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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Romans Chapter 9 -

Have you ever tried to explain the difference between religion and relationship to your family or friends?

I have.

When I first committed my life to Jesus, I talked, I wrote letters, I shared, I explained.  I wanted so badly for my sweet relatives and friends to understand the depth of my new relationship with Jesus.

I tried to show my wonderful church-going friends that faith is more than checking all the right boxes off on our religious to-do list.  

I would look at the people I love and wish I could help them understand the simple, yet beautiful concept of falling into the arms of a Savior who loves them. 

In Romans, Chapter 9, Paul is doing this very thing. He's trying to tell the ones he loves about Jesus.

Just listen to Paul's emotional plea:

   I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—  I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race,  the people of Israel. -- Romans 9:1-4

The Jews of Rome were having trouble grasping the simple concept of Christ's love and sacrifice.  

I have found people have trouble with this concept today.  SIGH....... 

Paul continues through Romans Chapter 9 to explain and talk about the challenge of helping Jews and Gentiles understand that Jesus died to save them.  

As you know, "Gentile" was a term used for anyone who was not Jewish.  I am, in fact, a Gentile.

As a simple human being, trying to reach out to others, I am encouraged by Chapter 9.

Why? Well, if Paul struggled a bit to help others know the Truth -- I will, too.

So will you.... God understands.

Paul refers to Jesus as a "stumbling stone"  in the end of this chapter.   He talks about the difference between trusting Jesus through faith and desperately trying to please God by following laws and working.

He even quotes the Old Testament - the Torah -- which would have been very familiar to his Jewish friends:

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;  but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame"
-- Romans 9:30-33

Jesus is the cornerstone -- the foundation of our faith.  We cannot build a house (no matter how hard we work!) unless the perfect cornerstone is in place.  

Don't just stumble over the stone, embrace it (HIM) -- Believe in Jesus.  Invite Him into your life.  Place him at your very foundation.  

Then, you will be RIGHT with God.  

Here's a sneak peek at how Paul expresses this in Chapter 10: 9-10

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Woohoo!  Thanks for hanging in there, Paul and helping me understand!  I will try to follow your lead!  

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