The Apostle Paul begins this chapter by expressing his heart's desire and prayer that Israel would be saved. He attests that they are zealous for God, but they have no real knowledge of Him. I found that very interesting. How can someone have a zeal for God but no knowledge of Him? Why would you be zealous for someone you knew nothing about? Could their zeal be based on the fact that they were called God's chosen people? Was their enthusiasm more of national pride, like Americans are zealous for their flag, or Canadians are passionate about hockey? Was their zeal more of a "status" thing than an intimate knowledge of God?
Paul says in Romans 10:3 that the Israelites were ignorant of God's righteousness. How is that possible? They received the Ten Commandments from Moses. They had whole books in the Torah dedicated to God's requirements for righteous living. They had a huge Temple smack dab in the middle of Jerusalem, where they believed God resided in the Holy of Holies. How then were they ignorant of Him? Is it possible they had forsaken the commandment written only for them, that they MUST read their Torah and obey it (Leviticus 18:4-5; Deuteronomy 11:19)? Today, like many Christians, did they simply stop investing time in reading God's Word?
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
The above verses are just a tiny segment of what we have in Christ Jesus. The riches we have been given because we acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and our Saviour are astounding when you think that it was all done for one reason - God loved us. When it comes right down to it, there is no other reason why we have been granted these incredible gifts. Therefore, today I would like us to meditate on just a few of those gifts of love the Lord bestows on all who come to Him.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:
The above verse reminds me of how some people behave once they know Jesus as their Saviour. We are trying so hard to "get it right" and to not fail in our walk with God that we unintentionally assume an air of self-righteousness. We don't think we are superior to those who don't have a relationship with God. However, to those on the outside looking in, our striving to deny ourselves and follow Christ might give them the impression one has to be perfect to be able to approach God. They don't understand that we are sinners saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), and our desire to live a holy life comes only from our thankfulness at being saved in the first place. We want to please the Lord by ensuring we do not bring shame to His name. But sometimes, it has the reverse effect.
"Love bears all things, believes all things,
1 Corinthians 13 is probably the most well-known and well-used chapter in the Bible because of its subject matter - love. It is the "go-to" chapter for weddings, for it uniquely and perfectly describes the many facets of love. But to keep 1 Corinthians 13 in context, we need to look at the chapter before it, which talks about spiritual unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
It was this diversity that the Apostle Paul was addressing. He wanted people to realize that even though we are one body with many members, we have all been baptized by the same Spirit, so we should try to live in peace with each other. So speaking in tongues, or having the gifts of prophecy or faith, was not important if you didn't have love.
Paul eloquently reminds us that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. And when we look at Paul's description of love, we see the object of his affection right away.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
The above verse was one of the first verses I ever memorized as a new Christian, and it has stuck with me for close to forty years. But what does it mean to trust in God? How do we know when we hear from Him, and how do we step back from our desires and submit to Him alone? Surprisingly, the verse above gives us the answer.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The above verse is probably one of the most quoted verses when something terrible happens in our lives. I think every time I've had a death in my family, someone, somewhere, will quote this verse to me. It is meant as a form of comfort, of course, and people mean well when they say it, but how does it really apply to our lives? Do all bad things have a good purpose? Does God purposely cause all things to work out in a Christian's favour?
The verse immediately after Romans 8:28 gives the impression that God makes everything work out for the Christian, that He basically has preordained who would become His, thus enjoying His blessings. But is that what it really means?
I can do all things through Christ
What does it mean to have the power of Christ within you and available to you? What should that look like? Does it mean you can perform miracles as Jesus did? Should we be able to heal people or do extraordinary things in His name? How can it help us during a world wide pandemic? What does Philippians 4:13 mean when it says, "I can do all things through Christ?"
I believe in keeping the Scriptures in context because we can take a verse and make it mean something it wasn't intended to convey when we don't. So let's look at the verses that precede and follow Philippians 4:13.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.
© 2014 Laura J. Davis. All Rights Reserved.