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The bible brings offense to the world, but peace to the children of God. #bible

 

Romans 15:15-16 “But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to 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.”

 

The word “sanctify” comes from two Latin words: “sanctis,” which means “holy,” and “ficare,” which means “to make.” Therefore “to sanctify” means “to make holy.” Paul writes that he has been very bold in writing much of this letter so that its readers might be “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The truth is that we are by nature a very unholy people. Our humanity lends itself to sin and destructive behavior, and since it is in our natures to do that which is unholy, it can be extremely uncomfortable when something seeks to make us holy. God’s Word through the Holy Spirit purposes itself boldly to do just that, which is precisely why without the Holy Spirit’s intervention, the teachings in the bible are seen as “intolerant” and “outdated” by the world. When we read and study the Scriptures and they seem to rub us the wrong way or offend us, we must remember that its intentions are to purify us, to make us holy, by scouring away our nature’s unholy tendencies. Do not run from the inner turmoil created by God’s Holy Word. That inner turmoil is the Holy Spirit burning away the dross of sin in order to cleanse us toward sanctification.

 

Study/Meditation: Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34-39. What did He have to say about the offense of His words?

 

*Father, sanctify me by the Holy Spirit, burning away the remnants of my old self, making me new in You. Amen.

 

What does it mean to be a “healthy Christian”? #Christianliving

 

Romans 15:14 “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”

 

What constitutes a “healthy Christian”? Before we answer that, it’s a good idea to measure our ideas of healthy Christianity up to what the Bible describes as such. Paul has been exhorting and admonishing the Roman Christians about unity in the church body, but he pauses here to give them a high compliment. In so doing, he gives us a good picture of what makes up a healthy Christian. He says that they are filled with goodness, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit he describes in his letter to Galatia. (Galatians 5:22) In other words, they are opposed to evil, they are kind, and they are beneficent. He also describes them as being “filled with all knowledge,” that is they have a firm grasp of what is true in the Christian faith. Being good and knowledgeable are certainly wonderful, but each would be of no benefit if they were not utilized in edification and instruction in God’s Kingdom. Paul is sure to also tell them that he recognizes how they are “able to instruct one another.” The Roman church correctly applied their knowledge of truth in the loving way they were able to admonish one another. In studying the compliment that Paul pays the Roman Christians, we see the bar that each of us must reach toward in our journey as growing Christians: Be kind and good, study to show ourselves approved, and when necessary, either admonish or allow ourselves to be admonished in love.

 

Study/Meditation: How do you see all three of these attributes of healthy Christianity as necessary to each other? Why are they necessary in a healthy church?

 

*Father, help me to see how I need to improve in these areas so that I might continue my journey toward healthy Christianity. Amen.

 

Hope, joy, and peace are found only in God given by the Holy Spirit. #hope

 

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

 

Isn’t it interesting here that Paul doesn’t conclude this exhortation on church unity with instructions? Paul concludes by praying for us. In doing so he is demonstrating exactly how we are to go about attaining unity through hope and from whom we are to receive it—God. Paul refers to our Father as “the God of hope.” Our God is the only source of hope, and in being so, He is also the only source of true joy and peace. We may seek happiness and contentment in this life, but they will only just be feelings. Joy and peace are states of being that have their origin in our relationship to and belief in God. He is the source of the hope that brings us these things. And the circular beauty in all of this is that the Holy Spirit uses the joy and peace that we receive in believing in the God of hope to fill us with hope! The wonderful consequences are unity and love and patience with each other as we wait together in eager anticipation of the eternity to come. You see, my joy and my peace and my hope cannot be found in the people around me, even those in my believing family. These things can only be found in my Father and are given by the Holy Spirit. When I seek joy, peace, and hope correctly, my focus is off of the behavior of others and onto God, the one place it should rest, which results in patience and love toward everyone else.

 

Study/Meditation: Read Hebrews 6:13-20. How did this writer explain our source of hope?

 

*Father, You are my hope and my sure foundation. In You and You alone do I place my trust. Amen.

 

In Jesus Christ we find the only hope that sustains us. #hope

 

Romans 15:9-12 “…and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’ And again it is said, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.’ And again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.’”

 

Jesus Christ was much more than a Jewish man. He was more than a Messiah to the Jewish nation. He came to the earth as a man, the Son of David who was the son of Jesse, but His Personhood extends far beyond those earthly robes. It is in these truths that not only the hope of the redeemed Israel lays, but also the hope of every redeemed man, woman, and child who ever lives. Our hope lies in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who put on the flesh of man to save His people, and those people are from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Paul had just said in Romans 15:4 that the Scriptures were given to instruct us and to give us endurance and encouragement. Now, in order to point us toward just those very things, Paul declares that Jesus is the hope of all people, both Jew and Gentile, by quoting four passages from the Old Testament. (Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10) Jesus is our hope. It is in Him and Him alone that we place our trust for the future. Our jobs, our spouses, our family, our friends, our church—all will disappoint eventually. But in Jesus Christ we find the only hope that sustains us. In Him do we trust.

 

Study/Meditation: How should a Christian life exemplify ultimate hope in Christ and Christ alone? (Think of specific examples.)

 

*Father, thank You for redeeming Your people out of every tribe, nation, and tongue. Thank You for redeeming me. Amen.

 

csm_Julie_Publicity_Photo_fd689c83b8By Dr. Julie Barrier

I’ll be brutally honest. My Dad wanted a son to take over his business. He had two girls, and I was the heir-apparent. My “Daddy issues” carried over into my marriage. Roger, my fledgling pastor-husband, sought advice from our church counselor about how to handle a driven wife. Dr. Dowdle advised, “Julie is a talented and powerful woman. You had better set her free to be all that God wants her to be, or in twenty years you’re going to have a very angry lady on your hands.”

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Our trust in God and His promises find their Yes in Christ. #faith

 

Romans 15:8 “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs.”

 

Doubt is perhaps one of the strongest obstacles in the Christian faith, for if we doubt the promises of God in any way, how can we trust great biblical promises like Jeremiah 29:11 or Romans 8:28? The issue Paul is addressing here is one he has addressed before, and that is the question as to God’s trustworthiness if His promises to Israel were not fulfilled. Did God break His promise to Israel when He chose to include many Gentiles into His family while also choosing to exclude many ethnic Jews? The answer is “no,” as Paul has already answered in Romans 9:6 when he wrote that there is a remnant of the nation of Israel that is the true Israel. How then did God keep His promise to redeem that remnant? The same way He has kept it to redeem all of His people—through the blood of Jesus Christ. Just as Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (Christ). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) We can trust that God is faithful in all of His promises just as we praise Him for sending His Son to redeem us in order to fulfill them.

 

Study/Meditation: How important is it that you trust God fully to keep His promises? In what ways has He kept all of them to you and to His entire people?

 

*Father, You are faithful and just. Thank You for continually confirming Your promises to keep and protect us. You are worthy of all praise and honor! Amen.