The Book of Romans – Be Transformed

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“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

This is the problem with the church today; we are too much of the world. The world wants to control your mind, but God wants to transform your mind. “With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.” (Ephesians 4:17-18) If we are being transformed by God our minds are full of light not darkness. If the world controls your thinking, you are a conformer; if God controls your thinking you are a transformer. God transforms our minds and makes us spiritually minded by using His Word. Are you spending time in His Word? Are you making His Word part of your being? Are you allowing God to speak to you about His Word?

Our actions are a result of what we think. Intellectually we may believe something to be true, but our real convictions come out of our actions. This is why it is so important to renew our minds with the word of God. To take the scripture and implant it in our hearts so that it is in alignment with what God has said. If what is in our heart is scripture, then we will act based on that belief system. Your mind controls your body and your will controls your mind. Many people think that they can control their will by will power. It is only when we yield our will to God that His power can take over and give us the willpower that we need to be victorious Christians.

The Book of Romans – A Living Sacrifice to God

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“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1

Paul is now showing us how we should live because God has shown us His mercy and grace. If we accept God’s great gift of salvation, we will want to change how we live. Paul is calling us to live a life of peace, faithfully serving the Lord in all things and overcoming the evil of the world by faith. Paul is reminding us that God calls us to make a choice about the way we are to live.  Paul begs us to present our bodies a living sacrifice. Giving our all to God is an act of worship.

This lifestyle of worship comes from knowing God and understanding his grace and mercy toward us. In view of these things, we should offer ourselves completely to God to be used by him. Not because we have to but because of who he is and what he has done on our behalf. We have been redeemed and set apart and his mercy has changed everything. Worship is a lifestyle. Worship that is pleasing to the Lord encompasses our whole being, thoughts and attitudes. Paul urges us to present our bodies to the Lord as living sacrifices devoted and consecrated to him as this is our reasonable service and an act of spiritual worship. This offering before the Lord is in view of his mercy toward us. Understanding the abundance of His grace and mercy will change our hearts. This is why Paul spent the last eleven chapters of Romans going over in detail this abundant grace through Christ so that we will understand God’s mercy in spite of everything we have done. The greater our understanding of this truth, the more our lives will reflect this worship lifestyle with God as its center. Today I encourage you to find God’s will for your life and to live it to the fullest, being a living sacrifice willing and ready to go as he directs.

The Book of Romans – God’ Wisdom

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“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?  Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36

Praise God for His plan and the progress of His plan. As I get older I have more questions than I have answers. At one time I felt that I had it all together, then God changed things. I have learned that all I have to do is trust in God and allow Him to guilde my life. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:33-34) Why should we worry about anything, God has everything in control? I don’t have the wisdom and knowledge to have anything in control. I owe God everything. You can try all you want but you will never make God a debtor to you. You cannot out give God. He will never need to repay a debt to anyone.

It is amazing that Paul stops shortly after finishing his radiant expose of where the Jews fit into God’s salvation plan to praise God for who he is. Taking a moment to reflect and think through how this plan has unfolded since the beginning of time warrants a thankful heart toward God. Nothing in all of creation has ever caught God off guard because his judgments and unfathomable wisdom have proved to be perfect in all things.

What a fabulous God we serve; so amazing, so complete and so loving. No wonder Paul started to praise God after writing this wonderful word and remembering all of the magnificent things he has done bringing mankind back to Himself. To God be the Glory!

“For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The Book of Romans – God’s Mercy on Us

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“Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy. For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.” Romans 11:30-32

Paul is reminding us that we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy. We all have rebelled against God. We all at one time have been disobedient. Without God’s mercy where would we be? It is only because of God’s love that we are His children. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) Mercy is a wonderful theme throughout the entire Bible. God has dealt with mankind in leniency and compassion since the beginning, but his expression of mercy was in the person of Jesus Christ. This is because Jesus brought into reality the forgiveness of sins so we could be reconciled to God once and for all. Understanding God’s mercy toward us is what brings us to Christ to be justified by him. God’s kindness and love is what leads us to repentance.  Repentance simply means to turn around and go the other way. So when we experience the mercy and goodness of God, we abandon the rebellious direction in which we are walking and turn 180 degrees toward God to follow after Him. When we turn to God and accept his message of grace, we receive his mercy that also brings us into right relationship with Him.  This is the good news of the gospel, that we are reconciled to God based on his mercy and grace.

If God used the disobedience of Israel for the good of the Gentiles, He can also use the mercy shown to the Gentiles for the mercy of Israel. The idea is that God has shut up both Jew and Gentile into custody as lawbreakers. God offers mercy to these prisoners, based on the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Romans – God’s Calling

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“Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11:28-29

This is an awesome truth and one that brings us further understanding of God. He has chosen the nation of Israel as his own and he remains true to that choice even after their rejection of Jesus. Paul said in today’s passage that “God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn”. Once decided, God does not change his mind. There is security in knowing that God does not waver and change his mind like man does. You can be confident before him because he is not subject to whims and moods. This scriptue is very special to me. I was called to the ministry many years ago. I have failed God so mnay times that I have lost count. Everytime that I tell God that He made a mistake, He gives me this scripture. I know that my call will never go away until I walk with Jesus in heaven. If God is talking to you about a call on your life, stop fighting the call and give up and God will give you the peace that passes all understanding. If he spoke it, then he will carry it out unto completion. He has chosen Israel as a nation set apart for him and he remains true. Even though they are enemies from the viewpoint of the gospel, they are beloved and dear to God for the sake of their forefathers.

The Book of Romans – Israel will be Saved

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“I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them that I will take away their sins.” Romans 11:25-27

It would be easy to look upon Israel and condemn them for rejecting Jesus, but Paul said they have experienced a hardening to the gospel on our account until the full number of Gentiles come to the Lord. Does this mean that the Jews are not saved? Paul did not want us to be unaware of this truth and although it seems difficult to understand, we have been advised in the revelation of this mystery so that we will not become conceited in our position of grace.

As a whole, Israel has experienced a hardness of heart concerning Jesus. They do not see him as the promised Messiah. They are relying on the Law and what they do for God to be right with Him instead of relying on His grace. It appears that for the most part they have missed out on the long awaited Messiah. However Paul explained earlier in Romans that there was currently a remnant of Jews saved by grace. Jews, who saw Jesus as the Messiah, and have put their trust solely in Him.

Does this mean the entire nation of Israel will be saved whether or not they believe in Jesus? No, it means that the temporary blindness that they are experiencing as a nation will be removed and we will see God moving mightily among them as they turn to him and put their trust in him.  He will reveal to them the truth of Christ and reconcile the reality of the scriptures to them.

Israel must come to Jesus the same way we do, by faith; by placing our entire hope in Him to save us. They are loved on account of the patriarchs and they are chosen and called out from the world, but the truth is in Christ alone. God promised, “In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). For those who are looking to God with the right motive of the heart, he will reveal himself to them and what he reveals is always Jesus. Israel must come to God through faith in Jesus alone.

The Book of Romans – The Olive Tree

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“Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.” Romans 11:22-24

We must continue in our walk with God. We must do as John 15 tells us, we must abide in Jesus. This verse can be a warning that we can fall away from our walk with Jesus. We are grafted into the olive tree which is Jesus. If we don’t continue in our abiding, we will be cut off. There is no security in the bond of the gospel apart from abiding.

What a miracle it was that God took wild branches and grafted them into a cultivated olive tree to grow together as one. This transformation is what happens when we come to Christ. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17). What we were previously is gone and what we are now is what Christ is. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our new identity is the same as Christ’s identity, God looks and sees us as holy, righteous and free because that is what Christ is.

 If we who were Gentiles by birth can experience this miraculous thing, then it only makes sense that Israel can also experience this new birth. Right now Israel as a whole has not accepted Jesus as their Messiah. However, Paul said that if they do not persist in clinging to their unbelief concerning him, they too will be grafted into the vine. Once they realize that Jesus is the savior then God is able to include them once again into the promise spoken to Abraham. They too will be counted as children of God through faith in Christ.

The Book of Romans – Be Careful

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“Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen.  For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.” Romans 11:19-21

We need to be careful. Yes, we are the branches that were grafted into the tree with Israel, but Israel lost their place on the tree and we could also.

Israel experienced a hardening on the account of Jesus and as a result they were broken off from the promise. This made an opening for us to come to God and be grafted in by faith. Paul explains that they were broken off because of unbelief, not because God rejected them. Instead their unbelief caused them to reject Jesus and walk away from God’s promised salvation. We stand in faith before God accepting what Jesus has done to bring us into this position of grace and reconciliation. Faith in Jesus is what secures our future.

We need to understand. The message of grace has to be received and combined with faith to save us. Faith is an active step in receiving from God. “For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. (Hebrews 4:2) When the message of grace falls upon deaf ears then it does not produce salvation, because it has not been received and believed. This can only be accomplished by faith in the gospel message. It takes both grace and faith to be saved. Grace is what was offered freely through Christ. Faith comes by hearing this gospel message and believing it. The two will always work together. In the same way, to remain steadfast in the Lord we must continue firm in faith until the very end. If we do not remain in faith, then we will slowly fall away from grace by choice.

The Book of Romans – The Branches

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“But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.” Romans 11:17-18

It is wonderful to know that we have been grafted into the amazing plan of God. Through faith in Jesus we have been chosen, called and set apart as his children and heirs in this world. Although once far removed from the promises of God, we have been brought into fellowship with him through Christ Jesus. Once contrary to God and wild by nature, God was able to graft us in, to partake in the blessings of Christ. I was the wild olive tree and God had mercy on me and grafted me into His wonderful family. Only by remaining in Jesus can we remain part of this family. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:5-6)

Once we are joined into the vine, we start taking on the characteristics of the vine instead of the nature of our original state. The wild disposition that defined us before starts to fade away. Those things are removed just as a gardener would remove pieces of the branch that hinder its growth. This is a great byproduct of being joined to the vine. Jesus said that the Father prunes us so that we will bear more fruit. He cuts away these things that hinder our growth and are contrary to the kingdom.

The Book of Romans – Future of Israel

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“I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them.  For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.” Romans 11:13-16

Paul made every opportunity to share the Gospel when he was around the Israelites even though he was an apostle to the Gentiles. God specifically commissioned him to spread the good news to the rest of the world. Paul understood that the Gentiles readily accepted Jesus and he anticipated both envy and curiosity among his own people in hopes that they too would accept his gospel message. Throughout his travels he encountered many of his people and he saw them both reject Jesus and accept him as their Messiah.

 Paul is stressing the importance that we who are outside of the natural line of Israel understand that Israel is still part of the plan.  Since their rejection and exclusion from the benefits of salvation meant the reconciliation of the world to God, can you imagine what their acceptance and admission will mean? When they finally understand as a whole that Jesus is their promised Messiah this revelation will bless the entire world by their obedience to this message of grace. There is a future for Israel. Israel is still God’s people. There is no way that God will abandon Israel. Israel is just set aside until the time comes for God’s plans for Israel will be fulfilled.