Slaves to Righteousness

Romans 6

In chapter 5 Paul stated that where sin abounds grace abounds even more. Fearing that some of the christians in Rome would feel that was a license to sin Paul goes on in chapter 6 to explain this further.  “By no means!” I love when scripture puts that in emphatically, I always make sure I understand what the earlier statement was because he has put such emphasis on it. The question in verse 1 was “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” “By no means!” The Passion translation puts it “What a terrible thought!” Yet in Paul’s day that was apparently a problem and it is a problem with some even today. There are people who think they can live however they want even after they have become a christian but Paul shows here and as we unpack it I think we will see that when you have accepted Jesus you may not immediately change your ways but God is not going to leave you alone in habitual sin. 

First of all becoming a christian is identifying with Jesus in his death and it is identifying with Him in his resurrection. We are to crucify our old self so that we are no longer a slave to sin. This doesn’t mean you will never sin again. That can’t happen until we go home to glory with Him. But what it does mean is that you will not be comfortable in that sin. I believe there are people who remain in sin even after they give their life to Christ but the point is they are not walking in the freedom that a life in Christ brings. Sin is not the boss of you!  

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:10-11)

Paul’s point here is do not let sin reign in your life. It is such a shame that so many Christians are not walking in the freedom that God has for us, but as Paul says it, are slaves to sin. Being enslaved to something or someone means it masters you. If you are enslaved to sin, the Devil will have you thinking that you can’t change or this is just the way you are, the way you were made and you can’t change it. But I also truly believe that if you accepted Jesus you can’t be comfortable in it. Ok, I’m preaching to the choir here. I have things that I struggle with, characteristics that my thought process will head toward immediately in certain circumstances. My mouth gets ahead of me, I can be quick to anger, I talk more than I wish I did many many times. I can’t excuse that behavior even though it is a part of my natural make up. But what I can and what I try to do is to bring it to the cross and ask God to change my thought processes and to fix me. I don’t want to have a short fuse, I do, but that is no excuse if I am walking in the light of His love and what He did for me. It bothers me. He has not let me excuse it as that’s how He made me. I have to bring it to Him and ask His help with it. And when I react in a more loving way I think of that as a little victory. That doesn’t mean I will never do it again, but it does mean that I won a small battle in my human flesh by laying it down. There are other things that someone else may be struggling with. But we do not have to walk in those struggles. We get to walk in His righteousness and to present our bodies and our lives as a living sacrifice to Him. 

The bottom line is you are either going to be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. I for one would rather live as a slave to righteousness. But there are a lot of people who think that is no fun and that being a slave to sin is more fun and where the good times are. However, I know no one who remains a slave to sin that death and destruction do not reign eventually. 

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:20-23

Satan loves to wrap sin up in fun, he loves to make it shiny and bright so that we think that is where we want to live. Jesus gives us grace to just be and to work on things that make us uncomfortable and to serve and love Him. The reward at the end of a life with Jesus is eternal life. I think there are going to be a few people who knew Him but didn’t live in the light of Him who get that. The day to day rewards are what I don’t want to miss out on. The grace, the peace, the hope that walking with Him day to day brings me. 

Lord, help us to live in your grace. Help us to be slaves to your righteousness and not slaves to sin. Show each of us what our next step to walking with you will be. 

Hope does not Disappoint!

Romans 5 

“In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text.”  Martin Luther 

As soon as I ran across this statement I knew that Romans 5 would have some exciting things to give us.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 ESV

The faith we have in Jesus is what brings us peace. That faith is also what allows us to live in His grace and to rejoice in His Hope. 

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 

There it is, one of those times that Paul is telling us to “rejoice in our sufferings”. Kind of like James with “count it all joy” I must admit there is discomfort when I first read passages like this. How can I rejoice in my sufferings? How is it that I can count things joyful when things seem so messed up? Whether it be in my personal life, or in the world at large, doesn’t it seem crazy to count it joy and to rejoice when suffering comes? Let’s take our children. We would love for them to grow up and never know suffering and to never have a bad day and to always succeed at everything. To always get the trophy so to speak. But we learn and they learn through hardship and through not always winning and through some amount of suffering. Suffering produces endurance. When you suffer at something, when you have to work a little harder at something it produces endurance. You have to keep at it, you have to have discipline. That endurance and the discipline it takes to endure, produces character. Someone’s character is who they are at their core. Wouldn’t it be nice if God just gave us those things without us having to work at them. But God cares more about who we are down deep, our character than to do that and He knows that some of us have to learn these lessons the hard way and some even harder than others. But it produces HOPE in us when we do learn the lessons of suffering, endurance and character. God’s Hope, not just a fly by night I hope things turn out okay. When bad things happen and I can look back at the way God has answered past hardships that I have endured I can hope all the more in the present day trials. 

Hope in Jesus does not put us to shame. Some translations say does not disappoint. When we accept Jesus we have the love of God poured into us through the Holy Spirit. We just have to cling to that hope and that love. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. Jesus came to fulfill the law because there was no way that we, in our human flesh, could ever keep the law to the point of staying in relationship with God. We do not have to get it all right in order to become a Christian. He died for sinners. He died for us. We are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus. And in that we do not have to endure the wrath of God. We are saved by Jesus. We have Hope in Jesus that will not disappoint us.

Paul goes on explaining how sin came into the world through Adam, through one man. Not through the law. Again, the law was a measure of sin. Death reigned before God ever gave Moses the law. Adam brought sin into the world. However, Jesus and His death on the cross is what justifies us and reconciles us and gives us the gift of peace and the gift of hope and grace!

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17

The victory of this chapter is in the last few verses. One man, Adam brought sin into the world. We are sinful by nature, babies are born sinful. Sin is something that reigns in our life until we accept Jesus. The Holy Spirit will work in a nonbelievers life to draw them to a saving relationship with Jesus. But once the sinful man is justified through Christ, they can have victory over their sinful nature. 

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:18-21

God thank you for Jesus! Thank you for your Peace! Thank you for your Grace! Thank you for your Hope! 

Hope against Hope!

Romans 4

The Jews of those days revered Abraham as the Father of Faith. Therefore Paul used Abraham in his writing to clarify to the Romans his thoughts on faith and works. He brings up Abraham in the first verse of this chapter. 

“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Romans 4:1-2 ESV

In other words, he is telling them think about Abraham. If you know of anyone who can be justified with God because of his works it would be Abraham. He worked for God, he did what God said to do. So he can boast to God about what he did for God, right? Wrong! No one can boast to God about their works. 

“For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” Romans 4:3

Abraham is the father of the faith because Abraham believed God. Plain and simple. Not because of his works but simply because he believed God. 

Paul also goes on in this chapter to explain to the christians in Rome that Abraham is the father of faith to all, not just to the Jewish people. 

“He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” Romans 4:11-12 

Circumcision was a seal for the Jewish people. It signified that they were a Jew that they were one of God’s chosen people. What Paul is pointing out here is that Abraham was given the seal of his circumcision because of his faith, not so that he would have faith. Therefore he became the father of faith before the circumcision even occurred. Therefore he is a father of all who have faith in God. 

“as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’-in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be’” Romans 4:17-18

This phrase jumped out at me today “In hope he believed against hope”. What do you have today that you are hoping for, believing for, against hope. When Abraham was told that he would be the father of many nations, he and Sarah were childless, and because of their age it was not likely that they would conceive and/or that Sarah would be able to carry a child. Yet when God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations, he believed him. Do you have something that you are believing God for? That you are hoping for against all hope. Friends you can hope in God. You can believe God. Place your hope in him against any and all hope that you may have otherwise. Abraham grew stronger in his faith AS he gave glory to God. 

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness’”.  Romans 20-21

Abraham chose to believe God when he told him he would be the father of many nations. He may not have known exactly how it would come about, because in his mind, he and Sarah were too old to have children. However, he was fully convinced that God could do what he promised. Grab hold of that, choose to believe God for your circumstances, lay it at the foot of the cross whatever is on your heart today. I can’t promise how God will work it out. But I can tell you that the things in my life that I have laid at his cross and begged him to work out for me, he has done it. It may not always work out like I thought it would before but it works out better than I could have ever thought or imagined. We get to have this faith, that Abraham had also. 

“But the words, ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Romans 4:23-25

Lord help us as we hope against hope to believe in your promises. Help us Lord to know that you have our best interests at heart and that when we lay those things at your feet that we may have lost hope for that we have this hope in Jesus because of what He did for us on the cross. Lord work those things out for us for your glory and for your good. Amen

NONE ARE RIGHTEOUS!

Romans 3

Paul has sent this letter to Rome to encourage the Romans. In this chapter of the letter he anticipates some of the questions that they may have been asking based on the first 2 chapters. It seems to me that he realizes that some of what he has said may be going over their heads so to speak or confusing them. The Jewish people knew they were God’s chosen people. They were the ones who had been given the law and the rituals to keep and had handed down for generations these practices and rituals. They had some beautiful traditions that in their minds justified them and made them feel closer to God. Paul is preaching to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles and in so doing some of the Jewish people may have been feeling a little torn. Because they were used to the traditions and they were used to the rituals but is Paul saying that none of that is important anymore. “By no means!” Paul points out that the faithfulness of God is not based on our faithfulness nor our faithlessness. 

“By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar…” Romans 3:4

This is such a comfort to me. God is true whether I am living in my faith or struggling in my faith. No matter what is going on in the world or around me. No matter if there is a Covid, or corruption, or political unrest, or people who do right or don’t do right. God is true! 

Paul also seems to be pointing out that when unrighteousness abounds that God’s righteousness is magnified. However he also addresses in this that there are some people who might actually try to use that as a means to excuse their own unrighteousness. They, in their thinking may be saying God would be unrighteous to inflict His wrath on us since our unrighteousness shows His righteousness. Again, 

“By no means! For then how could God judge the world?” Romans 3:6

We talked a bit about God’s judgment yesterday and I mentioned that I would much rather fall under God’s judgment than mans. God judges rightly and He is always compassionate, fair and true. One day we will all fall under God’s judgment. We must always be careful not to twist the grace that God gives so freely as a license to sin or to remain the same. Yes God’s righteousness and God’s grace is a free gift to us but the point is to make us better, not to justify us because “I am who I am”. 

The second part of this chapter points out to us that “None are righteous”. What I think and what I glean from reading in several translations and commentary is this. The law was given to the Jewish people and they thought that their possession of the law is what justified them. Paul is pointing out that they are not righteous because of the law, nor are the Gentiles righteous because they don’t have the law (nor the traditions) as their gauge. The law was given to point out sins. It is a measure to use. Verses 10 – 17 show man’s depravity and the many ways that man sins against God. But it is all men, not just the Jew, not just the Gentile, but all men! But also just being a good person and keeping the law will not justify you. 

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20

We can’t keep enough rules and regulations to make us right in Him. But there is good news here in the latter part of this chapter. 

God gave us the law and He gave us the prophets in order to bear witness to sin. But God gave us His righteousness through Jesus that through our faith in Him there is no distinction anymore. 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

I have known verse 23 for years and have had it memorized and have quoted it, but why oh why have have I not been quoting the whole thought? Yes we all sin and yes we all fall short of his glory but oh how exciting that we are justified by his grace. If you believe in Jesus He has redeemed you! Already! Jesus came to be the propitiation of our sin, by his blood. That word, propitiation just means substitute sacrifice. He was our sacrifice, through His blood on the cross we can have faith. This was to show God’s righteousness and it is to be our justifier if we have faith in Jesus. God is the God of Jews and the God of Gentiles. 

“since God is one – who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary we uphold the law. (Romans 3:30-31)

Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you for sending Jesus to be my substitute sacrifice for my sins. Thank you Lord for your grace. Lord, help me to uphold the law through the faith I have in you and by the grace you have so freely given. 

God’s Judgement leads to Repentance

Romans

In Romans 1 Paul laid some things out for the Romans, that he was afraid they would look at and think well I’m not as bad as this guy so I must be ok. Paul wants to be sure in Romans 2 that they realize that instead of judging others they better be looking at themselves first. 

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” Romans 2:1 ESV 

In Matthew it also warns us that we will be judged by the measure that we use on others against ourselves. (Matt 7:1-2)  I don’t know about you but the more I learn and know about God, I would much rather be “judged” by God than by man. Our measures are imperfect. We will quickly jump to conclusions or in our mind we will choose sides based on friendship and on how we feel about one person or another. But God is the same all the time, He knows the big picture, He knows your heart. God’s judgment is meant to lead you to repentance, whereas the judgment of man is condemning and it leads to guilt and shame. 

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

God’s kindness is so that he leads us to repentance. We are not driven there. I’ve often jokingly said that God had to hit me over the head with a 2X4 for something. But the more I know about God the more I realize that God doesn’t do that. He leads us to repentance. He draws us to himself, in his kindness and his patience and in his loving, gentle ways. He is not going to hit us over the head or to drive us to do anything. Oh make no mistake there is a wrath of God too. And the day will come that all who do and practice evil will fall under the judgment of God. But for those who seek God and his righteousness there will be glory and honor and peace. 

In the last part of Romans 2 Paul is talking about the law and God’s judgment that comes through the law. I’ll be honest, I read this passage over and over to try to gain understanding because I want to always handle God’s word rightly and to the best of my ability. What I gain from this is we will be judged by the matter of our hearts, not just the law. However, if you do know the law and if you teach and if you preach and if you boast in the laws of God and then you break these laws then you are dishonoring God. But let’s say there is someone who does not know the law, back in the days of the writing of Romans Paul was talking about the Gentiles. The Gentiles did not have the benefit of the Mosaic law handed down to them for centuries so what of them? What I think Paul is saying here is that it comes down to the heart. What is in your heart? Are you judging those who do not “keep” the laws and commandments of God based on what you know to be right and wrong? Or are you sweeping at your own back door first and realizing that the law was given to us as a measure but it’s what is in your own heart that God will look at. It’s not my place to judge you or to judge others. It is my place to show the lovingkindness of God to my fellow man. Even if I don’t necessarily see eye to eye with him. God is going to judge my heart by what I know. God is going to judge your heart by what you know. There is so much going on in the world right now and people are quick to be angry and everyone wants their own opinion to be your opinion. My question is what can I do every day to show Jesus love to my fellow man. My job is to show the lovingkindness of Jesus so that maybe it will be something you will see in me that you might want for yourself. I don’t want it to be about religion or about laws. I do want to teach, and I do want to keep the law of the Lord. But I want to do it out of love and I desire to do His will and work for Him out of my love for Him. 

“But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man, but from God.” Romans 2:29 ESV

I am not ashamed!

Romans 1

This first chapter of Romans starts out as Paul’s letters do, with Paul stating his credentials and then a greeting to whom he is writing. The difference in the letter to the Romans and most of Paul’s other letters is that Paul planted the churches to which he was writing in most of his letters. But he did not plant the church in Rome. It is believed that there were Romans who were present at Pentecost and they returned to Rome and the church was birthed in Rome through those people. Therefore, the faith that came out of Rome was from that movement. Paul only knew of them because as stated in verse 8 their “faith is proclaimed in all the world.” Paul had been praying to go to Rome but something was preventing him. He tells them in this letter he wants to come to Rome so that they may be “mutually encouraged”. He recognizes however that at the time his main ministry is not in Rome. 

“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’” (Romans 1:16-17)

What is the righteousness of God? In my studying I read that the righteousness of God does not describe man as being righteous. The righteousness of God is something that we receive from God. It is a gift from God to man, not a description of man. I think as a human race we tend to think of righteousness in uncomfortable terms. We do not want to think of ourselves as righteous in that we think that would be pious or haughty. However when we realize that the righteousness that we receive from God is a free gift when we become christians it tends to compel us to want to live a more righteous life for God. Living righteously simply means living right in the grace that God has given us. 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18) 

There is a wrath of God to contend with when people go on living in ungodliness and unrighteousness. The commentary stated that ungodliness refers to sins committed against God and unrighteousness refers to sins of man against man. When we go on living however we choose, knowing that it is not right living it is suppressing the truth of God. I have heard people often say “this is just who I am” or “I am what I am” but “God loves me for it anyway”. This is suppressing the truth of who God is. Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and He is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. It is true that we all sin and that we all fall short. However when you just excuse your sins and don’t work on them, lay them down and attempt to change within the power of God that you are given, then you are not living in the truth of who God is and what Jesus came to do for us. Yes God loves you (ME) anyway, however He expects me to work on those sins and to lay them down. This does not mean I will ever become sinless but that I will grow in Christ and some of the sins that I formerly committed will not be a struggle for me anymore. 

Basically, what I see is that we may all be at a different level in our christian walk. This is where in my opinion grace will come in. Someone who is a new christian may have sins that you if you are a more seasoned christian do not have. We must give grace to the one who is growing in their faith. But growth is the key. According to Paul in this first chapter, if you do not honor God nor give thanks to him for what he has done for you, then you have a foolish heart. God may give you over to a debased mind. And before we all get to pious thinking our sins aren’t as bad as someone else’s let’s look at the list. 

“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32) 

Ouch! I don’t know about you but my toes are sore. Lord forgive me for the things that are in my heart and the ways I have not honored you. Please help us to recognize what in this list may be ours and Lord, please help me to lay down to you what I need to change in my own life. 

ROMANS

You can’t start the book of Romans without looking first at the importance of the book of Romans. (Or at least that is my opinion.) So before we dive in, I will tell you some things I have read in preview. 

I am taking this from a commentary that I read through the “Blue Letter Bible” app. I found it to be so interesting.  Again, the words I am about to type are not my words. 

The importance and impact of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. 

  1. In the summer of 386, a young man wept in the backyard of a friend. He knew his life of sin and rebellion against God left him empty and feeling dead; but he just couldn’t find the strength to make a final, real decision for Jesus Christ. As he sat, he heard children playing a game and they called out to each other these words: “Take up and read! Take up and read!” Thinking God had a message to him in the words of the children, he picked up a scroll laying nearby and began to read: ‘not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires’ (Romans 13:13b-14). He didn’t read any further, he didn’t have to. Through the power of God’s Word, Augustine gained faith to give his whole life to Jesus Christ at that moment. 
  1. In August of 1513, a monk lectured on the Book of Psalms to seminary students, but his inner life was nothing but turmoil. In his studies, he came across Psalm 31:1 “In thy righteousness deliver me.” The passage confused Luther; how could God’s righteousness do anything but condemn him to hell as a righteous punishment for his sins? Luther kept thinking about Romans 1:17, which says, “the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, He who through faith is righteous shall live.” The monk went on to say: ‘Night and day I pondered until… I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise… This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven” Martin Luther was born again, and Reformation began in his heart. 
  1. In May of 1738, a failed minister and missionary reluctantly went to a small Bible Study where someone read aloud from Martin Luther’s Commentary on Romans. As the failed missionary said later: “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine” John Wesley was saved that night in London. 

Taken from David Guzik, Bible Commentary, Blue Letter Bible App. 

When I read these 3 testimonies on Romans, my first inclination was to run far away from thinking I could write anything that would come close to those men’s testimonies. But then I just decided I wanted to share those with you before we begin unpacking this book. I am wondering and excited to see what God will teach us in Romans. I am also overwhelmed at the thought of it. Please pray with me that God will teach us. He has been faithful thus far, I can’t help but believe and have faith He’s got something to say to us through this letter from Paul to the Romans. 

I KNOW HIS NAME

Today as we wrap up our study on the names of God I want to recap all that we have learned. I hope that this study has been meaningful to you. I know I have learned so much and it has changed the way I pray many times.

When I am admiring a beautiful sunrise I praise ELOHIM who painted the pictures for me to see. 

When praying for healing for someone, I ask JEHOVAH RAPHA to heal. 

If I am afraid I pray for JEHOVAH NISSI to stand guard over me. 

When my heart feels troubled I pray for JEHOVAH SHALOM to be my peace. 

I am grateful that He is JEALOUS for me, that He is an all consuming fire in my soul. 

I am in awe that EL ELYON the Most High God, would even be mindful of me, yet He is! 

He is my ABBA FATHER, my Daddy when I need to just crawl into his lap and rest. 

He is ADONAI, my Lord, my Master and my Savior! 

When I feel like I am not enough, I know that I belong to EL SHADDAI that He is God Almighty, the all sufficient one!

When you pray for Israel, He is EL ELOHE ISRAEL, God the Holy One of Israel. 

He is EL OLAM – the Everlasting God!

The Lord of Hosts, the God of Angel Armies, JEHOVAH SABAOTH will fight for you. 

He is IMMANUEL, God with us and He is JEHOVAH JIREH, He will provide for me. 

He is my STRONG TOWER, my ROCK, my FORTRESS and my SHIELD. 

JEHOVAH ROHI, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want! 

JEHOVAH SHAMMAH – wherever you go the Lord is there. 

He is JEHOVAH TSIDKENU – the Lord is our righteousness, I would have none if not for Him. 

He is my SHOPHET – I am grateful He is who judges me. 

He is YAHWEH, Holy – I AM THAT I AM! 

And in Jesus own words…

I am the bread of life. 

I am the light of the world. 

I am the door. 

I am the resurrection and the life. 

I am the way the truth and the life.

I am the true vine. 

I know that I know God in a different way after this study. I have soaked it in as we have studied and I hope you have too. I feel I know the Father’s heart differently than I did before. I know how to call on Him in different ways. The truth is, no matter how much we study for the rest of our days we will still just scratch the surface of who God is. My desire is to know Him better today than I did yesterday and to know Him better tomorrow than I do today. I love scripture and I want to keep learning as long as I have breath in my lungs. Thank you for taking this journey with me! 

I will be taking a short pause to see where God is leading next. I will leave you with a repeat of Romans over the next few weeks. I’ll see you soon! 

I AM THE TRUE VINE

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1

Jesus was still speaking to his disciples in the upper room at their last supper together. Again, he is using imagery that would mean something to them when he is trying to teach them something. There would have been vineyards all around them, so they are no strangers to them. They would know the care it takes to grow a vineyard. They would know the way the vinedresser tends to the vines and what he does to them, even when they appear to be dead with no leaves right down to when they start bearing fruit and the way he has to support them as the grapes get heavy. They would know the imagery that if you cut the vine off from the source, there will be no fruit bearing and there will be no life to the vine. They also would know that sometimes it may appear painful as the vinedresser cuts away branches that even appear to be healthy but in doing so, there will be more fruit in the long run. They know that a branch cannot bear the fruit by itself, that it must abide in the vine. 

Abiding that is the key, not just getting up and reading a devotional, not church attendance, not listening to praise and worship music. Although those things are all good things and they help with the abiding they point us to the abiding. Abiding is actually getting to the point that your thoughts have kingdom purpose in mind. Abiding is knowing that if something is  against God’s will for your life it is not good for you to pursue. Abiding is knowing He is with you every step you take and every breath you breathe. Abiding is knowing that you can’t take another step without Him. Abiding is living for Him, loving Him and dying to yourself and your wills and desires. There is a verse tucked in here that I have highlighted in my bible. 

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

I wonder when I highlighted that verse. Was it when I was looking to Him to do something for me? Is it because I was looking for the secret to getting Him to answer my prayers my way? That is possible. But when I look at it today. I realize the reason we can ask whatever we wish and get it, is because of the abiding. Maybe I knew that when I highlighted it. I hope so, but probably not. You see when we are abiding in Him, we aren’t going to ask for something that is against His will. It is not possible to do so. If our thoughts are to bring glory to Him, which is what abiding in Him looks like, then there is no way our selfishness should creep in. If it is creeping in, we better check the door! Are my prayers outside of God’s will, are they just for my own selfishness? Or are my prayers for the good and the glory of His kingdom? There are times that my prayer is for something that may seem selfish and I am not sure of God’s will. If I am not sure of the direction I always ask Him to change my heart on the matter if that is what needs to happen. And then I try to be open to the change! Oh how I want/need to remain connected to the vine. 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9

Lord I want to ABIDE in your love. I want to retain the connection to the vine. I can’t unplug it from myself and plug it back in when I want it. It would, I would wither and die if that were the case. Help me to know how to abide in You! Lord even when I feel like I am being pruned, when you are cutting away things in my life, help me to remember that it is for your good and your glory! Amen! 

I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!

Tensions were beginning to run high. This was a dinner party that had not gone quite the way the disciples had thought it would. At the beginning of dinner they were probably still riding high on the waves of adrenaline. Earlier in the week Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey to the praise of all the people. He had been teaching in the temple. Yes there was that day He got angry at the merchants and the religious leaders were not happy with Him, but that’s nothing new. But at dinner, the tone changed. What’s this about Him leaving? And then one of us will betray Him? Where did Judas go anyway? And now He is telling Peter that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows? Peter of all people! I mean He gets ahead of himself at times but he loves Jesus! I’ll bet the thoughts in their head were swirling. They didn’t know what to think. Where is Jesus going and what will we do if/when He leaves? We have all left our jobs and have followed Him everywhere? Where will we go? 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

The disciples had reason to feel troubled in the midst of all that they had just heard. But Jesus was telling them not to have a troubled heart. He knew that this news would shake them up. But what He was telling them is even in the midst of trouble you can have an untroubled heart if you keep believing in Him. Jesus was telling them where to put their trust. This is sometimes so easier said than done. But it’s a word for us today too, not just for the disciples. There may be a diagnosis, a wayward child, a financial strain, family discord, natural disasters, all sorts of things and believe me when I say even when I don’t have something to be troubled about if I sit in my thoughts too long I’ll be troubled about not having anything to be troubled about and what might be coming next. But that’s not how Jesus wants us to live. Jesus wants us to live trusting Him that even when things seem to be falling apart around us they might be falling into place. 

Jesus is telling them where He was going and that He was going to prepare a place for them. The disciples still wanted to know how they would get there. Jesus told them you already know. 

“And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:4

But how, how can we know? 

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

Jesus is the way! He didn’t say I am going to show you the way. He is “the way”. Jesus is the way we get to heaven. But Jesus is also the way to the untroubled heart. Jesus is the way out of addiction. Jesus is the way to better relationships. Jesus is the way to hope. 

Jesus is the truth! When your thoughts are swirling, when you don’t know what to think and can’t make sense of your circumstances. When stuff is coming at you from all directions. Jesus can hold you through those circumstances. He is the truth! 

Jesus is the life! Even when your heart feels dead inside. When the heart has broken into so many pieces that you wonder sometimes how you keep waking up. When life hurts and hearts break, clinging to Jesus is the only way back to life. 

When Jesus told them, this He was telling them the way to eternal life with God. But He was also telling them how to have abundant life here on earth that will ultimately lead to the Father. Keep following friends, keep your heart and your mind focused on His truth and let Him be the life to you! Here and evermore!