Archive for the ‘Romans’ Category

Being human in God’s image

December 30th, 2015 by Maureen

God created us in His own likeness and image. Gen. 1:26

I’ve heard the relationship between God and man compared to a human and an ant. None of these descriptions of what it means to be human sounds very ant-like:

He set eternity in our hearts. Ecc. 3:11

He has given us, as His disciples, all authority in heaven and earth. Matt. 28:18

Whoever believes in Jesus will do the works He did and even greater things…Jn. 14:12

His Holy Spirit to teach us all things.  Jn. 14:26  and guide us into all truth. Jn. 16:12

We can have the mind of Christ in us. Phil. 2:5

The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. Rom. 8:11

Jesus has given us the glory the Father gave to Him that we might all be one with the Trinity together. Jn. 17:22

We are partakers in His divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4

The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear but we know this much, when Jesus appears we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. 1 Jn. 3:2

Certainly none of us will ever be God, nor should we aspire to be, but perhaps what He wants us to experience and to become is more profound and transcendent than ants have the capacity to envision but are within the realm of what a child can envision for him- or herself when imagining what it is to be a grown-up. Embrace all it means to be a human child of God.

Lord, I want for myself everything You want for me. I open myself to all the possibilities You offer.

I believe because God knows

November 1st, 2015 by Maureen

For He spoke and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast. Ps. 33:9 God…calls into being things that do not exist. Rom 4:17, …declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done. Is. 46:9

God did not have doubts about what would result when He spoke. When Christ died and rose, God wasn’t hoping the result would be redemption. When He walked this earth Jesus didn’t surprise Himself when He healed or performed other miracles. God doesn’t need faith because He already knows the outcome. Even when He walked this earth, Jesus and the Father were one. Jesus prayer for us to His Father was that “just as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You, that they may also be in Us.” (Jn. 17:21)  Perhaps what God accomplishes in us and through us is less about our sacrifices or our faith and more about our communion and union with God. This doesn’t make us privy to the future but it does allow us to approach it with confidence.

Lord, I have no idea what is going to happen or why. But I know I am in You and You do know.

 

 

Most people aren’t looking for a fight

October 13th, 2015 by Maureen

If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Rom. 12:18

We can’t control what other people say or do but we can control how we respond. We can’t always understand where other people are coming from but we can extend the benefit of the doubt as to motive and reasoning. When appropriate we can ask questions and listen to and consider the answers. We can’t force peace upon those who want a fight, but most people respond to love and acceptance in kind.

Lord, help me tap into Your love and grace so that I can be at peace and encourage peace when conflicts arise.

 

 

Believe

September 25th, 2015 by Maureen

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. Rom. 15:13

Our beliefs about Who Jesus is and what His life, death, and resurrection means (I use present tense due to my beliefs) are just that: beliefs. Peace with God happens because we choose to believe in His love and grace. Holy Spirit encourages us and confirms the truth of Christ in our Spirits so that we can have peace even when we feel conflicted because of evil that we see, do, or ignore. The joy and peace, love and grace we experience are spiritual results of simple belief in Who Jesus is and What He accomplished. Sometimes we make it harder than it actually is by thinking there is more for us to accomplish or something we have to factually prove.

Lord,  I believe. Even when I don’t understand.

We are family

September 20th, 2015 by Maureen

So let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding. Rom. 14:19

Ideas and attitudes that make for peace require acceptance of those who might not do it the same way we do. Mutual upbuilding might mean finding common ground and rejoicing in those ideas together even though we vehemently disagree about other ideas. The kingdom of God is big enough for all of us. We are all children of the same Father, brothers and sisters all, even when we each stand in slightly different areas of His enormous truth.

Lord, as I stand in the truth You’ve revealed for me  let me be part of peace and mutual upbuilding among all Your children.

 

Because Jesus.

September 15th, 2015 by Maureen

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand and rejoice in the hope of sharing the glory of God. Rom. 5:1

That His grace is enough is the beginning point for a Christ-centered perspective. What if every idea, every project, every response began with the understanding that Jesus is the initiator of grace, of justification, of hope, of peace, of glory, of faith itself. There is no need for us to improve on what God has already done for us.  Whatever we plan, create, or achieve are responses to the love and grace Christ has already poured out on us.

Lord, I trust Christ. I rest in His grace. I placing my complete faith His finished work. This brings me real peace and I am grateful.

Big Daddy

August 23rd, 2015 by Maureen

You did not receive the spirit of slavery leading back to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. By Him we cry out “Abba, Father!” Rom. 8:15

The law resulted in constant fear of messing up and being punished. Under the law, the almost unavoidable perception of God was that of an austere and intolerant taskmaster. At least that’s the result of 1400 years of law in the hands of generations of religious leaders. This was not the relationship God wanted to have with His most beloved creation. Only the Son could demonstrate what it means to be beloved by the Father. Christ’s redemption of us restores that relationship with the Father, without fear, beyond law.

Daddy, I want to be motivated by love of You rather than fear of You.

If we have to go there we might as well get something out of it

July 27th, 2015 by Maureen

In trouble we hold our heads up and  live in God-given confidence (kauchaomai) knowing that trouble produces endurance, and endurance produces tried and proven character, and that character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who God gave to us. Rom 5:3-5

The conflicts in our lives take us on a journey, and each part of that journey can be transformative. When troubles come we are not required to slap on a fake smile and “rejoice in trouble,”  but negativity isn’t constructive either. We can choose to view trouble with annoyance and fear or we can wipe off the fake smile or the grumpy face, roll up those sleeves, and approach trouble as a challenge, even an adventure. We can remain positive, confident, and peaceful that through each part of the journey God loves us, helps us, and equips us with what we need to get through.

Lord, let the hope that You built in me over the last journey grow through the next one.

The desires of corpses

May 31st, 2015 by Maureen

Present yourselves to God as alive from the dead and your members as instruments for dikaiosynē (translated “righteousness.” Romans 6:13

The Greek word dikaiosynē can also be translated as “justification” or “justice.” Earlier in Romans 3 Paul uses the word in relation to God’s righteousness as justification that frees us from sin. God is the actor and we are the ones acted upon.

Who we believe that we are affects our responses to God, our desires, and the things we believe will satisfy those desires. If we presuppose that we are forever bound to a cycle of sin-guilt-repent-sin again-more guilt… then we will continue to believe that we are driven by the same desires that satisfied the old self that died with Christ at crucifixion. Believing that we are resurrected, transformed beings brought alive by Christ and seeing ourselves in that way is going to change the dynamics. Instead of spending spiritual energy focused on resisting the desires of corpses we are free to pursue the desires and fulfillment that arise from who we are now that Christ has raised us from the dead.

Lord, when I look to the destructive habits of a dead self remind me of who I am now.

May 31st, 2015 by Maureen

Present yourselves to God as alive from the dead and your members as instruments for dikaiosynē (translated “righteousness.” Romans 6:13

The Greek word dikaiosynē can also be translated as “justification” or “justice.” Earlier in Romans 3 Paul uses the word in relation to God’s righteousness as justification that frees us from sin. God is the actor and we are the ones acted upon.

Who we believe that we are affects our responses to God, our desires, and the things we believe will satisfy those desires. If we presuppose that we are forever bound to a cycle of sin-guilt-repent-sin again-more guilt… then we will continue to believe that we are driven by the same desires that satisfied the old self that died with Christ at crucifixion. Believing that we are resurrected, transformed beings brought alive by Christ and seeing ourselves in that way is going to change the dynamics. Instead of spending spiritual energy focused on resisting the desires of our dead selves we are free to pursue the desires and fulfillment that arise from who we are now that Christ has raised us from the dead.

Lord, when I look to the destructive habits of a dead self remind me of who I am now.

What does it mean to be covered in prayer?

May 30th, 2015 by Maureen

In the way that hope causes us to wait patiently and expectantly for what we do not see, the Spirit helps our weaknesses; for, we may pray for things that are not be beneficial for us, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us…according to the will of God.  Rom. 8:25b-26

Prayer is never counter-productive, even the reactive ones that are better unanswered. We can’t know the future. We seldom recognize all the negative or positive impacts and ramifications that having our desires become reality might have on our families, our community. God knows all this. If we pray for things we’re better off without, the Spirit has us covered. Though we pray for things that we never get and never discover the reasons why we don’t get them, prayer remains an intimate act of trust and hope. Prayer brings us into the triune union of a loving Father, a redeeming Christ, and a perceptive Spirit who move in our lives in ways that are always beneficial and loving.

Lord, I lay my deepest desires before You, trust You to cover them with Your wisdom and grace, and expect your response to be good.

Peace mindset

May 26th, 2015 by Maureen

To set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6

Flesh relies on a set of human understandings, capabilities, and expectations based within a fallen, exhausted, and limited world. Even if everybody perceives and responds with optimum results, the end is eventually death. Bummer. Jesus sets us free from the chronic fallenness and limitations of fleshly perspective and offers a much more hopeful, powerful, and effective perspective for us to process the impacts of living life on earth.

Lord, help me keep setting my mind on You.

If Jesus repaid evil with grace – can we?

May 17th, 2015 by Maureen

Do not repay one evil with another evil. Give careful thought to what is good in the sight of all people. Rom. 12:17

Payback, vengeance, retribution, punishment, karma, whatever we choose to call it – many interpret “justice” as seeing someone who has caused harm “get what’s coming.” Some prefer restorative justice, rehabilitation, or penance – a way for the person who has done harm to earn back good status through changed behaviors and conformity to what the culture deems “good.” Either way we are expected to pay for the evil we do. Disputes may arise over whether the payment imposed is enough, too much, or truly just. Jesus throws out every other paradigm of justice in favor of grace – unearned forgiveness and total restoration. He transforms us so that we are no longer sinners continually requiring retribution but children continually receiving grace.

Lord, I want to learn to repay evil with grace instead of more evil; help me remember that when I’m really mad.

May 17th, 2015 by Maureen

Do not repay one evil with another evil. Give careful thought to what is good in the sight of all people. Rom. 12:17

Payback, vengeance, retribution, punishment, justice, karma, whatever we choose to call it – many cultures interpret “justice” as seeing someone who has caused harm “get what’s coming.” There are cultures that practice some form of restorative justice, rehabilitation, or penance – a way for the person who has done harm to earn back status through changed behaviors and conformity to what the culture deems “good.” Either way we have to pay for the evil we do and perhaps dispute over whether the payment is enough, too much, or truly just. Jesus throws out every other paradigm of justice in favor of grace. He transforms us so that we are no longer sinners continually requiring retribution but children continually receiving grace.

Lord, thank You for transforming grace.

Plastic patience

April 27th, 2015 by Maureen

May the God of endurance and encouragement enable you to live in harmony with one another according to Jesus Christ. Rom 15:5

We can grit our teeth and force ourselves to be nice. We can engage in the white-knuckling, jaw-clinching kind of patience that just waits for it all to be over. We can just lie down and let ourselves be steamrolled. The versions of patience we create are sorry substitutes for the loving, grace-filled, enduring, encouraging, transforming patience that Christ poured into His relationships with others. Having Christ manifest in us what we cannot manufacture in ourselves isn’t faking it, it’s part of being transformed into His image.

Lord, my version of patience is platic. Fill me with Your version of patience until that kind of patience becomes an organic part of who I am.

April 27th, 2015 by Maureen

May the God of endurance and encouragement enable you to live in harmony with one another according to Jesus Christ. Rom 15:5

We can grit our teeth and force ourselves to be nice. We can engage in the white-knuckling, jaw-clinching kind of patience that just waits for it all to be over. We can just lie down and let ourselves be steamrolled. The versions of patience we create are sorry substitutes for the loving, grace-filled, enduring, encouraging, transforming patience that Christ poured into His relationships with others. Having Christ manifest in us what we cannot manufacture in ourselves isn’t faking it, it’s part of being transformed into His image.

Lord, my version of patience isn’t doing anything to build relationship or resolve issues. Fill me with Your version of patience until what it becomes my very own.

What a relief!

April 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39

Instead of “Do all this holy stuff and read this and wear this and knock of forty doors and stop doing this so God will love you” it says “nothing – not one thing in all creation including what we’ve done or might do or didn’t do – will separate us from the love of God. Being loved – securely, profoundly, unconditionally loved – is way more motivating than obedience out of fear that love will be withdrawn.

Lord, I’m so glad I get to follow You because You love me instead of so You’ll love me.

 

The presence of suffering is not a measure of our faith or God’s favor

March 4th, 2015 by Maureen

Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us. Rom 8:18

Perhaps we do grow stronger through suffering but the hope of glory does not diminish the legitimate pain, grief, annoyance, and inconvenience we feel when we are experiencing suffering. Denying reality for the sake of optimism squelches growth just as much as pessimistic declarations of defeat. It’s impossible to experience the light shining out from behind clouds if we keep trying to paint on the silver linings ourselves. In eternity suffering gives way to glory but in the present time suffering and glory are both realities that are not mutually exclusive.

Lord, it is Your glory that gives me hope.

The good, acceptable, and perfect stretch

March 1st, 2015 by Maureen

Do not conform to this age but be transformed by the renewing of your minds and you shall distinguish what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Rom. 12:2

We are not going to be able to do the good, acceptable and perfect will of God all the time. Just being able to distinguish it is often a stretch. And sometimes so is wanting to. Fortunately God is gracious and continuously renews our minds and brings us to awareness that His good, acceptable, and perfect will isn’t dependent on our ability to execute but on His ability to transform.

Lord, keep stretching me.

The love dilemma

February 8th, 2015 by Maureen

Let love be genuine, sincere, unfeigned, without hypocrisy…Don’t just pretend to love others, really love them! Rom. 12:9 (ESV, NIV, YLT, NKJ, NLT)

Loving because we are “supposed to” is fake. Yet we are supposed to but we don’t. We can’t. So with the best of intentions we try really hard to imitate Christs love; or we theologically justify not loving some people; or we redefine “love” so that we can remove from the equation whatever aspects of it we can’t seem to manufacture in ourselves. Yet Jesus loves intentionally and impulsively in a way that speaks to spirit,  intellect, emotion, and practical needs and circumstances. By “impulsively” I mean that because He is love, love defines His nature and therefore He responds naturally with love. The more aware we become of His nature, the more we can partake in it (2 Pet. 1:4) so that love becomes an impulsive response for us as well.

Lord, let love define my nature too.