7.6.13 — I Don’t Want To Have A Worthless Mind!

Romans 1:28-32

And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God- haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence — that those who practice such things deserve to die — they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.

Do you applaud (either in your heart, or openly) the sin of others? If you do, it may be an evidence that God has given up on you and delivered you over to your unrighteousness.

Yesterday we were talking about God’s view of same-sex marriage. In Minnesota, we just had our annual “Pride Festival.” Thousands of Minnesotans gathered together to give hearty approval to those who practice such behavior, which God declares as morally wrong. The fact that these individuals gathered together to applaud themselves and others who practice this sin is evidence that they do not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God. And likewise that they have a worthless mind.

This is a hard pill to swallow. People (including me) do not want to hear that their mind is worthless. We want to think that we have a good mind which contributes to the benefit of society. Many homosexuals indeed have very sharp minds which plan great and grand things. Many of these individuals could use their minds to do wonderful things for the sake of others. Yet God tells us that our minds are tied directly to whom we worship; God or created things.

We will look closer at ourselves in tomorrow’s devotion; but for now, take a closer look at the list of sins mentioned in our Bible reading. Have you ever slandered? Have you ever gossiped? Have you ever been disobedient to your parents? Have you ever envied? Have you ever quarreled? …. Ya, me too! But the question is are you filled with these things? The word filled means to be crammed full. Are you crammed full of the above listed sins, or do you seek repentance and forgiveness through Jesus when you commit them? If you do, God has not delivered you over to a worthless mind yet and this is good. If you ever begin to find that you are approving and applauding others when they commit such sins; you may be on a slippery slope which leads to destruction.

  • Can you think of a time when you have applauded others when they commit sin?
  • Are you grieved in your heart over sin (both yours and others), or are you indifferent to it?

7.5.13 — When God Gives You Up To Unnatural Passions

Romans 1:26-27

This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

I mentioned in yesterdays devotional that it is a scary thing when God gives up on you. I said that when a person holds truth captive in the dungeon of the human heart for a prolonged time; and when the person brings forth unrighteousness out of the heart to be believed as the new truth; God gives up on you. You don’t even know that God has given you up because your mind has become so foolish and nonsensical you are unable to discern truth from error anymore. We have an example of what this looks like in our devotional reading of the day.

This text is directly applicable to our current culture of the day. We live in Minnesota where it just became law to acknowledge same sex couples marriage as right. The joining together of same sex couples has happened as far back as Genesis 14. God tells us in verses 26-27 of Romans that this type of behavior is a direct result of God giving up on the individuals who perform such acts. He also tells us that these individuals have degrading passions that are shameless and unnatural, and also that they deserve penalties for their error. Does this sound like God thinks their behavior is right, good, and true?

We have to remember that God determines morality. He is the standard of what is good, right, and true. His very nature and character determines this for us. We live in a culture that has for the most part hidden the truth of God in dungeons. When a society does this they inevitably come up with their own morality; a morality which is determined by the highest number of votes. If the masses say that it is true, then it is.

It says in Romans 3:4a

God must be true, even if everyone is a liar…

  • How do we determine what is true and false?
  • How do we determine what is good and bad?
  • What is God’s view of same sex marriage?
    • Should this effect our view as well?

7.4.13 — When God Gives Up On You

Romans 1:18-25

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four- footed animals, and reptiles.

Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

There are two main ways that God reveals himself: Natural Revelation and Special Revelation. Special Revelation is the revealing of God through the Bible. The Scriptures contain all that we need to know about God in order to be saved. Scripture reveals to us God’s plan of salvation; namely Scripture reveals Jesus Christ! Natural Revelation is the revealing of God through creation; through what we see of the world. This portion we have just read in Romans 1 is talking of Natural Revelation; and what it has to say to us is pretty scary!

Just like a building declares to us that there was a builder; creation declares to us that there was a Creator. We have enough information around us in what we see of the world to give sufficient evidence that God exists. We not only have sufficient evidence of the existence of God, but of specific attributes and character qualities of God. Like for instance that he is powerful, and orderly, and wise. God has made it clear to all peoples in all places of the world. So much so that no person will ever be able to stand before God at the judgement and declare that “they never knew him”.

Let’s get to the scary part…

The human heart is a dungeon where we hold the truth of God captive. The truth that God has made plain to us in natural revelation, we suppress in our hearts by our unrighteousness. We then manifest out a lie out of the darkness of our heart and masquerade it as truth. We do this because we crave to believe that unrighteousness is good, right, and true. We don’t glorify God as the Creator, nor are we thankful to Him for all things. We instead claim to be the one who is wise, and begin to give approval to sexual impurity and sensuality.

This is of course very scary, but it is not yet the worst thing possible. The truly scary part is when we do this long enough; when we hold the truth of God captive in our hearts and believe lies as truth; God gives up on us! This is the worst and most scary thing that could ever happen. God refuses any longer to restrain your desires for unrighteousness. He gives up on you and lets you go…And when this happens to you, you will never know it until the day of judgement. You have convinced yourself to believe your lies as truth. Your mind has become non-sensical and blind to that which is truly true. God has given up on you and you have no idea.

If this truth has awakened your mind to see that you have become hardened to truth and have desired to believe lies…praise God! God has not given up on you yet!

  • Are there areas in your life where you know you are holding truth captive?
  • Do you need to take out the key and unlock the chamber so that truth can be set free in your mind once again?

7.3.13 — The Gospel Reveals The Power And Righteousness Of God

Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written:The righteous will live by faith.

I mentioned yesterday that the gospel is not only meant for the unbeliever but for the believer. As a further evidence of this, Paul tells us that God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel from faith (the beginnings of our faith in conversion) to faith (the living by faith, the walking by faith, the taking thoughts captive by faith, the slaying of sin by faith). Faith is how we become saved, how we remain saved, and how we are ultimately delivered from this world; all by faith. And as an evidence that faith is how all Christians have ever been saved, Paul quotes from Habakuk 2:4 “The righteous will live by faith.” There has never been, nor will there ever be one person who receives forgiveness of sin, and an entrance into heaven except is comes through faith.

The gospel is so important for us to understand. For in the gospel, both the righteousness of God, and the power of God are revealed.

Righteousness is a character quality of God which always does what is right, always thinks what is right, always speaks that which is right, and always feels what is right. Righteousness is not found in some space external from God. God defines righteousness by all that he does. And the gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God. It does this by showing us God’s hatred of unrighteousness; for his hatred of unrighteousness drove him to provide his beloved son as an offering and a sacrifice for sin. Righteousness alone had to die in order for unrighteousness to be forgiven. The gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God.

The gospel also shows us the power of God. It does more then just show us the power of God; it gives us the power of God for salvation. Contained in the truth of the gospel is power to believe the gospel. I tried unsuccessfully to believe the gospel many times before I became a Christian. It was not until the power of God worked through the gospel of God which ultimately produced faith in me to embrace the Son of God as my source and final righteousness.

I heard it said somewhere that when a preacher declares the gospel to a congregation of people, it is like he is flinging lit matches into wooden barrels sitting in the pews. The preacher does not know which barrels have dynamite in them and which do not. It will only become evident to those around by their explosion.

  • Which words need further defining? Salvation? Righteousness?
  • Explain to me how Abraham got to heaven?
  • Explain how Noah got there?
  • Explain how you might get there?

7.2.13 — The Great Blessing Of Christian Friends

Romans 1:8-15

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about His Son, is my witness that I constantly mention you, always asking in my prayers that if it is somehow in God’s will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I want very much to see you, so I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Now I want you to know, brothers, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now) in order that I might have a fruitful ministry among you, just as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome.

I think we could probably all agree that the Apostle Paul is a man who is worthy of imitation. For God to inspire him somewhere to write, “follow me as I follow Christ,” and “be imitators of me;” we could deduce that God would be pleased for us to model our lives after Paul. That being said, I want us to see some ways that we should begin our imitation.

Paul loved Christians. He thanked the Lord for Christians, he prayed for Christians, he longed for fellowship with Christians, and he desired to preach the gospel to Christians.

Having Christian friends is a great blessing. I grew up as an atheist. I had a large number of friends which I very much influenced for the bad and not good. Christian friends are to influence us for good. They are to help us along as we follow Christ together. They are a gift from God to us and so we should be thankful for any Christian friends God gives us.

We should not only be thankful for these friends God gives us, but we should be daily praying for our Christian friends. We need prayer don’t we? And likewise, so do they. We should make it a daily routine to pray for our fellow soldiers of the Lord.

If we truly grasp how much a blessing it is to have Christian friends; our love to God for them will prompt us to desire fellowship with them. Paul longed to be with his friends so that both he and they could be mutually encouraged together.

Lastly, Paul preached the gospel to his friends. The gospel is not just something for the Non-Christian to believe in order to make them a Christian. The gospel is for the Christian. We need to be preaching the gospel not only to ourselves daily, but to our friends. Don’t you need to be daily reminded that you are justified by Christ alone and not by the works of the law? So too our friends need those same reminders.

  • Let’s make a list together of the Christian friends that we have.
  • Let’s begin by thanking the Lord for these Christian friends, praying for them, seeking opportunities to fellowship with them, and ways that we can remind them of the gospel.
  • We are not only a family, but friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. The family is the primary Christian community and building block of society. Let’s put all of these principles in practice for each other.

7.1.13 — Slavery To A Perfect Master

Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news — which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures — concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh and who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness. We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name, including yourselves who also belong to Jesus Christ by calling:

To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are going to attempt by the will of God to go through the book of Romans. Romans is written sometime around 57 AD by the Apostle Paul. He wrote this letter to the Church at Rome. It is primarily written to believers. The first eleven chapters are doctrinal, and the remaining are practical. We should glean great benefit by going through this letter.

When is the last time that you saw a letter, read an article, or bought a book that was written by a slave? Well, you probably haven’t because it has been very rare in history for a slave to even read, let alone write something. We have here one such letter; written by a slave of Jesus Christ. Slavery is known as a very bad thing. The civil war that was fought in our country was a battle over slavery. The slavery that Paul commends here though is a different kind. You see, slavery is good or bad dependent upon the master one is bound to. Slavery to a perfect master is the best freedom in the world. And Paul here has found perfect freedom being a slave under his Perfect Master Jesus Christ.

This slave, the Apostle Paul has much he wants to tell us. But for starters, he wants us to know that he has good news to tell. He wants to share with us the long promised gospel. This gospel was a promise to humanity way back in Genesis chapter 3. God promised that he would someday send a Seed who would come to crush the head of the Serpent. This Seed came in the Person of Jesus Christ. He was a man, for he was a descendent from the line of David. And he was God, for he was the Son of God. This God-Man was declared to be the Son of God, and the Son of Man by the resurrection from the dead!

  • Tell me some things that you know about the Apostle Paul.
  • Tell me some other places you can think of in the Old Testament where Jesus was promised to come.

6.30.13 — The World Couldn’t Contain It All

John 21:24-25

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.

John was not afraid to speak and write the truth about Christ and neither should we. John was a credible and morally upright eye-witness to the life and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. We all know that a morally upright eye-witness has credibility in any courtroom, and so should he have credibility in the courtroom of our minds. John’s testimony is true.

It is interesting to learn that we don’t know the half of what Jesus did. Jesus obviously did far more miracles and teachings that we have recorded for us in the Bible. John tells us that the world itself could not contain all of the writings of the full life of Christ. Why do we not have them? I think it is because if we had such a large volume of information, Christians would need to spend all of their time reading about Christ and not be out serving people in the name of Christ. We would be so bogged down with information that we could not be doing the work which Christ has called us to. God did not want us to have such a volume of the works of Christ, and so it is best that we do not. I suppose heaven will be one such place where we will learn of such further information.

  • Do you remember from our study what the purpose of the book of John is?
  • Do you recall if John wrote any other books in the Bible?

6.29.13 — As For You, Follow Me

John 21:20-23

So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them. That disciple was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray You?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord — what about him?”

“If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”

So this report spread to the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This is actually very funny to me! Peter had just been told in the last section that he was going to die a martyr’s death at some point in the future. Then Jesus said “follow me.” So Peter does just that. Then he looks behind him and see’s John following as well. Peter says, “well…what about John?” In other words, “how is John going to die?” Jesus tells Peter that if he wants John to remain alive until the second coming, what is that to Peter; Peter is to worry about himself and just “follow Jesus.” At some point then Peter has the opportunity to tell his fellow disciples what Jesus had said about John. They figure that Jesus meant that John was never going to die even though Jesus never exactly said that. That’s funny!

I am reminded of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia books. I think it was Edmond (though I am not positive now) who was told numerous times by Aslan that his story was his own and he was not to worry about Lucy or Peter’s or anyone else’s story. Edmond was to follow Aslan. I am sure that C.S. Lewis build that into his story because of John 21:20-23.

We learn something very important here in these verses. We as Parents are called to shepherd our families. We are called to wash our wives with the Word of God. We are called to speak of the things of the Lord when we are laying down and when we are raised up. We are to pray for our children and to teach them to fear the Lord. We will give an account before Jesus how faithful we were to these tasks. But we will not have to give an account for how successful we were at attaining our children’s salvation. Salvation belongs to the Lord. It is he alone who quickens the heart to believe upon Christ. It is he who grows fruit on the vine. It is he who raises the dead. I am to sow the seed, God gives the increase on his time table and his decision.

When each of us stands before the Lord, there will not be anyone else around. We will not give an account for any other human being in the world; only ourselves, that’s it. In one sense, this is freeing. I am not responsible to ensure that you my children will choose to follow Jesus. I am responsible to tell you how to do that. I am responsible to show you how to do that. And I am responsible to tell you that Jesus’ command to Peter is the same command he says to you; “as for you, follow me.”

  • How does that make you feel to think that you will one day stand before Jesus absolutely alone to give an account for your life?
  • Many people think that on this day there will be a scale to weight our deeds. On one side will be the good and on the other side the bad. Tell me what is wrong with this thinking?

6.28.13 Do You Love Me More Than…

John 21:15-19

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him.

A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.

He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”

“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. “ I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”

“Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

The time has come in Peter’s life to show forth evidence he has repented. Peter had always been the first in the crowd to have a quick response. He is the one who (while in the midst of his fellow disciples) told Jesus that even though all of the other disciples might forsake him, he never would. He then became the only one of the disciples that denied Jesus three times. John himself was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was hanging there; but where was Peter?

Jesus waits until his disciples had warmed themselves by the fire and had a nice breakfast of bread and fish before he brings up to Peter his previous denial.

Peter, you are the one who said that even if every other disciple forsake me you never would, remember that? Now, do you love me more than these disciples do? Will you tell me again that you love me more than your friends love me? This would have stung Peter. Then Jesus’ three questions to Peter. I am going to say it the way Jesus would have originally…

“Peter, do you feel kindness toward me? You know that I love you dearly. Peter do you feel kindness toward me? Yes Lord, you know that I love you dearly. Peter do you love me dearly? Lord, you know everything! You know that I love you dearly.” The fact that Jesus asks Peter the third time was the stinging and penetrating blow. Peter had denied Jesus three times and now Jesus is giving him the opportunity to reaffirm his love for Jesus three times.

Jesus will not place his sheep in the care of just any shepherd. The shepherd’s primary qualification for being in their position is love for Jesus. Jesus does not want his sheep to be under the guidance of a Pastor who does not primarily love Jesus first above all.

Christians have a tendency of falling into pride. It is grievous and wrong, and I wish that was not the case. We have a tendency to compare ourselves with ourselves, like Peter did. Jesus does not want us to do this, he wants us to love him. And how we show our love for Jesus is not comparing ourselves with ourselves, but it is caring for, nurturing, and feeding the little sheep in Jesus’ pasture. Parents, this is your chief duty as a disciple of Jesus, to feed and minister the Word of God to your children. To protect them from harmful ideas and situations; to feed them with good food and drink; to mend them when they are hurting; to comfort them in their distress; and to lead them in path’s of righteousness for His names’ sake!

  • Children, my chief duty is to lead, and feed you. Your chief duty is to be lead and fed by us your parents. Any resistance and rebellion against our authority is rebellion against Jesus as our Chief Shepherd.
  • This is a good time for each of us to think about and confess any areas where we need to seek repentance from Jesus. Jesus asks you, do you love me more than…these?

6.27.13 Being Cared For By Jesus

John 21:1-14

After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed Himself in this way:

Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together.

“I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them.

“We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus.

“Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”

“No,” they answered.

“Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.

“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus told them. So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish — 153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

“Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.

The Kingdom of Jesus is not just a corporate gathering together on The Lord’s Day; it is a meeting with Jesus in the midst of our every day business. The Kingdom of Jesus is also not just one big worship service where nobody has employment outside the Church building; it is being cared for by Jesus in the midst of our every day business.

There are times in our everyday business when things go well and we make it home in time for dinner. In those times we thank our King Jesus. There are other times when we work all night long with seemingly no progress made. In those times especially, we see here that Jesus still wants to meet with us.

The disciples had one such night. Some of these men had families at home waiting for their Daddy to return. These men would soon be returning back to their homes tired and empty handed. Jesus, even now, desired for them to come and be cared for by Him. For it is in these times where our King desires to fill us up with himself, that we might have grace to overflow to our families.

The King that we serve is a Servant-King We should mimic him in every way. We should learn from him how we should be a servant to our loved ones when they come home from a long days work. We should also learn from him how we should be a servant to our loved ones when we come home to a family that has put in a long days work at the homestead. We should give and receive a pleasant greeting, a warmed house and heart, and a scrumptious morsel of food.

Jesus cared for his family and so should we.

  • Christianity in this light is not glamorous and sparkling. It is everyday servant-hood which Jesus calls us to, and models for us. Do you find that dying to yourself is hard in everyday acts of service?
  • Remember Jesus words when he said, “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”