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Reading Romans 9

Hey there church! Sorry we never got around to doing the Romans Recap on Friday like I had planned for. I severely underestimated how much time and energy Youth Sunday would take. I likely could have wrote something but....ya boy really likes sleep, to be honest. So, I'll save the Romans Recap for the end of our journey together through this series. But enough about that let's focus more on how amazing Youth Sunday was!! The kids did an amazing job at organizing their vision and executing on it. They were nervous - sure - but they showed confidence and vulnerability in their messages. If you haven't watched it yet please do so!

Because of Youth Sunday taking a break from the series we're going to cover all that we would have covered this past Sunday this week in the blog exclusively. I'll try to go into detail but also still keep the blog to about a 5-7 minute read instead of the 8-10 it's been. So be sure to check in with on Wednesday and Friday.


Scripture to Read

Romans 9


My Thoughts (and context)

So, Romans 9 is taking direct aim at Paul's peers, the Jews, about their struggle to accept Jesus as being part of the grand plan that God had for God's chosen. If you find Romans 9 to be difficult to read you're in good company. The text is wrathful and reeks of the distasteful 'hellfire and damnation' that clouds the love that Christianity claims. However, I don't think Paul is being judgmental here - I think he's being desperate. Well, maybe that's not the best word but give me a moment to explain. Paul, a fellow Jew has had this overwhelming revelation about Jesus on his way to Damascus. He then is filled with such zeal (and guilt) that he starts churches all over Asian minor and is seeing this massive influx of gentiles into the faith. But, when he looks back to his own people they seemingly haven't come with him.

My dog Bonsai is perfect in every way, obviously, but if there were one thing I don't love about Bonsai it is that his mouth is always dry. Like desert dry. As such he'll often have "smacky lips" as McKinsie and I lament to one another. This is particularly annoying at night when the awful sound of it just seems to echo in our small, still, and quiet bedroom. But, this isn't just a selfish desire as his mouth often gets so dry that he'll end up throwing up. We've tried everything to get this dog to drink more water. We've added broth to it. We've bought water enhancers (like doggy gatoraid, basically), we bought a fancy little thing that makes the water move (we read that street dogs can be skeptical of still water and he was a street dog in Puerto Rico.) Nothing works. Bonsai will look at us, the water, and then back to us before turning around smacking his lips as he walks away. McKinsie and I like feel like Paul feels in Romans 9. We know what Bonsai needs but that doesn't mean that Bonsai wants it. Paul knows what is good for his peers and he tries everything (like we did) to convince them to continue to believe in God's plan. He brings up these judgmental and wrathful scriptural passages not from a place of righteous "I'm better than you" precept, but from the position of a loving friend trying to "lead a horse to water and make it drink."

Another way of thinking of Romans 9 is when someone goes to a doctors appointment and the doctor gives you some lifestyle advice. Stop drinking so much or else your liver might scar, stop smoking or your lungs might develop cancer, stop eating so much salt or your blood pressure might become a problem, lose some weight or you might develop diabetes, etc. The doctor isn't brining up "wrathful scripture" (so to speak) to judge us. It's to warn us from a place of love and concern. Personally, I recently had routine blood work done myself and was advised to take Vitamin D supplements as my vitamin d is a little low. (obviously it is when's the last time anyone has seen the sun?!) Anyways, it's ultimately up to me, to you, or to our general "someone" to follow or not follow the doctors advice. A former church member of mine had to get his finger amputated and then later his leg amputated as a result of diabetes. He was very matter of fact about it when talking to me about it one day. "I knew what I was supposed to do and I just didn't learn my lesson the first time or the second time. I think I've got it the third time." When I think of Romans 9 I think of situations like this. I don't know if Paul is right about God's wrath coming true for those that don't accept grace through Christ, but I suppose it's always wise to trust the experts whether thats theologically or medically speaking.

But there is a lesson in here for caretakers as well. Paul has been through hell and back by the time he wrote Romans. He's been beaten, jailed, mocked, and persecuted in any other form you can think of. However, in spite of all of this he remains steadfast in his love and concern for his peers. He is literally showing an example of "love your enemy and neighbor" in Romans 9. We all have people in our lives that we wish they would change their ways or improve themselves, their relationships, or anything else. It might be tempting to eventually give up on them and move on. But, Paul shows us in Romans 9 that the Christian thing to do is to keep reaching out a hand, to keep bringing water bowls to our dry mouthed dogs, and to keep believing in others even if they don't believe in themselves.

For me, this is the message of Romans 9. What do you think?


Praying the Hymns

Have Thine Own Way, Lord is a fitting hymn for today as Paul references the idea of a potter having control over the clay. While we might feel most secure with control in our own hands I encourage you to take up the spiritual discipline of letting God help mold your ways and our days. I assure you that our loving God will not lead you to harm. Join me in singing this song as we close out our time of study!

Have Thine own way, Lord,Have Thine own way;

Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

Mould me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, Yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord,Have Thine own way;

Search me and try me, Master, today.

Whiter than snow, Lord, Wash me just now,

As in Thy presence, Humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord,Have Thine own way;

Wounded and weary, Help me, I pray.

Power, all power, Surely is Thine,

Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord,Have Thine own way;

Hold o’er my being absolute sway.

Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see

Christ only, always, Living in me.

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