Friday, December 27, 2013

Romans. .Week 4. .Discussion

I enjoyed reading the responses to this discussion from my email study group. .
and I also took the time for my own self-reflection. .
It’s been a very good assignment for me. .
You know. .
Satan has been very present and busy in my life over the last 6 weeks or so. .
(2 lessons on spiritual warfare from Ephesians this week have reminded and confirmed that fact to me) I have been very on-edge. .doubtful, discouraged at times. .
frustrated at myself. .and at others. .
sometimes just wishing myself back in that complacent stage of my walk with God. .
where I just rolled along in blissful ignorance, doing things my own way. .
not really a threat to Satan’s kingdom. .
That life was EASY. .This walk is harder. .
there is more responsibility. .there is more vulnerability. .
I tend to be wordy. .because it helps me learn and sort things out. .
God has gifted me with an ability to put words together. .and it works for me. .
I also believe, after 13 years of listening to people’s problems. .
that people ALWAYS think. .
they are the only ones that deal with __________. .

Because they tend to stifle in the things that they are most scared to talk about. .
they don’t really know what is normal or incurred by others. .
When you can say. .
yeah, lots of people feel like that, or experience that, or deal with those issues. .
there is such an expression of RELIEF on their faces. .
And so. .I KNOW that my experiences. .
will be helpful to someone, in some way, at some point. .
which is why I am so intent on sharing WAY more than most of you desire to know!
All that to say this. .
This time of reflection this week was ENCOURAGING to me. .
because God just brought to mind the places where He is working in my life. .
and reminded me by way of Romans 8:17 again. .
that I am His heir. .
and the degree of “suffering” will be completely worth the glory of God in the long run. .
He reminded me that I am continually to look to Him to renew my mind with things of above (12:2) instead of focusing on the things of the world (people, their opinions, or ugly attitudes, what they might think, what they might be saying. .and on and on and on!)
So. .in a fashion that you would be inclined to expect at this point of the game. .
Here are my very heartfelt, very real, very intimate, and very long answers to the questions that we were to consider this week!
In August 2013. . I was HUNGRY. .
I had spent nearly 2 years studying the bible in an audible way for 2-4 hours every week in my vehicle. .I was reading my bible a number of times during the week. .I was engaged in an active Sunday School study weekly. .I had just started doing two “topical” studies on my own as I read through the New Testament after an enlightening thought from God one night. .When I was introduced to this concept of studying the bible. .I was SO ready for it to further my pursuit of Christ!    
I wanted very much. .to focus in on the meat of the Word. .not just reading it. .but to STUDY it. .MEDITATE on it. .UNDERSTAND it. .As I look back over the last 3 months. .I see now. .that God. .also gave me this “assignment” of leading others while I studied myself. .to start developing the spiritual gifts that He had given me. .that I hadn’t understood or appreciated before!!  
 Like you all. .I have reaped the benefits of studying in this manner!! Not only have I learned the truths of the Bible better. .I have also learned more about who God created ME to be. .I’ve learned to put my money where my mouth is. .and that God stands true when the heat is on. .both of those experiences have benefited me more than just a HEAD knowledge would have. .I was able to LIVE that. .and survive!! The words in our 3 books of the bible thus far. .have come back to benefit me in conversations. .in relationships. .and in counseling and teaching others that had a need for godly advice!
Things that I have been able to change. .foremost. .was confidence. .In times where I would have said good Christian words with my mouth, while being unsure of the outcome. .I have noticed that I have a deeper sense of TRUST in God. .that, regardless of an outcome. .If I am looking to Him. .it will be OK. .and my HEART knows that now too. .I have been able to overlook more. .to keep my mouth shut more. .to bestow compassion a little easier. .More and more of my conversations revolve around God. .or encompass Him to some degree. .Relationships within my home seem better. .from my perspective anyway. .and there are more things that I rephrase before I spew out what I WOULD have said 3 months ago. .this has been a much slower change. .and it definitely is affected by my level of stress. .
I definitely have been getting more of the “evil eye” conviction feelings when something angry or gossipy, or rude or otherwise ungodly comes out of my mouth that shouldn’t have (doesn’t mean that I apologize or fix the statement. .but I am uncomfortably aware of the fact that it was WRONG. .I am getting more adept at changing the subject in bad gossip sessions etc) There are some people that I simply can’t be around for longer than I have to. .because my mind just starts going in the wrong direction. .or my thoughts get sassy, and I know it will be a only a matter of time before something gets loose that should have been left in. .I am also more uncomfortable when I let my thought life get away from me. .If I feel like I have been wronged. .or I over interpret what people mean. .I can go a whole southward direction of mind talk scenarios that just make me miserable. .I am better able to ask God to put it out of my mind. .and He redirects my thoughts. .sometimes. .I still WILLINGLY go down that path though. .knowing that I could stop it if I wanted to. .but just not willing!! It never leads me to anywhere good. .but human nature is just stubborn, is all I can figure!
Finally. .Jeremy and I had a conversation. .specifically. .about any progress that I might be making. .He couldn’t readily identify the changes that I noticed (the ones I noted above). .and I wouldn’t have expected him to see those particular changes. .since the point of keeping your mouth shut. .doesn’t really include telling them later what you WOULD have said, if it hadn’t been so wretched J He didn’t really note me to be any more patient with the kids. .which I had thought I was attaining. .and I opted not to ask them this week. .because Tristan has been on a VERY short nerve of mine. .so my behavior has been less than godly. .honesty, right?? BUT. .he  thought that my biblical wisdom was progressing well. .which he deemed a good thing. .and he has noticed that we have very regular conversations now about the things that I am learning in our study. .and those have even spurred some additional study on his part. .which has been a cool new aspect of our relationship!
Looking forward to the rest of the responses. .as we enjoy the long weekend. .if something else comes to your mind that you would like to share. .feel free to jump back into the conversation. .And if you have already responded. .don’t feel like you are finished with your reflection. .I have noticed that God doesn’t reveal everything at once always. .and sometimes, He will show me things for days as I keep putting those questions to Him. .
And in the way of reflection. .one more thing to add to your weekend thoughts. .Where are you GOING with the Lord?? Our original bible study was slated for 4 months. .we will be done with that after James. .You’ll have to admit that you have had a lot of accountability factor to keep on reading and working at it through this study. .how will you continue to further your growth in the Lord in 2014?? Start considering that as well. .The tendency seems to be (at least mine always was). .if I wasn’t being spurred on. .I would take a little vacation. .that turned into a looooonnnng vacation. .if you don’t have a plan for your time with God in the way of reading and making that a priority in our very busy lives. .you will soon slip back into spiritual stagnation. .and that is not a good place to be.
It tickles me to see the changes occurring in your lives as a result of your prioritized time with God. .And I feel Paul’s sentiments to some degree from Romans 9:3. .when he wrote that he would be willing to be forever cursed if that would save his people, the Jews. .thought I certainly couldn’t say that in my own strength. .It makes me more willing to open myself up to the psychological attacks of Satan. .when I know that lives are being changed as God uses my persistence to be digging into the Word and proclaiming it’s truth!! Thanks for taking the time to share your hearts with us!!  Have a great weekend. .
We're on a short sabbatical next week. .
to make our January study come out nicely via the calendar. .
I may come up with some extracurricular reading for you. .or a bible reading suggestion. .
Stop by and see!
  Enjoy! Melanie

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Romans. .Week 4. .Fast Fact. .

Good morning!!  And a VERY MERRY Christmas to all!!
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday!

I came across a couple little narratives from my chronological study bible that I wanted to share. .
to consider as we reflect on our lives this week. .
Some other ways to think about ourselves in an accurate way. .
Romans 2:24 No wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.”
If you claim to be one of God’s people, your life should reflect what God is like. When you disobey God, you dishonor his name. People may even blaspheme or profane God’s name because of you. What do people think about God as they watch your life??
I’m going to guess that most of us will be TOTALLY unaware if/when someone watches us or listens to us. .and thinks “really. .this woman thinks she is a Christian??
She’s not really acting/behaving/speaking like one!! This paragraph should cause us to wake up and take notice. .what do our friends see. .our co-workers. .our families??
God or . . .??
 In the same sense. .
if people watch us behave in a way that consistently shows our disregard for what His word says (gossiping, judgmental attitudes, anger issues) What message ARE we sending about our love for God? Consider that for a few moments.
Along the same lines. .Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Some sins seem bigger than others because their obvious consequences are much more serious. Murder, for example, seems to us to be worse than hatred, and adultery seems worse than pride. But this does not mean that because we only commit “little” sins we deserve eternal life. All sins make us sinners, and ALL sins cut us off from our holy God. ALL sins, therefore, lead to death (because they disqualify us from living with God), regardless of how great or small they seem. Don’t minimize “little” sins or overrate “big” sins. They ALL separate us from God, but they ALL can be forgiven!
It is, personally, very easy for me to rationalize that my “little” sins aren’t “that bad.” And easy for me to compare myself with other people whom I might judge to be “really bad.”
 God reminds us that ALL people sin. .
and because of that, we will ALWAYS be short of the standard (which is perfect Jesus). .
and my sins are just as bad as the sins of someone waiting their time in a prison cell. .
according to God. .But. .He reassures me in verse 25. .
that BECAUSE I believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, by shedding His blood as a penalty for MY sins. .
I will live in eternity with Him!! And He has already removed my sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) AWESOME!
Finally. .
Romans 8:17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

There is a price for being identified with Jesus. Along with being ‘heirs of God’s glory,’ Paul also mentions the suffering that Christians must face. What kinds of suffering are we to endure? For first-century believers, there was economic and social persecution, and some even faced death. We, too, must pay a price for following Jesus. In many parts of today’s world, Christians face pressures just as severe as those faced by Christ’s first followers. Even in countries where Christianity is tolerated or encouraged, Christians must not become complacent. To live as Jesus did—serving others, giving up one’s rights, resisting pressures to conform to the world—always exacts a price. But nothing we suffer can compare to the great price that Jesus paid to save us.

Just as a reference point. .
this verse comes right on the heels of what God expects the Spirit to be doing in our life. .
we are to have put on the new Spirit and gotten rid of the old spirit. .
if we have NOT gotten rid of the old spirit. .
and we continue doing life as our old spirit continues to drive our selfish natures and our sinful attitudes. .we will NEVER please God (8:8). .
If we are to be an heir to God. .
we must be willing to live in a manner that our old self would NEVER have accepted. .
that. .IS a form of suffering, because it is hard. .sometimes painful. .
maybe an inconvenience. .and it might cost us popularity or money. .
In many parts of the world, Christians are still being persecuted today. .
for going to church or having bibles in their possession. .and I assure you. .
that when you become bold enough to speak the truth to enough people who BELIEVE in God. .
but don’t KNOW God. .you will suffer to a degree as well. .
we should be glad in that. .and encouraged that Paul told us. .
that if we are doing things right. .we will have some suffering!!
But NONE of our suffering. .
will EVER hold a candle to spending eternity in heaven with God!!
I hope those verses and a bit of further explanation. .
will help you in the self-reflection that you are doing this week too. .
I hope that you feel encouraged as well. .that, along with the bad. .
there is really GOOD too. .an eternity with God for those who have his Spirit within!
So, without further delay. .HERE’S. . . . .the Fast Fact!!

What is your fondest Christmas memory ever. .
This was hard for me to decide!! So many Christmas memories from both long ago. .
and more recent!! 
But I think I finally decided on the memory that just makes me laugh to this day as I recall it. .
I think it was our first or second Christmas after we got married. .
We lived in a tiny little house in the middle of nowhere. .well, rather. .
in the  middle of any sized Christmas tree shaped cedar trees that you could ever want to have. .
And Grandpa Ed had this antique (even back then) Willy jeep. .
and we decided to load up our little weinie dog, Oscar and go cut us down a Christmas tree. .
mostly because Jeremy would have DIED before we spent our hard earned money on a tree!!
So we looked and we looked and we looked!! And picked out the perfect tree. .
and cut it down. .only. .when we tried to get it into the house. .
it wouldn’t fit through the door. .
so we junked it (after pushing and pulling for a while) and loaded up again. .
Back into the pasture for another tree. .
Broke the chain saw on the next one. .
which led Jeremy to run over the tree with the jeep to make himself feel better. .
FINALLY. .on the third try. .we came back with a totally lopsided UGLY tree. .
that DID fit in the door. .
and a promise that I could get a new ARTIFICIAL tree on clearance after Christmas. .
so that we could avoid the traumatic experience of cutting down another tree J 
Money well spent, if you ask me!!
Have a FANTASTIC Christmas celebration!
I'll be ready with our discussion questions again Friday. .
And after another little buffer week. .
We will be ready to start the book of James the first full week of January!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Romans. .Week 4. .Assignment

Well. .you made it. .our last week in the book of Romans. .
It looked like everyone took some different marching orders from Scripture this past week. .
I hope that you are keeping some of these meaningful scriptures handy somewhere so that you can go back to them in about February. .
and see if you have made progress. .
I appreciated seeing the ones that affected you this week. .a few things. . 

One of the ladies shared her insight from extra study during this week of bible study. .
I thought that her words were stated quite accurately. .
and easily summed up the points that have also become more clear to me through the book of Romans. .
Predestination and Election have been something that has been very muddy to me over the last year (because, frankly, before that. .I had NEVER heard of such concepts!)
 I’ve heard them in multiple different sermon series by multiple different teachers. .
Most have stated it as she did. .
And in Chapter 9, when Paul reminds them that they/we don’t have the right to question WHY God does/allows things. .
and then in chapter 11 tells us that God is sooooo high above human thoughts. .
that we can never totally understand his decisions and methods!! 
I wanted to copy her comments on to you because they were really good! 

*God's choices are aligned with His character, not ours!!

*God's choices are aligned with His divinely chosen plan.

*It is God in us that leads us to our salvation...we don't lead ourselves to our own salvation

*The responsibility to believe is ours...the ability is from Him.

*The sinner has to be willing to respond to the call!!  

*It's GOD'S job to job is obedience. 

I had done a little word study myself a few weeks ago on the word CALLED. .
which I noted to be used in 1:6; 1:7; 8:29-30; 9:11; and 11:29. . 

to the Holman bible dictionary (from the Holman Christian Standard version of the bible) for the definition the word Call/Calling. .and how it references throughout the bible. .
Interestingly. .
within the definition and their showing of the 5 ways the word is used in Scripture. .
verses from all 3 of the books that we have studied this fall. .are listed. .
a good reason to read through the short article. Meet me at the end of the article for your work for the week in our study. . 

Call, Calling
Invitation, summons, commission, or naming.

Old Testament Five main uses of call appear in the Old Testament. First, “to call” means “to invite or summon.” For example, God called to Adam (Genesis 3:9 ); Moses called the elders together (Exodus 19:7 ); and Joel gave a command to call a solemn assembly (Joel 1:14 ).

Second, the verb can have the sense of “calling on God,” hence, to pray. We first meet this expression in Genesis 4:26 : “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (See also Psalm 79:6 ; Psalm 105:1 ; Isaiah 64:7 ; Jeremiah 10:25 ; Zephaniah 3:9).

Third, “to call” is used very often in the sense of naming, whether of things (Genesis 1:5-30 ; day, night, heaven, earth; Genesis 2:19 , the animals), or of persons (Genesis 25:26 , Jacob; Genesis 30:6-24 , Jacob's sons), of a city (2 Samuel 5:9 , the city of David), or of qualities (in Isaiah 35:8 a way and in Exodus 12:16 a day are called holy).

Fourth, God calls by name with a view to service. The call of Moses (Exodus 3:4-22 ) and the call of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1 ) are good examples.

Fifth, “to call” may be used in the sense of “to call one's own,” to claim for one's own possession and to appoint for a particular destiny. Especially noticeable is Isaiah 43:1 , when the Lord addressed Israel: “I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” This calling of Israel stands closely related to its election (Isaiah 45:4 ). It thus points to the covenant relation in which Israel is called to salvation, is given its name, and has the function of God's witness.

New Testament All the senses found in the Old Testament appear again in the New Testament. The meaning “invite/summon” is encountered principally in the parables of the great banquet (Luke 14:16-25 ) and the marriage feast (Matthew 22:2-10 ). Calling in the sense of naming has special importance in the infancy narratives (Matthew 1:21 ; Luke 1:60 ; Luke 2:21 ). Calling on the name of the Lord is found in a quotation from Joel in both Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 . The choosing of the apostles can be expressed in terms of calling (Mark 1:20 ). Finally, Christ's people are those whom He has called and who are rightly called by His name (Romans 8:28 ; Galatians 1:6 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ; 1 Peter 1:15 ).

The New Testament refers to the Christian life as a calling (Ephesians 1:18 ; Ephesians 4:1 ; 2 Timothy 1:9 ; Hebrews 3:1 ; 2 Peter 1:10 ). The basic call is to Christ as Lord and Savior; thus, all Christians are “called ones.” It is employed in a comprehensive way to depict what has happened to those who through the Father's love are now called children of God (1 John 3:1 ). However, there are further callings to special ministries (Acts 13:2 ).

The noun “calling” takes on great significance in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. First, there is the goal of calling. We are called to salvation, holiness, and faith (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 ), to the kingdom and glory of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12 ), to an eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15 ), to fellowship (1 Corinthians 1:9 ), and to service (Galatians 1:1 ).

The means of calling is clearly stated as being through grace (Galatians 1:6 ) and through the hearing of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14 ).

The ground of calling is specifically established in 2 Timothy 1:9 . The starting point for the divine calling is not works but the purpose and grace of God in Christ Jesus.

The nature of God's calling is described as an upward (Philippians 3:14 ), heavenly (Hebrews 3:1 ), holy (2 Timothy 1:9 ) calling. It is filled with hope (Ephesians 1:18 , Ephesians 4:4 ). Christians are urged to lead lives that are worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ). Also, they are urged to make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10 ). Finally, the “called, and chosen, and faithful” are with the Lamb (Revelation 17:14 ) indicating that those whom God called (saved) He glorified (Romans 8:30 ). The stress is on the initiative of God. The one who experiences God's calling can only break forth in praise with Paul: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33 ).
So. .We have learned a LOT of stuff over the last 3 months. .
We’ve gotten used to reading the scriptures on a REGULAR basis. .
We’ve learned how to search out who God tells us He is through the qualities lined out in the text. .
We’ve learned how to take the Scriptures and apply them to our life. .
We’ve also (hopefully) started looking at things within ourselves. .
that need to be changed to align our hearts. .
with the heart of God. .Am I right in all of this??
Next month. .
our final month of the 4 month study you committed to. .
we will be in the book of James. .
who promotes the concept that we are to be workers. .doing what God says. .
living how God wants us to live.
One of our email study ladies. .
 shared that she has been making changes in the way that functions in her job. .
based on what she has learned in our study. .
AWESOME. .and to GOD be the glory for the changes that she is witnessing.
 I had actually taken a little break to go wrap a couple of gifts for some birthday kids around here. .
with the intent of touching base with God about the direction of the work for this week. .
I smiled when I got back to the computer and read what she  had written. .
because God was impressing on me that this week should be a week for reflection. .
sharing. .and accountability.

This is a busy week. .BUT. .
it is also a week where, though our time will be busy. .cleaning for celebrations, cooking for celebrations, napping after celebrations J
and a lot of travel time for some. .
but a week that we may have some extra time for reflection. .
cause really. .how many of us will clean, pack, prepare food after busy kid hours. .
with someone around the whole time?? If you have travel time. .
set yourself a time limit from the noise in the car. .
let them know how much time you are out for. .
put in some headphones, look out the window and reflect. If you want to make a list of some suggestions to use in your reflection, please do. .
I will offer some suggestions as well. .
Sometime AFTER you have spent some DEDICATED time in thought and prayer. .
please answer in a response to all. .
we have already hit on judging a LOT. .
so I will bet there will be none. .
we have all established that none of us are perfect, have the perfect life, do the right thing always, or have the perfect relationship with Christ. .so we want reality answers. .
We want to take a look back and see where we were on September 30 2013. .
and where we are now. .
It will be important for you to answer each question. .not so that I can be nosy. .
but more, so that you can be responsible to evaluate and know where you are headed. .
this is the week that we will put our money where our mouth is in regard to all the things that we said were touching our hearts from the Scripture, and all the areas of change that we noted we needed in our life. .
1.)    Where was I in my relationship with God in August 2013??

2.)    What did I really want out of this bible study? (specific)

3.)    Have I benefitted from studying God’s word?  If so, how. .if not, why?

4.)    What type of things have I changed in my life based on my walk through this bible study?

5.)    Has my big-picture view of God changed. .or been enhanced in any way (hint, in what way have you changed how you VIEW God based on who you have found Him to be in our week 2 assignments each month)

6.)    Are you finding yourself “Uncomfortable” in certain situations now or around certain people or when you say or act in a way that is not really glorifying God? If you are willing to share an example, I think that each lady will appreciate the support and insight from the “human-ness” that each of us possess.
So. .
it might even be helpful to take each question one at a time each day and just consider it. .
making taking a moment each day to answer the questions in a word document of your own to share at the end of the week instead of making one big post.
I know, I know. .but if I didn’t think this would be both insightful for you and beneficial for your growth and walk with God. .
I wouldn’t be asking you to do it. .the answering for all of us to see. .
is to remind us that we are human. .
and to be an encouragement to each other as we see how we are all growing and changing. .
and that requires a degree of transparency. . 

FINALLY. .this will likely be difficult for some of us. .
but the thing that has been weighing on my mind heavily all evening. .
is this final aspect of the week. .
I urge you NOT to skip over this part of the assignment to avoid the possible and probable uncomfortable nature of the communication (in a way that probably NONE of us are used to!) 

Choose someone that you spend a LOT Of time with. .
maybe a girlfriend. .
maybe a spouse. .
maybe one of your kids. .
or each of your kids. .
and ASK them. .
if they see progress or changes in you since August. . 

Yes, yes. .I know. .
they can’t see the changes that are being made in our hearts. .agreed!!
BUT. .one of our goals each month, has been to locate some areas of our life that need to align better with God’s words. .
so that we will be “DOERS of the word and not just studiers and HEARERS of the word and WISHERS that we could carry out the words. . 

That being said. .Just remind them. .
that you are involved in this bible study. .
and that you are wondering if they are able to see any progress in your personality, attitude, understanding, compassion. .whatever!!
 If they don’t automatically notice any changes, don’t feel hurt. .
they may have just not realized it or thought about it. .
you might tell them what you have been led to work on. .
give them some time to consider it and have them get back to you. .
so you won’t want to wait until Sunday afternoon to find someone to ask. .
Our desire is. .or should be. .
that EVERYONE should be able to see the light of Jesus shining THROUGH our lives. .
our actions, our words, our attitudes. .Right??
So. .the person that you ask to assess you. .
need not be someone who knows WHAT a Christian woman should look like. .
they should just notice something DIFFERENT than how you were before. .

they should just be able to say. .
well, I’ve noticed this now that you mention it. .
or no. .NO, I haven’t noticed any difference in you at all except that you spend every night in your bed reading the bible now (which, in and of itself. .is a change!!)
At that point. .you might let them know what you would like to see changed within you. .
so they can give you feedback too!
Enjoy the last FULL week of 2013!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Romans. .Week 3. .Discussion

Hello. .
Hope you have all had a good and productive week! More than that though. .
I hope that you all have MADE time to be in the book of Romans!!
 At this time of the year. .
it’s easy to make excuses and find other things that seem more necessary than that!
Try and stick with me for 10 more days. .the book of James will be easier!!
 I’ll say. .I’m feeling a bit guilty for the lack of stuff I have given you to consider this past month. .
as well as the lack of extra material that might help make sense of where Paul is coming from!
There were a few things that I was captivated with. .
as MY marching orders from the Word this week. .
Romans 1:9 tells us that Paul served God with all his heart (NLT) many other versions state it that he served in his spirit or with his spirit. .
I prefer those translations. .mostly because. .
I think I can SERVE God. .in MY own selfish spirit. .
but I believe this verse is saying that Paul served God with the Spirit. .
the Holy Spirit leading his acts of service. .
Don’t we all find. .that sometimes. .
we are just doing things to get them over with??
Sometimes our attitudes reflect that (or mine does anyway). .
it is a burden, a hassle, a time-sucker. .maybe it isn’t something that I even want to do!!
 But I notice (even with this bible study). .that when I am serving IN the Spirit. .
it is joy producing, it isn’t work, the words just flow etc. .
when I am serving in MY spirit. .it can be frustrating, time consuming and irritating!
I really believe. .that a little prayer to the Almighty in these situations. .
in thanksgiving for the ABILITY to serve. .
as well as petitions to be ABLE to serve in His spirit. .
will greatly improve the outcomes for each of us!
Try it and let me know what you think J
The other verses that just really hit home. .
were from 8:6, 13. .really the whole chapter of 8. .
It was that whole correlation with the mind and the spirit that I think I spoke of the other day!!
This last couple weeks has just been FILLED with situations. .
and people. .and issues. .
and frustrations. .and it is SO easy for me. .
to fill my mind with the things of this world. .
how I would handle the situations in my FLESH. .
and I can easily make UP situations to make me madder than if I would have just gone on about my business. .Romans 8 reminds us that we MUST fill our mind with the things of above. .
I believe that to include what we hear with our ears. .
what we look at with our eyes. .
who we spend the majority of our hours with (and I know you understand how draining that can be when the negativity of those people sucks the life out of YOU too!)
When we fill our mind with the Spirit. .we PLEASE the Spirit (8:5). 
 And I always feel better too! I think that I love the MOST. .
8:15 we did NOT receive a Spirit that will make us slaves to fear. .
we received the Spirit of GOD. .
and we should act like proud children of God. .
and seek to make Him proud of Him. .
So. .this weekend. .
let us know a verse that stuck out to you about what your responsibility to God is. .
I’m also REALLY curious. .Is ANYONE else. .
finding them in the middle of situations that are requiring them to make a CONSCIENCE decision to follow what Christ says. .
and what our flesh wants to do, or what the world says we should do??
You know. .One more little very profound thought that hit me this morning. .
I have maintained up to RECENTLY. .that God will allow us to be tested. .
to see what type of decision we will make. .
but I think I am wrong about that. .
This morning. .I felt like the Spirit was just impressing on me. .
that He ALREADY knows what decision I will make in each situation. .
He allows me to be tested so that I can know what type of decision I will make. .
He asked Adam and Eve in the garden (after they had eaten the fruit and were hiding in all their nakedness) “Adam, where are you?”
Now. .God is GOD. .He already KNEW where Adam was. .
and what he was doing. .and why he was doing it. .
He wanted Adam to know it!!
And He knows where you and I live our life. .
and what we are TRULY standing on. .
and what we will do or say when the heat is on. .
I think He wants US to know. .
Have a great weekend friends!!
Love to all Melanie

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Romans. .Week 3. .Fast Fact

Good morning!! Hope all is well with everyone. .
I had found an online bible study on the book of Romans that I started copy and pasting some of the interesting parts out of a few weeks ago. .
unfortunately. .I have lost the site. .
and am not sure how to get back there. .or even reference it for you. .
BUT. .
I wanted to include the study notes that I had copied from chapter 4 on justification. .
I know we studied that so much last month in Galatians. .
but this study guide emphasized some little details that I missed last month. .
that I think are important to remember to further the depth of our understanding. .
I colored the parts that I found most interesting in blue. .
The study notes address Romans 4:1-12. .
This chapter is a  "case study" in justification by faith.  Paul has emphasized that for both Jew and Gentile, there is only one way of salvation--by grace, through faith, not by works of the law.  Further, he has stated that circumcision has value only as an outward sign of an inward faith.   Paul now makes these doctrines concrete by applying them to one of the central characters in Judaism: Abraham, the father of the race.  If Paul can show that even Abraham was justified by faith, then his point is proven. 
v. 2 If . . . Abraham was justified by works . . . This was actually the view of many Jewish teachers of Paul’s day.  Abraham was regarded as someone who had kept the whole law perfectly, although the law was not given through Moses until hundreds of years later! (Gal. 3:17)
v. 3     Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness".  This is a quote from Gen. 15:6. The Jewish teachers of Paul’s day taught that Abraham’s faith was a work by which he earned righteousness.  But Paul rejects this.  Abraham’s righteousness was not earned or merited, but credited. 
vv. 4-5    Paul uses an everyday illustration to show that earning righteousness is incompatible with having it "credited". Someone who receives a paycheck for their work doesn’t regard those wages as a gift, but simply as what they have earned. So if what the Jews believed about Abraham were true, the Scriptures would say that Abraham "earned" righteousness. But instead, they say that it was credited to him.
          On the other hand, if a man does not work, but trusts God (as Abraham did), his faith is credited as righteousness.  Paul is not contrasting hard work with laziness, but faith with law-keeping.  Those who attempt to achieve righteousness through their own efforts will fail, while those who trust God for righteousness will receive it (Rom. 9:30-32).
vv. 6-8   Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2, written by King David, to further support his argument. David’s sins are well documented (2 Sam. 11), so no one could claim that he had obeyed the law perfectly. In this Psalm  David speaks of God’s blessing coming not to the man who obeys the law, but to the man whose sins are forgiven, covered, and not counted against him.
vv. 9-12  The Jewish teachers of Paul’s day regarded circumcision as a saving act that guaranteed escape from God’s judgment. But Paul asks a simple question: was Abraham circumcised before or after he was declared righteous by God? The answer is that he was circumcised several years afterward (Gen. 15:6; 16:16; 17:1). In that case, reasons Paul, circumcision could not be the basis of Abraham’s righteousness!  It was not a saving work, but only a sign of the righteousness he already possessed through faith.
vv. 11-12   he is the father . . . This is Paul’s conclusion: Abraham is the spiritual "father" of all believers, both circumcised and uncircumcised.  Jewishness was always a matter of faith rather than circumcision (Rom. 2:28-29), so Abraham is the father of believing Jews.  But God declared him righteous prior to circumcision so that he might be the father of believing Gentiles as well.  
So. .for today’s fast fact. . 

Describe a Christmas tradition  that you remember as a child. .
and describe a favorite Christmas tradition that you have had during adulthood. .

One of the traditions that I remember from childhood. .
was baking peppernuts with our family. .
Peppernuts are little cookies that you have to buy the ingredients for, cause they are so weird that you likely don’t have them in your spice cabinet. .
I HATE peppernuts. .
there are a million other cookies I would rather eat. .
but there was just something about making them. .
as an assembly line of little kids. .
with the Perry Como Christmas record playing. .
and the silly dance moves that we made up to go along with it. .
that just can’t be erased from my memory!! I think my favorite tradition as an adult. .
is going to our little country church on a cold and dark Christmas eve. .
to listen to the Christmas story being read by a grandpa in a rocking chair. .
and singing Silent night in a century old church by candlelight. .
looking around at my brothers and sisters in Christ. .
reminded of the struggles each has been through in the last year. .
and how the glory of God just supersedes it all in that special moment as we celebrate the birth of our King!!  I also enjoy returning home to snack on a meal of junk food yummies. .
allowing the kids to open one gift. .
and then head back out to the car with mugs of hot chocolate to drive around town to see the Christmas lights! Christmas is a very magical and sentimental time of year. .
and I am so glad that. .
for the children of God. .
it means so much more than just the over-marketed commercialized holiday of a mythical Santa and tons of stuff we don’t need. .
it reminds us. .that we have a HOPE. .
an eternal hope. .
in the Savior, whose special and miraculous birth we remember and celebrate!!

I heard this song on the way home from work last night. .
and I thought it spoke so much about Romans 12 as Paul tells us to give our body as a LIVING sacrifice to God as our spiritual worship. .
Hope you have time to listen and read the lyrics this week. .
see what you think!! Lift my life up by Unspoken
Have a GREAT day!! Love Mel

Monday, December 16, 2013

Romans. .Week 3. .Assignment

One of the areas that I wanted to look at deeper. .
stemmed from Paul’s writing regarding the Israelites in chapter 9 and 11. .
We studied the Israelite nation a number of years ago now. .
particularly surrounding the Exodus from slavery into the Promised land. .
It was primarily a study on attitudes. .
by observing how the Israelites were sent by God to wander in the wilderness because of their own attitude problems. .
Interestingly. .I found this sermon written nearly 2 decades ago. .
that addressed exactly my questions from Romans 9-11. .
The author pulls in relevant information from several places in the Old Testament. .
tying it all together. .
It cleared up several things for me!! There were a few other things that really stuck out to me personally in those 2 chapters that I wanted to highlight for you too. .
God is SO detailed. .
I know we have mentioned in the past. .
that God knows how many hairs are on our heads. .
and that He has all of our tears in a bottle. .
but check in 11:4. .Paul reminds us that God told the prophet Elijah. .
that he wasn’t the only one left. .
there were 7000 others that had not bowed to the foot of another god (check it for yourself in 1 Kings 19. .verse 18 specifically. .but reading the whole chapter will really put it into perspective. .it’s a great passage!!)
He didn’t say many. .
or there are some still. .
He gave a DETAILED number of people that God had reserved for His purposes!!
Additionally. .
did anyone catch what Paul said in verse 11:25??
 He tells the Romans that some of the Israelites have hardened hearts. .
but ONLY until the full number of Gentiles. .c
ome to Christ!! Did you have ANY idea. .
that God is counting the number of people that are saved by their faith in Christ??
When that counter clicks THE number. .
the end of times will be imminent. .and some things will change immediately!!
The other thing that really just landed in my head. .
was from 11:7. .that most of the Israelites had NOT found favor with God. .
the same God that they WERE LOOKING for. .
they were actively pursuing God. .
they were working and seeking. .how??
 EARNESTLY. .these people were all about God. .
but they had NOT found favor. .why?
Because they were doing it their way. .
God had not chosen them to hear and see the truth. .
That is also the message from 10:2. .that they have ENTHUSIASM. .but misplaced. .
they do it their own way. . they CLING to their own way. .
and the only way to be right with God. .is to do it HIS way. .
I think that people claiming Christ as their Savior. .
should reassess themselves on a regular basis. .
to search their hearts. .
and be assured that they are still grounded in the truth of the word. .
that we don’t get boastful about what we do or ashamed of what we DON’T do. .
that we review whether we are being controlled by the Spirit of God. .
or our own spirit as we try to seek God in our OWN way. .
rather than the simple way He has asked us to seek eternal life!
And finally. .WHO can know the Lord’s thoughts??
Who knows enough to give Him advice 11:34??
There will be some things that we just can NOT understand. .
we can make them make sense to us. .
but concepts like why God chooses some. .
and allows others to continue wandering in the wilderness because He didn’t allow them to hear and see. .sometimes. .we just WON’T understand. .
until we stand face to face with Jesus on our last day. .
We should be able to understand the majority of things from the Bible. .
when we study by the Spirit of God that dwells within us. .
but I believe. .that there are a few things. .
that we will just have to agree to (if they are written in the bible) and resolve to not understand.
This has been such an interesting book so far I think. .
there is just SO much content. .
it could take us months to really get everything that Paul had in store for us!
The assignment this week. .
is to read through Romans with the intent of learning what God  wants from us. .
There is A LOT of orders coming down through the mouth of Paul. .
Again, as we did last week. .
narrow those orders down to which ones specifically affect you in your current season of life! Remember. .God wants us to put on the new creation and throw off the old. .
so, ladies. .
we SHOULD be making some changes in our lives based on what we are reading each week!!
And God should be pointing some things out to us each time we pick up His word. .
Pray before you read this week. .that He will search your heart. .
and renew your mind through His word!!
Enjoy your week!! The excerpt by Fred Zaspel is below. .
there is also a link to the entire source if you would like to check it out. .
Be sure that you have your bible open to Romans 9. .
you will want to read the scripture as he explains it. .
at least. .I wanted to read along!!
Written by Fred Zaspel
1. Jew/Gentile Relations in the Church

Beginning with his famous "to the Jew first" (1:16) and on through the remainder of the book, Paul seems intent (among other things, of course) on fostering a practical unity among the believers in the church at Rome -- which, I take it, consisted of both Jews and Gentiles. The Gospel may have gone to the Jew first, and there were reasons for this; but as Paul goes on to explain in detail (1:18-3:20), both divisions of humanity equally need it. Moreover (3:21-5:21), both receive its blessings in the same way -- by faith. And its privileges are equally enjoyed by both, apart from the law (6-8). Still more, this unity grounded in Christ is one that has very practical ramifications in the life of the church and demands an evident manifestation of humility toward each (14:1-15:13). Within this context chapters 9-11 fits very well. Its discussion of the purpose of God in redemptive history in regard to both Jews and Gentiles should foster humility and eliminate boasting on the part of both (11:16ff -- who has been set aside? Yet whose tree is it? etc.).

2. Theological and Soteriological Emphases

But there is more. Paul has been expounding the nature of Justification and its attending blessings (ch. 3-8). What is becoming painfully clear (to him particularly; 9:2-3; 10:1) is that Israel has begun to take back seat in the divine programme. Initially, Christianity consisted of almost exclusively Jewish believers. Then gradually there had become fewer and fewer, until now it was a dominantly Gentile affair. It would seem that if Paul's gospel were true -- that blessing comes by faith -- then Israel has lost out, and her promises have been annulled.

So, is God's promise to His people failing? Given Israel's present state of unbelief, we are left to wonder "what advantage" remains for the Jew (3:1). The answer to the problem is found in the divine initiative. God himself can and will work in behalf of His chosen people again and bring them into faith and so into their promised blessings.

Moreover, Paul has just expressed his firm confidence in God's decree of eternal salvation (ch.8). But if Israel fails, is God's decree at all certain? The promises to us are surely no greater than the promises to them! So again, there is this need of this which is often referred to as a theodicy: it is Paul's justification of God's dealings with humanity, a vindication of the righteousness and faithfulness of God.

Now I have jumped ahead of myself here just a bit, but you can see from this that chapters 9-11 form no parenthetical idea at all. They are part and parcel of Paul's argument. If nothing else, they serve to head off any potential objection as to the validity of his gospel.

Now then we come to a brief survey/exposition.


I. Explanations in Light of Israel's Failure

A. An Affirmation of Jewish Advantage (9:1-5)

We'll not take the time to analyze this entire section, but notice in passing that the privileges which were given to the nation of Israel are still her's -- "the adoption and the glory and the covenants," and so on (v.4). And they are said to have advantage on account of the patriarchs (v.5). The passage reads very much like 3:1-4, which describes the "advantage" that belongs to the Jew. Their advantage is precisely this, Paul says: their promises have never been revoked.

B. An Explanation of what part of Israel Receives the Blessings (9:6-29)

But if that is so, how do we account for Israel's present failure to receive the blessing? How and why is she in unbelief? Well, whatever answer we come to here, we may be sure that it is "not as though the word of God has taken no effect" (v.6a). His promise has not fallen to the ground.

So some clarification is needed, and this Paul gives in verse 6b: "For (gar) they are not all Israel who are of Israel." That is to say, God's blessings do not come automatically to anyone just because of physical descent. They do not come irrespective of faith.

And so we come to the exposition of the doctrine of election (vv.7-29). God demonstrated and exercised His sovereign elective rights with Isaac as over against Ishmael (vv.7-9) and with Jacob as over against Esau (vv.10-13). This is a divine prerogative which has been exercised from the outset, and it remains true. Nor is there any ground for objection; he is God (vv.14-16). And whether we speak in terms of God as over Pharaoh (vv.17-18) or of a potter as over his clay (vv.19-21), we must acknowledge that God is free to do as he wills in His creation and dispense blessing as he sees fit (vv.22-24).

But it is just this, divine sovereign election that offers Israel its only hope. As Hosea (vv.25-26) and Isaiah (vv.27-29) and so many of the prophets testify, it is by God's sovereign power that Israel will be brought back to the place of blessing. God will woo her, the adulterous wife, and in the end she will come back. God's sovereignty joined with steadfast love gives reason for Israel's hope.

C. Explanation of Israel's Failure to Obtain the Blessings (9:30-10:21)

But a question arises here: Why? Here we have Israel who had the law and who in a very real sense "pursued righteousness," yet they have not obtained it. And here are the Gentiles, who never did pursue any such righteousness, yet they now are obtaining it. How do we explain that?
Beginning with 9:30 and on through chapter 10 Paul expands on the idea of Israel's culpability. She is responsible for her own actions. Her problem is not that God has rejected her but that she has arrogantly sought her own righteousness (9:30ff). The very idea, Paul explains, that they could somehow enjoy the blessings of God by way of self-merit and apart from faith, is unthinkable. Nor is it that she could not have known better; the gospel was preached to her, and she rejected it (10:16ff). God waits all day long, yes, with open arms; but Israel remains stubborn (10:21).
Now follow Paul's argument here. He has established at least three points in regard to Israel: 1) There is yet an advantage to being "of Israel" -- the promises were to her specifically. 2) There never was any promise that every last member of Abraham's seed would enjoy the blessings. And 3) It is simply because of the unbelief of the large part of Israel today that they do not enjoy blessing. Her failure is due to her unbelief and rejection of Christ.

Next we come to deal with God's purposes for Israel more directly. This is the second step in Paul's argument.

II. An Analysis of Israel's Failure (11:1-24)

A. Israel's Failure is not total. (1-10)

After the strong indictment of Israel for her rebellion in spite of God's patience (10:21), the question naturally arises, "I say then (oun), has God cast away His people?" That is, this condition that characterized Israel in Isaiah's day persists in Paul's day; will this continue indefinitely? We might expect to read now that in fact God will indeed allow His people to persist in their rebellion forever; they deserve no better. But the apostle answers the question with a resounding No, "God forbid!" And for several compelling reasons.

1. The Character of God Demands it (v.1a)

The wording of the question in the Greek (me) suggests a negative answer, but it is not just the grammar. They are, after all, "His people." That kind of talk has necessary implications; and whatever else it may imply, Paul argues, it implies that no, He most certainly has not "cast them away." The very question harkens back to a host of promises designed to give just this assurance. For example, "The Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people" (1Sa.12:22). "For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance" (Psa.94:14).

Paul's exasperation at the thought is a well-grounded one. There is something singularly abhorrent about the thought of God casting off "His people." It would make Him a liar. God may well make certain kinds of changes along the way in the history of redemption (e.g., no longer blood sacrifices, temple worship, etc.), but the promises remain. They must remain, if God is true.

But there is more.

2. The Conversion of Paul Demonstrates it (v.1b)

Paul goes on to point out that he, the apostle to the Gentiles, was himself an Israelite. Given the Israelite that he was (the blaspheming persecutor of the church), his participation in grace establishes well the fact that God is not through with the nation. For him, this is a sample illustration of God's continuing mercy.

3. The Promise of a Remnant Proves it. (vv.2-10)

In fact, Paul goes on to explain, he is but one of a promised "remnant according to the election of grace." And yet while the majority of Israel has been judicially hardened, Paul joins David in a kind of "merciful prayer of imprecation," hoping that God's stern dealings with them will bring them to their senses.

In any case, Paul points out, Israel's failure is not total.

B. Israel's Failure is not final (vv.11-24)

Notice the question of verse 11a: "Have they stumbled that they should fall?" Again the construction suggests a negative answer, but there is more to the issue than grammar.

Answer #1 -- That is unthinkable. (v.11b)

"God forbid!" This idea too, Paul implies, would be blasphemous. It would prove God unfaithful to His covenanted word.

Answer #2 -- There is good reason for their temporary loss. (v.11c)

Their failure is designed in the plan of God to bring about Gentile ingathering. "Through their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles." And of course this is precisely the history of those early days of the apostolic mission. The first converts and churches were Jewish. But then there was the decision, "it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 18:6). This accords well with Jesus' words also: "Therefore the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Mat.21:43).

For a time it seemed that the flood of Divine blessings seemed all dammed up in Israel, but by their unbelief it has spilled over to the Gentiles. This, Paul argues, is precisely the divine design in redemptive history.

Answer #3 -- Gentile Ingathering will result in Jewish Regathering. (v.11c)

By a quotation of Deu.32:21, Moses' prophecy of Israel's fall and restoration, Paul establishes the final step in the divine programme of the ages. The fall of Israel was designed to bring about Gentile conversion. In turn, the conversion of the Gentiles is designed to "provoke Israel to jealousy," and so affect her restoration to faith.

Answer #4 -- Jewish regathering will result in World-wide Blessing. (vv.12, 15)

These verses form a kind of a kind of logical analysis of the entire scenario: if the fall of Israel meant blessing to the world, what should we expect from her restoration? The question is excitingly suggestive.

C. An Illustration (vv.16-24)

Here Paul employs the two analogies in order to illustrate his point in two directions. The first fruit and the root I take in connection with Abraham, the one through whom the blessing was promised. Perhaps it would be a bit more precise to say it is the Abrahamic covenant that is in view. In either case, it should be expected that if the first fruit and the root are holy, so will be the entire loaf and tree. Given the nation's "natural" connection to Abraham, it is to be expected that the she will not come to ultimate ruin. She will come again to the place of blessing. To use Paul's words, she will be "grafted in again" (v.23).
Along with this comes a warning directed primarily to the Gentiles, and it is one that enjoins both humility and perseverance. If these natural branches were cut off for unbelief, there is no room for boasting. Moreover, it is Israel's tree! The Gentile place of blessing is one of grace through faith; and just as no individual Israelite can lay claim to the blessings by reason of descent alone, so no Gentile can boast as though he has a personal right to be here.

But Paul concludes his illustration by emphasizing his point. "For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" That is to say, Israel's return to the place of blessing is not only possible, it is highly probable.

III. Conclusion: Israel's Blessing is Certain. (11:25-27)

All this is a "mystery" about which we should not be ignorant. Israel is not enjoying her blessing; it is the time of the Gentiles. That the Gentiles should enjoy the blessings apart from Israel is something the prophets never told us. But this "mystery" (i.e., previously unrevealed truth; secret) Paul now reveals. And he says this condition will not last forever, only "until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."

And here his argument reaches its climax. Up to now he has spoken primarily in terms of possibility and then probability. But now he says Israel's blessing is certain. Israel's blindness is merely "in part" and temporary. But that she will have her blessing is a matter of recorded prophecy (vv. 26-27).

This all is strikingly reminiscent of that famous story of the young boy in a London hospital who wanted to see the King. When the king came to visit, the boy didn't recognize him, because he wore no crown or kingly robes. Paul's picture of Israel here is something like that. Their long awaited King came, but he was not what they might have expected. He came in humility, in derision, and He was oppressed. And so they missed Him, and missing Him they missed all the promised blessings that He affords. But in that day when their "Deliverer comes out of Zion, He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (v.26), and this in keeping with covenanted promises (vv.27, 29). In the end, it sounds much like Zechariah, "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only child" (12:10). Or, in words of Isaiah, they will cry,
"He grew up before us as tender plant and as root out of dry ground. He had no form nor comeliness, and when we saw Him there was no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, and we hid as it were our faces from Him. He was despised and we esteemed Him not! Surely, He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed" (53:2-5).

In light of Paul's teaching here, it is not difficult at all to see these prophecies fulfilled finally in relation to their original and stated audience. They'll not miss Him then; this is precisely Paul's argument. Their fall is not final. And that is a matter of prophetic record.

IV. Summary (11:28-32)

Yes, Israel seems now to be our enemy so far as the gospel is concerned; and so she is (v.28a). But "as touching the election, she is beloved because of the patriarchs" (v.28b).

Conclusion (11:33-36)

Just this one thing remains to be said: What does all this make you think about God? Here he chose a specific man (Abraham) out of whom would come the nation of His choosing and blessing. Yet by leaving that nation for a time to its unbelief, He has brought blessing to us who deserve it even less. Yet by that he has determined to provoke "His people" back to faith and so bring about world-wide blessing. If this all strikes you as a great unfolding drama, then you have Paul's point. This is God's purpose in history.

And in all that is revealed a God whose sovereignty and wisdom and power and grace are all indescribably marvelous. God has indulged us, sinners, and has interrupted our mad rush to hell and determined to bring us to glory. That is all to His exhaustless praise (vv.33-36). What a wonderful God He is.