Friday, December 07, 2012

December 7, 2012 … Woe Is Me!!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 342

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Romans, Chapters 4-7 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Romans 4:20-25 : [NLT] … {The biggest portion of the readers of this letter to the Christians in Rome were Jews; and Chapter 4 addresses their history and understanding of God’s Law and how faith in Christ, as their Messiah, was the only way to salvation for Jewish believers, not their works under The Law, as many were conditioned by tradition to believe. And Paul reminds these Jews of their ancestor, the father of their Jewish faith, Abraham, whose faith, long before The Law ever came to the Jewish people, counted him to be righteous in the eyes of God. }  
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God declared him to be righteous. 23 Now this wonderful truth—that God declared him to be righteous—wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. 24 It was for us, too, assuring us that God will also declare us to be righteous if we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God.  

Highlight Passages: Romans 5: 18-21 : [NLT] … {Chapter 5 of Romans gives Paul’s readers an powerful comparison of what we – as God’s children – have from Adam [i.e., death] as compared with what we have from Christ [i.e., eternal life]. We choose, by living by faith in one or the other which of these two we will suffer or enjoy for eternity. }  
18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God’s sight. 20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Highlight Passages: Romans 6: 5; 11; 14-16; : [NLT] … {Chapter 6 laid out for the Romans [and us too!] what they [we] could be assured of when they [we] receive Christ as their Messiah, Lord, and Savior; and that was total freedom in their [our] eternal relationship with The Christ.}  
5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. … 
11 So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. … 
14 Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace. 15 So since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. …  

Highlight Passages: Romans 7: 14-24 : [NLT] … {This is a curious chapter. Please use this link -  - to read verses 14-24, which will be the focus of most of my journaling this morning.}  
Please link to that passage and read my comments below. 

My Journal for Today: The four chapters I was led to study in my chronological reading segment today are pregnant with Christian theology, from a Jewish as well as a Gentile perspective. I hope you, my fellow readers, take the time to go through Chapters 4-6 to see that it is our faith which separates us in Christ from those who choose to live in the spiritual DNA of Adam. Here you will also read – AGAIN – that it is our faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, not anything we can do (i.e., our works) that can save us from eternal separation from God. Yes, dear one, these chapters present some of the most important theological points on walking free from sin that there are in the New Testament.

But it’s Chapter 7, where Paul paints himself in a very interesting light to which I’d like to address myself in this blog entry. In this chapter, Paul seems to go into a “funk” about himself. It’s almost like – all of a sudden – Paul is documenting a pity-party for his readers. And knowing just how mature a believer and evangelist Paul was when he wrote this epistle, one (well, at least this one – i.e., me) must ask, “Why?!”

We know that Paul wrote this letter after 2nd Corinthians; and in that letter to Corinth, Paul wrote (in Chapters 11 and 12) about how much he (Paul) had been through to carry the Gospel all over the known world in three separate mega-journeys for Christ. We know that in spite of some “thorn” of weakness, Paul persisted, learning that “God’s grace was sufficient” … ALWAYS, in all circumstances, to cover his weaknesses. Yet, here in Chapter 7, verses 14-25 of Romans, we read of a “WOE IS ME” side of Paul.

Well, I have my own theory about why Paul seems to slip into a whole different persona in writing Chapter 7 of Romans. I believe that Paul, the brilliant, strong, and most capable warrior for Christ was helping his readers to identify with the humanity of weakness as he was about to launch into writing probably the most hope-filled and freedom-invoking chapter in all of the Bible – i.e., Chapter 8 of Romans.

If you’ve ever studied Romans 8, you know that it almost explodes with hopefulness and with the doctrine that nothing, in this world or life, can separate a true, born-again believer from the love of God. And I believe Paul needed to have any reader of his epistle (i.e., to the Romans), anyone who was feeling downtrodden or was wallowing in self condemnation, to be prepared to read some of the most powerful truths in the Bible, as Paul launches into Romans 8 with … ”There is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus!”

Paul wanted any and all readers of Romans 7 to know that they don’t have to live a down-and-out life. They could choose to live up-and-free lives in Christ. And that was to be God’s message in Romans 8; but Paul needed to hook his readers – in belief – by getting them to identify with Paul’s claimed times of self-doubt or personal condemnation [i.e., Romans 7: 14-25}. And whether Paul ever really felt the way he wrote about in Romans 7 at this point in his walk with Christ is debatable; but this passage is brilliantly written to get any reader to want more than life in Romans 7, … which any reader would find in reading –and living – in Romans 8. And as I close my blog this morning, I ask you what I often ask of myself, … ”Do we want to live in Romans 7 or Romans 8?”

And as Paul writes in all of Romans, it’s our choice !!

My Prayer Today: … I choose to live in the truth of Romans 8, Lord! Amen

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