Friday, February 28, 2014

Romans 12:9-21

In Romans 12:9-21 Paul lays out a beautiful description of what the Christian life really looks like. Notice with me some of the highlights:
1) abhor that which is evil, cleave to good
2) in honor prefer one another
3) don’t be lazy, rather live with fervor because you are serving Jesus
4) rejoice in the future, and be patient and pray when hard times come
5) be giving of yourself, worried about the needs of others more than your own need
6) if someone attacks you, bless them not curse
7) pay attention to the hearts of those around you and laugh and cry accordingly
8) don’t be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good
This is a synopsis of the Christian life. If you read through this list, you cannot help but see faith in every point that Paul makes. You believe God is good, therefore you abhor evil and cleave to good. You believe that only He should elevate you so you don’t elevate yourself. You believe He desires you to work hard, so you balance your consumption of entertainment and recreation and avoid gluttony in these areas. You believe that He is working all things together for your good, even the hard times, so you rejoice and are patient while you pray to Him. You believe that even when you wronged Him with your sin, He still died for you so why should you attack those who do wrong to you. You believe that He knows when you hurt and cares and helps, so you should care and have compassion on others too. You believe that He despises evil, so you hate it too. Your faith is lived out in all of these ways. Don’t miss the point. This is a life that you should chase after, and this is a life that pours out from the gospel working in you.
Food for Thought: Read Romans 12:9-21. According to the end of today’s devo, what brings about this Christian lifestyle?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Romans 12:3-8

In Romans 12:3, Paul brings up an excellent point that all of us struggle with. He says that no one should “think of himself more highly than he out to think; but think soberly as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” On the first level, Paul is saying is that no one is the center of the universe. God is the center of the universe. The way we live indicates who the center of our universe is. If we seek day in and day out to make ourselves comfortable and satisfied and happy, then we have become our own focus. We in essence have become the center of our own universe. But Paul says to not view catering to yourself as the only reason for living. God has called you to a greater thing and given you the faith to be a part of that greater thing—serving Him and worshipping Him. At the second level, the Christian family is viewed as body. Each part of the body has been equipped by God at salvation for the specific purpose of serving the other members of the body and worshipping God. If you get sidetracked and think of yourself more highly than you ought, then you will only serve yourself and worship yourself. This idolatry is wicked and God despises it. This is why Paul warns against it here in this passage. Finally, Paul says that you should be more consumed with taking care of the other parts of the body than with just taking care of yourself. For what health would the hand have if it never fed the mouth. It would have none and would shrivel up and die. He uses this point to show that you should be always serving those around you with the spiritual gifts with which you have been equipped. So stop serving yourself in this egocentric view of the universe and start serving God and others.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 12:3-8. What does egocentric mean? Who does paul say you should be serving instead of yourself?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Romans 12:1-3

Have you ever heard those phrases that simply did not make sense. An oxymoron if you will. Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about- Clearly Confused, A little BIG, Bad Luck, Floppy Disk, Freezer Burn, Awfully Good, Nonstick Glue, Nonstop Flight, Original Copy, Pretty Ugly…the list goes on.
In Romans 12:1-2 we find one of these oxymorons. Let’s see if you know which two words I am talking about in the verse. It says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.” Did you see it? The two words I’m talking about are living sacrifice.  Doesn't quite make sense. When I picture a sacrifice I think of it as dead, but here we are called to be a living sacrifice!
Let’s define the meaning of sacrifice. The dictionary defines it this way, ‘the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.’ To surrender something prized, like our very life, for something higher, like the glory of our Savior. Let’s keep in mind that God is not asking us to do anything He did not already do himself. Jesus gave his very life for the glory of God and to redeem us back to Himself.
Verse two goes on to say, “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
This verse makes clear to me that if I am conformed to this world then I am not being that living sacrifice, but on the flip side, what I am supposed to be is: conforming to Christ! When I lay down my life, my desires, my own will on the altar and do the perfect will of God, that’s when I am that living sacrifice, acceptable to God. Take some time to really think of what your life should look like as a living sacrifice and then walk that way. Application of these verses in our lives sure would be awfully good!

Food for Thought: Read Romans 12:1-2. What oxymoron did we find in today’s devo passage? What does this phrase mean?

Sheila AndersPastor's Wife |
Sheila and Pastor Matt have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2007. She is a full-time mom of four children - Olivia, Levi, Reid, and Luke.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Romans 11:26-36

Romans 11:33-36 stands as one of the best descriptions of God’s “solitariness.” There is none like Him. There is none that can be like Him. He has no equal, and He has no rival. Any who shake their fist at God do so not as enemies, but as rebels. One Who is infinite in every way is infinite in all parts of His existence. While the mind of man has an end, the mind of God is past finding out. There is no comprehension in human terms of all that God knows. Without a doubt, He knows all that we could ever know and more. He knows all and therefore has no need of advice. He does not take clues how to act from His creations. Instead, as He sees fit, He reveals His will to us and lovingly allows us to trust and obey it, or with longsuffering mercy to doubt and rebel against it. Paul says that the knowledge of God is without end. Nothing past, present, or future is hidden from the mind of God. He knows as well all of the details of eternity past as He does eternity future. He doesn’t only see things coming; rather, He already saw them before they started this way. No one can compare in knowledge to God. Paul further says that no one can compare in wisdom to God. Wisdom is understanding and causing. It is the reasoning power that operates within a given set of information. There is none that can compare to God’s wisdom because there is none that can compare to His wealth of knowledge. He enters every circumstance into your experience knowing the work that it will be for you and extending to you the opportunity of full joy in your obedience to His will.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 11:26-36. What does the word “solitariness” mean? How does this passage describe this about God?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 11:13-25

Many fruit cultivators use a practice known as “grafting,” in which they cut a part of one plant and attach it to a different plant where it can grow. The reason for this grafting process is that some plants have better roots than others. Therefore, they will take branches off of one type of tree and put them on another type of tree. The new tree part that is being grafted on is known as a “scion.” This scion retains many of its original characteristics. As a matter of fact, you can graft a grapefruit scion onto an orange tree and grow grapefruits on an orange tree. It is a very interesting design that God made in plants and one that gardeners have known and used for thousands of years.
This is why in Romans 11:13-25, Paul uses this picture to describe the work that God has done with the Gentiles. Originally, God came to Abraham and made a covenant with him. This promise of God passed on to Abraham’s children as they believed God like their father Abraham. However, eventually the time came when the children of Abraham no longer believed God (v.20), so He cut their branches off of the tree of His blessing and grafted in the new branches of the Gentiles. This grafting only took place based on God’s grace in response to the Gentiles faith, for had they not believed they would have died without life from the tree. Paul finally makes the point that the new Gentile believers need not scorn the Jewish branches that have been separated from the tree. Rather, try to restore them to the faith that their father Abraham had so that they may be grafted back into the tree (v.23).

Food for Thought: Read Romans 11:13-25. What is the process by which a tree branch is attached to a different tree? How does this relate to we Christians?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 11:1-12

If you can remember back with me, Romans 9 discussed Paul’s deep burden that Israel would acknowledge Christ as the true Messiah that He is. The nation of Israel, almost as a whole, stumbled over Christ and His cross which led to their rejection of Him. Paul addressed their rejection in Romans 10.
So that leaves some questions in the minds of Paul’s readers that he wants to clear up. Questions like: “Well, if Israel has rejected Christ, what about the covenant God made with Israel? Is God a liar? Has Israel been cast away forever?” The answer: Of course not! If He could lie, He would cease to be God for He would not be holy.
God chose Israel way back with Abraham to be a nation set apart for Himself and through this nation, all the nations of the world would be blessed. It was through this nation that the Messiah would break into humanity and it was through this nation that salvation would come to the nations. As Israel rejected their Messiah, the “mystery” as Paul calls it, referring to the church, would be revealed and the church would be started with the completion of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.
So is God finished with Israel? Did he start a work with Israel and throw them away once He got the church? No! There is a remnant of Jews who still believe in their Messiah, Jesus Christ; and Paul, a Jew, is proof of that until one day, as a nation, they will see Christ (like Paul saw Christ) and realize the error of their unbelief (Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7).

Food for Thought: Read Romans 11:1-12. Is God completely done with Israel? What must the Jewish people do in order for them to see God use them?

Alan ObrienAssistant Pastor | www.libcky.comAlan and his wife, Amy, have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2008. They have a daughter, Allison.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 10:16-21

Have you ever been in the car when the bright red and blue lights come on in the car behind you? Perhaps you have been in the driver’s seat. If not, let me be transparent, I have been in the driver’s seat a couple of times (“a couple” means more than two, right?) I’m not sure what part of my anatomy it is, but there is this incredible lump that suddenly appears in my throat. My entire body goes into panic mode – increased heart rate, sweating all over, hyperventilating…the whole works.
It may sound fun to you, but trust me, it is horrifying. And then, the officer (with a gun!) comes to my window. At this point, I am almost in tears, and my hands are shaking as I hand him my driver’s license. You see, I have been caught. I know I am guilty. I knew the law, and I chose to ignore it. I am as guilty as they come. I could even deny it to the police officer, but he knows that I know. There is no getting out of the penalty for my crime. Later that week as I write the check, and “donate” my money to the county, I am reminded that breaking the law isn’t as fun as I thought it would be. And by the way, it would be complete nonsense to be angry at the police officer. He was just serving the justice that I violated.
This is the thought of Romans 10:18-21. God pulls Israel over and discusses what they had done wrong. He tells them that they are disobedient and gainsaying (this means: they don’t agree with God). He tells them that even though they knew what was right and often proclaimed to other nations that their God was the one true God, many times they didn’t live like they believed it. Judgment day had come for them, and they bucked against the punishment. They thought that they didn’t deserve it and cried against the punishment, but it did not affect God’s justice.
We too can be like Israel. Often bragging that we are the one true religion and that we serve the one true God, however, we can get sidetracked and fall away from full service and devotion to Him. We say that we have God’s word, and that we are separated to God, but many times we live lives that indicate a different reality. We treat others, brothers and strangers, as if God doesn’t care how we act or react to them. We withhold generosity even though we are given multiple opportunities. We live lives of apathy, never fully engaged in deep, life-exhausting worship of the one true God that we purport to follow.
Then, in love, God extends His chastening rod to draw us back into a relationship with Him. Having been “busted,” we either cry our eyes out in repentance or end up frustrated at the One who has served justice. So what do we do about it? Well, the remedy for me was to not speed, the remedy for us would be to view God as He is, adore Him in His Excellency and devote ourselves to serving Him at all times and never waver from His truth.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 10:16-21. Did Israel ever have any warning that God would move on to extend His grace to the rest of the world?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 10:11-15

I love solving logic puzzles. For example, a logic statement from one might say, "Vanessa owes more money than the photographer but less than Mike." From the statement you logically know that 1) Vanessa and Mike are not the photographer, 2) Vanessa does not owe the most money nor the least, 3) Mike owes more money than the photographer and Vanessa, and 4) the photographer owes less money than both Vanessa and Mike. It gets kind of twisted and mind-numbing at times, but it's good exercise for your brain.
I know Paul sat around thinking logically, too. Have you ever read his "what I want to do I don't, and what I don't want to do I do" passage? This part of Romans 10 logically approaches the gospel. The logic statement is "for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." From the statement, you logically know that 1) they have to believe in the Lord in order to speak to Him 2) they have to hear about the Lord to call on Him, 3) someone must tell them about the person before they can believe or call, and 4) someone must be sent to go tell them before they can hear, believe, or call. Paul finishes his puzzle with the logical answer--go! It's not just a logical puzzle, it's a proposal. Tell everyone that you can about Jesus. Because logically if you don't, who will?

Food for Thought: Read Romans 10:11-15. According to this passage, what is the process by which people will believe in Christ?

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, February 7, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 10:1-10

The Jewish nation had a fatal flaw. It would be the downfall of their entire religious house of cards. What was that flaw? They didn’t think that God was as holy as He is. Certainly they viewed God as holy, but when it came to the practical, every day living, in their minds, He really was only worried about what their outer person was doing (no killing, stealing, lying, or sleeping around). They assumed that as long as they were trying to do good things, and live according to His laws, He would overlook their shortcomings (namely, the sins on the inside that no one sees, like pride and lust and hate). But they failed to realize that a perfectly holy God has a perfectly holy standard that all must attain. So year after year, they worked hard to fulfill all the external points of the law, always finding themselves inadequate, but never fully grasping the importance of their own impotence. You see, the law was never going to be a standard to achieve. Rather, it was there as a bill board along the road of life, pointing to the coming Messiah and His righteousness. The Jewish people were supposed to eventually find themselves so inadequate and frustrated at their floundering attempts at righteousness, that they would turn in faith to the promise of God that one day He would send someone who would fulfill the law perfectly as they never could. Most Jews, however, unfortunately missed this purpose of the law and saw it as a way to earn righteousness on their own. Paul says in v.3 they were “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and went about to establish their own righteousness” (which was by the law), “not submitting themselves to the righteousness which was of God.” God designed for righteousness to come by faith, but they thought it would come through their works, so they completely missed God’s righteousness. After demolishing the “righteousness by the law” viewpoint, Paul turns the monologue to addressing the “righteousness of faith.” In verses 6-10, he explains that righteousness is simply doled out by God’s grace to those who put their trust in the saving work of Jesus as their only hope to find peace with God and forgiveness for their sins. Someone with faith does not have to “ascend into heaven or descend into the deep” to obtain righteousness, in other words, there is no need to climb high or search low for it, it is given out by God. It is as simple as v.9-10, “believe in your heart.” The righteousness of faith is righteousness that is given by faith alone to those relying on faith alone and not relying on their own accomplishments. The only true righteousness in God’s eyes is the righteousness which He extends through Jesus because of faith.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 10:1-10. What was Israel’s fatal flaw?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 9:25-33

For over a thousand years, the Jewish people prided themselves on the fact that God had chosen them. Their understanding of why He chose them was a little bit flawed, but it still brought them a great sense of nationalistic pride and self-identity.
Scripture makes it excessively clear that God had chosen them as a people from which He would heal the sin problem that Adam had brought on the entire world. He had begun by showing grace to Noah, then to Noah’s descendant Abram, then to Abraham’s descendant Judah, then to Judah’s descendant David, and then to David’s descendant Jesus. It was intentional that He was choosing this group of descendants of Abraham to bring about redemption for all of mankind. Would this Savior of the world be a Savior of the Jews too? Certainly, the Jews are part of the whole world, but the election of the Jews by God had distracted them. They saw it as the thing that made them better than all the other nationalities. They did not see the unfolding purpose of God funneling His sovereign grace through them, they thought that He was simply funneling His sovereign grace to them and excluding the rest of the world.
This racist elitism was shattered by Paul’s teaching in Romans 9. He explained that it was God’s plan to extend redemption and salvation beyond the Jewish nation to all those who would believe in the work of Jesus. This was very disturbing to the Jews who viewed the Gentiles as “dogs” and “heathen.”
In response, they questioned Paul with “Why?” “Why would God extend His blessing to the “heathen dogs”?” Paul asks this very same question to himself rhetorically in verse 32, “Wherefore?” (it means “why”) He then answers their question and his own rhetorical question with “because of faith.” Before Abraham and the Jewish nation, believers in God were called into the family of faith. Men like Melchisidec who were non-Jewish, had access by faith into the blessing of God. Nothing had changed, God still extended salvation to all those who came in faith, Jew or Gentile. The only transition that had taken place was that the object of their faith would have to shift from a more general “faith in God,” to a more specific “faith in Jesus.”
But the Jews had shifted away from lives of faith. They saw the law of God not as something that God had presented for their living, but for their own earning. This caused them to live lives dependent on themselves not God. They thought that God would be pleased with them simply because of their obeying His law. The blessing was never meant to come from obedience to the law apart from faith, it was simply going to come through obedience with faith in God. Since they didn’t have faith, God made it apparent that He would extend His grace to those who would have faith, the Gentiles. Now, there is therefore now no condemnation. The just are justified by faith. It is something that transcends a culture or a race. It goes beyond skin color to the broad family of faith. There is one race of people, and God offers His grace to all who will believe on His name.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 9:25-33. Is Paul arguing that God is done with the Jews? What is the only way of access for both Jews and non-Jews?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 9:14-24

What kind of paint brush did Leonardo DaVinci use? Was it made with horse hair? Or, was it human hair? Hog’s hair, perhaps? Or, did he create synthetic polymers that could be combed out into even strands for a brush-tip? What did he wear when he painted his pictures? Do you think he wore a smock? Or do you think he wore an apron with flowers on it? How about a funny little hat? What color do you think his hat would have been? Brown? Black? Blue? Purple? And, now you say, “Who cares?!!??”
The most vital information about DaVinci is not what brush he used or what he wore, but what he did. Did he use a brush? Of course. Did he wear something? I hope. But what really matters is what did he paint? Try “The Last Supper,” and a painting of some lady named “Lisa” something or another. The point I am making is that the focus should not be on what it took to do the magnificent work, it should be a wonder that the magnificent work even occurred.
When we get to Rom. 9:14-24, many Christians take a theological tangent and turn their attention from what a gracious God has done to why or how He does it. God says “I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” This group of frustrated Bible surgeons then take this passage and explain that no matter what you do, God has either already chosen you or not chosen you, and there’s a good chance that you might be chosen, but there’s also a good chance that you might not be chosen. Eventually, their theological obsession sidelines them and they retreat into a counter-productive attack mode, certain God has chosen them to attack any who disagree with their position. Just like knowing the type of brush doesn’t affect the awesomeness of the “Mona Lisa,” knowing who He has picked or not picked doesn’t affect the awesomeness that He actually redeems fallen man. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith,” what an awesome work, that a holy God would save wicked sinful men. Don’t get side-tracked into a pit of inactivity by focusing on the background of the painting so much that you miss the beauty of the Masterpiece.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 9:14-24. What illustration does Paul use to describe the relationship of Man to God in verse 21? Describe it in your own words.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 9:1-13

Romans 9:1-13 is known and discussed for many reasons. One reason is seen early on as Paul’s heart is put on display. Verse 3 has to be one of the most convicting verses in all of the Bible when I evaluate my life and my passion for the lost. When we read Paul saying that he would wish himself to be accursed, or cursed and cut off from his standing with God in salvation, in order that his Jewish brethren would be saved, I am smitten! That’s an amazing confession from Paul! Is there anybody that you desire to be saved so much that you would be willing to trade places with him/her? That’s how much Paul loved his Jewish brethren.
Secondly, this passage is well-known and discussed because of its explanation of God’s sovereignty. This passage explains how God, as the Creator and Ruler of this world, chose the nation of Israel to be His people. They didn’t do anything to earn that status; in fact, He chose them before they were born! And because He is Creator and Ruler, He has every right to do whatever He wants to do.
But thirdly, and most importantly, this passage is based on everything that has been said in chapters 1-8. Chapter 8 is full of promises that God made to His people, but the problem is that many of the “Jews” don’t claim Christ. So Paul addresses the question, “Has the Word of God failed (v.6)? Is He not keeping His promises after all?” The answer: NO! God’s Word has not failed and it will not fail! The problem is that man fails to believe God and His promises were made to those who truly are His. Are you one of His?

Food for Thought: Read Romans 9:1-13. What are the advantages that Paul says Israel had over everyone else?

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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 8:26-39

If I created a list of the most popular “out-of-context” bible verses, Romans 8:28 would have to be somewhere near the top of that list. Typically, the scenario goes something like this: A tragedy happens (death, bad news, disaster), and a nearby, well-meaning Christian realizes that he has been Providentially placed to fix it. Without hesitation, he reaches into his spiritual tool-belt and pulls out the fix-all, duct tape equivalent of bible verses. With eyes of compassion, he builds the confidence to insert awkwardly, “well, at least we know that all things work together for good…” He really means well, but after having been on the receiving end of this phrase a few times myself, it probably would have been better to just say what he was thinking, something like “just hang in there,” or even not say anything. Yeah, saying nothing would have been better than using this doosie. All things don’t work together for good. People die. People get cancer. AIDS and human trafficking still exist. Not everything is working out good. There is legitimate terribleness in the world. And this terribleness isn’t fixed by trite coffee mug theology.
So then what does this verse deal with? Paul spent all of Romans 8 explaining that God has worked out the crucial matter of Justification (absolving us of our sins by applying them to Jesus) in all those who believe the gospel. Now that we have been declared righteous and have been brought into peace with God, there is nothing that can come between us and God. Even the Holy Spirit aids in our unhindered relationship with God. Paul goes on to express this thought past verse 28, with verses 38-39, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.” This deals expressly with our salvation, not necessarily that all things are going to turn out good. Perhaps God has chosen that we like Job endure difficult trials. It does not mean that chemotherapy will be without pain. It does not mean that the passing of a loved one will not ache in the darkest parts of our souls. It does not mean that our house won’t get foreclosed on, and our car get repossessed. It simply means this: the eternal things, the weighty things are settled if you are a believer, and no amount of cancer, or death, or loss will ever change that reality.
God is good. By way of His character, and the promises of His word, we can know that we are secure when the winds of life blow contrary. He will take care of His own. And when death itself comes and stares us in the face, we have this confidence, even Death itself cannot separate us from His eternal love.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 8:26-39. How does God work all things together for the good of the believer?