Posts tagged ‘Romans’

February 13, 2014

843 Acres #TBT: A Benediction and Prayer

by Bethany

Job 12 (txt | aud, 2:30 min)
Rom 16 (txt | aud, 3:09 min)

Paul: Romans 16:25-27

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen

God All-Sufficient from The Valley of Vision

O LORD OF GRACE,

The world is before me this day, and I am weak and fearful, but I look to thee for strength; If I venture forth alone I stumble and fall, but on the Beloved’s arms, I am firm as the eternal hills; If left to the treachery of my heart, I shall shame thy Name, but if enlightened, guided, upheld by thy Spirit, I shall bring thee glory.

Be thou my arm to support,
my strength to stand,
my light to see,
my feet to run,
my shield to protect,
my sword to repel,
my sun to warm.

To enrich me will not diminish thy fullness; All thy lovingkindness is in thy Son, I will bring him to thee in the arms of faith, I urge his saving Name as the One who died for me. I plead his blood to pay my debts of wrong.

Accept his worthiness for my unworthiness,
his sinlessness for my transgressions,
his purity for my uncleanness,
his sincerity for my guile,
his truth for my deceits,
his meekness for my pride,
his constancy for my backslidings,
his love for my enmity,
his fullness for my emptiness,
his faithfulness for my treachery,
his obedience for my lawlessness,
his glory for my shame,
his devotedness for my waywardness,
his holy life for my unchaste ways,
his righteousness for my dead works,
his death for my life.

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February 12, 2014

843 Acres: The Love of Receptive Grace

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 11 (txt | aud, 3:59 min)
Rom 15 (txt | aud, 7:59 min)
Highlighted: Rom 15:1-3

Relationships: How can we live together with people whose beliefs, practices, and views deeply distress or offend us? How do we relate to them, care for them, and even love them? Tolerance is the answer that our culture gives, but the gospel gives a different one.

Love: As we saw yesterday, there was a dispute in the church of Rome. Some people believed that their Christian commitment restricted them from eating “unclean” foods and, therefore, they ate only vegetables. Others, including Paul, however, disagreed. Tolerance would have told Paul not to make any negative evaluations about the beliefs of others, but Paul did not do that. Instead, he said that those who agreed with him were “strong” and those who disagreed with him were “weak.” Yet he didn’t stop there. He told the strong to be driven by love, not selfishness. He wrote, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself.” [1]

Receptivity: Tim Keller says that the solution to the weakness of narrow-mindedness is not tolerance, but receptive grace, which does not enter into the distorted or erroneous thinking of the weak, but instead bears their weaknesses. [2] He says that this happens in two ways: (1) the strong intellectually enter into the weaknesses of the weak—making negative evaluations as necessary, but doing everything possible to understand and sympathize with them, and (2) the strong also personally enter into the weaknesses of the weak—becoming willing to change their own behavior to serve and love the weak.

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we are often driven by selfishness, not love. We frequently think of tolerance as the ideal, but it is not. Give us hearts that discern what is true and then to enter into others’ weaknesses intellectually and personally. For Christ did not please himself, but was wounded for our weakness to make us strong. Therefore, make us love receptive grace. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Romans 15:1-3a ESV | [2] See Tim Keller. “Receptive Grace.” Sermon. February 10, 2002.

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February 11, 2014

843 Acres Tweetable Tuesday: The Selfishness of Broad-Mindedness

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 10 (txt | aud, 2:13 min)
Rom 14 (txt | aud, 3:01 min)
Highlighted: Rom 14

Discerning Brokenness

Dispute: “One person believes he may eat anything” (broad-mindedness per se) “while the weak eats only veggies” (narrow-mindedness). #Rom14

Narrow-mindedness may be weak, but broad-mindedness per se is often selfish.

For broad-mindedness per se says, “We shouldn’t make negative evaluations. And I won’t let anything you believe hinder how I live.”

Imagining Redemption

Paul often criticizes the strong (who live in grey) bc they often embrace a selfish freedom + reject loving the weak (who need black/white).

If your brother is distressed bc of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy him for whom Christ died.

“In love, make negative but kind evaluations then adjust your life to have deeper relationships with all sorts of people.” @timkellernyc [1]

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for setting us free in Christ, that we may live out of abundant joy, not legalistic righteousness.

Yet we #confess that we often lord our freedom over those the weak, expecting them to change and not submitting ourselves to them in love.

#Thank you for rejecting selfish freedom, exhorting love for the weak. For you loved us, tho weak, and submitted to us in the incarnation.

We pray that you would cause us to be truth-seekers, not becoming weak but submitting to the weak. That love may drive us. #supplication

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Footnotes

[1] Tim Keller has a fantastic and free sermon on this passage. “Hope, Race, and Power.” April 25, 2004.

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February 10, 2014

843 Acres: The Locust Effect

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 9 (txt | aud, 3:18 min)
Rom 13 (txt | aud, 2:09 min)
Highlighted: Rom 13:1-7

Authority: Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” [1] This command may be fairly easy to obey for those of us in places with functioning legal systems. But what about for people in places where the systems of law are corrupt—even extremely corrupt?

Violence: In The Locust Effect, IJM founder and former Federal prosecutor Gary Haugen argues that billions of the global poor, when they are victimized, don’t run to, but away from, the police. In the developing world, those in the law enforcement pipeline—police, prosecutors, judges—are often in the pockets of wealthy criminals, which means that the poor are often the defenseless targets of “common, everyday, predatory violence.”

Protection: According to the World Bank, four billion people in the world are living outside of the law’s protection. Last year, in Oregon, for example, a man broke into a woman’s home. She called 9-1-1, but the dispatcher told her that nothing could be done—it was Saturday and, due to budget cuts, the police were only available on weekdays from 8am to 4pm. On weekends, in other words, she was outside of the law’s protection. In the 9-1-1 recording, the dispatcher says, “It’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there.” [2] The perpetrator broke in, choked her, and raped her.

Fight: This may be rare in Oregon, but it’s the horrific daily reality for millions of the global poor. They have laws, but no law enforcement. In this scenario, however, we see the nuance of Paul’s command. He continues, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” [3] In other words, we discern whether an authority is fulfilling its God-given role by whether it’s rewarding good conduct or bad. For organizations like IJM, which works in places where good laws are on the books, therefore, the good news is that a false authority (the corrupt law enforcement) can fall to a true authority (the law). In this, there is great hope.

Prayer: Lord, Billions of our neighbors are living in places without basic law enforcement. Knowing that you love justice, we ask you to break our hearts for this epidemic. Open our eyes to see where there is brokenness and where we can participate in healing. Amen.

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If you are interested in learning more about IJM and its work to end violence, we strongly recommend that you read The Locust Effect. There’s obviously very little a 400-word devotional can accomplish. Bethany’s review and a place where you can buy it for a 20% discount is: here.)

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Footnotes

[1] Romans 13:1-2 ESV | [2] Cash-strappedlaw enforcement agencies in Oregon stop answering calls, sending officers: ‘If he … assaults you, can you ask him to go away?’ New York Daily News. 2012 | [3] Romans 13:3 ESV

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February 7, 2014

843 Acres: On Being Zealous for God without Knowledge

by Bethany

Job 6 (txt | aud, 6:07 min)
Rom 10 (txt | aud, 6:10 min)
Highlighted: Rom 10:2

Triperspectivalism: In The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, philosopher John Frame suggests that, in every act of knowing, the knower is in constant contact with three perspectives—the normative perspective (the standard by which knowledge is obtained), the situational perspective (the facts of reality), and the existential perspective (the person doing the knowing). [1] How do these three perspectives work together? Let’s take an example.

Knowledge: Here, in Romans 10, Paul writes, “For I bear witness that [the Jewish people] have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” [2] In their normative perspective, the Jewish people looked to the authority of Scripture to check all truth claims. The Scriptures told them that a Messiah was to come. In their situational perspective, they had to ask whether Jesus was, in fact, that Messiah. Was his life consistent with the prophecies? Did he fulfill the law? In their existential perspective, they had to be aware of how their interpretation of the normative and existential was affected by their own biases, dispositions, and temperaments. Do we have presuppositions or vested interests that make us more likely or less likely to accept him? In the end, although their normative perspective pointed to Christ as the Messiah, their situational and existential perspectives led them to reject him. Thus, they did not “know” that Christ was King.

Modernity: We, too, are apt to default to certain perspectives and not know God. Unlike the Jewish people of Paul’s time, however, we tend to prefer the situational and existential perspectives to the normative one. I know the Bible says not to do X (normative), but my friend did X and she is happy (situational). Plus, I want to do X, too, so I’m subconsciously looking for reasons to justify doing it (existential). They were tempted to create a purely objective knowledge of God, but we are tempted to create a purely subjective knowledge of Him—thinking of Him only as personal and intimate and never as authoritative and holy.

Prayer: Lord, We confess that your Word often is not hidden in our hearts and, therefore, we forsake the normative perspective. Therefore, we are at risk of having a zeal not according to knowledge. Give us a thirst for your Word and open our eyes to have full knowledge—normative, situational, and existential—for knowing you can only come when these three work together. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, February 8: Job 7 (txt | aud, 4:37 min) & Rom 11 (txt | aud, 10:06 min)
Sunday, February 9: Job 8 (txt | aud, 4:00 min) & Rom 12 (txt | aud, 5:09 min)

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Footnotes

[1] See Triperspectivalism. Wikipedia. | [2] Romans 10:2 ESV

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February 6, 2014

843 Acres TBT: A Prayer for the Jewish People (Vatican)

by Bethany

Job 5 (txt | aud, 5:20 min)
Rom 9 (txt | aud, 9:15 min)

Paul: Romans 9:1-5

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

The Vatican. A Prayer for the Jewish People.

Let us pray also for the Jewish people, to whom the Lord our God spoke first, that he may grant them to advance in love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.

Prayer in silence. Then the Priest says:

Almighty ever-living God, who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants, hear graciously the prayers of your Church, that the people you first made your own may attain the fullness of redemption. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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February 5, 2014

843 Acres: Does God Want You to Be Rich?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 4 (txt | aud, 4:19 min)
Rom 8 (txt | aud, 12:21 min)
Highlighted: Job 4:7-8

Prosperity: The “prosperity gospel” argues that, when Jesus talks about giving us “abundant life,” he means that God wants to bless us financially. [1] “In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said that they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31% … agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.” [2]

Suffering: If the prosperity gospel teaches that financial blessing stems from religious faithfulness, then—by extension—it teaches that financial suffering stems from religious unfaithfulness. That is, if you aren’t rich, then something must be wrong with you. This type of reasoning isn’t new. In fact, it’s the point of Job. God tells Satan that Job is “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” [3] Yet Satan balks at this: Of course, Job loves you! Look at everything you’ve given him—a good family and lots of money. [4] When Satan takes these things from Job, his friends think that he must have done something wrong to deserve it: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” [5]

Baloney: The irony, of course, is that we know Job’s suffering is not tied to his unrighteousness and, as we consider the life of Jesus, we see something very similar. Even though the Son of God was sinless, he had no place to lay his head, was not wealthy, and suffered greatly. The prosperity gospel is, as Rick Warren puts it, “baloney.” “It’s creating a false gospel,” he says. “You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty.”

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, even if we do not consciously subscribe to the prosperity gospel, we sometimes default to it. We say things like, “This must be God’s will because look how good it is or how easy it happened.” Yet often your will is hard and challenging. It calls us to take up our crosses daily. Yes, make us faithful and generous givers. But may we tie our self-worth only to Christ, who suffered and died. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Prosperity Theology is also known (or vilified) as Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, and Name It and Claim It. One of its signature verses is John 10:10 (“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”), which it claims relates to financial abundance. | [2] Jeff Chu and David Van Biema. “Does God Want You to Be Rich?” TIME. September 2006. | [3] Job 1:8 ESV | [4] See Job 1:9-11 | [5] Job 4:7-8 ESV

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February 4, 2014

843 Acres Tuesday Tweetables: The Good/Evil Line within Us

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 3 (txt | aud, 5:11 min)
Rom 7 (txt | aud, 6:53 min)
Highlighted: Rom 7

Discerning Brokenness

All of us are capable of great good and great evil. For there is a war waging within us between the law of the Spirit and the law of sin.

I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out … Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. #Romans7

The line separating good & evil passes not through states, classes, or political parties, but through every human heart. #Solzhenitsyn

Imagining Redemption

The law [of God] is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. #Romans7

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! #Romans7

God has done what the law could not. By sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. #Rom8

Praying ACTS

Lord, We lift our hands in #adoration to you. For you sent Jesus as a sin offering that the requirements of the law might be met.

Yet we #confess that the Spirit and sin are at war within us. When we are told we can’t do something, we rebelliously want to do it.

But #thanks be to you for giving us your Spirit and your Word. By your power and your promises, we mortify the deeds of the flesh. #Romans8

Therefore, may we not live according to the flesh. But lead us by the Spirit as your children, crying, “Abba! Father!” #supplication

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February 3, 2014

843 Acres: The Art of Presence

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 2 (txt | aud, 4:41 min)
Rom 6 (txt | aud, 6:07 min)
Highlighted: Job 2:13

Presence: On January 20, David Brooks wrote about “the art of presence” during tragedy in the New York Times. He based his piece on “a remarkable blog post for Sojourners” by Catherine Woodiwiss. Brooks discussed how suffering teaches us certain lessons “about how those of us outside the zone of trauma might better communicate with those inside the zone.”

Suffering: Job lost almost everything he had—his children, his livestock, his wealth. Yet he still worshipped God: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” [1] Then he contracted a serious skin disease. His wife incited him: “Curse God and die.” But he replied, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” [2] When Job’s friends heard about his suffering, they showed up. “And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” [3]

Silence: Brooks highlighted some lessons learned by Woodiwiss in her own suffering. For example, “Do be there. Some people think that those who experience trauma need space to sort things through. Assume the opposite. Most people need presence.” Also, “Do bring soup. The non-verbal expressions of love are as healing as eloquence.” And, “Don’t say it’s all for the best or try to make sense of what has happened … Even devout Christians, as the Woodiwisses are, should worry about taking theology beyond its limits. Theology is a grounding in ultimate hope, not a formula book to explain away each individual event.”

Prayer: Lord, Show us who is in mourning around us. Teach us what it means to practice the art of presence. Although Job’s friends weren’t perfect, their faithful presence was precious to their friend. For it pointed to Jesus, who wept with those who wept. May we “be there” and “bring soup” and be okay with the mystery of your will in our lives. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Job 1:21 ESV | [2] Job 2:10 ESV | [3] Job 2:13 ESV

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January 31, 2014

843 Acres: The Grand Reversal of the Gallows

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Esth 8 (txt | aud, 7:24 min)
Rom 3 (txt | aud, 8:32 min)
Highlighted: Est 8:16-17

Gallows: “On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.” [1] Haman’s plot against Mordecai was foiled. Mordecai was supposed to be dead, but he was honored. Haman was supposed to be exalted, but he was hanged—hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. And the people rejoiced in their salvation: “And in every province and in every city … there was gladness and joy among the Jews.” [2]

Cross: On the very day when the enemies of God hoped to gain mastery over Jesus, the reverse occurred: Jesus gained mastery over the one who hated him: “This [the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands] he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” [3] In Christ’s death, Satan was disarmed and shamed. He was stripped of his power to accuse us before God because the cross nullified our indictment. And we rejoice in our salvation.

Prayer: Lord, You work all things according to the counsel of your will and you are righteous in all your ways. In both the story of Esther and the gospel of Jesus, not only did you defeat evil, you made evil destroy itself. The dark powers did their best to destroy your glory, but they found themselves “quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by [you].” [4] Therefore, we have hope. For no plan of yours can be thwarted and nothing can separate us from your great salvation. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, February 1: Esth 9-10 (txt | aud, 11:45 min) & Rom 4 (txt | aud, 8:07 min)
Sunday, February 2: Job 1 (txt | aud, 7:29 min) & Rom 5 (txt | aud, 6:59 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Esther 9:1 ESV  | [2] Esther 8:16-17 ESV  | [3] Col. 2:14-15 ESV  | [4] John Piper, Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. Wheaton: Crossway, p. 12.

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