Looking Inward

Romans 2 6 (1)

Romans 2

As I read chapter 2 of Romans, I see it as a call to look inward instead of at those around us.  The chapter starts with talking about judging or condemning others.  Verse 3 shows us the danger of looking at others faults instead of our own:

 “But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

So, when we condemn others for their actions, we are actually condemning ourselves for our sins.  It continues that God will judge us each for the deeds we have done.  However, from my reading of this, and other scriptures, those deeds have to be done with the right attitude in our hearts.  Verse 8 talks about those who are selfishly ambitious.  I have met people who do a lot of the “right things”, but only because it helps the way they are seen or because it helps them feel good about themselves.  These people are selfish, and generally ambitious.  I believe these actions will be judged as selfish ambitions rather than service to God.  Because of this, I think we all need to look at the reason behind our actions.  Are we serving God with what we do, and with our motives behind what we do?

Paul then continues by talking about those who have the law and those who are without the law.  In Chapter 1, Paul talked about no one being without excuse about believing in God, since the things around us make it evident there is a god.  So, in the same way, not knowing the law is not an excuse for not knowing the law.  This is clear in verses 14 – 16:

 “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”

We will all be treated equally based on our actions.  Obviously, other parts of scripture show that the blood of Christ covers our sins and the acceptance of that gift, and following Christ will be the largest question in that judgement.

Paul’s final points in this chapter are outward things versus inward things.  Both in what we teach versus what we do, and in holding on to the physical following of the law versus the following of the spirit/heart of the law.  Verses 28 and 29 sum this point up:

“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

Again, are we hanging on to some outward appearance of following the law, or are we looking inward toward following God’s teachings, growing closer to Him, and imitating Christ in our lives.

My takeaway from Romans 2 is to look inward at my own life.  I need to see if I am living a life that shows God in all I do, and when I find areas where I am not, making changes in them.  I am not able to do this all on my own, but I know that God can change me.
-Andrew Hamilton

Greener Grass or Selflessness

Gen 13 9

In Genesis 13 Abram and Lot had trouble. Their servants were quarreling about the feed for their animals. Abram suggested that as Brothers they shouldn’t do this. So, it would be better to separate. He asked Lot to choose which part of the land he would get. Lot chose the plain where the feed for the animals was better. It was near the city because everybody wants greener grass. Read until chapter 19 then ask yourself, am I doing like Lot and looking for greener grass, a better life now? Or am I wiser like Abram staying where I depend on God to take care of me. Abram was wiser. Are we?

-Larry Rankin

Seek Not to Please Myself

John 6-7

john-6-35

Saturday, May 27

As I started reading John 6 & 7 a few key quotes from Jesus recorded in the end of John 5 were still ringing in my ears:

“For I seek NOT to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30)

“I do not accept praise from men…How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God.” (John 5:41, 44)

Here Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, was saying quite clearly and repetitively – it’s not about me.  He did not seek to please himself or earn the praises of men – his goal was only and always to please God and hear the praises of his Heavenly Father.

Chapter 6 begins with this same Jesus feeding the famished five thousand with five small barley loaves and two small fish – and ending up with twelve baskets of left-overs.  As the one primarily responsible for feeding my family of 5 three times a day, I have always been greatly impressed with this miracle!  And, he follows it up with walking on the water!  There is no doubt that this Jesus has just earned some serious bragging rights.

Instead, he turns it into a teachable moment and offers himself as the bread of life – the bread and body that must be broken for others to live.  This is what he offers to the world not because he is the one who dreamed it up, and not because he was looking forward to it, and not because he desired it – but because he knew he came, “Not to do MY (Jesus’) will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38).

In Chapter 7 he continues, “My teaching is not my own.  It comes from him who sent me.” (7:16) and “I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true.” (7:28).   While some wanted to kill him, others wanted to make him king.  And yet – none of that really mattered to Jesus.  He was teaching God’s Word and living – and later dying – God’s Will.  His one-track mind and life was centered on what his Daddy desired and had planned from the beginning of the world.

Two things seem clear.

First, Jesus was definitely NOT claiming to be God, nor did he desire to be considered as God in any way.  His repeated use of, “not me/mine…but He/His” were pointing out the differences – two beings, even though their purposes would be the same – at Jesus’ choosing.  Today, would I hold any credibility if I stated, “I do not seek to please myself, but only what I want?”  Or, if I said, “My teaching is not my own but it comes from me”, would people listen to me for long?  Over and over again, Jesus is drawing some pretty clear lines between His Father God and himself.  Two beings, united in purpose – because that is what Jesus chose – to follow His Father and not himself.

Second, how must I change my focus, my goals and my everyday life so that I, along with Jesus, can confidently say, “Not my will, but His be done,” “My teaching is not my own, but God’s.”  “I seek not to please myself, but my Heavenly Father.”  No doubt the Son of God set an example for us to follow.  It is a path that requires laying aside all selfishness and pride, as well as false teaching.    It is not an easy road.  But when we live our life to please God our Father, just as Jesus did, we won’t be disappointed in the end!

-Marcia Railton

 

(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/john/6/35)

New Favorite Verse

Matthew 15-17

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Tuesday, May 2

So…my daughter, Mackenzie, informed me that if my devotional is more than a few paragraphs long, it is likely she will not have the perseverance to read it all.  Therefore, I am going to need to jump right in to the part for my kids.  I always told my children that one of my favorite verses was Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  But now looking at that verse a little more closely, I don’t think it has the same impact as the new verse I found.  Matthew 15:4 says, “For God said, “Honor your father and mother, and, he who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.””  I think this could have been more influential in their younger years.

In Matthew 15, the Pharisees were annoying Jesus as usual.  They said to Jesus (in a high-pitched whiny complaining voice), “your disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate.”  Jesus explained that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and gets pooped out (Rick’s Non-Standard Version).  Furthermore, the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile man (evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders).  Therefore, you can try to control what comes out of your mouth, but a better idea is to “get your heart right” since that is where your words come from.  So how do you get your heart right?  The simple answer is to become unselfish.  I am convinced that every sin comes from selfishness.  We steal because we want something.  We lie to try to protect ourselves or get something we want.  We have sex outside of marriage because it feels good.  Go ahead; try to think of a sin that doesn’t have to do with our selfishness.

I am about to lose Mackenzie so I want to make this final point quickly.  Jesus summed this all up really well in Matthew 16:24-25.  He said that if you wish to come after him, you need to deny yourself and take up his cross and follow him.  He went on to say that whoever wishes to save their life shall lose it; but whoever loses their life for his sake shall find it.  You need to become unselfish if you want to save your life for an eternity.  You need to get your heart right and live your life for God and others, not yourself.  And to bring this full circle, if you get your heart right, good things will come out of your mouth about your parents and we won’t have to put you to death.

-Rick McClain

 

 

But I Want What I Want! (Judges 12-15)

Tuesday, October 4

samson-pic
Shelby Upton
In Judges 12-15 Samson is set apart before birth to be a man of God and his mother remained faithful in the Lord’s instruction. In the following account of his life there are some really strange stories–mostly including animals… the lion, the bees, the foxes, the donkey. Need I go on?
I see Samson’s actions and read and I can’t help but wonder–what was he thinking? You were set apart by God and you are running around doing ridiculous things! At the heart of many of these acts I think Samson’s passion and pride get the best of him.  When Samson sees the Philistine woman in spite of his parent’s suggestion and the fact that she didn’t share his faith he says “I want her!” and gets her.
He thinks he is sooo clever and comes up with a riddle to taunt the Philistines which does nothing but stir up trouble. In these accounts I see Samson using his strength and cunning to serve his own passions and agendas–not to glorify God. Even though the Spirit of the Lord was on Samson to serve God’s purposes I can’t help but come back to Samson’s impulsive selfishness.
God’s blessing does not give us the right to use the gifts he has given us for our own amusement or to do things that go outside of his laws.  What God has given us needs to be used to glorify him in righteousness. Although Samson did some pretty awesome things we need to continue to focus on using our God given gifts to bless God in humility with his direction.
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