Elijah’s deep struggles with God, feeling like He has abandoned Elijah with nowhere else to turn.  God responds by revealing to Elijah the presence of a remnant. While the reality of God’s choosing these 7,000 people and, in His sovereignty, keeping them “for Himself” has a great deal to do with the concept of Election and grace, it also reminds us of something important: God is always at work.  Though it seems that the whole nation of Israel had turned against God, there was a group that had not. Even today, as we look at the landscape of culture and even the church, when it seems like so many are compromising and turning away, God is still at work in and through those that He has called to Himself. Questions to take home:
    1. 1 Kings 18-19 provides the context for the references Paul makes in Romans 11.  Read them. What jumps out at you? Can you relate to how Elijah feels in chapter 19?  How does God’s response there make you think differently about your difficult life situations?
    2. In Paul’s continuing discussion about Israel and Jesus, he makes the point here that, despite the Jew’s rejection of Jesus, God has not rejected them.  Salvation is available to them and God is still at work. How does this relate to you? Do you have people in your life that you are longing to see come to Jesus?  How does this message comfort you? What are you going to do about it?
    3. All of this, Paul reminds us, is a work of the grace of God and His commitment to fulfilling His promises.  Read 2 Corinthians 1:20-22. How does this statement relate to the rest of what Paul is saying here? What does this mean for your life in Christ?
  • Sep 1, 2019Romans 9:1-29 “God Keeps His Promises”
    Sep 1, 2019
    Romans 9:1-29 “God Keeps His Promises”
    Series: Romans
    If you do your chores I will take you to get some ice cream." Maybe you've heard this promise given to you; maybe you've been the one to give it. Though it seems straight forward, kids always seem to try to find a way around it. At the end of the day, though, if the child doesn't do what they are supposed to, they don't get to experience the great reward that was promised.  None of us would blame the parents for not bringing disobedient kids to get ice cream if they didn't do as they were asked.
     
    Paul uses a similar analogy here in talking about Israel and God's promise. Do the coming of Jesus and the institution of justification by grace through faith mean that God has turned away from the people He called? Does this nullify the promises of God to His covenant people? No!  Not at all, Paul would say, it is the ultimate fulfillment of God's original intentions and desires for His people from the very beginning.
     

    Questions to take home:

    1. Paul says of the beginning of chapter 9 that he wishes he could be cut off from Christ for the sake of his people. What do you think he means by this? Is there anyone in your life that you feel this way about? How can you tell about God's love this week?

    2. Paul makes the point that in Jesus there is the fulfillment of God's promises, not the abandonment of them. How does knowing that faith and grace were the points all along change the way you look at and read the Old Testament?

    3. Take a moment to read the first half of Ephesians 1. How do you understand the concept of election, God's sovereign choice in salvation? Is it comforting or concerning to you? How does it encourage you toward missional living?

  • Aug 25, 2019Romans 8:17-39 “Reflections”
    Aug 25, 2019
    Romans 8:17-39 “Reflections”
    Series: Romans
    Pray Philippians 4:6-7 Ephesians 6:10-20 James 1:5-8; 5:13   Reflect Matthew 6:25-34 Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11 Psalm 139:1-5, 23-24   Listen James 1:19 (through 22) Colossians 3:12-17   Listening well leads to Reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:18 Ephesians 4:32 Matthew 5:9 (James 3:17-18), 23-24 Matthew 18:15-17   Thank Philippians 1:3-6   Focus Romans 8:31-39 Hebrews 12:1-2
  • Aug 18, 2019Romans 8:31-39 “Assurance”
    Aug 18, 2019
    Romans 8:31-39 “Assurance”
    Series: Romans
    When Moses sent the 12 spies into Canaan, they came back with a report about the greatness of the land.  The food was great, the land was great, the people were great and their fortresses and defenses were great too.  All of them acknowledged the reality of the greatness and the potential obstacles that they would run into. Perspective, however, colored their response to that present reality. Ten of these spies responded in fear; only two would have echoed Paul’s words at the pinnacle of his writing in Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  They knew full well that it wasn’t going to be easy; they may have even known that they couldn’t do it on their own. But to them, it didn’t matter. God has promised them that land and they knew that with God on their side, nothing would stop them from victory! Questions to take home:
    1. Read Number 13-14, the account of the spies being sent into the land of canaan.  How does this account relate to Paul’s words at the end of Romans 8? Be honest for a moment: which group of spies do you think you would fall in?  How has that been challenged or confirmed in our Scripture today?
    2. The concept of Jesus as both judge of and payment for our sins cannot be understated!  It is the summary and conclusion of Romans 1-8. What does this mean to you? How does it impact you?  How does it challenge the way you practice your faith?
    3. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  There is also no separation from God for those who are in Christ Jesus!  How does this truth make you feel? How does it impact your faith walk?
  • Aug 11, 2019Romans 8:18-30 “Suffering, Sovereignty, and Truth”
    Aug 11, 2019
    Romans 8:18-30 “Suffering, Sovereignty, and Truth”
    Series: Romans
    Talking about suffering is difficult; we all have our own unique experiences with the difficulties of this life, both small and large. Pairing this conversation with God’s Sovereignty, recognizing that nothing happens outside of His allowance can be even more troublesome. Debates about how God, who is the measure of all goodness, can allow such seemingly awful things to happen often end in confusion and questions. Paul takes on this difficult subject though, coupling it with God’s sanctifying work in our lives and reminding us that we don’t suffer alone. All of creation is groaning because of the effects of sin on it. All of it, including our own difficult experiences and pain, is a part of a growing process that, Paul says, will give birth to great glory and freedom on that great and glorious day when with all of creation we will see God and be with Him for all eternity. Oh, how we wait for that day! Questions to take home: Paul opens this section by talking about suffering in our lives. In what ways do you experience suffering? How does your experience of suffering draw you closer to Jesus? How does it make you more life Jesus? As we wait (patiently, of course) for the ultimate revealing of Jesus and the fullness of our Salvation, there are times when it seems too much to handle. How does it make you feel that, when we are overwhelmed, the Spirit of God is still praying on your behalf? What does that change for you in the midst of whatever trial you may be going through? Read Isaiah 43:1-3 & 55:8-9. Now read Romans 8:28 again. What is your definition of “good” in your life? How do you think that definition compares to God’s “good” plans for you? How does this comparison lead you to greater trust in God?
  • Aug 4, 2019Romans 8:1-17 “The Spirit of Life”
    Aug 4, 2019
    Romans 8:1-17 “The Spirit of Life”
    Series: Romans
    Before I chose to follow God’s call on my life, go to seminary, and ultimately become a pastor, I worked in the Emergency Room of a local hospital.  If you’ve ever experienced a significant career or job change, you understand that there is a whole section of my brain that contains the now useless knowledge that I attained there.  Stocking levels for rooms, billing codes, how to order supplies, and all sorts of other things that I’ll (hopefully) never use again.
     
    This is the sort of dichotomy that Paul has been describing between a life lived “to the flesh” and one lived “in accordance with the Spirit.”  Like the ER information, sin is still very much a part of my life, but I don’t live my daily life using, or even pursuing it; I seek to live into being a Pastor now.  And in following God, rather than this other life, I find myself growing deeper in my relationship with Him as well.
     

    Questions to take home:

    1. How do you think the life that is “set free from the law of sin and death” looks?  Read Romans 5:1-11. What similarity to your first answer did you see? How do you see these characteristics in your own life?

    2. Paul points out that believers have within them the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.  What does he say this means for us? How do these words impact your view of the process of Sanctification (progressive spiritual development/separation from sin)?

    3. The language of Romans 8 changes in verse 12. Paul starts using the term “we” and using more intimate descriptions of our relationship with God.  What does the notion of “sonship,” being adopted as God’s children, mean? How does it deepen your understanding of God’s love and grace?

  • Jul 28, 2019Romans 7:7-25 “The Battle Within”
    Jul 28, 2019
    Romans 7:7-25 “The Battle Within”
    Series: Romans
    In battle, the ability to draw the enemy out into the open in order to defeat it gives an incredible advantage and ensures a certain victory.  The enemy has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and the full force of its strength is known. This sort on encirclement means unmitigated defeat for the enemy, be it through direct attack or through surrender by way of isolation and attrition. Paul, in his exposition of God’s Law, has revealed the fullness of sin’s presence in the hearts and lives of all humanity.  The Law has, in effect, put sin on full display so that all can see its full strength and depravity. At the same time, Scripture is also showing us the answer to this problem as well: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Messiah.  And with the full force of sin exposed, the full power of both God’s wrath and God’s grace are seen clearly in sin’s defeat on the cross! Questions to take home:
    1. Think back to the story of Adam & Eve and that of Israel, from Egypt to Sinai to the Promised Land.  What similarities can you identify? Where does God’s command (Law) come into play and what is its effect?  How do these narratives reflect your own life’s story?
    2. Think about the statement: “The problem here is not the Law, but rather sin’s presence within us.”  How does this statement change the way you think about the Law? How does it change the way you think about sin?  Where does Jesus come into this picture?
    3. Paul’s explanation of the Law shows both the depth of our sinful state and the magnitude of the salvation that we offered by the grace of God through Jesus Christ when we come to faith.  Take a moment to think about that. Share the thoughts and feelings that come to mind. Be sure to take time to thank God for this incredible gift!