Friday, December 18, 2015

Danger of standing in judgement

Romans 2:1-7
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice te very same things. We know that the judgement of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself- that you will escape the judgement of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forebearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impertinent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgement will be revealed.

-- Paul unleashes, in the verses just prior to these, a whole laundry list of things that fall under the heading "all manners of unrighteousness" these include sexually immoral things, evil, covetousness, slander, malice, boastfulness, haughtiness, foolishness, faithlessness, and so on... then the Apostle jumps into this diatribe in which he jumps down the throat of those who consider themselves to be holy, blameless before God, righteous, His chosen people. Paul's words here are to the church.
They are words warning us to tread carefully when choosing to stand in judgement of the world, and of those whom we have deemed unworthy of the love of God. There is warning for us, the church, not to stand in judgement of the world simply because they do those same things that we are guilty of doing. Paul commends the church also, saying that we are right in knowing that God's righteous anger will fall on those who do "such things". The warning, however is that we, the church, need to be careful of making sweeping comments on the damnable on the coming judgement of the world and then sweeping our own sins under the rug of God's love and patience for His people. We tuck our sins in nearly to our back pocket and proclaim that we are better than the world because our sins are no longer sins. To thus Paul says, in not so clean words, be careful church...

If we live by the standard of the world, and rest upon the love, patience, and forebearance of God towards those who He loves, we better be certain that we understand the purpose of his patience, his love, and his holding back of the wrath we so very much deserve. It is in order that we might be driven to repentance, and that we might be used to shine light onto the path of repentance to the world. It is so that our prayers do not mimick those of the Pharisee, thanking God for making us better than the lowly sinners around us.

We shall not stand in judgement of the world for their sins, we stand in heartbreak over the sins of this world, wishing, hoping, and praying that through our redemption and adoption as sins and daughters, the world might see and know the love of a father who forebears Hi righteous judgement for those whom he calls children.

Father God, let me not look upon this fallen world, judging them for the same sins I commit without first coming to the cross of Christ, and there allowing you to bare my heart and mind to the level of atrocity that you have forgiven in me. Lord, in your lovingkindness I find forgiveness and peace which stir my soul to joyful repentance for the things I do. Lord, let the light of your peace shine through me, allow my words against the sins of this fallen world resonate with the love of your gospel. Let them see forgiveness of sins like theirs that you light awaken them from darkness and death. Let me see the glory of the fullness of joy found in Christ.

Monday, December 14, 2015

wise fools

After seeing yesterday that those who suppress the truth of God, revealed in plain sight, are destined to suffer the eternal wrath of God absent the redemption of Jesus Christ, today we see in better detail how we came to begin suppressing the truth:

Romans 1:21-25
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts became darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

-- Those who have suppressed the truth are those who know God, but have chosen now not to honor God or to give him thanks. But how did they get there?
     Suppose that those who originally recognized they glory of God, apparent in the beauty of creation, decided to "become wise" and gain deeper understanding of God through the study of his creation. Yet, as they became further immersed in their study of creation, they become enamored in the intricate beauty of the creation they are studying. They begin to focus more and more on the objects they are studying, until they begin to lose their focus on the creator, and begin praising the creature. Their thinking has been lowered from the heavenly realm to the worldly realm, and they begin to exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, animals, creeping things... They continue to sink lower and lower, their hearts becoming darker in the process as they slowly digress into what amounts to idol worship. God, being holy and jealous for his own glory, will not compete for their affections, and eventually gives them over to the lusts of their impurity, and their suppression of the glory of God.

We are implored to keep our minds on the things above, to keep our thoughts focused on the things of God. Spelled out in this letter to the Romans, we are granted a look into what happens when we slowly begin to lower our eyes and allow our praises to begin resting on the things of creation, and slip away from the creator. The end result of the cycle is a suppression of truth which will lead to a decision (conscious or not) to begin to worship and serve our new idols. What is worse is that this cycle often begins in the name of wisdom. We decide we want to seek deeper knowledge of God, we decide to study what he has made... not a bad idea, but easily twisted, distorted, perverted into making us fools. It begins to split our focus, and our worship starts to drift. God is not interested in our double-minded worship. Focus being shifted to creation, rather than creator, is an insidious, demonic assault on our worship. The attribution of the beauty of an object as a possession of that object is an exchange of the glory of God for the glory of that object. And, even though pleasure can be found in the worship of creation, joy is robbed, resulting in the absence of the fullness of joy which is found only at the right hand of God.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

rescued from wrath

Seeing through these first few bits of Romans that joy is to be found in the study of Scripture, and that as that joy grows in this study that we then feel compelled to proclaim the truths found in Scripture, and that through this proclamation, our joy grows further, and that through this proclaimed truth of the gospel, faith is created, strengthened, re-kindled, and emboldened, leading into and throughout the creation of new life, and that bearing witness to this process further deepens joy... we come today to the balance of that joy. We start to see today why we have such joy:

Romans 1:18-20 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Wrath: God's righteous anger, which stands in direct opposition to all unrighteousness

Unrighteousness of men: the suppression of the revealed power and nature of God throughout all of creation

Without excuse: ignorance of the eternal power and divine nature of God is not an excusable offense, rather it is the eternal mark of damnation secondary to the fall, and present on each of us

Meditation: For those who have been gifted an awakening of their eyes, hearts, and minds to the revealed truth of God, we see creation differently than those who live in darkness. We are called to shine our grace-given light into this darkness that others may see beyond the suppression of the world, which causes blindness to the glory revealed in all things created. Suffering under the eternal wrath of God is at stake, and the joy and peace found in the rescue from this fate is a deep drink from the sweet waters of of Father's fountain of grace. Our joy is magnified by the reality of our rescue from a fate we were owed, our price paid and our portion of wrath poured out into the cup consumed by Christ.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Proclaim faith

Yesterday really hit hard on the need to tell, today answers the what to tell, and why we must proclaim only the gospel.

Romans 1:16-17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "the righteous shall live by faith."

Gospel: the revelation is Jesus as the incarnate, trinitarian son, told from the Old Testament prophets, proclaimed, lived, and fulfilled in the New Testament gospels, explained in the epistles. The power and God-ordained means by which faith is created, belief is rooted, and salvation is initiated.
Faith: the gospel reveals the righteousness of God across the full history of faith. Such righteousness holds power sufficient to bring to life those dead in darkness, to exchange the heart of stone for a heart of fertile soil. Soil in which the seed of faith grows, changing the way we live, how we organize our days, how we pattern our lives.

Meditation: if we are to seek joy in the proclamation of truth, the gospel must be that truth. The speaking of the gospel is the ordained means of faith creation. The birth of a new creation in Jesus must be seen as the most praise-worthy out-working of the power of the Spirit in our current presence. We must proclaim this truth, that through the speaking of the word faith might be created, and God may be glorified through our praise.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Submitted to the sovereign will

If yesterday's passage was intended to spark within me a renewed pursuit of joy that can only be found in deeper study of the word, today's might well be intended to remind me of the joy found in truth...

Romans 1:8-15 ESV
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you- that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

"My God"- personal relationship built upon Jesus Christ
God- whom I serve in the gospel of Jesus
God's will- perhaps to finally succeed in going to Rome, though has yet before been to prevent this journey... sovereign
Imparting spiritual gifts- mutual encouragement through the sharing of faith, both theirs and ours. Joy to be had in giving and receiving
Eager to preach- that a harvest may be reaped

Purpose/ meditation:
A spirit, surrendered to the sovereign will of God seeks, desires, and longs for the company of brothers, that through fellowship we may give and receive encouragement. A heart surrendered to this same sovereign will desires to seek joy through the proclamation of truth, through which faith is created, re-kindled, strengthened, and perfected in whosoever has ears to hear. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Trying something new

It has become (painfully) apparent that my personal bible reading/study has been suffering neglect for the better part of the last couple of years. I've been busy, and in an irresponsible manner, my meditation and study time has been pushed to the outer margins of my schedule. As this year is closing, and with it my educational journey ending (hooray), I'm convicted that now is the time to face the problem.
Today, I'm starting a new journey. I have always wanted (always= for a couple years) to journal my way through the bible, including hand-writing the scriptures out in their entirety, and then jotting down a few thoughts about the passage. I always thought it'd be a great way to become more intimately involved with the words themselves, aiding me in the realm of memorizing the word while improving my meditation. So, that's what I did this morning... and it was pretty dang good. But as I finished, I felt a desire that I should really go one deeper step. I should type it out as well. Just to get one more deeply, intentional run through the text... so, that's why I'm back here today. And, why I hope to be back here on a more regular basis. I figure that I may as well share this process with any of you who find your way here, who knows, maybe it'll help encourage someone else. So, after that rambling introduction, here's to a new journey:

Romans 1:1-7 ESV
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

-- Paul: called, set apart; Apostle
-- Gospel of God: promised in the Old Testament scriptures; prophesied; revealing the Son
--Son: David's descendant, fulfilling those prophesies of the Old Testament; further and fully declared via his resurrection, by the power of the Holy Spirit 
--Lord: Master/Giver/Provider; gifter of grace and apostleship, as to Paul, as to all who are called

Purpose: to bring glory to the name of Jesus; to bring obedience of faith among The  Church of the called.

Meditation: Joy is completed in the praise being offered through the obedience of the faithful; which is stirred to life in the heart awakened by the effectual call of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who gives to his people grace and teaching that we may better understand the enormity of who he is, through the study of his gospel which is proclaimed throughout the entirety of his holy scripture.