BDBD is Acts 28:1-16

  No matter where Paul and the believers with him traveled -Malta, Puteoli, and Rome, they made new adult acquaintances and some even became friends. When hard times and bad circumstances came Paul did not hesitate to make new adult friends and help others.
   Paul gathered wood on Malta. He showed kindness and compassion to the islanders. He saught out the congregation in Puteoli. He embraced the congregation in Rome. In the past Paul made enemies.  In Christ he made friends.
  God did not intend for his people to be alone all of the time.  Humans were designed to be social some of the time. Living social is easier and seems more natural to some than others. Some are introverts while others are extroverts. Most are somewhere in-between. No matter what the feelings are during human interaction, all can learn to kindly interact with other adults.
   A few fear judgment and rejection. This may have been the result of feelings of being hurt in the past, or they have thoughts of inadequacies. So they avoid contact. Even if they are believers they avoid talking with adults on Sundays and during gatherings. Some even avoid going to church gatherings. When they do go they arrive late and leave quickly.
   In my youth, I had social fears and thoughts of inadequacy that made me an introvert.  Yet, in my heart, I had the desire to have friends. Eventually, I slowly learned to overcome my fears, feelings, and thoughts. I made acquaintances and some became friends. I learned to be an extrovert.
   I have good memories with friends past. Sure I was sometimes hurt, or I left the area not to see my friends again. But that never stopped me from making new acquaintances all over again. Extroverts should take the time to spot introverts and kindly engage with them. Jesus did.
   I am moving again. When I get to my new destination I will seek out others and even will find a friend or two to enjoy life with.

BDBD is Acts 27

   Paul exercised his Roman right to appeal his case to Ceasar. This meant that he would be given the chance to defend his case before Ceasar or one of Ceasar’s representatives. The modern-day equivalent in the USA would be a case going to the Supreme Court.
   Once Paul was arrested and then he appealed to Ceasar he had little if no control. He could not choose who guarded him, when he would go to Rome, his transport to Rome, where he would stay, nor when he would eat or sleep. Plus, he was under constant Roman guard.
   Paul made suggestions during his trip to Rome that was rejected. Paul knew trouble was coming if they sailed in the late fall, but could do nothing to avoid it. The ship sailed into a fearsome storm as he had said and was shipwrecked on an island.
   Some believe that everything that happens in their life is solely the result of decisions they make. True, Paul had made the decisions to believe and obey Jesus on the road to Damascus, to go on mission trips, to go to Jerusalem with a charity gift, to follow the advice of the Jerusalem elders, and then to appeal to Ceasar. These choices resulted in his
being shipped wrecked.
   However, one cannot conclude that the shipwreck was Paul’s fault. Nor can one say that Paul was shipwrecked solely because of all the decisions he made. Life is not that simple.
   Paul’s decision interacted with other people’s decisions in ways no one could predict nor determine. Paul made decisions either based on the information he had at the time, or because he obeyed Jesus.
   Paul made plans and then adjusted his plans as events unfolded. Even then often he was either in a position where he was unable to find a good decision, or events unfolded that were out of his control.
   Sometimes there are so many variables that even the most intelligent person cannot determine the outcome of decisions made. Sometimes we end up in places and circumstances that we do not want to be in. Sometimes it seems that there is no way out.
   However, none of this takes into account God. God is in charge, and when I submit he is in control of my life. Paul had little control over his life. Yet he submitted to God. God was watching over him and in control because Paul submitted to his control. Jesus sent an angel to him to assure and comfort him. He said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.”

BDBD is Acts 26

The gospel was clearly presented to King Agrippa, Governer Festus, the high priest, and all those present. Jesus, the Messiah suffered, died, and became the first to rise from the dead (23). He died so that I could be freed from the power of that which separates me from God. He rose so that I could be freed from the power of that which keeps me dead and buried in the ground.
Paul and all Jesus’ people are instructed to open others’ eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus (18). This is great news to share. I should not be afraid nor ashamed to share it. I have shared it many times. Yet at times a sudden fear comes upon me, the fear of rejection and ridicule. Paul experienced these.
However, telling others the good news has benefits too. Friends are made and found. Some accept the message too. To witness someone coming to first faith in Jesus is a wonderful thing. Seeing their life changed for the better is another joy to behold.

BDBD is Acts 25

Festus, Felix, King Agrippa, and the Jewish leaders were politically minded. A political mindset selfishly uses every chance, everything, and every one to maintain and gain power and control. A political mind uses power for selfish gain. Festus, Felix, King Agrippa, and the Jewish leaders were using Paul to either gain favor and thus power, or maintain power over their rivals. Ultimately, political-minded leaders become so self-absorbed that the society they use collapses.
Everyone to one degree or another is politically minded. Our fallen nature desires by any mean what we believe will be best for us. The extreme political mind will allow harm to others and even murder for selfish gain. This is the secret reason most human societies and kingdoms have collapsed.
Controlling and denying a selfish political mindset does not mean that I should ignore the care of the body gave me, though at times allowing myself to be crucified with Christ is needed. Nor does this mean that I should permit others to use me. It means is to deny self and seek good for others.
The Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35) Jesus taught, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) And Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
Finally, Jesus taught his disciples the way to overcome a political mindset with this thought, Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-28)

BDBD is Acts 24

   Paul, the High Priest, Ananias, and governor Felix represent three types of people in regards to hearing the truth.
   Felix listened to Paul speaking about faith in Christ Jesus and was afraid. However, his fear did not develop into acceptance and repentance. He did not love and trust God. He did not love his fellow man. He dished out rulings based on bribes, not compassion and justice. The deceitfulness of wealth chocked the truth.
   Ananias had a very hard heart. He did not accept anything to do with the good news of Jesus Christ. He enjoyed power and did anything to keep it. He lied to Felix and gave orders to kill the clearly innocent Paul. Paul was correct in calling him a whitewashed wall. He looked clean on the outside, but was as hard as rock on the inside.
   Paul was like both men, perhaps worse. Then Jesus came to him, called him, and blinded him for several days. Paul accepted the truth and repented. He loved God and loved his fellow man. Even though he was subject to injustice and hate he did what was true.
   I was like them. Everyday I can still be like them. The choice is mine. Yet no matter what I chose God is full of grace.

BDBD is Acts 23:22-35

  Paul didn’t have to walk to Caesarea! He was given a horse to ride, a pure luxury in his day. A modern-day comparable would be to be flown in a private Gulfstream V jet. Paul was also protected by a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen. Then Paul was kept under guard in Herod’s palace. Paul’s circumstances were rather pleasant compared to his past.
   Prior to this, the Holy Spirit had said thru a prophet that took a belt and tied his feet and hands, ‘In this way, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” All this was fulfilled.
   The believers had concluded that the Holy Spirit was saying that trouble and possibly death awaited Paul in Jerusalem. Neither happened. They assumed and implied things that never happened.
   Why did the Holy Spirit only reveal Paul’s arrest? Why didn’t he reveal that Paul would then be rescued and experience the easiest and safest traveling that he experienced in his Christian life? These are the wrong questions to ask. Instead ask, “Why did the disciples assume the worst outcome for Paul?*
   I believe that all humans as part of our fallen nature often take what God reveals out of context and meaning. For example, the apostles while Jesus walked this earth often either did not understand what he was saying or misunderstood him (Mark 9:32; Luke 2:50, 9:45, 18:34; John 8:27, 10:6, 12:16, 20:9). Then they acted on their false belief, assumptions, and understanding.
   Here too the believers incorrectly understood what the Holy Spirit was telling Paul. They added to the word. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why God reveals little about personal futures. Also, what is important to God is that I have and express faith, hope, and love. With these no matter what he has planned I am prepared in thoughts, heart, and being.

BDBD is Acts 23:12-22

God is always working. His plans and purpose never fail. His will for Paul in this stage of his life was to witness to kings and in Rome was progressing very well in unexpected ways.  Paul passed the test. He trusted Jesus’s words to him.
  When 40 devout Jewish men vowed not to eat nor drink till Paul was dead God made a way to protect Paul and witness to Governor Felix. Everything was falling into place. Paul must have constantly thanked God for the Holy Spirit’s continual witness to not be as he perceived.
   Whenever I read this passage I wonder what the 40 men did when their plans were foiled. Did they die of starvation and thirst? They believed that they were so in the right that they made this exuberant vow. More than that, they wanted everyone to know of their pious zeal and glorious faith in God. So when God revealed that they were not in his will did they repent, die, or secretly eat?
   I imagine the humorous scene of 40 skinny men with their skin hanging from their bones dragging themselves along a dirt road to Caesarea staring at wheat and barley fields. One purposely slows down and when he thinks his peers can see him grabs a handful of kernels and eats them. Soon all 40 are munching and crunching kernels and declaring,  “Praise our God for giving us renewed strength so we can kill Paul.”
   Who am I like now? Paul or the 40 fools? Why do I do what I do? Why do say what I say? Is it for show? Is it for me? Is it for others? Is it for God in his will? I can examine my motives and know the Lord is always in charge when I trust and obey.

BDBD is Acts 23:1-11

Paul didn’t even bother to share the gospel with the Sanhedrin. Perhaps he realized their hypocrisy showed that they would not listen. The high priest by God’s Law was to be a direct descendant of Aaron and the oldest in the family. Ananias was not. He was appointed by Herod. Also, as Paul pointed out the law did not allow someone to be struck during the examination. Finally, the Roman commander was there during the trial.
  Paul probably realized that all the warnings the Spirit gave him were to help him chose the best response to this trial. Jesus taught ““Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Mat. 7:6)” So Paul did not share the gospel just as Jesus had done during his trial before the Sanhedrin.
   God gave wisdom to Paul to have the Sadducees and Pharisees argue amongst themselves. This revealed to the commander the real reason Paul had been attacked in the temple. Jesus appeared to Paul and revealed his future. This gave him courage.
   Sometimes it is good to share the truth.  Other times it is better to stay quiet.

BDBD is Acts 22:23-29

  Rome prided itself on its laws. Rome believed their laws were civil and just. However, all law has weaknesses and/or flaws.  Man-made laws are flawed because those who create them are born with and within the power of sin. As we grow the power of sin creates personal flaws that dictate our thoughts, and our thoughts dictate our actions and words. These bleach into our laws and judicial systems.
   All society needs laws to protect the weak and helpless, maintain order, and deal with our subjection to the power of sin and the flaws it creates in us. However, three inevitable outcomes result from all human laws. 1) They cannot deal with all possibilities, 2) laws are often created that favor the powerful and rich, and 3) even if a law is good it can be either used improperly, manipulated by the judge, and even ignored.
   Paul experienced all three outcomes when the Romans ceased him from the religious mob in the Jerusalem temple. 1) Roman law could not deal with the events that lead to Paul’s arrest for he did nothing wrong. 2) Roman law favored Roman citizens which is why the centurion and commander were so concerned when they found out Paul was a Roman citizen.  3) The commander was using the law that allowed flogging for his own purposes. Also, he was afraid of the mob and what he believed his rulers would say.
   How should I live in a world and society with obvious weaknesses and flaws in its judicial system? Paul and Jesus give answers. Paul remained calm. He did not repay evil with evil as Jesus taught. Paul turned the other cheek also as Jesus taught.
   Paul remained dedicated to serving God and others as Jesus taught. Paul used every opportunity to share the gospel and help others. He had compassion for the Jews and Romans. He did not let the Romans do something like flogging him, that would be a violation of Roman law. He gave a chance for his fellow Jesus to hear the truth.
   Paul learned and understood Roman law. He did not seek to start a civil rebellion. (Eph. 6:12)
   Paul did not remove himself and those he converted to an isolated community. He stayed within society doing good just as Jesus taught, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18).”

BDBD is Acts 22:1-22

  Paul had been passionate his whole life for his people, the Jews. He had fully embraced their religion. He was all in. He learned under the brightest and the best. He wanted all Jews to worship Yahweh. This was Paul’s life passion and hope.
   Any Jew who did not follow what he believed Paul persecuted to the point of death (1-5). All Gentiles he despised. He was religious without knowing God. He was like a man who dove into the ocean only to discover he did not know how to swim.
   Jesus in grace and truth came to Paul, forgave his sins, and called him to a life of obedience witness (6-10).  Paul went from synagogue to synagogue in obedience with the same fervor as before except now he was full of the Holy Spirit. Some Jews believed the gospel he preached. Most violently rejected the good news of the kingdom of God (18). So Jesus sent Paul to the Gentiles (21).
   Paul went further and further away from Jerusalem into Gentile lands as Jesus instructed him. Though he was far from the city he loved he had just written to the Romans that he always desires to witness to his people in Jerusalem (Rom. 9:1-5, 10:1).
   Now, as a mature man, the opportunity came to witness Jesus to Jews in Jerusalem (1). Paul was standing before a large crowd of Jews in the temple witnessing to them. They intently listened until he told them how Jesus sent him to the Gentiles. Then they shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He is not fit to live!” Paul must have been deeply saddened. Paul’s life desire and passion were not fulfilled as he had hoped.
   Not all human hopes are achieved as we imagine. For most of my life, I had a hope and passion to develop an environmentally friendly electrical power generator that I developed when I was taking engineering classes at the university. The design would take the money I never had. When I tried to pursue its fulfillment the project never got past theory and initial designs.
  While taking college courses I came to faith in Jesus. He called me to a life of faith just as he did Paul. Like Paul, I set aside my life passion and desire to obey Jesus’ direction. Now later in life I sadly find that my life hope and passion have not been fulfilled. I still do not have the financial means to carry it out.
   This saddens me but does not devastate me. I am fulfilled in Christ. I have peace of mind and hope for the future in Jesus. I have obeyed his personal call. I will continue to obey.

BDBD is Acts 21:27-40

   Paul was noticed by those who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. False accusations were made and he was beaten. He would have been killed if the Romans didn’t get involved (31). The Romans arrested Paul falsely believing that he was a revolutionary (38). Neither Jew nor Roman investigated the reports to see what was the truth and what was not. They all made assumptions on their prejudice and acted on them.
   The violence against Paul was executed in the temple by religious people. When people believe they are unquestionably right and need to act to protect that which they believe in, then violently protecting what they believe in can be executed in any means possible, even if it means violating what they believe in. When negative emotions take over the body rational thinking and truth-finding ceases.
   Today much decisive, incomplete, and deceptive reporting is conducted. These reports are stirring up negative emotions and irrational thinking.  Many are believing what they hear without investigation. Some are growing angry and are randomly acting out violently. A person doesn’t need to have a religion to act in false religious fervor.
  I have firm beliefs. However, I have through my life needed to change what I believed and how I acted in those beliefs. I have experienced how negative emotions can shut down my rational thoughts. I always need to be on guard against the yeast of false religious fervor. As Jesus said, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)

BDBD is Acts 21:17-26

The Jewish Jerusalem church elders decided Paul needed to publicly prove he still followed the Law and Jewish customs by going thru purification rites and paying for four others rites at the temple. This puzzles me. Why did they think this would persuade the believing Jews while not agitating the non-believing Jews? Why did Paul agree? Didn’t they receive the news of what the Holy Spirit had been telling Paul what would happen to him during his trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23, 21:10-11)? Why was this so important to them? Why couldn’t they simply accept Paul’s words as Peter and the former elders had in the past (Gal. 1:18, 2)?
   Paul wasn’t purely submitting to their authority for he had stood up to Peter who backed away from sitting with the Gentile believers (Gal. 2). He agreed with them. So why did they all agree on doing this? Was it that they had not understood the gospel of grace? Or was it that they understood the gospel of grace while hanging onto customs that they enjoyed?
  An understanding of their motivation is perhaps found in verse 25. They were not concerned with the Gentile believes nor the four decisions that they gave the Gentile believers to follow (19, 25). Rather, they were only concerned with the many thousands of believing Messianic Jews who were zealous for the Law (20-21). Many Jerusalem Jews were accepting that Jesus was the Messiah without fully accepting what he taught and accomplished on the cross.
  The year was around 57 AD. Most if not all the apostles had left Jerusalem. James, Jesus’s half-brother was leading a very large congregation that was still growing. Many of the new converts were concerned by the false reports about Paul. So perhaps they agreed to do this so as to not put a stumbling block in their path. Jesus said, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me. (Luke 7:23)”  And Paul himself had written, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law, I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. (1 Cor. 9:20). Jesus never said it was a sin to personally follow the Jewish laws and customs while believing in him. He only taught that we didn’t have to follow Jewish laws and customs to be saved and that we should never force them onto others.
  My concern should be for new believers. Love should motivate. This may mean sacrificing what I am comfortable with so that they may not stumble. Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. (Luke 17:1-3)”

BDBD is Acts 21:1-8

  Paul, after writing to the Roman congregations while in Corinth, made this way south-east to Jerusalem with some companions with the financial gift from the Gentiles. They stayed for a while at Philip’s house (8). He was one of the Seven (Acts 6:5). The Seven were young men chosen to wait on tables many years earlier at the young congregation in Jerusalem so that the Apostles could devote their full attention to the Scriptures.
  Now many years later Philip lived in the port city of Caesarea and was married with grown children. Cesarea was built on the Mediterranean Sea to be the Roman provincial capital of the area. Philip, a layman like myself is a good life study as to what happens when submitting to God and accepting Jesus’ leading.
   Philip, when he was a young man quickly left Jerusalem during the persecutions from the non-Christian Jews against the Messianic Jews. These persecutions were caused by Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 8). Philip fled to Samaria, out of the Jews reach.  There he preached to the Samaritans. Many believed, were saved, and were joyful (Acts 8:8)
   After awhile Philip was lead by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news to an Ethiopian traveling south to his home country (Acts 8). Philip, then became a traveling evangelist (8) eventually ending up in Caesarea (Acts 8:40).
   Philip married shortly thereafter and had four daughters (9). I smile because Luke was with Paul at Philip’s hoise. Luke was the unmarried young believer writing this book. He may have been interested in one of Philip’s daughters because he made note that Philip’s daughters were unmarried.
   Philip was obviously dedicated to the Lord Jesus and full of the Spirit. When Philip was a young man running away from Jerusalem he did not know what his future would be. He must have been afraid and wondered what was God’s will for him. Still, he continued in the Spirit and now was blessed with stable family life.
   Luke too must have wondered while in Philip’s house what was going to happen to him when he arrived with Paul in Jerusalem. He was interested in Philip’s daughter. Yet, Luke knew that he could be arrested, jailed, and even killed when Paul would be arrested. During the trip Luke heard over and over again what was going to happen to Paul in Jerusalem. Luke probably was afraid and wondered what was God’s will for him.
   Like Philip and Luke during the pivotal early twenties as a new believer I also didn’t know what my future would be. I was in college, removed from family and friends, growing in debt, in need of a job, knowing that a job would affect my study time and grades, and I was drinking beer alone.
   I began reading the Bible starting from Matthew’s gospel and praying daily. My roommate and his friends were secretly praying for me. Looking back to muself over 30 years ago I can relate to young Philip and Luke. God has been with me as he promised.  Even when the future is unknown I can know that when I trust God his Spirit will lead me in spite of all obstacles, even myself.

BDBD is Romans 16

The letter ends with a long list of names and greetings from the Corinthian (Cenchreae) and Roman congregations. Seemingly boring at a quick glance. Not so boring with some inspiration.
These people at one time did not know each other. Yet, in Christ, they came to know each other. They included men and women, leaders and laymen, Jew and Gentile, Roman and Greek, married and single.
Jesus brings people together. Jesus forms communities. Jesus is a congregation of diversity and divinity. Jesus is a group of individual tiles that are placed next to each other forming a colorful mosaic. We are not meant to be alone only watching a service on a screen.
Go to church early and talk to people. Ask to join a small group of people who meet on a regular basis. Go to congregational gatherings and celebrations. Invite others to your house, have a meal and a laugh. Invite acquaintances to join you at church and a meal after. Be hospitable and loving. Jesus loved and lived a public life doing these things. I can follow his example.
Yet be aware that not everyone in a congregation is in Christ. I have seen some like Paul that cause divisions and put obstacles in others’ way that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Keep away from them (17-18).

BDBD is Romans 15:14-33

   I am convinced from studying Paul’s life and plans found in his letters and the book of Acts that Proverbs 16:1-3 is true even in the lives of the most blessed of Jesus’s believers. “We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word. We may think we know what is right, but the Lord is the judge of our motives. Share your plans with the Lord, and you will succeed.”
   Paul had the Holy Spirit and was greatly used by the Spirit. God used Paul to spread the gospel to the Gentiles 1,200 miles (2,000 Kms), from Jerusalem to Illyricum (16-19). During Paul’s 3 main journeys God planted churches, raised future church leaders, and performed miracles. The Holy Spirit also used Paul to write or influence nearly half the New Testament. If the church were to decorate gospel heroes as the military does, Paul would be pinned with many ribbons.
   Yet, even though all these amazing works of the Holy Spirit were performed through Paul, did Paul know about every step of the way he was to go all the time? No. Paul seldom knew though he made plans. Did the Holy Spirit always show him the way to go? Not right away in most if not any cases. Did Paul make plans that never happened as he planned? Often. Did it deter him?
   Paul laid out his short and long-term plans in these verses as well as in his letters to Corinth. Acts 20 and 21 records his plans and what actually happened.
   As Paul wrote this letter he was bringing a financial offering from the Gentile churches to the needy Jerusalem and Judean congregations. He planned after that to go to the yet unreached Roman territory Spain to preach the gospel, stopping on his way at Rome to get support for that planned missionary journey. Paul was so confident in this plan at this writing that he wrote, “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. (29)”
  However, Paul’s plans never transpired as he believed. Not only that, in Ephesus Paul would soon tell the believers, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”
   I am so glad to learn this about Paul. There is nothing wrong nor unusual about uncertainty when it comes to my specific future. Proverbs 16:1-3 is a comfort. “We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word.” I can and should make plans. I can then take comfort knowing that God has my back. Even if I make poor plans, God has the final determination. I tell him my plans and in peace see what transpires. He loves me and his plans are the best. Sure, Paul didn’t want to be arrested and tried. Yet, he did make it to Rome under Roman protection and provision. He never did make it to Spain.

BDBD Is Romans 15:1-13

How is it possible to have hope and peace in troubled uncertain times, with people in power who only think of themselves at the expense of the weak and helpless? Looking at the terrible actions of many can suck hope out of anyone.
The answer to the question is in verse 5. God gives endurance and encouragement. When I am down, God can and will loft me up. I have learned to stop, turn to him, and sing a song of prayer and praise.
Added to that direction verse 4 also gives qnotjer direction as to where to find hope. The Bible teaches endurance and encouragement. Endurance and encouragement provide hope. When I think of those in the Bible who had no way to hope find hope, I endure. Jesus said, “I leave you peace.” His words provide hope.

BDBD is Romans 14:13-23

  The freedom in Christ’s kingdom is so grandeur and extensive. God’s kingdom is about pleasing God, living in peace, and true happiness (17). It’s not about dietary plans and laws. In fact, it has nothing to do about any law.
   I read a book by a man who thought he knew what heaven was like, though he himself never went there. In his book he describes his meeting with a Texas man while traveling and speaking about the kingdom of heaven. The Texas man asked, “Is there steaks in heaven? I love steaks, and if there is no steaks in heaven, then it isn’t heaven to me. I don’t want to go there.” The author thought about it and said, “If eating steaks is heaven for you, then you will eat them in heaven.’ (I am not directly quoting.)
  Here, Paul says that the kingdom of heaven is not about eating and drinking (17). In this life I can eat and drink whatever i want as long as i don’t hinder the life of faith of other believers (20), and as long as my conscience is not smeared by some false understanding (22-23).
   Do you not know God? Do you not experience his presence, even for a little while every once in awhile? Have you even briefly tasted God? Taste and see that the Lord is good food (John 6:48-58)! Drink from the well that takes away all thirst (John 4:13-14)! That little taste of the kingdom of God I experience in this life is barely an appetizer to what awaits the faithful.
  The two men talking about meat in heaven is missing one bright truth about the kingdom of God: it is all about God in his pure perfect experience. Taste Jesus and drink Jesus and you’ll never want to eat steak again Mr. Texas Steakman. Ingest Jesus and all you will crave is Jesus there on. Be brought to heaven and experience God satisfy your peace and true happiness, then all you will want for the rest of your life is to go back there again forever and feast forever on the goodness of God.

BDBD is Romans 14:1-12

  Every day I make decisions that concern matters of my faith in Jesus just like many of Jesus’s followers (1). Interesting is that we have many different ideas on how to express and exercise our Christian faith. Put 100 Christians in one room to discuss matters of faith on a particular subject and they will express 157.54 different ideas.
   What is faith? Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of unseen things (Heb. 11:1). Unseen things are hard if not impossible to define and explain. A decision of faith is thus based on what I believe Jesus taught.
   Faith and decisions of faith are not simply a matter of yes and no, nor just do or don’t. Can I eat meat? Or should I only eat vegetables (2)? Should I observe every Passover in Jerusalem according to the Law? Should I go to church on Saturday (Sabbath) or is going Sunday acceptable (5)? Should I run for my life, or should I make a stand of faith and possibly die (7). Should I get a vaccine or not? Should I become a monk, pastor, priest, or remain a layman?
  Not everyone has the same degree of faith, just like not everyone has the same degree of love and hope (1). Faith is a verb more than a noun just as love and hope are. Faith is like my muscles. Exercise and eat right and my muscles grow. Thus is it with faith. This is the reason we Christians have such varying degrees of decisions of faith.
  God accepts and welcomes any degree of faith (3). I must accept this. Acceptance includes no judgment of others. No judgment means that I cannot criticize (4, 10). They, like me, will give an account to Jesus for the decisions made (12). They don’t have to give an account to me just as I don’t have to give an account to them.

BDBD is Romans 13:1-7

Paul is clear in these verses on something that takes faith in God more than most Biblical subjects, especially these years, “The authorities that exist have been established by God. (1)”
  We ask, “What? God established that person with authority over me? That parent, teacher, husband, pastor, supervisor, judge, mayor, governor, the president? They are mean and cruel.  Evil. How could God do this to me?”
   God sets them in authority. However, it does not mean that God agrees with and supports all the decisions they make. Like me, those in authority make wrong decisions.
   So then what? Paul also wrote, “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. (4)” God establishes people in power because he expects and knows that person can do good for others if they decide. The problem isn’t with God’s decision. The problem is the leader. They have the same problem all face, the power of sin. They came to decide improperly.
   Living today can be frightening. Especially knowing people in authority over me can do good otherwise God wouldn’t have put them there, but those people chose not to or at least made a poor decision. Yet fear should not control me by abuse God is still with me. Yesterday, this verse came to me, “We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word. (Prov. 16:1).”

BDBD is Romans 12:9-21

Paul gives good advice at the end of this chapter. These are not new laws. Most deal with generalities. All deal with interactions with people. If I want to know what to do with others, I need to read these.
I am in part encouraged, delighted, and compelled. I see places I could have done better. Yet these verses are not about comdemnatuon for past faults. These are purely about the present. They deal with setting my mind and heart to do right.

Perhaps verse 24 is a good summary, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

BDBD is Romans 12:1-8

  God’s mercy has given me eternal life in Christ, freedom from the sinful nature, and his Spirit will always be with me. I have a new life. Jesus has given me gifts (6-8).
   What to do with all the gifts God has given me in his mercy? I can use my life and gifts to help others, not just myself. Yes, this means sacrificing my time and resources that I could use for myself (1).
   The pattern of the world is to live for myself and my gratification. The world pattern is to use others for myself. The world pattern is all about my benefits, not caring if it hurts others (2). The pattern of the world is intended in the mind.
   The way to break the pattern of the world is to change my thinking. I am to learn from Jesus and think like him. I am to apply his principles to test if they are good, pleasing and percect (2).

BDBD is Romans 11:25-36

   God’s ways are often hard to comprehend (33-36). Paul calls the ones in these verses a mystery. All the interweaving complexities of everything and everyone is hard to comprehend. They are humanly impossible to mentally grasp let alone understand how God is organizing all of them for good.
  Paul is talking here about how God is working with and in Israel and the Gentiles for mutual benefit.  Much concentration is needed here to understand what Paul is saying God is doing.
   God’s desire is that “all Israel will be saved” and “so that he may have mercy on them all.”  Accepting that is enough for me today.

BDBD is Romans 11:11-24

The olive tree is often used in the Bible to represent Israel. Jesus is the root that holds up and supplies nutrition and water to the tree. The branches are God’s people.
   Throughout the history of Israel, some people believed in God and others rejected God. When they were rejected God cut them off the tree (20). When Jesus came most rejected him. God then spread the good news to the Gentiles. When the Gentiles believe in Jesus, God grafts them into the tree. So now they receive nutrition from the fruit Jesus just like Israel (17).
   When anyone is cut off they can easily be grafted back onto the tree (23).  There is always hope. All it takes is faith (20).
  

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)