Jewish Gentiles

Romans 2: 29

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

This is a funny little verse when viewed from our modern perspective. Even more so since there are so many Christians who are not of Jewish origin. Of course, the first believers were almost exclusively Jewish. As Gentiles began joining the ranks of believers there arose debate and confusion. How can non-Jews be saved by the Jewish Messiah? What followed was a period of adjustment. Some who accepted that Gentiles could become followers of the Messiah expected, and indeed insisted, that those people should be circumcised. Paul, a Jew among Jews, was more enlightened on this subject than perhaps some would have expected. In resolving the dispute, he spoke to our time too.

Paul pointed out that being a Jew, or to paraphrase, being a believer, is an inward matter. In other words, Paul denied that faith was a matter of birthright. Instead, it is a matter of the heart. We believe with our hearts and speak with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. Being born into a race or even a household of faith is not a passkey to the family of God. God has made membership in His family elective. Even if Mama and Grandma were Christians, you can still go to hell if you choose. God will grieve but he will defend your right to make that decision. Likewise, being born on the wrong side of the tracks or in the deepest, most remote part of the world is no bar to your sitting at the Father’s table. Come one, come all. He wants us all to choose Him.

Inwardly, in our hearts, by God’s Spirit we choose to be a Jew. Our hearts are sealed in Christ Jesus as a member of his own family. If you look at our hearts, you can’t tell which of us were born Jewish and which of us were adopted. Only faith in Jesus as the born son of the Most High, who was sacrificed as the unblemished lamb, died and was raised from the dead and seated with God on high gets us a birth certificate with God as our Father. Nothing of the flesh, not circumcision nor works, avail anything. Salvation comes by faith, and that alone.

Accept your place in the family because you are as welcomed as any of the sons of Jacob. You have an inheritance in Jesus and you have a Father who loves you. You are not alone nor an outcast. You are His beloved and your heart tells the story.

Love and Wrath

Romans 5:9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

There is a lot of chatter about the wrath of God and it never ceases to surprise me. Why are we absorbed with talking about the wrath of God? There is no wrath for those who are in Jesus.

My first thought is this, I want you attending a church that teaches 1 John 4: 8, “God is love.” That is the revelation we all need to live in, God is love. God is not wrathful, He is loving. A church which hangs on “the wrath of God” is not going to be primed to lead people into revelation of who God is or how He wants to manifest Himself in our lives.

Today’s verse draws the paradigm for us. We have been saved from wrath by the blood of the Christ. That is the whole basis of the New Covenant. Thank God, we have been redeemed, even from our own stupidity. God didn’t want you under wrath or under condemnation so, motivated by love, He sent Jesus to take our place. Jesus bore every aspect of the curse giving us, instead, peace, joy and liberty. He redeemed us from the curse of the law where there was wrath. You can’t have all the New Testament Good News and still hang on to the penalty of the curse. Jesus set us free from all of that.

The same blood which justified us saved us from the wrath of God. We don’t deserve justification. In fact, doesn’t it blow your mind just a little to even read that we have been justified. Thank you Jesus. So, let’s hold on tightly to the good news of Jesus, our Messiah. Let us cling to the love of God. Forsake the ideas of a vengeful, wrathful God because it was He who sacrificed His only child for us. Wrath didn’t do that. Love did.


Psalm 48: 9

Lord, as we worship you in your temple, we recall over and over your kindness to us and your unending love.

Recollection is an important part of our praise. It is good for us and it is good for those around us, especially our children.

There are two forms this worship may take. First is our own internal ruminations. If we are not routinely recounting the great and wonderful things the Lord has done for us, then we are missing a chance to build our own faith. There will come a day when your faith feels like it is at low ebb. That is when the remembrance of all that Lord has done for you will buoy you up. Don’t wait until that day though, because you will find your praise bucket a bit empty and then it will be harder to pick yourself up.

This internal form of recounting the Lord’s goodness is a form of meditation. As you begin to think about the Lord’s goodness on your behalf, it may, however, break out into vocal praise and that is all good. While you remind yourself of God’s hand in your life you might also recall scriptures and promises He has made to you. Tumbling all these things together in your mind will often lead to greater revelation.

The external form of remembrance is very important too. This helps build the faith of the people around you. It is very important for families to recall God’s goodness. A child’s faith is built off of the strength of their parents faith. When you take the time to recount the Lord’s goodness to you and to the family the children get to hear faith and belief coming out of your mouth. They also learn that these words in the Bible are more than just nice words. They learn from those they trust most that these are words of life and that God really is paying attention and answering prayers.

Of course, telling of God’s goodness is not reserved for family alone. Everyone benefits from good news. Today’s verse is a good little reminder about remembering. Even though we have a written Word, there is still a place for an oral history.

Life and Law

Philippians 3: 9

[That I] may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

Here is where things get hard. This verse perfectly positions us if, and when, we comprehend within us, what Paul intended to convey. It is easy to read with our intellect and assign it to the theological part of our minds. We need, though, to bring it to the forefront of our brains and consider each of the parts.

The truth is that we like the law. In law school students always wanted to be taught “the black letter law.” Just give us the “do this/ don’t do this” rules. That is not the way law school works. Instructors don’t just give you a list. You have to think and that, we did not want to do. Just tell me the answers! We didn’t want to have to arrive at them on our own. Why? First, it’s too much work. Secondly, we might get it wrong. Therefore, if we could just get Jesus to give us all the rules and let those rules guide us then, we think it will be much easier.

As you know, that is not the system Jesus instituted for us. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to be our guide. Jesus’ “made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,” (2 Corinthians 3: 6). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8: 2). Jesus said it this way, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life,” (John 6: 3). All these verses point to the same thing, we cannot walk by the law and have life. The letter of the law kills but it is so much easier for the human mind to focus on.

Instead, Paul tells us, righteousness comes by faith. You can’t do anything without faith! Anytime we point out our righteousness, it is repugnant to God because it denies and rejects the sacrifice of Christ. There is no righteousness in the law, and we cannot be justified by the law, but we are like law students, “Don’t make me have to attain righteousness by exerting myself to walk, live, breathe, act and speak in faith. Whoa! That is too hard.” Righteousness comes from God and it comes on the basis of faith.

The God’s Word Translation reads that Paul’s goal was, “to have a relationship with him. This means that I didn’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws. The opposite is true! I have God’s approval through faith in Christ. This is the approval that comes from God and is based on faith.” I like the use of the word approval in this reading because I think it makes more sense to the modern reader. Essentially, it means that we are not relying on anything we do or say to gain the favor or approval of the Father. Our worthiness and right standing come through Jesus, but not only Jesus, not only his faithfulness, but also in our faith in what he accomplished. One version uses “based on trust,” (CJB). In other words, our righteousness or approval comes out of our trust in God. It is His faithfulness we rely upon rather than our works.

Two other quick mentions. First, Paul points out another significant part of this. The first part of the verse shows that righteousness is in being found “in Christ” or in relationship with him. The Passion Translation reads, “My passion is to be consumed with him and not clinging to my own righteousness.” Paul’s deep desire was to be consumed with Jesus rather than obsessed with himself. If we meditate on that alone, I think a new paradigm for living righteous emerges.

Secondly, we must begin our reflections on the application of the law and righteousness as they affect us. Contemplation on this passage is not complete, however, until we understand that other people do not have to earn their righteousness either. We want grace, and need it, but then tend to apply the law to others. It is so easy to do, natural even, but faith in the faithfulness of the Messiah ultimately leads us to trust and grace for ourselves and others. Now, that is where we should desire to land.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could live by revelation rather than by law. This lifestyle should lift us higher and help us to see through the divine perspective. Life in the Spirit will always be a life of righteousness. Life lived by willpower, will always lead to failure.

Highly Combustible

Ephesians 1: 18 – 20         Complete Jewish Bible

I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people, and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him. It works with the same mighty strength he used when he worked in the Messiah to raise him from the dead and seat him at his right hand in heaven.

Although we looked at verse eighteen yesterday, I included it here for continuity’s sake. You might also like reading it from this version. I do.

Paul’s purpose in verse nineteen is to divulge the might of God’s power at work in our lives. There are two very telling items in his statement. First, this surpassingly great power is working IN us. That’s interesting. In other words, the power of God is not external. It is internal. That might be eye opening. God’s power is at work in us. That means we are a party to this surpassingly great power. We have a role to play with His power working in us and through us.

Here is the caveat and the other interesting bit. God’s mighty power is working in those who trust Him. Now wait a minute. I thought His power was on hand and particularly in His hand for all who confess Jesus as Lord. Why didn’t Paul write it that way? Let’s look at the Passion Translation for a clue to answering this question. “I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you!”

Notice the addition of faith. It is our faith mixed, in trust, with the Father’s power that brings about desired results. This surpassingly great, immeasurably vast power is yours by faith. Does that sound like a cop out? Well, maybe a little because it means that we have to mix faith and trust with Father’s power in order to have it working in us but that is why Paul prayed for the eyes of our heart to be opened. God’s power works in our hearts by faith and trust. It is like an internal combustion engine. You see the output of the engine on the exterior, but the power is actually generated on the inside. Within the cylinder of your heart, faith and trust mix and explode like the gasoline and air when the spark is introduced in an engine. The power of God is ready to combust. Just add some belief and trust and you have the workings of a power generator right inside you. The power for every goal to be achieved and every dream fulfilled is inside you right now. Ignite your passion and Dad’s power with a bit of faith and trust and your engine will take you anywhere you want to go.


Ephesians 1: 18             Amplified

And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people).

I love the expression “confident expectation.” It is the image of us leaning forward, fully assured of God’s continuous attendance to our needs and desires.

When we hear this odd language like “eyes of your heart” it kinda makes sense but not completely. Perhaps the Amplified version provides some clarity. I would like to offer an additional way to think of it. You know how sometimes your sensitivity is heightened and you pick up on things better than at other times? Or, sometimes you know something but you aren’t sure what you perceived. We say, “In my gut, I just knew.” You see, your internal mechanism is operating all the time. Some of us are better at listening to it than others of us, but even the most unreceptive of us have those times when our perceptions are heightened. You pick up a little something in a person’s tone or your mind takes note of a word they used when there was a friendlier synonym. Perhaps you pick up on body language or a cast of the eyes. A plethora of data is flying by you at an enormous rate and you take in more of it than you know. Down in your core, in the very center of your being this data is processed and for those who listen to it, there comes revelation. It is a matter of listening to your inner you. That is what Paul was praying for, that the Holy Spirit would flood your inner being with his light to shine upon that information which available but undiscovered.

The Father is speaking with us continually. The Holy Spirit is whispering into our spiritual ears. Paul prayed that our sensitivity to these things would be improved so we would discern the blessing which is constantly flowing to us from the Trinity. Paul knew that when we allow the Holy Spirit to tune us into the Divine frequency, we receive hope of a kind that has us not only leaning forward but jumping out of bed in the morning. We receive such encouragement from the light of the Spirit that we are absorbed in confident expectation.

Isn’t that exciting? This hope that Paul wants for us is what we are called to. You may have known that you are called, well, this is your calling. Father is calling you to be immersed in the assurance of the rich inheritance which is yours, right now, as a child of God.

Your inheritance is for today. You don’t have to wait for God to die to receive your inheritance. He made it available at Jesus’ death. Father has called you to the confident expectation of your glorious inheritance which is yours in Christ Jesus, our Lord and savior. All of the dying has been done. Now is the time of light and life. Pray this simple prayer with me: Father, I receive all you have for me. Open my eyes and ears that I hear you daily and I see your loving hand everywhere I look. Lead me, Holy Spirit, into this confident expectation of my inheritance through Christ. Father I thank you as I receive this, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

It’s yours. En-joy!

Alone and Afraid

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

This is one of those verses we want to be true. It is also a good verse upon which to test your resolve. Are you a believer? Do you believe this verse is an actual promise from God to you? Can you stand on it? Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

Face it, there are times that despite our spirituality, we just feel alone. Intellectually, we know better. At least we know that the Bible says that God will never leave nor forsake us. Sometimes, though, you look into your spirit, you try to quiet yourself and all you hear is silence. It is in those times we must preach to ourselves and that is exactly what Father told me to do recently in my journaling. He said, “Preach to yourself what you would say to someone else.” That advice and the idea that He is with us all the time has stayed with me a lot lately.

The whole truth is that God cannot leave us even if He wanted to. Of course, you know He wants to be with you 24/7. He said to me, “That has been the point of this whole thing. It’s the reason I sent Jesus to earth.” This brings to my remembrance the promise in John 14: 23, “If anyone loves Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” God’s purpose in sending Jesus to earth was so that we could again come into communion with Him. He wanted to establish a community of believers for Himself where He could set up His home within our hearts and be with us forever. Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “. . . but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” (John 14:16). If He abides in us and with us, how can we ever be apart from Him? Those verses account for the abiding presence of the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. That’s pretty good company.

This should give us GREAT comfort and confidence. Today’s verse is from the Old Testament. How much greater is the good news since Jesus graced the earth. Even back then it is said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed,” (Deuteronomy 31: 8). Why should we be fearful or forlorn? Why should we be depressed or lonely? Our Father, our beloved, is with us every minute of every day. He and His heavenly host even watch over us while we sleep. God gave up Jesus whom He loves so that He can be with us night and day. He is not about to abandon us now after all the work He did to make His home with us.

Jesus said he left his peace here for us (John 14: 27). This verse is only four verses after Jesus said that he and the Father would make their abode with us. Part of that peace, it seems to me, is in knowing that the Holy Trinity is with you all of the time, day and night, at work at home. Whatever you do, wherever you go, they are there, with you. I write this hoping it will help you create more of a “God with me” identity. We need not be afraid or tremble. We can be strong and courageous of whatever tomorrow brings for our Lord and God is with us and goes before us. He will never, for one minute, leave us nor will He ever forsake us. You have a friend, a permanent friend, who, if you will let Him, will be your best friend for all time.