“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35 & 37 NIV Romans 8 is a powerhouse of a chapter. So much, so good, so very hard to choose the best verse to focus on. I kept coming back to these 2 verses. Nothing…I repeat Nothing, we can or could ever imagine, can separate us from God’s love that we experience through Jesus.I’ve been in a kind of slump spiritually. Not keeping up with my “spiritual disciplines”, feeling guilty, but not enough to get me out of bed before the rest of the family to have some special time with the Lord.I’m just so thankful that even when I’m having this valley experience that Jesus still loves me so very much. He just never stops. My personal human feelings can’t separate me from His love. My out of balance life can’t separate me from His love. He “is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us/me.” (Romans 8:34)How reassuring! He has not given up on me and can never ever possibly stop loving me, even when I mess up time and time again and fall through on my end of our relationship. He’s in my corner, rooting for me, because He has already won. He has already paid the penalty with His life and death because of His incomprehensible love for me and all humanity.Heavenly Lord,Even in my present state of mind, I still feel your love and know that You won’t ever give up on me. You are in heaven interceding on my behalf. Thank you for Your persistence. Please forgive my lack of persistence and I ask You to help me to come up out of the valley and experience the joy of following You once again.AmenBeckie (look2thehills)
Monthly Archives: November 2022
Why should I live? That is the question that came to mind as I read Romans 5-8. Paul writes a theological piece here that on one hand is easy to grasp. “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Simply paraphrased, we all sin because of Adam and now we can all be saved through Jesus Christ. So why the lengthy discourse? For me, the difficulty lies in understanding the part about walking out our salvation. This concept unlike the gift of eternal life reveals, like shards from a broken mirror, reflected multiple images of me failing miserably at trying to be a good Christian.
My assurance of eternal life is based on the foundation of salvation; that is, Christ’s bearing the weight of our sin, dying on the cross, and being resurrected from death. I am awestruck by God’s overwhelming love for me, so in response to the gift of salvation, I have strived to prove that I am worthy of His love. And I have judged the fervor of my love for Him on the works that I do or fail to do. Yet Romans 5:19 says, “For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one Man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” The many will be made righteous indicates that a Christian depends on God’s help with walking out salvation. Does this mean that I am being made righteous through the one Man, Jesus Christ’s obedience, not my own? It would seem so. Other New Testament texts confirm that doing good works is evidence of our faith, but that these works do not save our immortal souls from death. James 2:18-24 states that we are justified by faith, and at the same time faith is perfected in good works. Likewise, Ephesians 2:8-10 contrasts the gift of salvation with the “good works” that “God prepared beforehand for us to walk in.” There is no contradiction in these texts, for they speak the same truth as Paul, describing a righteousness that saves and a righteousness that is based on the continual sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
I have been taught that good works are related to the time, money, and importance we give to activities for the church, such as supporting missionaries, gathering canned food for the homeless shelter, or buying a toy for the church giveaway during Christmas. Being charitable and helping others in tangible ways are certainly examples of loving others, and I try to do my share. I am finding, however, that even more than the outward signs of charity, my attitude and motivation for good works are important to this salvation walk. My Christ centered spirit knows to cry out to Father God. Yet, this mind and body wars against my spirit. In triggering situations, the righteousness of God is not always evident in my life. I can see this happening, but like a runaway train, I cannot always hit the brakes in time to avoid colliding with the object of my frustration. These words of John the Apostle convict me in these episodes of meanness, impatience, and stinginess. John said, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before Him,” (I John 3:18, 19).
These episodes are sin. The Apostle James uses strong language to convey the consequences of “full grown” sin. “Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death,” (James 1:14-15). Death in this passage refers to a physical death. How true this is in our lives. We bear the burden of unforgiveness, estrangement, or self-righteousness in the body – headaches, indigestion, tense muscles, high blood pressure, panic attacks, heart problems, etc. Thankfully, I am not given free rein to sin. More often, through humbling situations, being found obviously in error, or getting so out of sorts that even I can recognize the emptiness in all my rationalizations, the Holy Spirit pulls me back and turns me around to face Christ Jesus.
Instead of seeing disgust in the eyes of Jesus, however, I am overwhelmed with the gravity of my soul’s worth to this One who sees me, loves me, and has no intention of leaving me in my miserable state. He reminds me through His Holy Spirit that His perfect love, not my infrequent attempts at good works, is how I am being made righteous. He also gifts me with that same love for others that engenders all forms of charity, forbearance, and outward acts of mercy and grace. And isn’t this why we live?
Dear Lord God, it is here on earth that love is so needed. You have placed us here at this time for that very reason. To be loved by You, and to love others like You do. Help us, Lord, to be obedient to Your word and to walk out our salvation in love.
The law was given to us by God through Moses. What happened with it when Jesus came to earth? He raised the bar. I have always struggled to understand the relationship between the law and salvation.
- Does the law save? Or does Faith?
- What is the consequence of breaking the law under salvation through faith?
- Is the law less important?
We as humans (or at least this human) loves to know the expectations of others. Knowing expectations allows us to predict how others will view us. If I know someones expectations I can make sure they won’t get mad at me. It’s the unknown expectations that get in the way. In every relationship, however, there are unknown expectations. Thats relationships.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”Romans 5:1-2 NIV
We cannot know the full depth of what God desires of us. The most important thing is relationship. It is only in the context of a relationship with Jesus that we can live according to the law BECAUSE of faith. No one can fulfill the law. Only Jesus did. My focus is not to live in fear of the law, but in love with God.
How does my love for God and my relationship with Him change me? Help me obey the law?
Dear God, you know I get overwhelmed with the law. Worrying about what to do and how to do it and how you feel about me in the process causes me to worry. Help me to see you. Help me to rest in you. Help me to feel your love and continue to get to know you more. Amen.
There is trouble at sea…
“Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” (Acts 27:21-25 ESV)
There is trouble on the island…
“It happened that the father of Pulius lay sick with fever and dysentary. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, when we were about to said, they put on board whatever we needed.” (Acts 28:8-10 ESV)
There was trouble in Rome…
“And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: Go to the people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:25-29 ESV)
There was trouble in each of these scenarios that Paul was in. But through each of them he demonstrated bold faith that got him through adversity and created a beautiful witness for others to see. May we all take his example and run with it ourselves.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7b ESV)
Here is the most detailed description of Paul’s testimony, shared with me to understand the transformation that took place in his life and what it looks like to serve and follow Jesus. Purpose screams from the storyline and with that comes boldness, wisdom, courage, value and a deep sense of commitment and faithfulness.
‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ – Acts 26:17-18 MSG
I love the call of God in Paul’s life. I have looked for such a call between the ages of 12 and 14. Finally received a tap on the shoulder at 14. The specific call took place at age 25. I have another call that still has not materialized and that is okay. I am doing the work I am called to do now.
What an honour for God to choose me as His minister, an honour that suggests that I am not doing anything in my own strength but through the working of His Spirit which is revealed in me everyday.
What is the secret? Paul was forgiven and I was forgiven. Paul was the chief of sinners and I was up there too, but we both obtained mercy. More than mercy actually, we were honoured as ministers of Jesus. A call offered to everyone who has decided to follow Jesus.
I know that the real secret is in being obedient to that call, not just receiving it. It is a call where I cannot dishonour the One who called me.
It’s because of this ‘whole world’ dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. – Acts 26:21 MSG
This is why persecution even exists. Paul’s story reminds me that while my own life may have no value in of itself, what an honour to be freely given God’s goodness. What a honour to humble myself and not to grudge whatever may come my way so that I may present myself to the world as a child of God.
It is God walking with me that matters most. I try to memorize a verse every week. This week it is Hebrews 4:16 – “So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” The promise is that He will never leave me so my decision each day is to choose life and to raise an Ebenezer to the honour of His name. All of this because Jesus has helped me.
Father, thank You for calling me with a purpose and with a life that involves walking with You. Thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit enabling me to do and accomplish all that You have set before me to do. Thank You that my glory is not in me and what I have done, but rather, in You and what You have done.