Never a Power Outage

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15.13

Do you have a friend or spouse that knows you so well that it is funny, sometimes scary? They will finish your sentences or you can tell what they are thinking just by looking at them? It is a situation that is not common with everyone.

Just think how well your Creator knows you. He created your inner being and knit you together in your mother’s womb, Psalm 139.13. He knows you better than you know yourself. He understands what makes you tick!

If you believe in him, he is the God of hope that can fill you with all joy and peace. The more your faith in him grows, the more hope you will have, to the point that you will have an abundant supply.

I am thankful that I do not have to produce this hope on my own power. This abounding hope is powered by the Holy Spirit, whose power is unlimited. He will never suffer a power outage.

Do you believe in God? Does your hope and power come from him?

#risingjoy #Romans #power

Read For Hope

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. Romans 15.4

What encourages you? Is it a friend or a family member? Maybe it is a song or a favorite saying or verse. Is it that pod cast that you like to listen to every week?

Paul explained to the Romans that the purpose of the Scriptures was to teach. Everything that had been written before in the Old Testament was for our instruction.

In the Old Testament, you read about the creation and how this world came to exist. You read about Abraham and God’s promise to him and how it came to fulfillment. You read of Moses who lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. You read of the kings, both good and bad, that ruled Israel and Judah after the tribes were divided. You read of the prophets who kept calling a disobedient people back to God.

The New Testament tells of Jesus, his life, his death, and his return to life. His victory over evil. We read of God’s patience that will one day come to an end.

These things help you to endure, to realize that you are not alone, that others have gone through the same trials that you also face. That even though you stumble and fall, you can get back up, and keep going.

The scriptures give hope. Hope that you will continue to stand with your faith strongly anchored in Jesus, who is the author of salvation. God wants to talk to you. Will you listen?

#risingjoy #Romans #Bible

It Will Work Out

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8.28

Many people believe that if you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life, all of your problems will be solved and life will be smooth sailing from that point on. There exist religions in the world that teach that you can make a bargain with God and basically get what you want in terms of health and wealth.

This is far from the truth. Jesus taught in Matthew 7.14, that the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life. Few find it. Most people do not want difficult. In Matthew 7.21-23, Jesus taught that just calling him “Lord” is not enough. You have to obey the will of the Father. Many will say that they are doing many powerful deeds in his name. But, Jesus will answer with the sad statement that he never knew them. Obedience is a serious business.

The book of 1 Peter talks about the certainty of suffering in the Christian’s life. That suffering needs to be as a result of doing what is good and right, not because of consequences of sin in our lives. Peter wrote in 4.16 to not be ashamed if you suffer as a Christian, but glorify God that you bear such a name.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.12 that all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Persecution brings suffering.

The good news is that if we are called according to God’s purpose, all things will work together for good, Romans 8.28. That does not mean that bad things will not happen. However, we have the Spirit who helps us in our weakness interceding for us when we do not know how to pray, Romans 8.26. That, my friend, is a marvelous thing!

#risingjoy #Romans #good

Heaven’s Worth

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. Romans 8.18

Paul, the apostle, had suffered many things because of his preaching. The Jews made plans numerous times to have him killed. They did not agree with his acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. In the past, Paul had been where they were in their disbelief, traveling to imprison any one he could find that was following Jesus.

However, Paul was converted to the truth. He suffered many of the things that he had once been guilty of doing against the disciples of Jesus. He wrote to the Galatians that he had been crucified with Christ and no longer lived, but Christ lived in him, Galatians 2.20. He had crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, Galatians 5.24.

Paul placed his hope in the life to come. He awaited the crown of righteousness that was reserved for him and all who remain faithful until death, 2 Timothy 4.8. He believed that all the suffering that he had endured could not begin to compare with the glory to be revealed in heaven.

Heaven will be worth whatever the price that has to paid here on this earth. Pay the price. You will be glad that you did!

#risingjoy #Romans #heaven

Do right

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Romans 12.16-18

In the church, it has been said there are two levels: Christ, the head, and everyone else with the different talents they are to exercise. Being on the same level makes it much easier to understand that what you have materially does not make any difference, nor any other earthly assets that come into play.

Christians are to live in harmony with one another. They are to live in agreement. When writing to the Philippians, Paul wrote for them to be of one mind, having the same love, united in spirit, and having one purpose, Philippians 2.2. The same is true today.

In Romans 12.3, Paul wrote to not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. The Christian should not be conceited or have excessive appreciation of himself.

It is important to do what is right. Christians should never do what is considered evil in man’s eyes, and certainly not in God’s eyes. They should try their best to live in peace with all, unless called upon to do something that is against God’s will. Peter wrote that Christians should maintain good conduct among the non-Christians so that even though they speak badly of you, they will see your good deeds and glorify God, 1 Peter 2.12.

#risingjoy #Romans #right

What being a Christian means

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12.13-15

Love in action. The Christian is a person who is aware of what is going on around them. When they see another Christian who is in need, they contribute to helping them. They open their home to others in hospitality.

Being a Christian means that you will be persecuted. How you react to it is important. Paul emphasized that you should bless those who persecute you. Treat them in a kind manner. Do not return their actions with a curse.

The Christian is also sympathetic and understanding. You are willing to share in the happiness of others when good things occur in their lives. You rejoice with them in their triumphs and victories.

However, the opposite is also true. You share in carrying the burden of sadness when negative things happen. You pray for those who are not able, perhaps, at that moment to pray. Giving hugs of support can be of great encouragement.

Love in action. Be aware!

#risingjoy #Romans #Love

How to practice our faith

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Romans 12.9-10

In the first part of the book of Romans, Paul demonstrated that both Jews and Gentiles were in need of the gospel. Beginning with chapter 12, he explained how to practice our faith.

Paul wrote to the Romans regarding love and hypocrisy. In the Greek, the word for love in this verse is “agape”, which is love that is inclusive and selfless in its qualities. Christians should treat all men with this type of love, whether they are Christians or not.

Hypocrisy is a vice that is one of the worst for the Christian to be addicted. In Matthew 23, Jesus was vehement in his assessment of the experts of the law and the Pharisees. People have used hypocrisy, of others and their own, as an excuse to be disobedient to God. There will be consequences for their actions.

Christians are to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. The words “abhor” and “cling” are strong terms that at first would appear to be opposites. Charles Hodge, in his commentary on Romans, explains that they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot abhor evil without clinging to what is good.

Christians should be devoted to each other. The ties of the spiritual family of God should be stronger than that of our earthly family. Jesus taught in Matthew 10.37 that our love for him must come before our love for family.

Christians should honor one another. We should be alert to situations where we can encourage others and show respect to them. Lead the way in showing honor to others instead of waiting to receive the honor from others!

#risingjoy #Romans #love

I have a choice

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. Notice the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they – if they do not continue in their unbelief – will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. Romans 11.21-23

God has provided a solution to our problem. Sin is our problem. Romans 1.16 states that the gospel is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, both Jew and Gentile. The gospel is for everyone. However, belief is a necessary part.

God sent his son, Jesus, to die for us, John 3.16. He did this while we were still sinners, rebellious, and weak, Romans 5.6-10. God took the initiative. He made possible a way to return to him. We just have to hear and respond in a positive way.

People want to focus only on the kindness of God and his love. There is a balancing side to his kindness that is very clear in Romans 11.21-23. God is harsh to those who have fallen into sin and do not want to repent. For those who are repentant, there is the condition that I must continue in his kindness. I must be obedient.

Is it unfair? No, for I have a choice. I can decide if I want to obey or not. If I choose not to obey, there will be consequences to that decision. However, if my choice is obedience, I will have God’s blessing and favor. What will your choice be?

#risingjoy #Romans #choice

Easy to point our finger

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! Romans 2.3-5

It is so easy to point our finger at others, to criticize their actions and motives! It is always easier to see what someone else is doing wrong. Most of us would rather examine closely the lives of others rather than our own.

God is the one that is good, Luke 18.19. He blesses all men with rain and sun, Matthew 5.45. God is kind and patient because he wants all men to come to repentance, 2 Peter 3.9.

Man is not so kind. It is possible to condemn someone’s actions, while at the same time, practicing the same thing in one’s own life. In fact, many things that irritate us the most in the lives of others are things that we struggle with ourselves.

We must always be careful to allow God to be the judge. I will not escape his wrath if I continue to practice things that he has deemed as sinful. Let us weed out our stubbornness and repent with humble hearts. May we be able to say with Paul, 1 Corinthians 11.1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ”.

#risingjoy #Romans #kindness-of-God

Don’t over-estimate or under-estimate your value

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 553

August 12, 2020

DON’T OVER-ESTIMATE YOUR VALUE. DON’T UNDER-ESTIMATE IT EITHER.

I suppose nearly every preacher has found chapter 12, verse 2 of Paul’s letter to the Romans to be an ideal sermon text — its admonitory nature and value for edification are self-evident. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I particularly like the paraphrase of J. B. Phillips. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within. I heard someone say it this way: “Let God reshape you from the inside out.”

Taken in its own context it is an easy practical sermon, isn’t it? Verse 1 suggests that, if or since or because you have experienced and appreciate the mercy, goodness, and grace of the giving God you should give back in service to Him whatever you have and whatever you are. Verse 2 urges that you allow God to work in you, with you, and through you so that what you give and do will always be according to His will. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #romans, #self-evaluation

What we need

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15.13

Paul wrote to the Roman Christians that it was important for the strong to help bear with the failings of the weak. He cautioned against pleasing ourselves at the expense of others. We should do what we can to build one another up. He reminded them that even Christ did not please himself.

Romans 15.4 states that the scriptures have been written for our instruction. Through this message we receive what we need to persevere and endure, as well as hope. Paul recognized that the God of endurance and comfort could unite the weak and the strong in Christ, so that with one voice, they might glorify God.

He continued to encourage the Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, weak and strong, to receive one another as Christ had received the Gentiles. Then, in 15.13, Paul talked about the God of hope.

The God of hope is generous! For those who believe in him, Paul’s prayer was that they be filled with all joy and peace. It is a growth that occurs through our belief! Where does one get this belief? It comes from reading and studying the Bible. This joy and peace brings about a hope that abounds not through my strength, but the power of the Holy Spirit. Abundant life! Do you have it?

#risingjoy #Romans #hope

Convinced in their own mind

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14.7-9

There are areas in life in which we all have differing opinions. My opinion is as good as yours if not better. When there is no direct commandment regarding a subject, Paul tells the Romans to be convinced in their own mind and act accordingly, taking care not to offend one’s own conscience. Otherwise it would be sin. As well as allowing others to hold to their opinions without judgment on our part.

When we are a part of the body of Christ, our identity is tied to him. Jesus is the head of the body. We identify with him. We do not live or die for ourselves. We live or die for Jesus. We belong to him. He came to earth, lived, died, and was resurrected for that purpose, to provide the ransom that had to be paid for my sin-stained soul. I have the ability to die to sin and rise to walk a new life that is forgiven and redeemed. What joy and peace that brings!

#risingjoy #Romans #opinions

Jesus the sacrifice for me

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.6-8

God is the one who shows us what love is. Helpless. That is what I was. In my sinful state, I was helpless and weak. I think of a newborn baby. It is dependent upon those who care for it for everything. But unlike a newborn baby, I was not innocent. I was stained with sins. The sins that I had chosen to commit. God took the initiative. When I could do nothing to stand before him on my own merit, he took the initiative and sent Jesus to die for me. I was not righteous or even good. But even in my sinful state, he loved me enough to send Jesus to die as the sacrifice for me, in my place. God shows us what love truly is. That brings joy to the heart. May I be willing to share this love, sacrifice, and joy with others.

#risingjoy #Romans #sacrifice

Follow Jesus to death

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. Romans 6.4

Paul paints so clearly here in Romans what happens when we are baptized. First of all we are buried. Immersed. We are covered over with water. Also, one normally is not buried until the person has died. To what have I died? I have died to the sinful life where I followed mindlessly after my own passions and desires. In John 12.25 Jesus tells the crowd that was around him that the one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life. If we want to serve Jesus we have to follow him to death. I have to be willing to put him first and die to myself. Baptism is where it happens. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, I, too, am raised from the dead. Just as Christ was raised through the glory of the Father to live in the heavenly realm with a new body, I arise from the watery grave a new creature and through the glory of the Father I live a new life. A life that is not dictated by my passions and desires that so often lead to conflict and strife. A life that is lived to glorify the Father in all that I do. That relieves many a burden. That brings joy!

#risingjoy #Romans #life

A child of God by adoption

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8.14,15

Adoption. Being accepted into a family of which we were not originally a part. We know many families who have adopted children. Years ago, we had a woman who came from Europe to adopt a baby here. She stayed in our home for a month while waiting to get the proceedings finalized. The adoptive mother took care of the baby as if it were her own. Indeed, the child was finally legally made a part of her family. In Romans 8, Paul tells the Roman Christians that there is something we must do. We are under obligation to do it. We must put to death the deeds of the flesh in our bodies to be able to live. On my own, that is impossible. But I can do it with the Spirit of God working in me, changing me. If I am led by God’s Spirit, I am a child of God by adoption. I call him “Father.”

#risingjoy #Romans #adoption