Need and Faith (Romans 3-4)

As we move on in Paul’s exposition to Rome, we are reminded that we are all sinners. Every single last one of us. We have a need for salvation. There is a distinct need for a way to be saved since we are all condemned to die. But there is hope moving on into chapter 4!

Paul tells us that we are saved by faith, not through physical circumcision, with the example of Abraham (which I coincidentally had not caught before), and the law. Instead, faith. Faith and faith alone. What gets me is that Abraham took the promise of God, and confidently moved forward on it. He was “ fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (4:21). How many times do I doubt that God can do what he promised? And in doing so call God a liar! So instead, we take the promises and gifts from God confidently and walk in them, knowing full well that God will fulfil everything he says he will.

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Setting up the Essay (Romans 1-2)

Whenever I read Romans, I feel like I’m reading a long, well written essay. He makes his points and backs them up and weaves all his arguments so that he gets to say the gospel about a million times (figuratively speaking, that is).

I like how Paul begins his whole letter off with … the gospel! Go figure. However, I like how it is related to his “status” and not just for funsies. Every word he writes has purpose to drive a point. He then moves on and focuses on the judgement of God and how we all will be judged on our hearts. Our hearts. The heart is a reoccurring motif in the entire Bible, which is kind of fun since it wasn’t all written at once. The heart is, in this case, where God looks to judge a man. It speaks beyond our outwardly actions and the things we say. It goes deeper than the earthly justifications we may have for salvation. It purely takes man himself into consideration. Is the heart circumcised or not? This is a radical message for many people who think that through the law they are justified. But, luckily, we aren’t. We are only justified through Christ.

For reflection: If God looked into my heart (or yours?) what would he find there?

 

Walk, Talk, Struggle (Acts 27-28)

WOOOOO! LAST ACTS ONE! I AM MAKING HEADWAY. moving on.

Paul continues to rest in knowing that God will protect him as he goes to Rome. He plods along though life looking for the moments he can share the love of Christ instead of worry or fear at what is coming. God used Paul’s life to do a lot of amazing things. Paul is a great example because he walked the walk, talked the talk, and still struggled with things (as we read in some of his letters). 

I think it’s encouraging to know he still struggled. It is ok for us to struggle with things and process stuff, but we must continue to go out and live for Christ. It is really hard sometimes to do so, but in the end it is completely worth it all.

HIS plan (Acts 23-24)

Side not to start: what kind of an insult is “whitewashed wall”? YOU CLEAN PERSON YOU. Maybe it means they’re only a wall? or they’re covering something up? I don’t get it 😦

i don’t have much to say about this passage except that God continues to keep Paul alive to fulfill his purposes. In a time when he could have died at any turn, God continued to preserve his life until he reached a point where he had finished all that God had planned. Paul was able to then go out and live his life in the face of danger, knowing that if he died it was the will of God. When I think about it that way, it makes it a lot easier for me to do things that are “scary” or that I’m afraid of, because I know that no matter what happens, God will be using me to fulfill his plans. (i have an abnormal fear of drive by shootings, ok?). God will use whoever and whatever he needs to fulfill his purposes on earth. I can rest in that.

The Will of the Lord (Acts 21-22)

“Let the will of the LORD be done” – Acts 21:14b

Paul’s dependence on God in everything he does reminds me today that i should be trusting in that plan instead of my own. In reality, it makes sense. Trust in the all knowing mind of God, or the shallow, narrow mind of me. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to do what God wants (like speaking to a mob of angry people), but God still uses Paul’s willingness and status as a Roman citizen to further the spread of the Gospel.

It reminds me to double check myself. Are there things that I can be offering to God to let him use right now? What am I holding onto that he could be using to touch other people? At camp it’s easy to give pretty much all of your time, but in real life I feel like I’m a lot more selfish with things and time. And yet I can still grow and learn how to let him work in everything i do.

Inside Out (Acts 19-20)

In this passage, I am struck more by the fact that we must believe and trust in our hearts, not just our words. It is the heart that makes or breaks it. So many of the Ephesians are wrapped up in the identity and who they “are” that they can;t handle the actual God who made them. Their hearts are hardened.

Contrast with Paul. The narrative of Acts stands out here as Luke describes what Paul was doing. As such, we are only given his actions (and words), not his thoughts. However, we still see that everything he does points to God. He has found his identity in Christ and it is evident to others that this is so. And to top it all off, he’s humble about it. What a blessing it would have been to see that type of faith in action. I can only hope to one day grow enough to be similar in emulating Christ’s love and passion from the inside out.

3 Observations (Acts 17-18)

3 Observations:

  1. I love how Paul is able to tailor his messages to the people he is talking to. In this case, he uses the “unknown God” to help the recipients of the gospel to understand the message. It is a reminder to me as i share with kids every day that you can make it easier for them to understand by relating it to them. It makes it more meaningful to them than a bunch of senseless words.
  2. This is more of a side comment, but the more I read in the NT, the more pieces that jump out at me that point towards the concept of predestination.
  3. Friends in service are a blessing. I really like the way that Priscilla and Aquila demonstrate what it looks like to operate as a unit in serving Christ. They both serve Paul and bless him (yay for relational beings!) and they also both together help to teach the Gospel. Supporting each other and, I like to think, complimenting each other in what they do.

Enough (Acts 15-16)

There is much joy to be found in the sentiment that we are saved by faith, not by the following of rules. It is sad that we are unable to continually hold onto this joy. So often we still get weighed down by feeling like we aren’t doing enough, or that we must do more to be good enough. “Enough” gets in the way so often. But we are saved merely through faith.

Paul fully understands this and he acts upon it. I mean this in that he does not act as though his actions or his own strength are what gives him power, but that his faith in Christ and knowing that he is with him gives him that power. As such, many people are able to see the glory of God shining through him. Christ is enough for him, and he doesn’t worry about anything else.

Pressing On (Acts 13-14)

we all have things we are comfortable with. They may not have been easy at the start (reading our Bible every morning, being a camp counselor, etc.) but once we have formed our habits we know what we are doing. We are comfortable. It is at this point when we can get stuck in a rut and not be accepting of things that other people are telling us or realizing that we have to still be present every day. I think this may have been what happened at Lystra. The people there were super comfortable with what they knew, and thus they had a hard time accepting that Paul and Barnabas were not Gods. it was easier for them to latch onto something they could be comfortable with than to accept something that they could not.

It is completely opposite to what the people in Pisidia did, where many ended up believing. However, Paul and Barnabas react the same when people believe and when people want to drive them away: they continue to press on to spread the Good News. They did not remain in comfort if they had it, they moved forward into the plans prepared for them.

All the People (Acts 9-10)

Forewarning, this is me trying to catch up on a lot of missed blogging because I have been working at camp as a counselor (still am) so these won’t be quite as in depth as they usually are. It will also take a few days. Moving on.

In this passage, Saul is completely taken by God. It must have been crazy to see it happen. I can’t imagine being there … I feel like I would have had to believe by seeing, but Luke never mentions what happens to Saul’s followers. I’m curious to know.

However, what mostly stands out to me in this passage is how God uses anyone and everyone his purposes. He can change a heart of stone (literally!) and make it follow him instead. He even will use me, which is kind of comforting when you think about it. Reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 in that there are plans he has already created for us to walk in.