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The Family Business

Family BusinessHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Romans 2

SCRIPTURE
Romans 2:29, “No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people. (NLT)”

OBSERVATION
The book of Romans is Paul’s history of salvation. It’s the story of God’s purpose, plan and gift of deliverance for those who will have a right relationship with Him. It’s a story that began with the Jewish nation. Starting in Genesis people chose to reject God. We still do today. God has made himself and his desire for us clearly known but we have said, “No. I’d rather do things my way.”

Like a Father trying to re-establish a relationship with an estranged child by working through a mutual friend God chose the Jewish people to carry His message to the world. They were supposed to be a nation of priests and priest to the nations. He gave them His law, told them His story, asked them to share that story with the world and promised His blessing if they would. It was the family business passed down in the form of a covenant from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and throughout all the tribes of Israel. But the Jewish people were as rebellious as everyone else. They rejected God again. They rejected the family business. Their knowledge made them arrogant. They misused His word to claim they stood above the world rather than to offer salvation to the world. They became no better off than than the non-Jewish people who rejected God without His word. Worse, they led non-Jewish people to believe things about God that weren’t true because they misrepresented Him and the family business.

In Romans 2 God sets the record straight. He reminds the Jewish people why He chose them, not because they were righteous or worthy, but because He wanted them to tell the story of salvation to the world. He reminds everyone about the family business and brings the mission of that business into focus. He makes it clear that salvation isn’t a gift for Jews alone. The message, the family business, was the special gift to the Jews. Salvation is for everyone!

APPLICATION
I would paraphrase Romans 2:29 like this, “No, a true follower of God is one whose heart is right with God. And true salvation is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

As a Believer in Jesus Christ I’ve received the gift of salvation and inherited the family business. What story does my life tell about God’s work in me and through me? Is my faith defined by a narrowly focused list of rules? Has my knowledge of the Word, my participation in church and my desire to avoid ‘sin’ caused me to become arrogant? Do I measure my worth by the ‘good’ things I do? Is there a better way to measure? Do I represent God well? Am I living the mission of the family business?

Knowing and following God’s Word is important. Avoiding sin is a good thing, but there is more to a life of faith than the letter of the law. It is the Spirit at work in me and through me, sometimes even in spite of me, drawing me into a deeper relationship with God and significant relationships with others. It is me, living well, following God and involved in the lives of people. My interaction with people should encourage and challenge them to understand more of God and grow deeper in their faith. If they aren’t yet Believers my life and words should cause them to consider the value and validity of the message. Because of our relationship with one another they should see they are making a clear choice, to reject or receive the message. Whether or not they receive or reject Christ doesn’t have to break our relationship. On the contrary, it’s a significant part of the message for me to demonstrate that I (and God) love them regardless of their choice.

For Believers, my life should encourage and strengthen their faith. We should lean on one another in tough times, celebrate together in our successes and share our experience and knowledge of God as our faith grows deeper.

PRAYER
Heavenly Father,

Thank you for including me in the family business. Thank you for giving us your Word and for the kind way you have drawn me to yourself. Thank you for the people you’ve placed in my life who encourage, challenge and strengthen my faith. Increase my ‘relational bandwidth’ – give me the time, energy and attention to love people better, not just the ones who are already in my life, but the ones I have yet to meet and the ones I’m just starting to know. I pray that in all I do today I would I would represent You well.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad


There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?

The Story We Tell

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Here’s how this will work.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.


Here we go – Romans 1

SCRIPTURE
Romans 1:8, “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. (NLT)”

OBSERVATION
I’m thankful for those men and women who have lived an incredible example of faith and faithfulness. They are as different as night and day, their stories as unique as they are, yet they demonstrate a humble and uncommon confidence in every situation. My faith is stronger because of theirs.

Last week I spoke with a widow who was married 63 years before her husband passed away. I led a funeral service for a man who was a combat medic in WW2 and was married for 49 years. Their faithfulness challenges me and gives me an example to follow in my life and marriage.

Faithfulness gives us a front row seat to all the promises of God.

APPLICATION
What do people say about my faith? When they talk about me is my faith in God even part of the story? If everything about my life can be explained apart from the work of Jesus Christ in my life then my faith is too small. I believe God wants to do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me.

That’s how Believers in Rome lived. Their faith was spoken of all over the world. Something was happening in their lives and their church that could only be described as God at work. That’s the story I want my life to tell.

PRAYER
Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the examples of faithfulness you have given me through friends and family and through your Word. Bless the widows I was with last week. Encourage them today. Allow them to know your presence and comfort. Let them know the significance and influence of their faithfulness.

Increase my faith. Grow in me an uncommon confidence in you. Help me to recognize that every decision I make, every challenge I face, is an opportunity to strengthen my faith.

Let my life be so wrapped up in who you are that when people talk about me they can’t help but talk about you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad


There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?

Epic Stories; Epic Quotes

Shall we play a game?

Can you identify the epic stories these famous quotes come from? Extra credit if you can tell us who said it.

  1. “In a day and night of misfortune, Atlantis sank into the sea.”
  2. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”
  3. “Say hello to my little friend.”
  4. “My precious.”
  5. “How do you know she’s a witch?”
  6. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
  7. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
  8. “I’ll be back.”
  9. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If it’s money, I haven’t got any. What I do have is a particular set of skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. So you can let her go now and that’ll be the end of it. Otherwise, I will hunt you down. I will find you. And I will kill you.”
  10. “Go ahead, make my day.”
  11. “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and slip the dogs of war!”
  12. “I feel the need, the need for speed.”
  13. “Be the ball.”
  14. “Attitude reflects leadership.”
  15. “Toga! Toga! Toga!”
  16. “The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading. There is no parking in the white zone.”
  17. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  18. “You can’t handle the truth!”
  19. “There’s no place like home.”
  20. “It take a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

I’ll post the answers tomorrow, but I’m guessing some google-crazed player will be able to get them all! Use the comments section to play. BTW…there’s a hidden movie quote somewhere in this article. Can you find it?

While you consider these quotes let me make an observation and ask a question. I’m guessing some of these quotes you answered almost immediately. I wonder how much time you spent ‘memorizing’ those lines. Another guess, but I’ll bet you didn’t try at all. For one reason or another simply know. You never sat down and tried to memorize them. You didn’t make it your goal to remember who said, “Live long, and prosper.” But for some reason you do. I can tell you why.

It’s because of familiarity. You’ve heard it so many times and in so many ways, you just know it.

I believe familiarity is the key to Scripture memory. Something else I know for sure about the Bible – we can’t live it if we don’t know it.

It makes taking the time to know what it says and what it means critical to the story of our faith. You can’t live it, if you don’t know it.

Remember that verse that say, “God helps those who help themselves.” What about the verse that says, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”?

You may remember those words, but they’re not actually in the Bible – unless someone recently added the books of First & Second Opinions. You see, when we don’t know what the Bible says it’s hard to do what the Bible says. Worse, it’s easy for someone to trick us into thinking they know what the Bible says. It’s easy for us to be fooled into doing something we shouldn’t.

People make the best decisions they can based on the information available at the time. If only someone had taken the time to write down the wisdom of God so we could learn His thoughts, His ways, His intention for our lives. It would make the choices we face so muh easier.

Wait.

Someone did. You see my point. Knowing God’s will, doing God’s will starts with knowing God’s Word. Knowing His Word – memorizing it and understanding it – isn’t something for the brilliant only. It’s for anyone. It’s for you. You can memorize God’s Word. Memorization isn’t about ability. It’s about familiarity. How can you become more familiar with God’s Word today? What can you do to keep it in front of your eyes, fresh in your thoughts and an ever present help in times of trouble?

You can become familiar with God’s Word. Start with a plan to read it regularly. Write down those verses that seem particularly helpful to you. Review those words that encourage you or challenge you or cause you to think. Become familiar with what He says and the examples He gives. One day soon you’ll look back to discover you know things you didn’t know before. You’ll remember the words of faith that will guide you through times of decision and difficulty. You’ll find your decisions informed by God himself. And suddenly, when the time for difficult decision making finally comes, you’ll just know. You’ll know God’s way because you’ve memorized His Word, not because you’re brilliant or skilled, but because you’re familiar with what it says.

Your life will become the epic story filled with epic quotes inspired by God.

Maybe you could start with words like these —

“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

Where the Story Ends

Everyone loves a well told story. This weekend millions of people will spend even more millions of dollars at the movies. They’ll see comedies and tragedies, romance and thrillers. We’ll pay our $8, slip into the theater with a bucket of popcorn and an ocean of soda, sit back and relax as we’re introduced to characters who will face unimaginable circumstances and fight to overcome overwhelming odds. We’ll cheer for the hero and boo at the villain. We’ll cry with the heartbroken and laugh at the idiot. We do all this to be entertained. Sometimes, to be distracted. And often to be reminded that, as stressful as life may be, no one has shot at us lately. Nothing has exploded near us. We’ve not been stranded in a frozen wasteland, chased by undead monsters or forced to choose between our one true love and the family fortune. Real life may be stressful, but it’s not as tough as those poor saps we see on the big screen. I find that comforting. Well, comforting and maybe a little disappointing.

Every story follows a similar pattern. It’s a three act play.

  • Act 1 – Setup. We’re introduced to a new world and the characters that live in it.
  • Act 2 – Confrontation. Our hero falls into trouble that must be overcome.
  • Act 3 – Resolution. When all seems lost and against all odds, somehow our hero finds a way.

The setup allows us to identify with and like the main characters. The confrontation makes the story interesting and gives the characters a catalyst for growth. But the resolution…the resolution is why we watch in the first place. The resolution is how they fix things. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the villain going down in flames, getting his just rewards. It’s our hero’s happily-ever-after. We like to see how things turn out at the end and we like the end to turn out well.

Now imagine  if we ended the story early. Cinderella leaves her glass slipper. The magic fades. She returns to be a slave to her wicked step-mother, but the prince never comes. Luke Skywalker meets Obi Wan and decides he’d rather be a farmer than learn the ways of the force and fight with the Rebellion. I don’t think we’d remember the Titans if the players didn’t overcome their differences to win the championship game.

It reminds me of a simple truth. Happily-ever-after is about where the story ends.

Where are you in your story?

God is writing a masterpiece in you. It’s filled with tragedy, triumph, comedy and drama. It’s a story designed to grow your faith, shape your character, and draw you close to Him. It’s a story to be continued.

What chapter do you find yourself in right now? Don’t give up. This isn’t where the story ends.


“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14