BDBD is Romans 11

When I read verses on partially hard and controversial subjects like these verses I first remember core Christian beliefs. A core Christian belief is one that I have found in line with multiple Bible passages, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I am still learning what it means to believe in Jesus and his teaching, never stopping.
  A core Christian belief is that God is good, pure, holy, righteous, sovereign, and love. All that God therefore does is unavoidable good, holy, righteous, and love.
  A core Christian belief is that God created everything for himself. God created mankind for himself. God created mankind in his image; good, pure, holy, and righteous with self-will and love. God created mankind with the intent to have a close personal loving relationship with us forever.
   A core Christian belief is that God does not want anyone to break away from him. However, since love is reciprocal, and therefore he created mankind with free will, I and all humans can decide to accept or reject a loving relationship with God.
  A core Christian belief is that God does not reject mankind and he does not reject his people (1). Rather, mankind rejects God because we are all under the power of sin (Romans 9:3-18).
   A core Christian belief is that God chose Abraham and established a one-sided eternal covenant with him and his descendants, Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Israel). God called Israel his people. Most Israelites exercised their self-will by rejected God. However, in love, grace, and because of his covenant with Abraham God did not reject all his people (1-5).
   A core Christian belief is that God calls (elects) and forgives sin controlled people by grace, not by their works; meaning by what they do or don’t do (6). We do not seek God correctly (7). We seek him proudly, by works. Yet he shows grace to some and calls them.
   So then what of verses 8-10? Did God give Israel a spirit of stupor? Stupor is a state of near-unconsciousness or insensibility. Yes, he did. When they refused his repeated loving advancements their hearts were furthered hardened to him. Their self-righteousness works became an ever-tightening trap that they could not get out of in hopes that they would turn to God in humility and love.

BDBD is Romans 10

The good news is that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” and “anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Believe in the heart and say with my mouth (8). Believe, say (9). That is it.
   I have heard and read where people and groups have added to this. They say, “If you believe you will do this and that.” Jesus did say that his people will bear fruit. He meant fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. These are not actions, they are matters of the heart and mind.
   Sometimes I find that the weight of the troubles of this world brings me down. Jesus compared them to thorns that choke me. My thoughts and heart do not have the fruits of the Spirit. That is when I hear Jesus say, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John16:33)

BDBD is Romans 9

Romans chapter 9 is about God’s sovereignty, a subject that makes many uncomfortable and others angry. Why is it so hard to accept the reality that “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden?” (15, 18)
And why is the truth about God’s sovereign election disturbing? God’s election is that “before we are born or had done anything good or bad -in order that God’s purpose in election might stand- not by works but by him who calls” God chooses our entire life plan (11, 12, 23).
Perhaps the answer to these two questions is because we are not happy about something in our life. Perhaps it’s health, appearance, economics and wealth, occupation, social status, the neighborhood we live in, and the company we are forced to keep, or our families, parents, spouse, and siblings, or the death of a loved one. Perhaps it is all these.
When these happen we are disguised and angry; sad and dishearted. We say, “God’s choice for me is wrong, even evil. God is unjust.” (14) Isn’t this the reason we find it hard to accept God’s sovereignty and election? We are not happy. We do not have peace. We are restless and worry.
The problem isn’t God. The problem is my perspective. Why am I really dissatisfied? Does a change in external circumstances guarantee peace of heart and mind? Better yet, ask and answer the question, “How does one truly find contentment no matter the circumstances?”
Sure, I will rightfully work to make my life and others’ lives better, that is work in righteousness to take away and add for life improvement. Yet, the truth is “it does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (16).” And, “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy (18).” No one can resist God (19).
Therefore, I will fall down in reverent submission and seek his mercy. I will be like Hagar and Ishmael who sobbed and cried till the Lord came in mercy and opened her eyes to the well of water. (Gen. 21) I will be like Peter who wept bitterly until the Lord came and said, “Peace be with you. Do not be afraid. I am with you always to the very end of the age,” and then feed me and walk with me on a beach. (Matt. 26:75, Luke 24:38, John 20:21, 26)

BDBD is Romans 8:30-39

God’s purpose for me ends in glory (30), in receiving the whole world as a Garden of Eden in bliss and peace (31). This purpose can only be generated and maintained in love (31, 32). God predestined my glory to come. Being predestined means he planned my glorious future in eternal bliss even before I was conceived, even before the creation of the world.
The believers in Jesus whom Paul was writing to in Rome and in many other places had experience or were experiencing trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, and even faced death all day long (35-36).
During such life-draining events, I wonder if God really loves me. I ask the mostly unanswered question, “Why?” more specifically I am thinking, “Why me? Why this now? What have I done? How is this good for me? Is God against me?” So spins my thoughts in self-pity ruts. Yet are these questions really unanswered?
Here’s the great news. God does love me. He is not against me. God is for me (31). None of these life-draining events can separate me from God’s love (34). God always loves me, always.
Then I think, “Ok. God is good. He is love. So then something must be wrong on my end. I did something and now God doesn’t love me anymore.” No. Not even anything I do can separate me from the love of God. Sin has consequences. Yet these too are God’s love.
Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Paul wrote those experiencing life-draining events, “I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

BDBD is Romans 8:18-30

Are verses 18 and 28 in conflict with each other?
   “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” (18) Consider, “present sufferings”.
   “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.” (28) Consider, “God works for the good.”
   Does “present sufferings” and “God works for the good” conflict? No. So then I can conclude that my present sufferings are a part of God’s work for my good. “All things” includes suffering.
   How? The answer to that question is in verses 23 thru 25. “We who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
  Therein lies God’s plan for my good within sufferings. My present sufferings produce hope. This hope saves me. Faith, hope, and love save (1 Cor. 13:13) I will be liberated from this body of decay all because I hope in suffering (21).
   Does this mean my whole life in Christ will contain sufferings? Maybe. Yet, if my mindset is correct, even the sufferings don’t have their ill effects as much as they could, not if I hold onto hope. More than that,  the Spirit helps in my weakness as I pray (26, 27).

BDBD is Romans 8:1-17

Jesus has done so much for me. These verses mention some mighty great things.
1) I have no condition (1)
2) the law of the Spirit gives me life (2)
3) the law of the Spirit set me free from the law of sin and death (2)
4) God sent his Son for me (3)
5) Jesus is a sin offering for me (3)
6) The Spirit gives life to me (11)
7) I am a child of God (14)
8) I am not a slave living in fear (15)
9) I am an adopted son (15)
10) I am an heir of God and co-heir with Christ (17)
11) I share in Christ’s suffering and glory (17)

BDBD is Romans 7:7-25

Law defined in the Bible is that which is. Law is a reality or set of realities. Law is the state of existence of that which God created and designed. Law is every aspect of creation as it is meant to be and as it interacts within itself.
The law of gravity states that a force in mass enables matter to attract itself to other matter. Simply put matter naturally always wants to hug other matter. An illustration of gravity is the mass of my body is attracted to the mass of the earth. So gravity ensures that my body remains attached to the earth.
Several laws of thermodynamics also exist. The laws of thermodynamics are a group of physical quantities of matter such as temperature, energy, and entropy. Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. Temperature is the manifestation of thermal energy present in all matter. Temperature is the source of the occurrence of heat, the flow of energy from matter to matter. An illustration of temperature is when I reach out my hand and touch a hot fire. The energy that flows from the fire to me is the transfer of heat from the fire to my hand.
Gravity and temperature are laws of matter. Laws exist for other things that God created. Laws exist in regards to human existence. Paul writes in these verses about the laws of human existence.
Paul writes about the law of sin. The law of sin is as much a part of human existence as gravity and temperature are a part of the existence of matter.
The law of sin is a powerful force in all humans (8). The force called sin lies dormant in all humans (9). All humans are slaves to sin (14) meaning we cannot resist nor stop the power of sin (17). Stopping the force of sin is as impossible as stopping a speeding train by standing in the middle of its tracks with only brute human physical strength.
The power of sin is released by God’s written and spoken law. God’s written and spoken law concern our interactions with God and other people (9). The 10 commandments are a part of the laws of human interaction. In other words, God’s written laws in the Bible are statements of facts of human existence as God created and designed. Law, as defined in this way, can be written and-or spoken. God’s laws naturally release the power of sin in all humans.
Another law in regards to human existence is the power of death (10-11, 13). The law of death is a powerful force in all humans. According to these verses, the power of death is released by the power of sin.
Thus, a chain reaction exists in all humans. God’s written and spoken laws regarding our interactions with others release the power of sin and sin releases the power of death. This chain reaction is unavoidable and always happens.
Another law in regards to humans’ existence is that we are made in the image of God. God’s character is good. Therefore, we are made with a good character (18). Good is a force, the expression and manifestation of God’s character. The good character in all humans strives to be good as God is good and we delight in doing good (22). Doing good can be felt by all.
So all humans exist with two opposing forces in our bodies (25b). We have the force of sin and we have the force of good in our bodies. “Although (we) want to do good, (sin) is right there with (us). For in (our) inner being (we) delight in God’s law; but (we experience) another law at work in (us), waging war against the law of (our) minds and making (us) a prisoner of the law of sin at work within (us).” (23) That is why and how all die.
Who can rescue a body destined to die? Jesus can (24-25).

BDBD is Romans 7:1-6

There is a law for everything, and everything has a law. Marriage is no exception. According to all societies, marriage is bound by law. That is not romantic. Yet, it is true. Marriage law in most cultures states something like this, “The married couple is bound to each other exclusively as long as both are alive.” (2)
   Another law says, “You shall not commit adultery.” (3, Ex. 20:14, Du. 5:18) Another law says, ” You shall not covenant your neighbor’s wife.” (Ex. 20:17) Another law says, “If anyone looks at another lustfully they have already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) Other laws exist about marriage and adultery. Probably more laws exist on marriage than any other subject in the Bible.
   Genesis 2:24 is God’s ultimate statement about the union between a man and a woman. It is not a law, it’s a reality. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Naturally based on this statement, when the flesh dies the bind breaks. When one dies they are released from marriage laws (3).
   Paul uses marriage laws to make his point. God binds his people to Christ when they first believe. That union is like the union between a married man and woman. Jesus is betrothed to the church like the bond of marriage. I am a part of his congregation. I am bound to Christ forever.
  When Jesus died on the cross his binding to the law was broken. Since his bride is bound to him we too are no longer bound to the law (4). When Jesus died his bride remained bound to Jesus. We were buried with him. When he rose from the dead, we rose with him. The resurrected Jesus is not bound to the law. So neither am I bound to the law (6).
   The resurrected couple, Jesus and the church, serve God in a new way, the way of the Spirit (6). The law means nothing to Jesus and his bride. We died and rose with Christ in order that we might bear fruit for God just as a wife bears children for her husband (4). Am I pregnant for God?

BDBD is Romans 6:12-23

Paul compares two moral lifestyles with the analogy of slavery. Bob Dylan’s 1979 song “Gotta Serve Somebody” comes to mind when I read these verses. John Lennon’s response song “Serve Yourself” is comical in the light of the truth that in the heart everyone is either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. So serving myself is not the command I give myself, it’s how do I want to serve who?
Paul’s point here is that every Christian has one of two chooses to make. “Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” (19b)
A slave to righteousness does right to others and self. A slave to righteousness obeys from the heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed my allegiance (17). A slave to righteousness says no to sin.
Being a slave to righteousness does not mean that I give up my rights. Rather, I use my right to make a good choice. Being a slave to righteousness is not drudgery, it is freedom from that which destroys (21). Being a slave to righteousness means I chose eternal life (22). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (22)

BDBD is Romans 6:1-14

  I can and do live a new life in Christ (4). It is possible to change. It is possible to stop old bad habits; thoughts and actions. It is possible to form new good habits in Christ.
   Some changes seemed daunting, ruled by the power of sin (6). Yet, the Spirit binds me to Christ and his power (5). He is the power to induce and sustain change. He has the power of life and death in me (7). Death to sin. Life to joy and peace.
   Change is lifelong. Every day the old sinful self is in me. Somedays the old self is buried deep, far from taking hold of me. Other days the old self is right there ready to take control, ready to start havoc. I can feel its power breathing on my neck. Yet, in Christ, I can count myself dead to sin and alive to God (11).
   Sin in me induces thoughts and ignites my heart. Christ in me also induces thoughts and ignites my heart. I decide. I have been given the power to say, “No. You cannot rule me today (11-12). At this moment I will not give in to that thought. I will quench the spark. I will not stay here in the rut of this thought. Sin will not be my master (14). I will not be a slave to sin (6).” I replace the bad thought with a good thought, a happy rut. I open my heart to the Spirit of Christ.

BDBD Is Romans 5:12-21

   Paul compares the result of Adam’s action to Jesus’s action. I want to list just what Jesus did.
   1. Jesus brings a gift to many (15, 16).
   2. Jesus brings God’s grace to many (15).
   3. Jesus brings justification to many (16).
   4. We receive God’s abundant provision of grace through Jesus (17).
   5. We receive God’s gift of righteousness through Jesus (17).
   6. Those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through Jesus (17).
   7. Jesus’s one righteous act brings justification for all people (18).
   8. Jesus’s one righteous act brings life for all people (18).
   9. Jesus’s obedience will make many righteous (19).
   10. Through Jesus Christ my Lord’s grace reigns through righteousness to bring eternal life (20).

BDBD is Romans 5:1-11

I have felt helpless at various times in my life. Helplessness is the awareness that as much as I want to do something to change something I cannot. It’s realizing that I cannot help the circumstances to proceed to change for the better. Rather, things are either fixed in the current mess or will get worse, and there is nothing I can do about it.
The truth of helplessness is not a matter of perspective nor mindset. It’s a reality. Helplessness is when I reach a point of no return. An event is in the past and cannot be undone and the consequences will happen.
People who believe in the power of positive thinking will never accept nor acknowledge that at times all can and do reach a point of helplessness with something. One such reality is the helplessness brought about when a sin is committed.
Paul wrote, “You see, at the right time, when we were still powerless…” (6a) Other translations have the word “helpless”. Once a sin is committed in either mind or action I cannot undo it. Nor can I stop all the consequences of that sin from happening especially the internal consequences.
I am helpless to get rid of my sin and its consequences. The main consequence is that I lose a relationship with God from then on. There is nothing I could do to change the broken relationship with God when I sin. I am helpless in sin.
However, what is impossible for man is possible for God. “You see, at the right time, when we were still powerless (helpless in sin), Christ died for the ungodly.” (6) Jesus allowed himself to be crucified (8). His blood completely drained from his body (9). His selfless act took away the sin that I commit. Through Jesus, I have now been reconciled to God (11). The human helpless condition was helped by God.
I am helpless in sin, but I am never without hope in Christ (2, 5) “And hope does not put me to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to me.”

BDBD is Romans 4

David, the 2nd king of Israel, lived 1,000 years before Paul, the writer of the letter to the Romans. Abraham lived 2,000 years before Paul. Paul said in this chapter that Abraham, David, and he have several things in common in regards to their relationship with God. The most important thing they had in common is that they had faith in God in the most impossible life circumstances, though under different life situations.
Abraham wanted to be the father of a son more than anything else. When he was 75 years old God promised him that he would not only have one son, but he would be the father of many nations (Gen. 12). Abraham believed the Lord God enough to obey him.
Many years later Abraham was afraid and depressed because he still hadn’t had a son and his nephew left him. The Lord God visited him and restated his promise to Abraham. “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Abraham had faith in God when it didn’t make any human sense.
The Lord God anointed David to be the second king of Israel when he was only a shepherd boy. After a hard life, David eventually became king many years later (2 Sam. 5, 1 Chron. 11).
When David was past middle age he committed adultery with one of his trusted soldier’s wives. David then tried to cover up this sin by secretly arranging the death of his trusted soldier (2 Sam 11). These 2 sins conducted in secret burned David’s conscience (Ps. 32:3-4).
When the prophet Nathan confronted David about these sins David knew he deserved death, confessed his sin, and awaiting sure punishment (2 Sam. 12). Amazingly, the Lord forgave David and David believed him (2 Sam. 12). David then proclaimed, “What a blessing when God forgives our sins and our evil deeds. What a blessing when the Lord erases our sins from his book.” (Psalm 32:1-2, 7-8). David had faith in God when it didn’t make any human sense.
The Lord God has made me promises in his word. In regard to these promises, my life contains the most impossible life circumstances that seem to counter the Lord God’s promises. Yet, like David, Abraham, and Paul I believe “the promises come by faith so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. (16)” I believe the words “it was credited to him” were written not for Abraham alone, but also for me, to whom God will credit righteousness—for I believe in him who raised Jesus the Lord from the dead. (23, 24). I believe all his promises will be fulfilled even though life circumstances say they cannot.

BDBD is Romans 3:21-31

Most people want something better for themselves. If given choices to improve life or make it worse most would choose to make their life better. One way to make life better is to make a decision and then act on that decision. Improving life in this way takes effort. Self-improvements and hard effort usually go hand-in-hand.
   All but one religious belief, including the Old Testament laws, applies this understanding to their philosophies on God and eternal life in Paradise. They assume that since God made the work-improvement principle active in this world, then it must apply to going to the next better world.  They declare that good works mean a better life to come in Paradise, and bad acts keep us from it.
   However, there is another way to improve life. The other way is receiving gifts. If a rich, powerful, and kind person were to give a desolate a fully paid home and food for the rest of their life then the desolate’s life would improve.  A price would need to be paid for this to happen. The price would be paid by the rich person. Also, the desolate would need to believe and accept the gift for this to happen.
   One religious belief, Christianity, states that God establishes this principle in regards to eternal life in Paradise. Jesus taught that righteousness is given freely by faith in him (22, 24). The price he paid was with his blood and his life (25). Jesus is the rich man that gives the better eternal life freely. Jesus paid the price. Christianity is based on the belief that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law (28). I believe and accept that gift.

BDBD is Romans 3:1-20

  Paul addresses some foolish arguments about God’s character and mankind’s character in verses 1 thru 8. His main point is that God is true and righteous while every human being is a liar and unrighteous. God’s judgment is just.
   Verses 9 thru 20 reveal the truth that all are under the power of sin. Paul quotes at least 8 Old Testament verses to prove and back up his point. No one can and no one will be able to say otherwise before God. Everyone will be held accountable to God, meaning all are guilty (19-20). No one will be declared righteous in God’s judgment by keeping and living by the Law even though the Law came from God with a promise of eternal life.
   For the last few days, I have been watching documentaries, speeches, and podcasts concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish community at Qumran that are known as the Essenes. The last time I read books about them was around twenty years ago. The new scroll fragments found earlier this year ignited my new interest. I was happy to hear the latest information and speculations about life in that ancient secluded Jewish religious group.
  The Qumran community consisted of mostly men. They formed around 150 BC and continued until 70 AD when Rome destroyed their community and killed their members. The community was formed by people who evacuated the politically corrupt Jerusalem temple priesthood and false religious social politicians. Basically, they were Jewish monks.
   What about the Qumran community and people like them that dedicate their lives to God, the pursuit of purity, the search of God’s will, and have a deep desire to live in that will? Are they just as guilty as me?  Yes, according to the Old and New Testaments all are unrighteous and guilty before the righteous God.
   One thing that amazes me about the Qumran community is that although they knew from Scriptures that the Messiah was coming soon it appears most of them did not recognize nor accept him despite the testimonies of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1), Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38), and John the Baptist (Matt. 3, Mark 1:1-12, Luke 3:1-23, John 1:6, 10-36). Also, none of the 12 apostles appear to have been from the Essenes.
   I only see this as further evidence that God is true and we are not unless God makes me true. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. (10-11)”  I am totally at the mercy of God’s grace.

BDBD is Romans 2:17-29

I am not a Jew. Yet I have believed that Jesus is the Messiah and have been actively living within that belief for so long that this passage is relevant to me (28).
    I do not rely on the law for establishing and maintaining an eternal relationship with God because I know and accept my weaknesses, failures, and sins. Stated another way, I want to do what is best and avoid what is not, yet no matter how much I do so I have accepted the scriptural truth that as long as I am in the flesh part of me cannot get it absolutely right all the time.
   Do I somewhere in me still rely on anything other than God’s grace and mercy in my relationship with Jesus, an eternal home with him in Paradise, and being forever in his loves ecstasy? You see, herein lies a weakness of mine; self-righteousness and pride (23). This is one way I cannot get it right all the time.
   I want God to praise me (29). I want to hear the, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. Come share your master’s happiness.” (Matt. 25:21) Yet, in truth all I really can say is, “I am an unworthy servant. I have only done my duty.” (Luke 17:10) If my heart has even a hint of self-righteous pride, then I need grace all the more. I need circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit (28).

BDBD is Romans 2:1-16

Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil is the ability to know, determine, execute, and experience judgement. This is the human conscience (15). However, human knowledge and conscience are usually distorted by something else obtained from Adam, the driving force to avoid good (aka sin). Sin damages and distorted the conscience.
   The knowledge of good and evil has side effects. The ability to judge can be good when it is focused on reviewing my motives and thoughts before God with a desire to change and be changed. The ability to judge is not good when I focused my judgement on someone else. Judging others is a side effect of the conscience.
   When I pass judgement on others I pass judgement on myself for I do the same thing (1). I may say, “I never murdered. Therefore, I am right in the judgement of others.” Yet Jesus taught whoever is angry and hates is guilty of murder (Matt 5:22). So I cannot and should not judge a murderer.
    I may say, “I never committed adultery. Therefore, I am right in the judgement of others.” Yet, Jesus said that anyone who looks at another with lust has committed adultery in the heart (Matt. 5:28). So I cannot and should not judge an adulterous.
   Jesus’s point is that sin is born in and comes out of the heart (3, 12). I cannot judge others because every sin possible resides as a seed in my heart.
   Because the seed of all sin is in the heart the Law was given. The Law is consciousness in written form (14, 15). Written words do not change. Therefore, the written consciousness, the Law acts as a judge (12, 13).
   A good conscience will live by the Law (7). The Law kept perfectly, never been broken in heart or thought will be rewarded (7, 13). Break one law and the laws will condemn (8, 12).
   Recognizing these truths of the nature of human existence is the beginning of wisdom. Fear is the beginning of wisdom. Accepting these verses as the definition of my nature is the beginning of wisdom. The end of wisdom is love and forgiveness.

BDBD is Romans 1:18-32

My human nature wants me to think of other people and not myself when I read these verses. In part, it is because Paul is writing about sinful wicked people, stupid people, and people whom God is angry with (18, 22). I don’t want to be known as one of those people. I am ashamed of those things. I was afraid of this truth and so I avoided it.
    And in part, it’s because the passage is using the third person pronouns “them”, “their”, and “they”. Yet, at one time in the past, I was all these things. I was a “they”. Do I do some of the things in these verses even today? Am I still a “they”?
    In the past, I rejected the obvious nature and power of God (20). I made up what I wanted to believe. I did not make an idol out of wood, metal, glass, rock, and other created inanimate materials and minerals. Instead, I made an idol in my mind. I believed what I wanted God to be like and that image was like me (23). I made lies about God and I believed my own lies. I didn’t honor God nor thank him (21). I didn’t worship the glorious and eternal God (23). I made my false perfect idea of the me-god.
   God let my mind’s lies rule me (24, 28). I did foolish things. I said foolish things. I looked at foolish things. I lead others to do foolish things. I celebrated others who did them.
   I was stupid. Now I want to glorify God and thank him for all things. I remember my state: past, present, and future. I ask him not to let me be stupid by thinking stupid, saying stupid, and doing stupid.

BDBD is Romans 1:1-17

   Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome in 56 AD at the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:2-38). He was probably in Corinth or possibly in Troas when he wrote it. Jesus’s believers in Rome had put their faith in Jesus as early as Peter’s speech at Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). Priscilla and Aquila were from Pontus and Rome (Acts 18:2).
   Paul very much wanted to go to Rome. He had never been to Rome (10-13). Yet things like Caesar’s law forbidding Jews in Rome, troubles in other congregations, and the Holy Spirit had not directed him to go there kept Paul away.
   Paul’s intent in going to Rome was the same as everywhere he went. He wanted to obey Jesus’s personal mandate to preach the good news (1, 13b). Paul intent was for the Romans to obey God and experience faith (5), to share the same blessings that God’s Spirit had given him (11) so they will grow stronger in faith, and so that they and he can encourage each other by the faith that we have (12).
   God accepts everyone who has faith (16-17). Nothing else compels God to accept us. My skin color, my heritage, my social status, my occupation, my ancestors, my gender, my age, my past, my obedience and innocence, my sin and guilt, my honor or shame, my intelligence, my age, my occupation or lack thereof, my wealth or lack thereof, my place of residence, my stature and shape, my health, my attire, my personality, nor anything else compels the Lord God Almighty from accepting and saving me. God is only impressed and looking for faith.
   Therefore, I accept and anticipate that God will test my faith in him. Everyone’s faith is tested to see if I am genuine or not. God loves me and has chosen me to be among his people (7). With his people, I am tested and refined. I am strengthened and encouraged when I stay in him. Even if I fail the test he is always with me and helps me as a good Father does.

BDBD is Acts 20:13-38

  Paul’s speech to the elders of Ephesus has much to think about.  I am looking at two items. First, verses 22 and 23, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing… the Holy Spirit warns me…”
  Compelled means force or oblige someone to do something. Much of the time I envision the Holy Spirit as a gentle dove in a stream of light that shines from heaven. Yet here the Spirit is forcing Paul to steadfast move to an unknown harm while warning Paul in every city that prison and hardship are facing him in Jerusalem. It seems to me Paul didn’t want to go. The Spirit forced him to go. Who can resist the will for God? In a way the warning was to prepare Paul’s heart and mind, instead of comfort him.
   I so want the Spirit to compelled my every move. It takes away my need for decision. So that makes my motive impure.
   The truth is being compelled by the Spirit naturally means He is forcing me to where I do not want to go.  I don’t remember if the Holy Spirit has ever compelled me in the past. Now the thought of Spirit compulsion is frightening.
   Secondly, Paul tells them that internal and external wolves were going to enter the flock (29-31). Jesus taught many times that his people are like sheep; weak, vulnerable, unaware of dangers, fearful, and unintelligent.  Wolves are strong, resistant, aware, bold, and cunning. They kill, steal, and maim. They only want to draw in disciples that will serve them.
   Paul’s direction was to warn them and commit them to God and to the word of his grace (32). Jesus taught that his word is life.  His word is spiritual food. His word is daily bread. His word is a defense against the wolves.

BDBD is Acts 20:1-16

  Paul is in the final weeks of his 3rd missionary journey. It is 56 AD. He had just finished a traveling zigzag sweep through Macedonia and Greece (1-3) in the west where he penned 1 and 2nd Corinthians.  He was about to write the Roman congregations who were even farther west because he could not go there even though he wanted to.
   Paul was teaching and encouraging the congregations as he traveled southeast. Paul founded most of these congregations on earlier mission trips. He was also collecting a charity gift for the Judea congregations who were going through hard times. Hence the need for a large number of men on this trip (4).
   Paul spent 7 days in Troas, a large city on the farthest west part of the Roman providence Mysia and the Asia continent. Troas had a large Mediterranean port. Paul had gone through Troas much earlier (16:8). God was using Paul’s eagerness to serve him to grow the church.  I am benefitted from this work. I wonder how God will use the small things I do today for him.
  While speaking late into the Sunday evening a young man, Eutychus fell to his death. Paul, not bringing attention to himself was used to bring the young man’s body back to life. I find Paul’s words interesting,  “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.”
  Eutychus’ body had ceased to function, it was dead. However, the man’s life was still in the physical body.  Life is connected to the physical body, and yet my life is not dependant on my physical body. Whenever my body will die, my life will not cease. My soul and spirit will continue.
    I have seen many dead bodies all cleaned up in caskets. Without life, a body looks different than when it is full of life no matter how good the mortician. It is clear to me, the physical body is not the sole nor main essence of life.
   I was standing at the bed when my mother’s body died.  My father, siblings, aunts, and uncles were called, gathered, and stood at her bedside during her last hours in her body. Her breathing steadily slowed and her eyes remained closed for several hours.
   Then suddenly she opened her eyes. Someone said, “She’s got her second eyesight.” Those who were not standing around the bed gathered. Her head moved, but her eyes did not nor did they blink. She slowly gazed at all of us as if someone was steadily moving her head. Her moving head only stopped at my father. Then she closed her eyes and stopped breathing. Someone said, “She passed.”
   All left the room, yet I remained.  Every once in a while her body would take a deep breath. The nurses entered the room to take care of the body. I said, “She still occasionally takes a deep breath.” They said, “That is an automatic physical response. She is not here.”
   I looked at my mother’s body continuance.  They were correct.  She looked different than a few minutes ago than her whole life. The body functioned.  Her soul and spirit had left. Just the body remained. I left the room.
   Life is connected to the physical body, and yet life is not dependant on the physical body. Whenever a body will die, life does not cease. The soul and spirit continue.

set

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 13

Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” How can I examine and test myself?
   Self-examination can be a foreign idea to many even though Jesus taught that prayer and meditation are important. The idea of it certainly was for me in the early days of my relationship with Jesus. Though the idea of self-examination was new to me when I first came to believe in Jesus, I now see that the human mind is examining self motives and state of being all the time. The results vary depending on my spiritual health and relationship with Jesus.
   A difference exists between self-examination in Christ and self-examination in the flesh (outside of Christ). When I allow it and I am in the right mindset the Holy Spirit will reveal to me my heart, motives, will, and mind for good change.
   Several years ago I discovered the Christian Examin meditation that is believed to originate from the apostles and the Benedicts. It is based on the truth that Christ is in me all the time and always active in me and my life. I have found Examin important in my spiritual walk with Jesus.
   The Examin contains 5 simple steps that are similar to these. They can be modified a little to your personality. 1 Have a heart of gratitude, examining and thanking God for specific things that he did in the last 24 hours. 2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what he was doing in my life and character for the last 24 hours. 3. Think about all that I said and did in the last 24 hours, examining what motivated me to say and do those things. 4. Ask the Holy Spirit to forgive me where needed, change my character where needed, and help me change behavior where needed, and make amends where needed and is appropriate. 5. Thank the Holy Spirit for all he will do for and in me in the next 24 hours and help me see, understand, and accept it.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 12

  God protected Paul from the pit of conceit (7). Conceit is a word not in much use these days probably because conceit, vanity, and pride are considered at best normal and at worse good mindsets. However, conceit ignores some blatant truths about the human condition, that is my state of being. When self truths are not accepted, I miss out on God performing character improvements and gaining peace of mind and heart.
   Conceit, vanity, and pride ignore God’s providence. I do not live in a self-fulfilling vacuum. I do not have the capability to control everything all at once all the time. In fact, I can control little. I can make decisions. Yet, my decisions do not make what I decide to happen. Many unforeseen things always happen that counter what I decided to do. A wise person can admit, “I spent most of my life planning for things that did not happen the way I planned.” Foolishness is to believe that all the good and great things I do and say are by my design and total control. They happen because God wills them to happen.
   Then there are the bad decisions that I make. The misspoke word, the promise I made and did not keep, the good thing I could have and should have done and did not, and then there is the wrong thing I chose to do and did not stop. Conceit ignores these and robs me of allowing God to create a godly character in me and thus gain contentment and rest.
   Paul had experienced and done a lot of amazing things. He is the man who went to the third heaven (1-5). God performed miracles through him. He would have become conceited if God did not give him a thorn in his flesh, a small messenger of Satan, to torment him (7).  Paul wanted it to stop. He could not make it stop. He asked God to stop it. He did not. God revealed why the pain stayed.  It kept him from becoming conceited.
   I too have asked God to do things that were not answered in the way I asked and wanted. Perhaps they too are to keep me from being conceited and proud. God’s NO can be good even though it means I will endure some pain.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 11

No doubt, Paul did not have a hum-drum normal easy life. He endured a lot of that which I want to avoid. Why did he press on? Because of his love for God and God’s people. Jesus said his people would suffer for his namesake. I should know things like these will happen.
  Paul several times in this chapter stated his repulsion to boasting. Yet he found the need to boast because the Corinthians were listening to others who were impressive on the outside. Yet they preached a false Jesus, a false gospel, and offered a counterfeit spirit. Just because a preacher or denomination uses the name of Jesus, doesn’t mean what they say and do is Godly and true. Satan can appear as an angel of light, meaning he can look impressive while he leads people away from the truth.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 10

Paul expends most of the chapter explaining and defending his ministry. Others, especially from within the church were trying to undermine him and his ministry. Verses 3 thru 6 stand out. Here Paul defines his work allegorically. He sees his ministry as a spiritual war.
  Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 6:15-16) Paul’s mission obeyed this imperative. Specifically, Jesus told him thru Ananias at mission call, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15-16)
  Paul equates preaching the good news and proclaiming Jesus’s name as waging a spiritual war. When I do so, whether thru word or action I  am fighting the good fight.
  Human war in this world physically destroys, harms, tears down, and kills. The weapons used to fight a physical battle include hands, legs, swords, arrows, guns, gas, bombs, and many other types of physical malicious devices. The spiritual war does not use these weapons (4).
The spiritual fight is with words and loving actions. Whenever I follow Jesus’s example and apply his teaching I am using spiritual weapons. Jesus’s words are divine power ready for my use, but only when lead by the Spirit in love.
  I do not always want to fight the good fight.  Sometimes I am tired, lazy, and selfish. It is then that I become vulnerable to defeat. Thank God that he is the source of unending power. When I am weak, He is strong and enables me to fight on.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 9

Paul is continuing the instruction of giving to the poor suffering believers in Judea. The principle that when I give to the poor God supplies me back and increases my money and makes me more profitable is introduced (12). This is true. Yet, not all the time is it applied correctly.
What I mean is this, the believers in Judea were poor. The Gentile believers had money. Does that mean that the Judeans did not have faith in Jesus or that God was not pleased with them and their giving? No. Does this mean that God was happier with the Gentiles and their giving? No.
Jesus was poor and he is the Son of God. The apostles were poor and they were handpicked by Jesus and God performed miracles through them. My faith should not be measured by my wealth. If this was a true measure then Ceasar and Hitler were blessed more than everyone. They were not. They were evil.
I should not give to the poor as a measure of my spirituality nor as a financial investment (6-7). I have heard messages that present these false beliefs. Rather, I should give lovingly because someone is in need. I am to be happy to help and I should not be concerned that God won’t meet my needs too.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 8

  The eastern shore of the Mediterranean was experiencing a drought. The Judean churches were experiencing hardships not only because of the drought but also because they were ousted from the synagogues, forbidden from taking some jobs (i.e. priests), and became social outcasts. Paul was coordinating a free-will gift from the Gentile churches to help their brothers in the Lord in Judea (4, 10).
   Charity is something that Jesus taught his people through his life and in his words. Jesus created everything. His Father gave him everything.  He is the ruler of all. He could have done anything he wanted. He chose to leave everything to save me and the whole world. Though the Lord Jesus Christ was rich, yet for my sake, he became poor, so that through his poverty I became rich (9). Humanly I am not rich. In fact, I am quite poor. Yet spiritually I am rich and when my physical body ends I will be a co-owner of everything.
  God does not want anyone to give charity beyond their ability (12) i am to not make myself poor so that the poor might be made rich (14-15). Many become rich at the expense of others in the name of charity and in the name of God. Just because God is mentioned in a charity pitch does not make it from God nor does it make it holy, right, and good. Also giving money and time may be harmful to the one I give. So I am careful in my charity giving.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 7

God does at times intend for me and all to be sorrowful (9-10). This is called Godly sorrow. Godly sorrow comes when I recognize and accept that I did something that I know was wrong or when I do not do something that I should have done.

Godly sorrow does not end in regret. Regret is a product of worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow brings self-condemnation and self-pity. Worldly sorrow does not lead to changes. Worldly sorrow does not lead to amends. World sorrow leads to death (10).

With Godly sorrow when I recognize and accept that I was in error I turn to God and ask for forgiveness and grace. I decide and set my willfully to do the right thing. This is repentance (10). Repentance includes amends to those I have done wrong to or who suffered because of my indiscretion, error, and sin (11).

God then always forgives those who act accordingly. He always saves. God in mercy will help those who turn to him and away from the error of their ways. There will be consequences to wrong behavior and words. Yet God does make amends.

The Corinthian church had a serious problem. Paul strongly stated so in his first letter to them. When they read it they acted accord to Godly sorrow. This produces earnestness and eagerness to clear themselves. They were alarmed and ready to see justice done (11). They purified themselves from that which contaminated body and spirit out of reverence for God (1)

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

All my brother and sisters in Christ and I are the temple of the living God. The Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father live in me. I am a son of the Lord Almighty. God dwelling in his people is only by grace. No matter my life circumstances nor my past, present, or future God will never leave me.

I have a choice to whom I will be with, not just friends, but especially a spouse. The choice I make is important.

Paul says not to yoke with someone who does not believe in Jesus. Yoking is a farm term. Two oxen or another beast of burden are joined together by a board or iron so together they can plow a field. Yoking makes the work easier and quicker. Marriage is equated with yoking.

Paul instructs that Jesus’s people should marry each other instead of an unbeliever. This is wise because eventually different religious beliefs will be a source of contentions in marriage. Historically people of God will eventually compromise their relationship with either God and/or the spouse if the one they marry does not have faith in Jesus.

Finding a fellow believer in today’s age is not easy. It takes faith in God’s provision and love. Some find a loving Christian mate right away. Other’s find that they have to have the faith of Abraham who waited 25 years to have a son.

Knowing just exactly what another truly believes is not easy and perhaps is impossible. However, after some time I can make a reasonable conclusion that the lady I am dating has similar beliefs as I. Searching can be fun and daunting at the same time.

I have people give me so much conflicting advice about this matter that I become confused. I recently asked a man I respect why people who are generally the same in beliefs can express so much different options about who I date, weddings, marriage, and sex. He said, “You know why? It’s because it is just that. It’s their opinion. In the end, I have to decide what I believe is right and best. I have to decide what I want.”

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Every human who has ever lived has experienced events that they never wanted to happen whether self-imposed or because of nothing they had done or failed to do. In this world everyone has troubles. Troubles will come.

Jesus’s apostles experienced perhaps some of the worse life events. Paul lists some of his life pains here. They included troubles, hardships, distress, beatings, imprisonment, riots, hard work, sleeplessness, hunger, dishonor, bad report, regarded as an impostor, unknown, dying, sorrow, poverty, and having nothing. Paul lists his responses to these here.

My response to everything that happens to me, wanted or unwanted is important. I can choose now not to let future events dictate my response to them. I can train my will to be set to positive and my mind to alert ahead of time. I can commend my soul to be preset to “great endurance” (4). I do this as a mental and emotional wall to guard against attacks to my positive inner well-being.

As wise as that sounds I have come to realize an attitude of no surrender to any future troubling hardships is sometimes not enough. Some mornings I wake up feeling refreshed and strong willed. The wall of defense is strong.

Most mornings however I do not wake up like this. I wake up feeling unrested and melancholy. I have never been a morning person. Even on the mornings where I am raring to take on and overcome any obstacle and trouble, there is always the possibility that a major unexpected tragedy that no one could possibly muscle up a strong will to overcome will happen. What then?

Paul wrote here he endured, “in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love” (6) and “in the power of God” (7). I have discovered that every morning, especially the melancholy ones when I turn my mind, my emotions, and my will to God even for a minute or 30 the wall of defense is built on a solid rock. It will not fall down and I will not be overrun by emotions and thoughts that kill.

Jesus taught in a parable the wisdom that he is a solid rock to build on. So when troubles come I will not be overcome because my wall of defense is built on solid ground. I will not be destroyed. (Matt. 7:24-27) “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2, 27:5, 40:2, 62:4)