The CONS of Romans 8

bible-studyCON” is a simple three letter prefix, When it is combined with various letters of the alphabet, it creates a variety of words found in Romans 8. Join me in a search and study of these words.

Therefore, there is now no CONdemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:1

To be condemned means to be proven guilty. To separate the syllables of condemn and then combine the meanings of the two syllables produces the meaning to be “with damnation.” Condemnation pronounces a strong negative judgment upon a person that may involve punishment. This first verse of Romans 8 assures us that there is no condemnation if we have a personal relationship with Jesus. John 3:17-18 assures us, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We do not need to worry about being good enough to please God. Since Christ died for us, He will not condemn us as long as we personally embrace John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As I continue reading in Romans, I find confirmation for the promise of no condemnation in Romans 8:34, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

So letting your sinful nature CONtrol your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit
trol your mind leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6 NLT

In this verse, we discover that we have a choice of how our minds are controlled. Our sinful nature leads us down the path of destruction while yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit offers us life. Romans 8:9 gives the assurance, “You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” Only when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit are we be able to please God.

I CONsider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:8

When I consider, or think about, suffering, I become uneasy. I do not like the thought of enduring pain of any sort. However, we are not exempt from uncomfortable circumstances even though we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When reading a few more verses we come to the assurance of the benefit of our suffering. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but it does mean that God is able to turn every situation around for His long term good . Another reassuring verse is II Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.” We will all encounter pain of some sort during our lives, so it is beneficial for us to consider how we will handle uncomfortable situations before we are confronted with it.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
CONformed to the image of his Son,
that he might
be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:29

To be conformed means to be made into a similar form or style. When I separate the syllables of the word, I create the definition “to be with formation.” To be conformed to the image of Christ is to be made into His likeness and character. A note in the Life Application Bible points out that as we become more like Christ, we discover our true selves – the person God created each of us to be. I John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

No, in all these things we are more than CONquerors
through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

A conqueror is a person who overcomes such things as weakness or fear successfully. He or she is able to take control and cope with life’s challenges. To conquer often refers to overcoming by the use of military force. With this concept, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The writer of Romans tells us that as Christian soldiers, we are more than conquerors. Looking specifically at Romans 8:31, Paul says, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” This gives us confidence to think of ourselves as conquerors.

For I am CONvinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything
 else in all creation, will be able to separate us from
 the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

To be convinced means to firmly believe in the truth. It is very reassuring to know that when we have a personal relationship with Christ, He will never allow us to again be separated from Him. Going back to the first verse of this chapter, we were told that if we have asked Christ into our lives, we will not be condemned. However, to use another “con” word, Jesus will CONvict us but He will not CONdemn us. We need to be sensitive to conviction so we can repent of any sin and not live in fear of condemnation for the wrong we have done. Romans 2:4 states, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” We need to remember the truth of II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

As we near the end of our study, I remind myself that the prefix CON means “with”. When I combine the promise of Philippians 4:13 with the definition of CON, I realize that with Christ I can do all things. I come to the CONclusion that I can be free of CONdemnation, I can allow my mind to CONtrolled by the Holy Spirit, I can CONsider the reality of suffering, I can be more than a CONqueror, and I can be CONfromed into the image of Christ. All of this is possible when I live my life with Christ! The prefix CON is small but powerful when CONnected with Christ!

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People or Puppets?

choiceMy Reader, do you realize that you just made a choice? Right now you are choosing to read my post rather than to not to be reading it. Multiple times a day we choose what we do or what we do not do. We choose what words we say and what words we do not say. We choose what thoughts we think and what thoughts we do not think. There is tremendous power in choice!

When I was a child, I liked to play with hand puppets. With one puppet, I pretended that it said what I wanted it to say by moving its mouth with my hand and disguising my voice to make it sound like the puppet was talking. Another puppet allowed me to move its hands by moving my fingers that were inside the fabric of the puppet’s hands. No puppet had a mind so it could not think any thoughts of its own but I could pretend that my puppet thought whatever I wanted it to think. Puppets and people are very different. God creates people while people make puppets. The reason God created mankind was because He wanted to have fellowship with us. However, He desires for us to choose this personal relationship with Him, so He has given us a free will. God created us out of love and He desires us to love Him, but He wants us to make the choice to love Him. God does not want us to love Him just because He said so.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (highlighted by author) This is a choice Moses presented to the Israelites in approximately 1407 BC and it is still a relevant choice for us today. We make daily choices and we also make choices that have consequences of greater impact. In Cast of Characters Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado writes about how God gives us an eternal choice that has eternal consequences. He develops this concept through the scene of the three crosses at Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary. Lucado asks the question, “Could it be that the other two crosses symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts? The gift of choice.” One criminal chose to repent of his sins and asked Jesus for forgiveness while the other thief simply insulted Jesus. Their choices determined where each of them would spend eternity. Jesus gives us the same choice today. Have you exercised your freewill to choose Jesus as your personal savior? If you have not made this positive choice, you have already made a negative choice of not having a personal relationship with Him. The choice is yours: life or death – blessings or curses.

Now let’s apply this freedom of choice to our nation, the United States of America. On November 8, 2016, we as the people of this nation voted to choose Donald Trump as our next president. Choosing our country’s leaders is a unique privilege we as Americans have because of our democratic form of government. Now on January 20, 2017, we will observe the inauguration of our new president. During this historic event, we, as a nation and as individuals, have another choice. We can choose to support or not to support our president. Although some people may not be happy because the candidate of their choice did not win the election, I believe that now we as a nation need to choose to respect Trump as he serves in the office of President of the United States. We must not allow our personal self will to become selfish. We are to be a nation of unity.

I believe Jesus stressed the importance of unity when He in prayed in John 17:20-21, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (highlighted by author) Jesus felt the need to pray for unity, because He knew that unity would only happen if believers made that choice. As Christians, our initial choice is to accept Jesus as our personal savior and then we continue to make choices in agreement with the plans and purposes of God. Going back to the early 1400s BC, Joshua addresses the Israelites after they crossed over into the Promised Land. He concludes by presenting the people with a choice. Joshua 24:15 says, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (highlighted by author) Joshua not only gave the people a choice but he also stated his choice by saying that his household would serve the Lord. God trusts us to make decisions. He gives us the opportunity to choose because we are people, not puppets.

My Reader, what choices are before you today?

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Let Jesus Grow Up

nativity-silhouettecross-and-crownIt is the second week of January and my Christmas decorations are now packed away until next Christmas. While wrapping up the figures of our nativity set, I held the wooden Jesus figurine in my hands and felt the prompting in my heart that I must be diligent to not put Jesus away in my life. We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus, but I must carry Him in my heart and allow Him to grow throughout 2017. I want to grow in my faith, and in order to do that, I must keep Jesus at the center of all I think and do.

The world may tend to think of Jesus only on December 25 but that was not God’s plan when He sent His Son to earth as a baby. During this past Christmas season, our son-in-law, Jamey, commented that the world is not threatened by Jesus as a baby. They just do not allow Him grow up. A baby is innocent and represents the nature of mankind as God created it to be before the serpent and sin entered Adam and Eve. Jesus’ innocence is not threatening to the world when He is an infant. However, as Jesus matures into His ministry, He becomes a threat to those of the world because He continues to be holy and innocent and sinless in contrast to the fallen nature of mankind today. Those with a worldly view celebrate the birth of Jesus in their own way, but not from a spiritual perspective.

Notes in the Life Application Bible point out that “Every birth is a miracle and every child is a gift from God. But 20 centuries ago, there was the miracle of miracles. A baby was born, but he was the Son of God. With a divine Father and human mother, Jesus entered history.” This baby was God in the flesh. Jesus was born as an infant who could do nothing on his own. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Jesus grew to become a man able to fulfill His mission on earth. He was fully human. Although He developed in all the ways like us, He remained fully God. He took no shortcuts and was not isolated from the pressures and temptations of life. There are no shortcuts for us either as we prepare for a life of service to God.

We must not be afraid to let Jesus grow up. Also, we are created to grow up with Him and in Him. God gives us the reason He sent His Son to earth as a baby in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to earth as a baby to grow up and die as a man to give us eternal life. When we ask the grown up Jesus to take away our sins, we are born again and we become new creations in Christ. Then we can mature from newborn babes in Christ to men and women of God. II Peter 3:18 tells us to, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!” We can only grow in our faith in Christ as we allow Jesus to grow. The Christmas season is past but Jesus is present. Jesus assures us of this fact by saying in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My Reader, may 2017 be a year of spiritual growth for all of us!

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Don’t Just Do It!

just-do-itdo-whatever-avJust Do It” is a trademark of the Niki brand. As a sports logo, it is an encouragement for all athletes to just go out and do whatever sport they may choose. Not a bad slogan, but I want to do more than just do it. I want  to “Do whatever He tells you.” To clarify, “He” is Jesus and these words are recorded in John 2:5. Mary spoke these words to the servants at the wedding in Cana when the supply of wine was depleted.

“Do whatever He tells you.”
John 2:5

I am thinking about these words as we begin 2017. I am not fond of New Year’s resolutions because most of us, myself included, tend to break them before many days have passed. However, this time of year offers me the opportunity to re-evaluate my life goals. I try to prioritize such things as how much time I will spend writing my blogs and how many days a week I will commit to volunteer endeavors. Family and friends, household duties and errands rightfully occupy significant space in my time. I just need to do whatever He tells me! But, how do I know what He tells me to do? I find my answer in Psalm 32.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
Psalm 32:8

This promise was spoken to David by the Lord. It is also a promise that the Lord gives to help me know what He wants me to do. However, I must make it a priority to listen for Him if I am to hear from Him! So, here is something for me to add to my To Do list for every day of the new year just as David did in another Psalm.

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:3

Beginning each day with prayer must be a priority! As I look closely at David’s words, I become aware that he not only spoke to God but He also expected to  hear from God. I must follow David’s example if I want to do whatever Jesus tells me to do. This is the only way I will know what He is telling me to do! However, I cannot just lie in bed all day. It is time for action and I follow the guidance of James.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.
James 1:22

Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus said and now James tells those reading his letter to do what the word of God says. It doesn’t matter if I think I can do it or not because Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” The Lord will equip me to do whatever He tells me to do! One day God may just tell me to put one foot in front of the other while another day He may tell me to contact a friend I have not seen in a long time. Ann Voskamp has said, “Miracles keep happening in the mundane.” The Lord may just be telling me to do something simple. Ann Voskamp also assures me that my Heavenly Father is infinitely bigger than my fears, so I do not need to be afraid of anything He may tell me to do. Surprisingly though, the most important thing He is asking me to do is to deepen my relationship with Him. My goals for 2017 are not simply a “just do it” list. My life goal is “Do whatever He tells me to do.” This requires much more commitment than New Year’s resolutions.

May God bless and guide you throughout 2017!

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