Feb 22, 2012

Wednesday SHINE....


Today's reading: Romans 7

Good morning, SHINE sisters!

My very good friend, Rebekah, will be guest-blogging today. My house is still in utter clutter after our little weekend get-away. Laundry is literally seeping through the cracks. (I wish I was kidding.)

So, I asked her yesterday, if she might could put something together for today.

Man, she's good. And quick.

Be blessed, girls.

back to my laundry,

jill


Romans 7
By Rebekah Vepraskas

Today’s reading in Romans 7, is by far, the most underlined and highlighted and written on chapter in my Bible.  I so need Romans 7.
So do you!!
Paul says a mouthful here, so grab your Bibles, read Romans 7 and buckle your seat belts, girls!
This passage is what I base my WHOLE ENTIRE relationship with Christ on… getting this (new to me) concept of sin, the law and Jesus, found in Romans 7, was essential to a new, wonderful Peace in my life.

Seriously!

You see, I was raised in an Independent (super strict) Baptist faith, followed by the Southern Baptist faith, my whole life.  Oh, I knew the law!!!  Slowly, from age 16, 17, 18ish—  I was losing my grip on all of the laws and commandments.  I was very convicted by sin, knowing the rights and wrongs of everything.  I got to the point where I chose not to let it bother me so much.  I couldn’t keep up, I was feeling 2nd rate at church and so I fled.

 Just after college, I was ready to get married and be “Connie Christian” again.  Why not?  It was time.  By God’s grace, one of the 1st sermons I heard was on Romans 7.  Which spoke to my exact weakness in the “law department.”  The reason I ran.  I realized I didn’t have to be “Connie Christian.”  I could just love Jesus, focusing on Him alone, let me explain.

In the Chapter before we learn that:
Sin = death and despair
Holiness = the reward of peace in Christ and eternal life.

So, this sets the scene for Romans 7, our passage today.
We want the forbidden.  Don’t we?  I do!  We have SUCH a tough time with rules and “laws.”
We wanted the fruit, (the apple)  Adam and Eve were tempted with, because it was off limits.  It is our way, as human beings, “wanting what we cannot have.”  Since then, our forbidden fruit comes in all shapes and sizes.

We want: blank ______, many times, because someone said no.

No diving allowed (oh man, I just love to dive.)
No swimming here (swimming here looks like fun!)
No parking (this is the PERFECT spot to park!)
Missing curfew (I only need 30 more minutes and everything would be perfect.)
Drinking to cope (I have to have a drink to unwind at night!!!)
Drugging to cope (No one will ever know.)
Defiling our bodies (I don’t care, I don’t care.)
Unfaithfulness to our spouse (I need to feel special again.)

This is how WE KNOW or we eventually learn that sin and boundary breaking leads to more regret.  We do the wrong thing a lot.  It feels good.  At least for a little while.

In Romans 7, the word sin is mentioned 14 times in the NIV version.  Paul speaks of sin as an “entity” or something that exists by itself. Sinful nature, sin and the law are often brewing in conflict inside us.  All of this has nothing to do with God.  It is basically satan taking advantage of our willingness, as humans, to do/consider doing the wrong thing.

Embarrassing Example:  My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years.  We have a strong relationship and we’re great friends. Recently, he bought us a car that he loves and it fits our family of 5. I mean, HE LOVES THIS CAR— washing it all of the time, armor-all-ing, vacuuming, loving it… this car means a lot to him.
 One day, I was backing out of an unfamiliar driveway, by myself, not long after we bought the car (we were on vacation).  I “took out” a whole section of rose bushes with his precious, beautiful car.  Scratches Galore!  Scratches everywhere! Oh dear, I thought, I can’t tell him.  I didn’t run back into the house. I ran away. I was on my way to drive for 1 hour to visit a friend for lunch and one hour back to the vacation spot.  During that time, I TOTALLY bought into the idea of making up a story.  Yep, I admit it.  I did.  This is not me. But, at the time, satan had me right where he wanted me. 
 We don’t lie to each other.  I am all about taking responsibility.  Yet, in that moment, satan had my attention with holding out the option of my man never knowing the truth. I felt desperate and scared and like I was 15 again. After exhaling all of the nonsense out of my brain, I prayed. God answered in my spirit, “Just tell him the truth. Make it simple because it is.”
 I finally, unwillingly, emailed him and said, “I scratched the car backing out of the driveway, I hit several bushes and the car is badly scratched.” There it was the truth, so simple and yet so hard to face for me.

What’s my point?  Well, what did my sinful nature and satan’s temptation to lie, have to do with God in that moment?  Nothing.  Was it God’s fault I goofed and was tempted to lie about it?  No.  The same as Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit.  …Right?

All of the sales jobs satan does with sin is apart from God.  I am just a pitiful human being who thinks of the wrong thing as an attractive option.

Since Adam and Eve, we want to feed the rebel in us.  We turn from God and blame Him for our hatred of laws and rules.

Back to that sermon that I loved about Romans 7 and the idea of sin in response to the law. In this message, I was so relieved to learn that sin has nothing to do with God; it is just my problem with the law.  The pastor said, “He gave this life to you, to overcome the power of sin.  Focus on your relationship with God, not the rules/law.”

Life with God is not about do’s and don’ts????  Really????  Fantastic!!

We can make ourselves miserable just focusing on the law.  Do we just give up on doing what is right?  Not at all.  We focus on loving God.  Giving every little thing to Him and loving Him completely.

 Luke 10:27: Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.’”

If we hang our faith in Christ on this principle, there is freedom and peace.  A life with Christ falls into place when we love Him with everything we are.

If the “no swimming “ sign was written differently, how would we feel?

“NO SWIMMING (sharks lurk)”

What about “NO SINNING (despair lurks)”

I want you to know that my husband was not happy about the scratches on the shiny car. Of course, he loved me anyway.  I knew he would, right?

Jesus is not happy about our mistakes, just the same, but He loved us so much that He literally gave His life to free us from those mistakes.  Let’s lock ourselves into that kind of grace, love and peace.  It is right there and Romans 7 is our proof.  <3

Love you girls, SHINE on!!