A Study of Ecclesiastes (From My Blog)

A Study of Ecclesiastes (From My Blog)

A Study of Romans (From my Blog)

(Day 1) Romans 1:1 by Dan Maloy

May 27th, 2010

Coming into this summer, I began to notice that God was doing a work in my heart, namely causing me to deeply revisit the cross. We Christians say it’s the most pivotal moment in history; the culmination of an age of waiting, a moment “…of which angels long to look.”(1st Peter 1:12) In Galatians, Paul is quoted saying “But forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,.”(Gal. 6:14) What a strange religion which exults in the instrument used to execute it’s God! But yet as we will hopefully see in Romans, Christ’s death on the cross means so much more than just the forgiveness of our sins.

Eddie Rasnake calls Pauls Epistle to the Romans “a detailed, legal-type argument for his (Paul’s) understanding of justification by faith. It was this issue of justification by faith as explained in Romans that in 1517 prompted an Augustinian Monk by the name of Martin Luther to nail a sheet of paper onto a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. The paper contained 95 theses challenging the prevailing teachings of the Roman Catholic Church which by this point was contorted around greed and papal thirst for power. Out of this man’s study of Romans and the subsequent revolution that followed, came a more defined scope in which to find authentic Christianity.

Over the next several days we will be learning about this letter and the context in which it was written. Today’s focus will be on the author Paul. He starts by identifying himself as the author as was the custom of his day.

Romans 1:1 “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God…”

Paul was born as ‘Saul’ around 2 AD and attended the most prestigious Rabbinical school of his day. When he first comes on the scene he is keeping the coats of Stephen’s murderers in Acts 7:58. In Acts 8:1-3 we see that Saul continued to persecute the church, arresting Christian men and women. Eventually in Acts 9:1-2 we see Saul leading the offensive against these followers of “The Way” when he asks the High Priest in Jerusalem for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that he could arrest Christians he finds there. It is on this trip to Damascus that Saul encounters the Christ and is blinded. Upon receiving his sight, Saul travels to Arabia where he communes with Christ and meditates on the wonderful revelation he received. Three years later he returns to Damascus and preaches the gospel boldly to the Jews but was chased out and ended up in Jerusalem and subsequently his hometown of Tarsus. After another 3 year retreat into the wilderness, Saul became enlisted by Barnabas to help lead the budding church in Antioch. Since then Saul devoted himself full-time to the ministry. While serving in Antioch, Saul along with Barnabas received a call by the Holy Spirit to take the gospel to the gentiles. It was at this time that Saul began using the more gentile friendly ‘Paul’ as his name which in Latin meant ‘small’. By the time he pens Romans, Paul serves as an apostle or ‘one sent with a commission’; an office reserved for those directly chosen by Christ and wrote the letter while in Corinth securing monies for believers in Jerusalem.

“A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace. For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the countenance of an angel” (Acts of Paul and Thecla; extra-biblical source)

(Day 2) Romans 1:1 Short Devotional by Bob Monaco

May 28th, 2010

Romans 1:1 – “Set apart for the gospel of God”

Atfirst glanceI might just read quickly over the phrase “set apart for the gospel of God”. At asecond glanceI might pause on the wording of being “set apart.”This was Paul’s description of his own testimony of what Jesus had done in relation to his understanding of the “gospel”, which was being lived out in the actions of his life.

I think most of us have heard the word “gospel” means “good news.” This was a victorious term used in its day as a huge description of an accomplishment of major per portion. The word “gospel” might be shouted out by a messenger reporting that their armies had achieved victory in the most important battle. Paul’s understanding of the “gospel” or “good news” made him different.He was identifying that God was delivering “good news” to his heart thatJesus Christhad won the battle for all time and that liberty and freedom were to be experienced.

What does liberty and freedom look like in my life? Well I have to admit that many times, I experience the very opposite of what is being said here. I would resemble an occupied country. Liberty and freedom should allow me to walk around without fear. I should be resembling the resources of the liberating love and the freedom that the resurrection brings into my life. My focus should be shouting out the victory of the “good news” that has been accomplished through my Savior’s great battle over sin and death.

God the Fatheris the author of the good news.Man did not invent it, and we have been freed for this very purpose to bear His image .

(Day 3) Romans 1:1 Short Devotional by Lee Davis

May 29th, 2010

Good Day, Ladies and Gentlemen. I hope that everyone is having a lovely summer so far. Yesterday, we heard from Bob about “being set apart for the Gospel”. I’m going to expand on that a little more. We have heard from Dan about who Paul was and how he plays into the writing of Romans (and by that I mean he is the author; I’m just making sure everyone is caught up to speed). First, we need to define the audience that is Rome.

Have you ever heard the saying, “All roads lead to Rome”? That was practically describing the time of Jesus, His disciples and the apostle Paul. The Roman people were convinced that their power and might would bring them glory; that it would make them right. These people were self-indulgent, easily influenced, and addicted to their earthly possessions. So, now that we know Rome as being characteristic of a sin filled empire, we can figure out why Paul wrote the book of Romans.Romans was the only epistle to be written to a church that wasn’t personally started by Paul

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—

Romans 1:1

“Set apart for the gospel. . .” Paul has been ordained by God; given a life mission, and that is clarification of the Gospel. Bob mentioned that “Gospel” means “Good News”, and Paul was writing to Rome to explain to the people that the “Good News” really was real and satisfying. But that was not the main purpose of Romans. As I said before, Rome was a church that wasn’t started by Paul or another apostle. This means that the church may have been extremely lacking a lot of Christian doctrine, teachings and beliefs. These Christians could have been quite confused about a lot of things that might seem pretty simple to us. Imagine a church without a pastor to lead them every week. Eddie Rasnake states that because of this, “Romans serves as the best single source of fundamental Christian doctrine in the Bible.”

I want to challenge you guys to read further, (Romans 1:1-6) in order to fully grasp what there is to know about the gospel message. See what you come up with. It’s about promise, obedience and faith. Essentially, this book is a massive text of Christian how-to’s. Romans focuses mainly on justification by faith, and that knowledge comes from the “Gospel”, and Jesus Christ is that “GOOD NEWS”.

Let’s pray for this summer as we dig deep into the world that is the book of Romans. We will learn about true faith, which brings us justification. And how that justification can not come from the law or scripture, It comes from Jesus!

Dear Lord, I pray for this summer, for these readers. We pray for the knowledge and wisdom that You have prepared for us. Your plan for our lives is so exquisite and perfect that we cannot even try to make our own plans, because You are entirely in control. God, as we seek Your face in the book of Romans, we pray that You will teach us what we need to learn, what we need to hear. Because, Lord, this is all for Your glory and Your Honor. We love You and thank You for dying for us. Amen.

Let’s grow and learn to be like Paul, apostles “set apart for the Gospel of God”!

Romans 1:1 by Elizabeth Thomas (Day Four)

May 31st, 2010

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. ”

In this verse, Paul clearly implies that his life’s purpose was for the gospel of God. Throughout the book of Acts and his epistles it is evident that Paul lived his life for the gospel. It does not mean that every one of us will spend our lives abroad doing full time mission work.What it does mean is that as God’s people we are expected to live for the gospel in whatever we are called to do. Whether that is getting a college degree and working in your field of interest, getting married and raising a family or going into full time ministry. It is always important for us to remember that those things or our desires for this life is not our sole purpose. Our sole purpose is to display the gospel message to a dying world. For this summer, we need to remember the fact that we were all called out of the world so that we may know the gospel and in turn give it to others. If we take our focus off our purpose in life, people will perish.

(Day Five) Romans 1:1 Devotional by Kelly Gruber

May 31st, 2010

Over the last few days, you have learned about Paul, the author of the book of Romans. Paul’s life dramatically changed when he encountered Jesus; he went from killing Christ followers to being one himself! Not only was Paul a follower of Jesus Christ, but he was also bold in telling EVERYONE about Jesus Christ and how Christ changed his life. His mission was to share the good news: even though we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 5:8) so that we could have a personal relationship with God. Even Paul, the author of most of the New Testament books, was not perfect. Because he was not perfect, he saw his need for Jesus. What is even more amazing…is that Jesus met him right where he was, a sinner. Jesus did not wait for Paul to stop sinning.

We do not have to have our lives perfectly put together in order to meet Jesus Christ. Jesus came so that HE could put your life together in a way that is not only good for you, but mainly, to glorify God.

Are you facing struggles in your life? Do you feel alone? Jesus wants to help you right where you are, and carry you through those struggles. When Paul realized the sin in his life and his need for Jesus, he called on him to help. He prayed and trusted Jesus with his life and struggles. Ask Jesus to help you. He’s waiting for you to open your heart to him. Just tell him how you feel, what you are thinking, and ask him to take control of the situation and your life.

He changed the heart of a persecutor and murderer…he can change your life too. Just ask him.

Maybe you have already trusted Jesus with your life. AWESEOME! God is working in your heart and changing your life. Why not share with someone how trusting Jesus has changed your life? Pass on this great news! “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them ” (Romans 10:14). Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you there is hope, love, forgiveness, and companionship?

Romans 1:1-17 (Day One) Short Devotional by Ty Carver

June 1st, 2010

I can get excited about a football game, a new series coming out on TV, a new Broadway production, or a vacation to a resort destination, but the thing that I say matters most doesn’t even get a scream of excitement out of me. Why doesn’t that happen today? How I need Jesus in these times. I want to understand His provision and sacrifice He has made for me but the reality is I can’t comprehend what God fully comprehends. His grace is still sufficient for me. (Romans 1:5)

It often baffles me how I often search for good news and bypass recognizing the greatest thing that has ever happened to me: knowing Jesus through His precious and gracious gospel. How I need that reminder every morning that I wake up! I love what a wise leader recently said to me, ‘it is not that I get closer in my walk with Jesus, but that His grace just gets better everyday.’ It needs too because, if anything, I am not getting less sinful! We can strive for perfection, but ultimately fail consistently.

I find myself asking these questions a lot lately. Especially since I’m beginning to close a chapter of my college life and open another. What good news excites me? Am I constantly reminding myself of God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and forgiving love of His gospel? Or has this sustaining bread of life gone stale because of my apathy? For me, I become apathetic when I don’t constantly remind myself of how good things really are. If I was given ice cream everyday, would it be a treat I would be excited about having? I probably would say ‘no, I eat that everyday.’ But the gospel is life sustaining. It is necessary. I’m learning to rely on God’s truths in His word rather than my emotions. A promise I seem to fail at relying on is that promise of his gospel. I always rely on it in fear for my salvation, but how selfish is that?!?

I love how excited Paul is to share and experience Christ with those in Rome in Romans 1:8. I find it necessary to point out that the evangelism that is happening in Rome is contagious and heard of prior to Paul’s visit. Is it like that on my campus? Also, I love how encouraging Paul is in having a mindset of talking with the Lord about those who need Him in Rome. Where is Ty’s mind in planning my day? Do I ever stop with a sincere heart of wanting to serve the lost in my campus and community? The answer is usually no again. How I fall short but the Lord always makes up for my imperfections.

Romans 1:8-12

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Romans 1:1-17 (Day 2) Short Devotional by Elizabeth Axelson

June 2nd, 2010

I know that so often, when I read an Epistle, it’s so easy for me to skim over the beginning and the conclusion because what “really matters” is what’s in the middle. This study has thrown me for a loop in the way I typically study the Word, and I’m so glad it did- what riches are found here! As I really delved into this opening, I thought to myself, how does it feel when someone I think is super stellar in their faith tells me that they are and have been praying for me? Pretty darn good. Well, what if I had only heard about that person and had no idea they even knew who I was, and yet, here they were thanking God through Christ for me all the time? Woah. I have to believe that’s what the Romans felt as they received this letter. “Oh my gosh,” they must have said in their colloquial version, “the apostle Paul wants to meet us, is thankful for us, has been praying for us, wants to share his gifts with us and thinks we can encourage him (1: 8-12)?” That would have been pretty cool to read.

Before he even arrived at Rome, however, Paul certainly encouraged and taught the Romans so much in this letter. The way he addresses his relationship with God is pretty mind-blowing, and this is even before really diving to the incredible implications of the gospel. Not only does Paul serve God “in his spirit,” or “with his whole heart” as my translation has it, but he does so with joy from understanding the gospel. Is that how I live? Certainly not most of the time. Paul calls upon God as his witness about his continual prayer for the Romans, talking about the Lord like He were his best friend. I’m reminded of times when I try to prove I’ve done something by telling someone, you can just ask my best friend who’s with me all the time, she’ll tell you I did it. But here, Paul recognizes that God knows and sees all: our prayers, our thoughts, our motives, and if Paul can ask for God to attest to his prayerfulness about the Romans, I have to believe it’s true. Can I call upon God as my witness for the way I pray about people or the thoughts I think? Do I want to? Not really when I realize my thoughts and prayers are not generally something I like to brag about, and sometimes I wish God didn’t have to witness all of that. But each day, by preaching the gospel to ourselves, our minds are transformed and renewed by the Spirit and we can be made new in Christ (Romans 12:2). That is the beauty of a relationship with God- He is able to work in us moment by moment by His Spirit to make us more like Him. I long for that friendship, that companionship, that love that Paul found in the Lord, and the moments I experience it are some of the most treasured in my life. I’m praying that God continuously changes us more into Himself, and as we grow closer to Him, that intimate relationship only grows deeper.