HA–Dave didn’t seem to think he had a very good sermon, but it was excellent, as usual! It was about holiness, since in our study of 1 Thessalonians, we’re on 4:1-8.
Holiness is a process, in which we exchange our will for God’s will, ‘ME’ being the biggest competitor for God in our lives. Even in our churches, we like to talk about how "God saved ME", and what God has done for ME–but it’s also about what God has done for the world. These verses refer to the idea that we need to "get hold of" those things that impede holiness–control the things that control us… "self-discipline". Important to note, is that holiness involves a community. Sin can also bring down others as they join us, but others can help us overcome sin. Keeping our sin in isolation (which of course, we prefer to do), can make it worse; whereas if we confess (most likely in a small group or one-on-one situation), there will be a community to help and support. And of course as Paul says, the "Spirit who is Holy" (he separates the two words in order to point it out) will empower us, we are not expected to do it on our own. We need to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.
Dave’s sharing of his own situation was also encouraging: he had trouble with smoking, having started when he was only 11 years old… it was not until he confessed it to his wife and had her help and support, that he was able to quit (several years ago).
There were some very similar themes in the Romans study this morning (which Dave is also leading). We talked about how sin is not just "missing the mark", but an actual power that controls us. He mentioned the importance of the word "flesh", which is not a word we use so often in our modern translations anymore. Jesus came "in the flesh", and "flesh" is often referred to in respect to sin. We often forget how important the physical is… Jesus really was a physical person, who understands everything we go through "in the flesh". And isn’t it often the desires of our physical bodies that are so hard to overcome? Jesus also died "in the flesh" (taking our punishment), but provides hope because He also rose from the dead "in the flesh" (He ate in front of people to prove it!) Dave only hinted at these things, with a promise that it would come up more as we progress through Romans.
Paul uses the method of asking questions, and continues throughout the book of Romans, to allow the bud to open slowly, as he presents his arguments.
An interesting note from this morning’s study: Dave pointed out how Jesus completed the role meant for Israel, by His faithfulness (whereas they hadn’t been). He was talking about verse 22 of Romans 3, and The Mom couldn’t help but notice that this verse actually refers to OUR faithfulness… she thought, "oh well, Dave is very smart, but he’s slipped up here…" Then (wouldn’t you know it), at the end Rob always has some points to add (he’s the co-teacher for this group); and what he had to explain was fascinating. Apparently there are a lot of verses where the translation has been changed over the years (with… who was it… Luther?) You see, the original verb can be translated either way, but Rob thinks it would be better to say it the way Dave did, so that it comes out to point to the faithfulness of Christ, instead of our faithfulness. And that is important because then we don’t have to worry if we have "enough faith" to be saved; and it is actually the faithfulness of Christ which creates faith within us, rather than anything we DO. So grace is by faith–by the obedience of Christ in going to the cross, creating faith in us, etc.
(we were going to leav this in smaller print, but it’s SO much easier to read, when it’s larger!)
With that, The Mom now feels that she is beginning to catch up on things… she even had time for a walk yesterday–yay!!
Walk to Rivendell: Frodo has gone ahead with the Elves, the rest of us follow on foot.