Thursday, January 30, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 8:14-25

What would it be like if someone as rich as Bill Gates adopted you? Not only adopted you, but made you sole heir to his wealth because you were now fully his child. A little unfair, right? What would you have done to deserve a gift like that?
In Romans 8:14-17, Paul tells us about a mind-blowingly unfair adoption like this one. Though we have done nothing to deserve it, God adopts believers and treats them as His family. By being adopted, we gain access to God the father, and become heirs to his riches and blessings. We are made righteous immediately through His Son, we receive heaven as our eternal home, we escape eternal death, and we live in God's presence forever. That's a pretty good inheritance package.
It is not that EVERYONE is His child. Many people who do not understand the Bible say we are all God's children just by being part of man-kind, and idea known as universalism. Adam was the original man, and he held the sacred title, "son of God." When Jesus came, He declared that He was the Son of God, a claim that was vindicated and approved by God himself. Now we, who put our faith in Christ’s saving work, are the adopted "sons of God." If you are a born-again Christian, let this passage remind you that you are seen as God's child and all that brings with it. Bill Gates could be a pretty nice dad who could offer you a warm home and an abundance of wealth, but God offers you eternal peace, and indescribable access to the wealth of His kingdom - the two don't even compare.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 8:14-25. What is the word that describes God’s relationship to you in this passage? How did this happen?

Amber Allen
My Wife and Best Friend
Amber and I have been working together in youth ministry since 2008. We have two beautiful children - Graham and Cecelia.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 8:1-13

When Paul began his argument in Romans 5, he taught that we are pronounced “just” before God. When we arrive at Romans 8, he continues this thought by saying, “Since we have been declared righteous and just before God, now, we find clemency. We are no longer held in condemnation for our sin.”
Our minds struggle to truly grasp this thought. In terms of human experience, we understand what forgiveness is. When we are wronged by another person, the natural tendency to seek revenge can be checked by a counter-instinct to follow the scriptural command to forgive. Having been forgiven by God of our sins, we lovingly look at those (some of which we would consider our enemies) who have wronged us, and we humbly seek to heal and to get past the ache that we feel from their wrongdoing. However, in our nature, there will most certainly be a reminder of the pain they caused. Our forgiveness does not come with “forget-ness.” The old mantra of “forgive and forget” is not human in nature. Many times, because our souls are covered in scar tissue and even at times we still have deep abiding wounds that can only be soothed by the sweet balm of God’s grace, we cannot forget the evil deeds of others,. Forgive. Yes. Forget. Never. This is human. But God, He His ways are above our ways, and His thoughts above ours. When He offers His sovereign forgiveness, He does not secretly keep a record book of all the wrongs that we committed, waiting for a later day to pull them out and harangue us for our wickedness. Truthfully, if you live with the baggage of guilt for past sin, it is because you never let go of the handle, not because He vindictively strapped it to your back. He has forgiven, and He has chosen to consider us completely pure and perfect in Jesus.
You see, when we trust in Christ, we don’t just get forgiveness from God for our sins. Because of Christ’s work, He doesn’t even see our sin anymore, and declares us to be just and righteous. It is as if we never even committed the sin. Christ has taken it from us, and now there is not just forgiveness, there is justification (a being called “just” or “righteous”) even though we know we haven’t been. God is gracious and “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ.”

Food for Thought: Read Romans 8:1-13. According to these verses, God does not just forgive us of our sins. What else happens in regards to our sin?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 7:15-25

These 10 verses are universally understood in the heart of all believers. Let me give you the basic rundown—Paul is saying that inside of himself there is a constant war between what he wants to do and what he doesn’t want to do. He desires to do what is right and yet finds himself continually doing wrong. He doesn’t want to do wrong, but there is a constant pull that is compelling him to sin. For him it is the source of his greatest frustration. Can you relate?
In v. 18 he reminds the reader that he understands there is nothing good in him so there is no way he’s going to be able to do this on his own. He has the passion but lacks the ability in himself. Good news- it’s not up to him! Verse 22 helps us to see that the believer has a “delight” or a “desire” for God in the inward man. God has put within us the necessary weapon for victory.
So here’s the battle of the century. You have the flesh that compels you to evil and the spirit that compels you to live a God-ward life. Who wins?
The answer to the “who wins” question is twofold. POSITIONALLY, as a believer, you can be confident and encouraged by the good news that Jesus Christ has already defeated sin, (v. 25) but PRACTICALLY, whether or not you are seeing continued spiritual growth and victory comes down to what you’re putting in your heart and mind. It’s the old “black dog, white dog” illustration we’ve talked about before. If these dogs were to fight the winner would be determined by which one you fed more.
How will you “feed” the spirit and “starve” the flesh? By STIRRING UP THE AFFECTIONS IN YOUR LIFE THAT MAKE YOU LOVE JESUS CHRIST MORE AND REFUSING TO SUBMIT TO THE AFFECTIONS THAT WILL PULL YOUR HEART AWAY FROM HIM. Remember that you can’t do this on your own- you need Jesus’ help to make these decisions so talk with Him about it often.
So what best stirs your affections, your “inward man” towards the Lord? What book of the Bible when you read it, what sermon when you listen to it, what song when you hear it, what sport when you play it, what activity when you do it??? Stir those affections for Jesus!

Food for Thought: Read Romans 7:15-25. what are the two warring entities inside each of us? According to today’s devo, “who wins”?

Matthew Anders
Senior Pastor |
Pastor Matt and his wife, Sheila, have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2007. They have four children - Olivia, Levi, Reid, and Luke.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 7:7-14

A while ago, I watched a commercial for Febreze house spray. They setup a room with a nasty, old couch and rotten plants. On the ground were dirty socks and a mangy mouth-breathing dog. The Febreze people went into the room first and sprayed it down with their flowery Febreze room-spray. Moments later they brought in some people that were blindfolded. The effects were startling. The people were led into the grungy room and taken to the couch. As they sat on the couch, blindfolded, and breathed in the “pretty air,” they described the type of room they imagined they were in….a beautiful white room with a plush white couch and perhaps a beautiful poodle. After they described the gorgeous room that they imagined, the Febreze people took the blindfolds off of these test subjects to reveal the grungy room. The looks on their faces were priceless as they realized that they had ogled over this absolutely disgusting room and worse yet, while they were blind to it, they imagined it to be something beautiful.
Romans 7:7-14 expresses the law as the removal of the blind-fold. Before the law, sin wasn’t seen plainly as its disgusting, ugly, God-hating self. But after the law came and the blind-fold was removed, all could see plainly that they were living in opposition to the designs of God Almighty. The saddest part of the law was that it did not just reveal the existence of the sin in mankind, but revealed the gravity of sin- that man would have to pay the penalty for that sin…death.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 7:7-14. according to today’s devotional, what did the law do for those that were sinning?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 7:1-6

If you’re like me, you’re a visual learner. I think the Apostle Paul was a visual learner as well because he constantly used illustrations to teach his points. In Romans 7:2-3, Paul uses the illustration of a binding marriage vow, or PROMISE, made between one man and one woman to illustrate just how bound mankind is to the Law.
Here’s the picture… From verse 1 we know he is talking to people who know God’s Law. He then says, if a woman has a husband, she is married and bound to that man as long as he is alive. It is ONLY when that man dies that they are no longer married (v.2). If the woman is married to another man while her husband is still alive, verse 3 says she is to be called an adulteress. It’s very clear, right? But, the rest of verse 3 says, “but if her husband be dead, SHE IS FREE FROM THE LAW!” Ok, this is obviously truth about marriage from the Law, but please remember that Paul is using it as an illustration to teach an even greater truth in vv.4-6.
What’s the truth he’s teaching? It’s that you and I, in salvation, are dead to the Law and no longer bound/married to it! Hallelujah! The Law is what condemned us! Verse 4 tells us that we were set free in order to be bound and married to Christ, forever! Christ died and in His death, we as believers died with Him. When He arose, we were raised up with Him with a purpose. What’s the purpose? Verse 4 says, “that we should bring forth fruit unto God!” Before, when we were married to the Law, all of our works were as filthy rags. But now that we are in Christ, our fruit is alive and brings glory to Him!
So hear this, young person: if you’re a believer, you are free from the Law in order to love and serve your eternal Husband, Jesus! Unlike the Law, this Husband has been loving and giving Himself for you already!

Food for Thought: Read Romans 7:1-6. In the illustration of our relationship to the law, what is the picture and what happened to the law?

Alan Obrien
Assistant Pastor |

Alan and his wife, Amy, have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2008. They have a daughter, Allison.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 6:14-23

“We aren’t under the law anymore, we are under grace,” is a statement that may perhaps be too often spoken by someone who has the completely wrong understanding of “under law,” and “under grace.” It is spoken as if because Jesus died, turning a page historically. In this misconceived way of thinking, "B.C." almost always stands for “Under Law,” and "A.D." represents “Under Grace.” However, this is not the teaching of scripture. You see, there is not a point in history where this changeover takes place. When Paul presents this thought in Romans 6:14, he isn't revealing a point in history whereby all of mankind is relieved from the judgment of the law. Instead, it is a point that only believers in Christ reach. All that put their faith in the saving work (death and resurrection) of Jesus will experience this switch-over from “under law” to “under grace.”
Finally, Paul makes the point, “So now that we are saved through Jesus, can we live like wild animals? Of course not, when Jesus saved us from the law, He saved us from the need of the law. The inner working of the Spirit takes the necessity of the list (law) away. A new grace-filled, Spirit-led life epitomizes the Christian. Romans 6:18 says that since we are made free from sin, we now don’t need the law because we are “servants of righteousness.” In Christ, liberty from the law, means servitude to grace… Now, that certainly changes the meaning from our "B.C. vs. A.D." view. Just as “under the law” meant we were slaves to sin, “under grace” means we are slaves to Jesus. Now that is deep stuff. Live like you aren’t “under the law,” but rather live like you are “under grace.”

Food for Thought: Read Romans 6:14-23. In your own words describe what it means to be “under grace.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 6:11-13

In verse 13, Paul says, "Neither yield ye your members (as) instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield...your members (as) instruments of righteousness unto God." By members, he means parts of your human body--the heart, hands, eyes, feet, ears, etc. By instruments, he implies "arms" or weapons of war. So basically, Paul refers to the struggle between sin and godliness that we face every day and admonishes us to decisively give the weapons we possess to God, not to sin.
So, let's consider some decisions that we can make to use the weapons of our body for God. Let's start with our heart; if we decide to fully give our heart to the Lord, many other members will follow. From our heart, we should decide to love God, and thus take joy in following His commands. We can use our hands to open God's Word, to write notes of encouragement to others, to give our all to the talent He has gifted us with. Our feet can decide to take us to church every time it meets, to righteous places and activities with friends, or over to a stranger that needs to feel Christ's love. The tongue He's given us can speak and sing praises to Him, share the Gospel with others, and decide to speak only words of kindness and other fruit of the Spirit to those around us. By refusing to let our eyes look upon sin on our computers or cell phones, but rather the Words of God and books that grow our knowledge of God, we can use this important member as a weapon for righteousness. Our ears will be better weapons when we decide to let them hear the songs and Scripture that takes place at church or from online sermons.
It takes many definite decisions every day to use our body to glorify God and not for our sinful desires. But Paul says it is our "reasonable service" to God for all that He has done. You will be faced with many decisions today to give your members to sin or to the Lord. When those choices arise, recognize that Paul calls it "war" and give everything you have to fighting for the Lord's side. You won't regret it--it's the winning side.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 6:11-13. List three ways that you can use your members as “instruments” of righteousness.

Amber Allen
My Wife and Best Friend

Amber and I have been working together in youth ministry since 2008. We have two beautiful children - Graham and Cecelia.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Advent Archive:Romans 6:1-10

The resurrection is certainly one of the most important truths for Christians. Often we look at Jesus’ death on the cross as the only thing that was necessary for the Christian’s salvation. However, this is not the indication of scripture. Rather, Paul makes the assertion that the work of death on the cross is part of what saves us. Now you say, “We are partly saved?” Well, stick with me. I’ll explain. Paul teaches that Christ died for us, and therefore we are made “at one”, or “atoned”, with God. This is the payment for our sins…remember, “the wages of sin is death.” This is why Jesus had to die. Because we were supposed to…so He paid that price for us.
However, three days later He rose from the dead. At that point, salvation took on a greater meaning. Whereas, before, we see Christ’s cross-work as “only” paying for the penalty of our sin, now that He resurrected we are opened to another type of victory through Him. Paul says in Romans 6:4, that “like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Because of His death we are saved from death, and because of His resurrection, we are given deliverance from the overpowering weight of sin in our lives. We now have liberty from the old task-master, Sin. Now, in Christ, we have liberty to live God-pleasing lives. In Christ we can find strength and purpose to not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Praise be to God for the great work of the resurrection of Jesus and the deliverance from the power of sin now in our lives!

Food for Thought: Read Romans 6:1-10. Why did Jesus have to die? Did it matter if he resurrected? What is the significance of his resurrection?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Advent Archive:Romans 5:15-21

By definition, to contrast something means “to set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences”. When we come to Romans 5:15-21, Paul takes some time to “emphasizes the differences” between Adam and Jesus:
15- Adam’s sin is contrasted with Jesus’ salvation
16- the effect of Adam’s sin is contrasted with the effect of Jesus’ obedience
17- both “reigns” are contrasted
you choose who’s reign was better between Adam and Jesus
I’ll give you a hint, one’s reign brought death and the other’s brought grace
18-19- Both “singular acts” are contrasted
The acts are Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit and Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for us
20-21- the law is contrasted with grace
Ok, I may not be greater in contrast to those around me, but this one thing I know….JESUS CHRIST IS GREATER THAN ADAM! These verses contrast this truth so clearly! Through Jesus comes life and grace and joy.
So what’s the point? Pursue Jesus with all of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength. Get to know Him the way that Paul wanted to know Him (Philippians 3:10) and don’t stop until you see Him face to face.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 5:15-21. Who was better, Adam or Jesus? According to this passage in what ways was He better?

Matthew Anders

Senior Pastor |
Pastor Matt and his wife, Sheila, have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2007. They have four children - Olivia, Levi, Reid, and Luke.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 5:12-14

Although it is never articulated, Romans 5:12-14 speaks clearly of one word: consequences. The effect of Adam’s one sin in the garden was the condemnation under sin of all mankind. If Adam could have seen 7 billion people on the planet today and could have beheld the countless billions that preceded these 7 billion, do you think that he would have disobeyed God, knowing of the subsequent condemnation of all these billions of people? Of course not! He would look at all of mankind and would weigh the one action and the weight of the consequence of that action and would have dropped the apple.
However, it has been said that hind-sight is always 20/20. There is no doubt that knowing the effect might change Adam’s mind. The fact of the matter though, is that Adam was forewarned but neglected the warning in a spirit of disobedience or through a lack of faith in the words of God. Either way, the consequence was the same, even after God had warned him, he sinned. So God punished him (and all of his descendents-us) for that sin. Now open your eyes to your sin. It seems harmless. Maybe even as harmless as eating a fruit, but in the scope of things, your action may hold a powerhouse of consequence that you just can’t envision yet. Listen to and obey the call of God: “be ye holy as I am Holy.” The only consequence of holy, righteous living is joy in Christ and peace with God.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 5:12-14. What was the consequence of Adam’s sin the garden? List out some long term consequences for your sins.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 5:1-11

Have you ever stopped and thought about life’s situations and asked, “What if things weren’t the way they are? Like, what if there was no ______?” Our lives really are busy and we often don’t take time to stop and think about the way things could have been. For instance, What if there were no cars? What if there were no houses? What if there were no laws? What if there was no Bible? What if there were no computers? What if…? When I stop and imagine life without something that I currently have, it makes me thankful for those things!
In Romans 4, Paul tells us that no man will be saved apart from faith in Christ as his substitute! Ok, we know that, right? But let’s ask the question, What if there was no faith? What would life look like?
v.1 – without faith we would not be justified, or declared righteous, by God
v.1 – without faith we would have no peace with God; we would be enemies
v.2 – without faith we would have no access into God’s grace
v.2 – without faith we would not be able to rejoice in God; only fear
v.3 – without faith we could not glory in tribulations – In Christ, hard times don’t have to be all bad. They often bring a lot of good with them!
v.9 – without faith in the blood of Christ, we are under God’s wrath
v.10 – without faith we cannot be reconciled to God
v.11 – without faith we would have no joy
I don’t know about you, but Romans 5 excites me! It drives me to be more thankful for Christ and for all I have in Him. Go read Romans 5:1-11 and let it encourage you to pursue Christ more deeply as well!

Food for Thought: Read Romans 5:1-11. What is the key word of Romans 5:1-11. Write two sentences describing what this word means.

Alan Obrien
Assistant Pastor |

Alan and his wife, Amy, have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2008. They have a daughter, Allison.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 4:16-25

What is true faith? True faith is defined in the character and actions of Abraham. He is the great patriarch “friend of God.” He truly pleased God, not simply because of his doing, but because of his reliance on God for all things. In Romans 4, faith is laid out plainly in verses 18-21. Notice the phrases there, “who against hope believed in hope,” “being not weak in faith…he staggered not at the promise of God,” “being fully persuaded that what He [God] had promised, He was able also to perform.” This is the same theology as Hebrews, “for those that come to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
“He is” – His existence, and “He is a rewarder of faith” – His omnipotence and His providence. This is faith. This is the faith of Abraham, who “against hope”, (meaning “when circumstances seemed contrary to having any hope”) still had hope that God had promised something, and that therefore God was going to do it, no matter how impossible it seemed. God has everything under control. God is strong enough to do all things. “For with God, nothing shall be impossible,” was the resounding assurance for Mary in her time of doubt over her pregnancy with Jesus. This now can be our solace and assurance: that when it seems impossible, God can accomplish it. Glory be to His great name!

Food for Thought: Romans 4:16-25. How does this passage describe Abraham’s faith? Give a few key phrases that explain his faith.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 4:9-15

Have you ever heard someone say, "I can't get saved. I've done too many things wrong. God wouldn't want me." How would you answer them? Maybe they're right...maybe they have done some pretty bad things. But one of the wonderful things about our Savior is His ability to put everyone on the same level--the level of faith alone.
Paul teaches this concept with Abraham in this part of chapter 4. Abraham was a heathen and idol worshipper. He broke the first commandments and did who knows how many other wicked things. Yet God called Abraham and for his faith alone he was counted righteous. Before Abraham even knew about God's law or followed it, he was saved for his faith. That was the Jew's big problem--they followed the law for their salvation, forgetting that their patriarch, Abraham, was saved without the law. It was after his salvation that Abraham followed the law as a sign of his faith.
We are still in the same boat as the Jews. Many still think good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. That is not the case at all as Paul proves here with Abraham. It is by grace alone through faith alone that we can be saved.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 4:9-15. When did God count Abraham as justified, before he was circumcised or after?

Amber Allen
My Wife and Best Friend

Amber and I have been working together in youth ministry since 2008. We have two beautiful children - Graham and Cecelia.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 4:1-8

Understanding ancient Jewish culture is a peculiar thing. You see, before Paul, Jewish scribes and religious leaders meditated through the Old Testament stories and searched for deeper meanings and workings in the relationship between Almighty God and all of mankind. There was no greater figure in the mind of the Jewish scholar than the founding father of the Jewish people, their Patriarch, Abraham. Abraham was the one who God came to and made of him a “chosen people,” the Jews. It was through the family of this relationship that eventually the Messiah would come to save the world. But, according to Paul, almost all of the Jewish theologians had missed a glaring point in the story of Abraham.
Jewish scholars always looked back at Abraham as a friend of God because every time God asked Abraham to do something, he obeyed. He followed the law of God before there was given (through Moses) a law of God. Well, Paul the greatest theologian came in to the story of Abraham and points out something that happened long before Abraham willingly followed God in obedience. “Abraham believed God…” and this is what truly pleased God- Abraham’s faith. The Jews for centuries had chased after the thought that the only way to please God was through the keeping of the law, but now Paul turned that on its head and said, “No, God wants you to trust Him first, obedience will come later. He’s measuring faith, not works.” And this is how God wants you to operate too. Trust Him first, the obedience will come later.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 4:1-8. What does Paul say is the thing that justified Abraham? What reference in the Old Testament does this occur?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 3:21-31

The best price is “FREE.” Cheap is good, free is best. This is like going to the grocery store on Saturday with mom and enjoying the delicacies offered up at the little booth with the old lady in a hair net. Row upon row of chopped up treasures wait in their little plastic cups for you to gobble down. Who doesn’t like free samples? Free lunches, free admission, free prizes…the list goes on and on. We love free things. The truth is that at the heart of it, free things are so great because it costs us nothing. Something for nothing. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to pay. It is FREE! And the guy who says he doesn’t like free things, either has issues or isn’t paying attention.
This is what Paul is speaking of in Romans 3. He comes into verses 10-20 talking about some generally ornery people whose throat “is an open sepulcher,” and who are “swift to shed blood,” who have no righteousness whatsoever, and who probably just kick puppies for fun….real bullies. Paul comes into verse 24 and says that these evil types (all mankind) who have all sinned (v.23) are “FREELY” justified by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. You are redeemed “freely.” Do you see that? You don’t pay for it, you don’t work for it, you can’t even steal it. God gives it away like the goodies on the little toothpick at the grocery store! FREE…and all because Jesus paid for it. Praise be to Jesus for His love wherewith He loved us.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 3:21-31. What does Paul say justifies a man? What specific verses say that?