Summer Bible Study: Romans // Ch. 4

I truly hope that each one of you have been having a great week. Insert honesty here: This has been the most difficult week mentally speaking for me that I have had in months. The enemy of our souls has been on my back all week, y’all. I hope you haven’t gotten tired of the past couple of boasts being all about my mess & bad days. I just know that I could sit here and type about how everything in life is always going to be rainbows & butterflies but y’all, that’s just not truth. Thank God for His supernatural strength & GRACE. Can I get an amen?! Needless to say, I am so excited for the weekend to jump off tomorrow.

I look forward to this time with you all every week. I hope that you have been learning much but more than that, you feel closer to God. If you’re not there yet, please hear me out: WE NEED HIM. Desperately. Without Him, all is darkness. In fact, life just isn’t bright without His presence. He is light after all. I pray that as you read and study Romans with us, light will sneak into your heart a little more & more each day. He is good.

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Paul spends time in chapter four remembering men of great faith in God. Can you recall any beloved friends or family members who have left a great impact on your life for the cause of Christ? Do you know anyone who has great faith in God? God uses people with great faith in Him to encourage others. God wants you to have great faith in him! He wants to use you in ways both small and large to impact others!

Romans Chapter Four {verses 1-8}

What is this passage saying?

First up is Abraham. Paul used Abraham’s life and testimony to emphasize the great impact & significance of faith in God. Abe dude was a man of faith in a great God. Abraham was also a man who went through a lot of crazy circumstances. Sometimes, he failed and other times, he succeeded. Regardless of how many times he failed, he was still righteous in God’s eyes. Because Abraham had faith in GodFaith alone in God dubs you and I righteous. It is not by works like Jews believe.

I love verse five. “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” Paul also reminds us of David’s words in Psalm 32, “blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

How can I practically apply these truths to my life?

We are righteous, right with God, through faith in Him ALONE. It is not through how good we are or how many times we pray, help others out, or memorize scripture that we find our salvation. It is through faith alone. I believe that God wants us to write this on our hearts & mind since it has come up in scripture over these past four chapters. But there is more! I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that faith in God is just the start. Faith in Jesus Christ is the solid rock on which we stand. True faith in God is LIVING. God uses James to tell us that faith without works is dead. {James 2:26} Works are the natural by-product of faith. A genuine faith stirs the heart to glorify God through practical actions!*

Do you consider yourself a woman or man of faith in God? I encourage you to ask God to strength your faith in Him. He is faithful to answer that prayer!

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verses 9-12

What is this passage saying?

Paul writes a lot about circumcision. Honestly, I’ve never studied a lot about this topic & the reasons about why it was so important to ancient believers. Although it seems somewhat “old school”, I trust that God can still use it to speak Truth into our hearts. Do not be quick to look over certain things in the Bible if it looks impractical. I can promise you that God has purpose for everything! I do know that circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel in the Old Testament days; a religious ritual.

“Circumcision was a physical sign or seal of the covenant between God and His chosen nation (see Genesis 17) But God did not give Abraham this sign of the covenant until Abraham was 99 years old (Gen. 17:1-14) Many years prior to that time,  Abraham had responded to God in faith and received right standing before God. He was justified before he was circumcised. (Gen. 15:6)” This is from my NKJV study bible commentary. It is eloquently conveyed to us & easy to understand.

Paul reminds the readers of this specific letter to remember that their righteousness has nothing to do with outward deeds, appearance, or rituals. It’s a heart issue. It’s about faith.

I hope that you learned something new as I did today! Now, what can we do with this new truth?

How can I practically apply these truths to my life?

“circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

Today, if you have been saved by the blood of Jesus & have been born again through faith, you are “spiritually circumcised”. Christ’s holy spirit & presence replaces your sinful spirit & nature!

To better explain, let me send you over to Colossians 2. Paul explains how circumcision still spiritually applies to you today!

In Him, you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the circumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven all your trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Colossians 2:11-14 {bold, italics, ul mine}

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verses 13-25

What is this passage saying?

Paul recounts the story of Abraham and Sarah. A beautifully broken story of infertility, hope, hardship, & faith. You can read it all in Genesis 15 but I’ll sum it up in a few sentences: Abe & Sarah are married & old {like in their 90’s, old.) Sarah is way past her prime to be childbearing. But, God promised Abraham that he would have kids one day. Unfortunately, Sarah was a little impatient. Because she thought she would never be able to birth children for her husband, she told her beloved husband to sleep with their servant girl. Things start going downhill when Abraham agrees. Welcome to the world, little Ishmael. But what’s this? Sarah is pregnant! Just as God had promised.

Paul recounts this in Romans 4 yet leaves out all the dirty details. Why? Because Abraham had faith in God despite all that had happened & that’s all that matters. I believe that it represents God’s thoughts towards us. Despite our imperfection, He always honors & remembers our faith.

Paul tells us that those who trust and have faith in God are following in Abraham’s footsteps of true & genuine faith in a great God.

How can I practically apply these truths to my life?

How can we have faith in someone we hardly know? Get to know God by being in His Word and letting His Word penetrate your heart. Pray to him. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Spill your heart to Him. Thank Him. Praise Him. Ask Him questions. Each time you do, you draw closer to Him & He draws closer to you! {James 4:8}

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Next week, we will be studying chapter 5 AND 6! So, come read to study Romans chapters five AND six!

Meet me back here at this time next Thursday with your favorite treat, journal pages full of questions & remarks, and an open heart! See you then, friend!

YOU ARE LOVED!

-Katie

 

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Today, I remember..

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Today I’m remembering the One.

The one who created the heavens and the earth.

The one who has always lived yet came into this particular creation as a helpless baby.

The one who took his first steps on the same earthy ground He used to create mankind.

The one who taught grown men the ways of God at the tender age of twelve.

The one whose eyes shone like the sun at the mention of His Heavenly Father.

The one who befriended sinners, the worst of them.

The one who gathered up the weak, the unfortunate, and the cheaters and made them into righteous brothers.

The one who brought sight to the blind with one touch of his powerful yet gentle fingertip.

The one who drove out the worst of demons with simply just words.

The one who wept and mourned at the sight of his best friend lying dead.

The one who never even once sinned against His Father God.

The one who gave life to the dead and broken.

The one who authored faith and taught it well.

The one who gave mercy and forgiveness again, and again, and again, and again.

The one who healed his enemies and prayed for those who hated him.

The one who was led to his death like a sheep to the slaughter.

The one who was exalted only to be cut down by those he loved, healed, led, taught.

The one who took the beatings, one after the other.. For hours.. For you.

The one who was mutilated by his own creation.

The one who suffered and cried and hung on by a thread on that cross of crucifixion.

The one who took on each and every bitter and hateful remark.

The one who could vanish in a second and restore all things yet he clung to that cross of death so that we would have a chance at Life.

The one who came to earth to do that very thing.

I remember the love poured out, the sin that was upon him. That was my sin. Our sin. Our sin put him on that cross because without Him, we wouldn’t have a chance to live. We would have died and gotten exactly what we deserved, hell.

But the God of great Love had a different plan. His plan is always good. His plan was to send a Savior who could handle that sin and conquer over it.

And that is who I remember.

The Savior.
The Sin-bearer.
The King of Kings.
The Lord of Lords.
The One who bore our shame and death so that we wouldn’t have to.
The God of Love in the form of man.

Jesus Christ.

I remember Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

And the Hope that He gives…

Because yes, He died.

But He didn’t stay dead.

He BEAT death! He CONQUERED hell! He rose from the grave and left our sin there!!!!

He Reigns, He rules, He has authority to wipe sin out of us because he beat it!

He is the remedy to our vile selves.

And He gives life to all who believe and call upon Him!

I remember that cross and I praise Him because of it.

 

 

How can it be?

How can it be…

that no matter what I do, what I say, how often I pray or forget to pray,

Your Loving hands guide me still?

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How can it be..

That I can go throughout my day without a thought of your Presence..

How can it be that, even then, Your love ever rests on Me?

How can it be?

In the loneliest stillness, You are here.

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In the moments I turn my back on You, You’re still here…

And the days when I feel that I am at my best, you are near.

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And my worst… You don’t budge. You’re all around. You’re everywhere.

How can it be that You, my God, would care for me?

You came to earth to be with me, you died on a cross to set me free…

How can it be?

How can it be that deep inside of me… You made something out of nothing?

You reside with the Father to daily pour Living water deep into this thirsty soul of mine..

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how can it be?

that You would live to die and be raised again for a sinner like me?

“But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24,25

-Katie, Hot Tea and the Empty Seat

A New Challenge: The Praise Journey

The coffee is brewing, the puppy is playing, the Christmas tree is (still) lit, the rain is sprinkling, my husband is working, and I am ready to sit down at the feet of God.

A new year is here, 2014, and like any new morning, it brings with itself a sense of change and opportunity.

I have been itching to get this started. It is a Beth Moore devotional given to me by my wonderful husband. I decided to wait until January 1st to start it. It is a ten-week devotional on prayer.

Prayer. I have mentioned before that prayer is something that I struggle with in my walk with Yahweh. In the mornings, either my attention span is too short or I feel like I am too busy to sit still.

I am so pumped and ready for how God is going to work in me and through me during this study. The devotional’s purpose is to “know Christ through the study of His Word and the intimacy of prayer”. My soul yearns to know Him more. To really feel the heart of God thumping. To hear his “Whispers of Hope” (which is the book’s title. Check it out!)

If you haven’t noticed already, I love a good challenge!

I Invite you to commit to bow alongside me in ten weeks of dedicated prayer time.

You don’t need a book (although, a prayer devotional is a great guide and motivator which helps me to be on track).

All you need is a willing heart and a desire to know Christ more intimately.

I am devoting 30 minutes daily in prayer time exclusively to my Lord. Like Beth teaches, that time will be spent like the following…

Praising Him
Repenting of any current sin
A His presence and Lordship in my own personal life
Interceding for others in prayer
Supplication for self, or telling him how we’re feeling and what we’re going through and where we need His strength.
Equipping. While “supplication for self helps us know God; this step assists us as we grow in our capacity to SERVE God.”

This is a format she calls “P.R.A.I.S.E.” (She is a genius I believe.)

I want to KNOW God more intimately this new year.

Join me, won’t you?

A life that knows God is a blessed life indeed!

-Katie

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Why “Hot Tea And The Empty Seat”?

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Lately, at this point in my life when work comes daily and life is throwing me curve balls every second, each day can get so busy I can overlook the most important things. Anyone feeling my pain? So often I go through my day, maybe praying once or twice, not really acknowledging God’s presence until I need something.

But then.. One day in my favorite little coffee shop as I stared at the empty seat in front of me, something deep inside spoke to me. It was no loud banter. Just a quiet still voice. Immanuel. God with me. In me. Right now. All the time. Through the mundane and the exciting, the highs and the lows. He, my Savior and Comforter, my friend and Provider, Jesus, King of Kings longs for me to enjoy, talk, and experience life with Him through it all. He is with me everyday sitting across from me in that empty seat at this coffee shop as I sip my African Sunset Red Tea. He is with you at the office when you feel like you can’t get anything done. He is with you while you’re in the lunch room or in the lab. He is with you as you cry on your bed because your significant other left you. He is with you while you study in the library. He is with you in the passenger seat as you’re driving home from a college you feel so alone at. He is here. And He is ready for a relationship. A close, never-leave-My-side, Ill-be-with-you-always relationship.

Do we pay Him any notice?

So as I sat, staring at that empty seat, His presence washed over me and it was as if I could almost see Him smiling at me. His ever-loving eyes piercing my soul… And He stretches out His hand.

What am I daily doing with Him? Do I invite Him to sit with me, chat for hours and tell Him all about my troubles, fears, excitement? Or do I ignore Him and finish reading my emails.. eat.. and leave?

But even if that were the case, the next day when I arrive to enjoy my favorite tea, He is there..

In that empty seat.

My prayer for you and I is that we recognize, accept, and interact with Jesus on a daily basis and enjoy life in deep and close fellowship with Him. This is what He desires. It’s all about a relationship.

Daily song: Draw Me Nearer by Meredith Andrews