Friday, March 31, 2006

Romans 16

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Romans 15

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Romans 14

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Romans 13

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Romans 12

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Blogger time

Normally for me, in this part of the world, daylight saving ends the last Saturday in March. Except that this year, because Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Games it was decided that rather than confuse all our visitors and the athletes they would extend daylight saving by a week. Blogger.com has not allowed for this adjustment. So for those who are interested the times noted on this blog will be an hour early for the next week.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Romans 11

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Romans 10

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Abraham believed anyway

I sat down to write a devotion about how amazingly wonderful it was that God credits us with righteousness. That we don't start our Christian lives at a big fat zero but rather with our accounts full of credit, with no need for us to work for brownie points and with it being impossible for us to get into debt since Christ died for our sins past, present and future. But for some reason I didn't write about that at all. Nevertheless here is what I did write:

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations" Romans 4:18.

Last term in Sunday School we were thinking about Abraham and just recently I was reading about him again in Romans. I love the way the Message Bible puts the following verses. "We call Abraham 'father' not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. … When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do" Romans 4:13 & 18.

In the world there are all sorts of programs design so people can do well at a job interview and learn how to sell themselves to a future employer. Employers pick people based on their skill, intelligence and how well they present themselves. But God doesn't operate under any of the world's system. He delights to pick nobodies and make them into His very own people. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" 1 Peter 2:9.

We know that Abraham had moments of doubt and moments of indiscretion earlier in his life but in the end it was said of him, 'he believed anyway'. "He faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about one hundred years old – and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise" Romans 4:19-20.

May it be also be said of us that 'we believed anyway' when circumstances appear hopeless; when doubt threatens to overtake us; and when temptations come rolling in.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Romans 9

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Romans 8

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Romans 7

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Romans 6

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Romans 5

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Romans 4

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Romans 3

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Romans 2

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Romans 1

Welcome to this study on Romans. Simply read chapter 1 and comment if you like.

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Devotional Thought : Galatians 5:1

I wrote this for my church newsletter which for me was a bit of a summation of what I learnt from our study on Galatians. (A new study starts today. I have chosen the book of Romans.)

"Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

I have been studying Galatians with some others and the thing that stood out to me was Paul immense emphasis on freedom. Why is freedom so important?

Paul uses the story of Hagar and Sarah to explain that we are "children of promise" (4:28) and not "children of the slave woman" (4:31). Therefore we live by faith. Faith that God keeps His promises. Faith that we can rest in the finished work of Christ. Faith that we are made righteous by trusting God. But often we find it easier to follow a set of rules than trust God on a daily basis. It is easier to check "the rules" than to seek God about a particular course of action.

The Galatians had discovered that submitting to Jewish law was an easier simpler way to live, and it meant less persecution than standing firm in the freedom God had given them. But Paul is not pleased calling them, "foolish Galatians!" (3:1) because "if righteous could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing" (2:21).

Similarly Paul had written to the church in Rome about this explaining how Abraham was credited with righteousness because of faith. "The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone but also for us to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Romans 4:23).

We are credited with righteousness because of faith not because of obedience. This is why freedom is important. We can only live in freedom if we live by faith. "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A century of posts

I was going to do a special post for my 100th post but I missed it by a couple. Nevertheless I wanted to say I have made the somewhat surprising discovery that having a blog is making me more honest. For some reason here in blogsphere I feel free to say (type) what I really think. I don't intend to upset anyone I just feel a sense of freedom that I don't experience in face to face conversations. How weird is that finding a safe place on a public forum? Maybe I'll get brave and start sharing my opinions in other situations. Anyway I'm thankful for this space where I am free to say what I think.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Country Wife by Lucy Pinney

Recently I read this book. It was a biographical novel, that is mostly non-fiction, also not a Christian book. The story begins when the author, a town girl, marries a farmer. She makes huge adjustments in life style and many sacrifices as life on the land is financially difficult. Her husband seems oblivious to this and after twenty odd years of marriage he leaves her. He goes and lives with another woman on a farm. Some time later the author's youngest child wants to see his father so she agrees to take him. She is amazed to discover amongst other things the farm her ex-husband now lives on is neat and tidy, the kitchen is animal-free and he now eats goat's cheese. These things never happened when he was living with her. She is completely confused by this and the book finishes soon after with her living with another guy determined never to be a 'wife' again. If this was an isolated scenario I would be not so disturbed by it but unfortunately I have read similar things elsewhere. I guess my question is, if women make huge sacrifices for men does it make them feel incompetent, weak, dependent and that's why they completely discount them? Or is there some other reason?

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Not accidentally saved

Today in the daily devotion called, Every Day With Jesus by Selwyn Hughes, Hughes talks about predestination and as this topic has come up several times recently I thought I would share with you what he says. He is referring to John 17:2 "For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him."
"Does this mean that a group of people were chosen at random away back in eternity and appointed to be heirs of salvation? Or does it mean that God, foreseeing a certain group of people would genuinely repent and accept Christ as their Saviour, marked them out as the possessors of salvation? Great theological debates have raged over these and similar questions. Whatever view we might hold, one thing is sure: our salvation was forethought, foreseen and foreordained." Then he ends with a prayer, "O Father, how wonderful to know it is not as the result of a chance occurrence that I am saved. I did not 'accidentally' come to You. I came because I was drawn – drawn by a Power that reached out to me from eternity. I am so very gratefully. Amen." Amen and Amen.

(PS Selwyn Hughes died in January this year but apparently he was a long way ahead in his writing schedule so we are going to be blessed with his writing for quite a few more editions of Every Day With Jesus.)

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Galatians 6

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Galatians 5

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Galatians 4

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Devotional Thought : Galatians 3:25

When some of us were studying Acts 15 I quoted Galatians 3:25 and Jon from exfoliations made a really good comment which I used in a devotion for my church paper (hope you don't mind, Jon) It seems appropriate to post it now that we have been looking at Galatians 3:

"Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law" Galatians 3:25

In Galatians 3 Paul talks about the purpose of the law (v.19). God knew when He gave the ten commandments that we would never be able to keep them by our own efforts. God gave them to make us realize this and therefore recognize our need for a Saviour (v.21). We cannot meet God's standards by our own efforts. So the purpose of the law was to lead us to Christ so that we would be justified by faith (v.24).

I was talking to someone recently about this and they commented, "I think Galatians is one of the most dangerous books in the Bible. Paul is advocating so much freedom. A freedom like we don't really want other people to have, "it's too much responsibility", we figure, so we try to take it away." Eugene Peterson says something similar when he paraphrases Colossians 2:20 this way in The Message, "so, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? 'Don't touch this! Don't taste that! Don't go near this!' do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention?"

Paul tells the Corinthians in his first letter (10:23), "Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial." St. Augustine puts it this way, "Love God and do whatever you want". St. Augustine knew that if we really love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength then we will only want to do what pleases our heavenly Father.

God gives us the enormous responsibility, but also the great privilege, to make decisions based on pleasing the Father rather than a set of rules.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Galatians 3

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Galatians 2

Moving right along to chapter 2.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Galatians 1

Welcome to this study on Galatians. Simply read chapter 1 and comment if you like.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Watch this space

About six months ago I tried to run an on-line Bible study by studying a psalm a week. To be honest the idea was a flop. However over the last month there has been a successful Bible study going on over at exfoliations where we looked at a chapter of Acts each day for the month of February. Feeling somewhat inspired I thought I would have another go and have decided to use the same format as Jon used. So as the host of this study my role is simply to post the heading each day and others can comment (or not) as they like. So starting on Monday I will be looking at Galatians and since there are only six chapters it will only take six days.

The nitty gritty of working out the timing of this is a little tricky and it doesn't really suit me to post at midnight or first thing in the morning. But I figure as long as I post the heading at about the same time every day people will have 24 hours wherever they live. Consequently the time that suits me best to do this is at about 7pm AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight-saving Time). (I think this is about 17 hours ahead of central US time.)

Anyone is welcome to join in if you would like to so watch this space.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More on the MTC Seminar

A third thing I learnt at the seminar was about the world children are growing up in these days. Through television and movies they are learning about witchcraft at quite a young age therefore as Christians we need to equip our children with spiritual truths in relation to spiritual warfare. In the past it seems to me that we have passed on Bible stories with little application. Now we must teach them how to live a Christian life in a foreign culture. It was pointed out that Daniel and his friends were great examples of how to do this.

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