As I continue to make my way through memorizing passages of Scripture this year, I come to a prayerful act of praise by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:33-36. However, you can’t really understand someone’s outburst if you don’t have the context. Yes? So in order to truly grasp what you may be memorizing with me, if you are following the Fighter Verse program, you need to step back a few pages and listen to Paul’s heart in Romans chapters nine through eleven.
For it is there that Paul has reflected upon his desire for his kinsmen to be saved, as he has been gloriously saved by God through Christ. He has poured over the nature and progress of God’s salvation project through the history of his people and the nations, a project that is at once simple and complex. Paul's work takes time, and effort. He is drawing conclusions and connecting dots that have immensely significant implications for very real people — immortal souls every one of them. The meditations of his heart and the words of his mouth are earnest, zealous, passionate, compassionate, thoughtful, energetic, and extensive.
And such thinking, though difficult and demanding, produces dividends.
For as Paul has been scraping his way up the mountain of God’s providential plan, and begins to ascend the summit near the end of Romans 11, what he discovers at the top is not that he has arrived, but that he now has a view of the endless vistas of God’s extraordinary grace in the good news of the kingdom of God that has come in Jesus Christ. So that he stands there atop his one, theological mountain, and exclaims,
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to himthat he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version; Romans 11:33–36)
I am so grateful for the dividends of delight that God has produced in my own heart through meditation and memorization of this passage of praise from Paul! Oh how I love the Bible, and how I love the good news - this gift from God that keeps giving and giving. Spend some time climbing the mountain today, and looking on the vistas of God's extraordinary grace with our friend, the Apostle Paul.
I believe that you won't be disappointed by the investment.
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.