Belief vs Unbelief

Romans 1 8

Romans 1

As we start to look at Paul’s letter to Rome, it is obvious Paul is writing to the church.  However, in the first chapter we see a message about the believers, and a message about the unbelievers.  Let’s look at both of these.

The beginning of chapter 1 begins similar to other letters Paul has written, with a greeting to the church.  Following that in verse 8 we read:

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.”

The faith of the church in Rome is being proclaimed around the world.   That is an impressive statement about the church in Rome, and must have been very encouraging to hear that their faith was making an impression to people around the world.  Paul continues with this encouragement in verses 11 and 12:

“For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

I love that while Paul wants to see them to impart some spiritual gift to the church and to encourage the church, he also wants to spend time with them to be encouraged himself.  As we know, Paul was spreading the gospel to as many people in as many places as possible. It probably felt like an impossible task, but hearing of the faith of the church of Rome from around the world, it had to be an encouragement to Paul to know that the message would be spread even when he was unable to do it himself.

Paul concludes his message about the church in verses 16 and 17:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’ “

This is an example of how the church should act, both then and now.  We need to live by faith and never be ashamed of the gospel.  We should share it everywhere we go, to everyone we meet.

Then Paul turns his letter to speaking about the unbeliever.  Obviously, there were unbelievers in Rome, as there are unbelievers all around us today.   Paul tells us that there is no excuse for not believing in verses 19 and 20:

“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

God is evident in the world around us, so unbelief must be a choice. The choice of unbelief is when we don’t honor God or give Him thanks.  Instead we rely on our own knowledge and understanding.  So, even if we admit God is real and in control, if we do not honor him and rely on him, it is still unbelief.  Paul continues to say that those who did not believe were turned over to their degrading passions and depraved minds.  In verse 32, Paul points out that this is all worthy of death.

We are shown two very different lives.  The first is one of faithfulness, and the second is one of unbelief.  The first is one of encouragement and spreading the gospel.  The second is one of sin and death.  We need to each examine our own lives.  Although we probably all belief in God, are we honoring Him, giving thanks to Him, encouraging and uplifting others, and preaching the Gospel?

-Andrew Hamilton

Turning Shame into Honor

Matthew 27

Matthew 27 29b-31

After Jesus had been sentenced, flogged and mocked, He was hung up on a cross with a sign hanging over His head, reading, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” This sign was another attempt to show contempt for Jesus. The sign mocks His name and labels him a heretical blasphemer. Yet in this attempt at mockery, there was truth. Jesus will return as King of the Jews and all those who followed Him. God took the shame that the Jews who crucified Jesus tried to cast upon Him and turned it into Honor for Jesus.

God constantly takes our shame and turns it into honor. In our current society, it is common to be called names for living a righteous and biblical lifestyle. Many will call you a prude, a goody two shoes, a tryhard. Their goal is to tear you down in the eyes of the world, to paint you as one who sits on an imaginary throne of righteous living and looks down on the world to condescend. This mockery is your honor. It is a testament to the effort that you put in to live as you have been called. Continue to wear your breastplate of righteousness and endure the mockery, and have your shamed turned into your honor.

-Nathaniel Johnson

The Way of Wisdom: Love and Trust – Prov. 3

Proverbs-33

Good Morning!

Yesterday I talked a little bit more about what wisdom is and what it can do for us. I also talked somewhat about how it is important for the Christian life.

Today we are reading Proverbs chapter 3, and this happens to have the memory verse in it this week. As a reminder the memory verse this week is Proverbs 3:5-6.

Chapter 3 has a lot of different little pieces of advice for us to keep, and to remember as we walk through our lives. I strongly encourage you to read through all of Proverbs 3 and to really take to heart all the things that it says.

Today, I just want to talk about a couple of my favorite ones from the chapter. Proverbs 3:3 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” I love this because part of the Christian faith is that we are called to Love. “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” This is our calling as Christians! Let love and faithfulness never leave you. That is just beautiful and very important to remember, especially when we live in a world that is full of injustice and turmoil.

Another that I think is very important for each of us to remember is this; verses 25-26, “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”  God is telling us not to fear, especially natural disasters or anything else that is truly outside of our control, because God will be with us, and take care of us. We may find hardship and difficulty, but God will protect us, and take care of us. This also may not be in the ways that we expect or desire, but it will be in the ways that God sees fit, or that is in God’s will.

Finally, verse 30,” Do not accuse anyone for no reason- when they have done you no harm.” This is something I need to work on too. I have three younger sisters, and sometimes I will automatically blame one of them if something of mine “goes missing”. Sometimes they really did use or take whatever it was, but sometimes, I just misplace them. Here’s the thing, when I accuse them of something they didn’t do, it hurts their feelings and it makes them more upset with me, and defensive. We need to be more careful with the words that we say, and the tones in which we say them because our words can cause a lot of harm.

Prov3.5-6

I want to close with three more verses. First I want you to read verses 5-6 again, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” & verse 35, “The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.” Again, wisdom takes care of us. We will inherit honor. Take this to heart, and pay attention to the rest of Proverbs 3.

Thank you for joining us today! Have a great day, and I hope you check in with us tomorrow!

God Bless,

– Jana Swanson

Not to Us

Psalm 109-115

psalms-115-1

Saturday, January 14

This weekend, I am playing in the band at reFUEL. I love praising God through music and have been doing that for most of my life. One amazing artist of Christian music is Chris Tomlin, and a few years ago he put out the song called “Not To Us.” (check it out here https://youtu.be/8m0LowihOXY) The first line of the song is “Not to us, but to your name, be the glory.” If you are reading along, you know that Chris Tomlin pulled that song right out of psalm 115:1.
In Psalm 115, the psalmist declares “Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth.” The psalmist invokes the name of God and says “give Your name glory”. The name of God is so cool. YHWH(pronounced Yahweh), the actual name of God, is related to the Hebrew word for “to be” and means something like “the self-existing one, the one who has life.” YHWH God is the only one who exists not because of anything else but only because of himself. No other being has that power. Only one person is God. Therefore, because God is the only one who is God, because of his faithful love and his truth (115:1), the psalmists says “to your name give glory.” Which is why he says “not to us, because we are not God, but only to you give glory.”
The psalmist also says other things shouldn’t receive glory, honor or praise. They shouldn’t be for idols. (115:4-8) There are still idols today; money, sex, power, pleasure. These idols are worthless things, pointless things, death-giving things. These things shouldn’t receive our glory or our honor or our praise. More importantly, we shouldn’t give ourself glory. The psalmist gave a hard statement when he says “not to us, Yahweh, not to us”. The psalmist recognizes that we are not worthy of this glory or honor or praise, but only God is.
This week, live in the truth that God is the only one worthy of worship. Say with the psalmist “not to me, not to my pleasures, not to my bank account, not to my idols, but only to YHWH our God, will I give glory.”
-Jake Ballard
(From a fellow participant at reFUEL – Thank You, Jake for your ministry in music and word!  You are a blessing!)

The Choice is Yours: Honor or Shame (I Samuel 25-27)

Sunday, October 16

prov-3-3-pic

By Nathaniel Johnson

When we read the story of Abigail and Nabal, it should be obvious that Abigail is our good example and Nabal is our bad example. Nabal’s first mistake was insulting David. When he said “Who is this David,” he didn’t mean that he didn’t know who David was. After all, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Of course Nabal knew who David was, but he chose to be rude and disregard the help that David had given him throughout his life. Nabal’s second mistake was his greed. Even though he owned thousands of animals, he couldn’t spare any food out of his wealth for David’s men.

Abigail on the other hand, dealt with the situation that her husband created with wisdom. Abigail goes through a series of five steps that we all should follow to act with wisdom. First, she recognized that David was a holy man, a man of God (Proverbs 9:10). Then she took steps to avoid bloodshed (Proverbs 14:16). That is, she gathered food for David’s men. When she set out to find David, she didn’t tell her husband Nabal. She decided to keep the matter quiet until it was resolved (Proverbs 29:11). Once she got to David, she offered her gift and held nothing back (Proverbs 10:5). After she had taken all of these wise actions, she was rewarded by David and was taken in as his wife. “The wise shall inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame” (Proverbs 3:35). If we act with the same wisdom as Abigail, we too will receive honor. But if we act rash, rude and selfish, we will get nothing but shame.

(Our writer this week is Nathaniel Johnson.  Thank you to Nathaniel and to Kayla Tullis who introduces Nathaniel for us.  Kayla writes: “Nathaniel Johnson, a 20-year-old born and raised in Minnesota, is currently a student at St. Scholastica with the ambition of one day teaching mathematics. Nathaniel has been a member of Pine Grove Bible Church for years. You may recognize him during worship services playing the bass guitar. He enjoys the outdoors, Nordic skiing, anime and much more. Nathaniel has a heart for God and is looking forward to growing with you each day through the FUEL devotions.”)