Unfortunately this series did not begin getting recorded until Romans chapter 2 verse 17.  Below are all the audio messages from that point to Romans 4:8.  If you only have the time to listen to one I would recommend Romans 3:21-26.  I also recognize that listening to me speak can be brutal at times (some parts just aren’t very good)….so I won’t be offended if you skip through parts.  But God in His grace can still use some of the content here for His glory and that is my hope.
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The failure of those who were given the law to keep the law Romans 2:17-3:8 dcf-podcast-romans-2-verse-17-3-verse-8 (31 minutes)
All are under sin Romans 3:9-22 dcf-podcast-romans-3-verses-9-22 (41 minutes)


God’s salvation for humans is by grace through faith Romans 3:21-26 dcf-podcast-romans-3-verses-21-26 (24 minutes)


What do we have to brag about Romans 3:27-4:8 dcf-podcast-romans-3-verse-27-4-verse-8 (40 minutes)

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Just another proof that adoption is a really good thing!

The following message was recorded by downtown community fellowship of Athens, GA.
The text is Romans 3:27-4:8
What do we have to brag about?  Abraham and David tell us the answer.

Audio Message – approx. 40 minutes.  dcf-podcast-romans-3-part-3

Are you prepared for war?

Our on recent trip to Mexico,  Tuesday was not such a great day, though God is His grace still moved in people’s hearts and accomplished good work.  On Wednesday morning, we looked at Ephesians 6:10-20.   The passage speaks of putting on the whole armor of God in order to be prepared to fight and stand against the attacks of the enemy.  I believe that most of us Christians regularly forget that we are in a spiritual war and that war involves battles that happen almost every day.  These battles are “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  It is important that every day we put on our armor and prepare for battle.  I asked each person to close their eyes and envision themselves putting the armor on.  Perhaps even now it would be beneficial for you to do this exercise and to see yourself putting on the armor of God.

What is included in the armor?

Belt – truth
Breastplate – righteousness
Sandals – gospel of peace
Shield – faith
Helmet – assurance of your salvation
Sword of the Spirit – the word of God
Prayer

If you are a follower of Jesus, have you put your armor on today or are you open to the enemies attacks?  You will notice that in verse 10, “the brethren” are addressed and told to put the armor on.  Collectively there is a strength when an entire local church puts its armor on.  Conversely it is difficult for the believers who have put their armor on to see the ones who have not done so being struck down by the enemy.  Just like in a physical battle it tears down morale to see your friends taken out on stretchers to the infirmary or worse.  And of course it is terrible for the individual who does get hit by a fiery dart.

We are instructed to pray and to do so with perseverance.  As I read the passage I am struck by the call to, “be strong…put on the armor of God…stand…quench…pray…speak boldly.”  Let’s put on our armor today so that we can have victory in Jesus!  So what was the result of putting on the armor of God in Mexico?  Wednesday and the rest of the week had much more victory and much less defeat.  Are you prepared for spiritual war or will you be easily struck down when the battle rages?

chet-and-erika1If one day I have a little girl, I hope she is a lot like Erika!

Erika and I have become friends over my last few trips to Mexico.  She is now 11 years old.  Let me tell you that this girl has so much boldness in the faith.  She tells her classmates, kids she has just met, and even mothers about the love of God and their need for a Savior.  I have heard her share with great love for the people and passion for her God!

Often times I find that we make the excuse for not talking about God in our own culture and find it not so hard to share in a different culture where we don’t know the people.  Erika does not have this luxury…these are her people…and these are the only people she has the ability to tell.  I find strength in her story and example…even as I go out today and know that I will have opportunities to share the love of God with people.  I don’t want to let her down.  If she ever asked, I would want to be able to tell her that her tall friend from Georgia is just as bold in his own town as he is in her mountains.  May God help me because I am often silent when I should speak.  Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ…”
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As I share thoughts from our most recent trip to Mexico I need to let you know that I am not going to attempt a chronological order.  Also, if you are wondering what has happened to the study of Romans, don’t worry.  I’ll be picking back up this Sunday finishing chapter 3 and starting chapter 4.  Notes will be available early next week.

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I think you will enjoy this funny video even if it hits a little close to home.  After viewing it you may want to read a well written article on the subject by Craig Blomberg…“Biblical Economic Stimulus Plan”

I’m also fascinated by what the Bible says about debt and think it would be great if we had a bunch of believers who would lend without interest like they did in Old Testament days.  Think of how much more money we would be free to give if we didn’t pay interest on home loans.

I was full of emotion as our bus driver (who knew maybe 5 words of English) had Phil Collins, “Oh, think twice” playing as we rolled back into Mexico City at the end of our most recent mission trip.  I was reminded of how much people need physical and spiritual help.  Imagine being born poor into a city of 22 million and trying to find your way.  “Oh, think twice!  It’s just another day for you and me in paradise.”  The week was amazing, and I hope to post more about it shortly.  Let’s continue to strive to love our neighbors…all 6.7 billion of them…those in far away places and the ones next door.

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Below are the notes for Romans 3:9-12.  It is Part 1 of our notes on Romans 3:9-22.

I.  All are under sin (3:9)
Paul reminds his audience that regardless of what special exemption a person thinks he may have all are under sin because all have sinned.  Neither your race nor your self-righteousness can help you.

A.  Proof from OT Scriptures (Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Eccl 7:20)

  1. There is none righteous, no, not one (3:10)
    No person can say that he is the exemption to the rule.  Of course Paul is not including Jesus here.  Jesus is the God-Man and is not in this class of all sinners as we are.
  2. There is none who seeks after God (3:10)
    What does this mean?  Do not some seek after God? In fact multiple times in Scripture people are instructed to seek God.  See the following references, (Deut. 4:29, I Chron. 22:19, I Chron. 28:8-9, 7x in the book of II Chronicles, 4 times in Ezra, at least 4 times in the Psalms, Isaiah 58:2, Hebrews 11:6; Seek the Kingdom of God – Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31,).  Yet this verse which is also repeated in the Scriptures states that, “there is none who seeks after God.”

    There are three basic approaches people have when they come to an apparent contradiction in the Bible such as this one. The first is to throw one’s hands in the air and say, “This is beyond me and something I am not supposed to know.”  The second is to just pick which concept you like better, focus on those verses and ignore the others.  The third option is to dig deeper, and it is by far the best way to go.

    I believe here the Apostle Paul is using this phrase in the sense that people do not initiate love for the True and Living God on their own.  God has to reveal at least a base understanding to them through revelation: nature, their conscience, and/or Scripture.  Then the individual can seek God by faith.  We see this time and again in the Scriptures with Abraham as the primary example we will be studying in Romans.  He was called out by God and then responded in faith.  Our understanding of this concept is set in stone by I John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us.” So the Apostle Paul is setting out the truth that the Good News about God and salvation are from God.  We did not come up with the idea – God did!

  3. They have all turned aside and become unprofitable (3:12)
    We all are self-centered when we are apart from God, when we are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Even the religious who appear pious are full of pride, and before God their religion becomes unprofitable.
  4. There is no one who does good, no not one (3:12)
    Not one person is self-sufficient for their own righteousness.  Because there are not scales before God to weigh a person’s good versus bad, one act of sin negates any good a person has done.  We all stand before God as guilty people.

romans-3-part-2 click for sermon audio.  Recorded Sunday Feb. 15, 2009 during downtown community fellowship worship service.

Outline of Romans 3:9-22 (Conclusion of Section One: All have sinned and are accountable to God, Transition to God’s Salvation made available through faith.)

I.   All are under sin (3:9)

A.  Proof from OT Scriptures (Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Eccl. 7:20)

  1. There is none righteous, no, not one (3:10)
  2. There is none who seeks after God? (3:10)
  3. They have all turned aside and become unprofitable (3:12)
  4. There is no one who does good, no not one (3:12)

B.   Proof from OT Scriptures Continued

  1. Poisoned Lips (3:13) Psalm 5:9
  2. Mouth full of cursing and bitterness (3:14) Psalm 10:7
  3. Quick to kill, destruction and misery are in their ways (3:15-17) Isaiah 59:7-8
  4. Way of peace they have not known
  5. There is no fear of God before their eyes (3:18) Psalm 36:1

II.  What the law does (3:19-20)

  1. Condemns those under the law
  2. By it every mouth is stopped
  3. Gives guilt to the whole world before God
  4. The law cannot justify man before God
  5. The law gives knowledge of sin (informs man he is lost)

III.  The Righteousness of God is available (3:19-22)

A.  Apart from the Law

B.  Witnessed by:

  1. The Law
  2. Prophets

C.  Through Jesus Christ

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Just because it’s Valentine’s Day, doesn’t mean you can assume your wife prefers roses!

We woke up, got ready, and headed out for our first of two adoption training classes.  We stopped at chick-fil-a on the way and grabbed one of our favorite breakfast meals – a chicken biscuit with cheese and a cherry coke.  We were fueled up for our 9 AM to 4 PM class.

I must say that the hardest part of the training is hearing about all of the abuse children are put through – beatings and burnings, sexual exploitation, and emotional destruction.  My personal emotions run back and forth between sadness and anger.  One moment I want to cry, and the next I want to beat the ever loving snot out of something or someone.  To “be angry and sin not” is quite a challenge for me when I hear about these things.

After the training, we came home and Claire took a nap.  I took the opportunity to grab some last minute Valentine goodies and prepare dinner.  While at the store I ran into one of the college students  I play hoops with.  He saw me standing there with a hydrangea plant with a bunch of huge blooms.  We had a nice talk about relationships, and I got to drop a little wisdom and speak a little about God’s love to him.  We had a good time cutting up and laughing.

After dinner we relaxed and then went downtown to see “Step into Africa”.  It is 3500 square foot exhibit set up to put you in a village in Africa.  You step into the character of a child and live their story.  It was very well done and highlights the devastating affects of AIDS among children in Africa. You can see a very short video that tells you about the experience by clicking this sentence.

It was not a typical Valentine’s Day, but today we grew closer together, and I believe closer to the heart of God.  I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is so full of love and who has such a great capacity to give that love away! “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4).

I was asked the question of whether it was better to adopt locally or internationally.  One argument used for international (particularly in famine ravaged areas) was that those kids are far more at risk of death.  I cannot disagree with that thought.  However, I do not think it is a matter of which is better but which are you capable of doing.

Often people say, “Well if I had the money, then I would adopt.”  And the truth is that there are a lot of us that don’t have $25K to $50K available for the typical cost of an international adoption.  And even many local adoptions have significant expenses related to them.

However, if you adopt a child who is in foster care, then the state actually pays you.  Until the kid is 18, their medical expenses are covered and you receive a per Diem that offsets the additional expenses you will incur by adding to your family.  You will also receive additional tax breaks, and educational supplements are available to help with college tuition.

So the excuse of, “I don’t have the money to adopt,” is taken away by adopting a kid out of foster care. For those who have a lot more jingle in their pocket or who find a unique an inexpensive opportunity, they have a green light to go for the international adoption.  The point of my original post was that the church in the U.S.A. has no excuse for all the kids who are currently up for adoption in the U.S.A. but who are not being adopted.

We should be about doing all we can every where we can because our neighbor is anyone we have the power to help!

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

In every state in the U.S.A. there are children who are in foster care who are up for adoption.  The parental rights of their parents have been terminated.  They are in need of a permanent home, preferably a home that is full of God’s love and truth.

In my state of Georgia there are thousands of churches that claim to be Christ-centered and tens of thousands of homes that make this same claim.  On Georgia’s My Turn Now website there are 185 listings of children that need to be adopted, 25 of those listings are sibling groups.  We can clearly see that there should be many more Christian homes available than their are adoptable foster kids.  Yet, many of these are at risk of going through life without a family.  Can you imagine to be in that sad state where your biological family has either failed you or died, and there is no other family in the whole world that will make you part of theirs?

Instead of there being a waiting list of kids hoping to be adopted, there should be a backlog of hundreds of Christian families in our state waiting and hoping for their turn to adopt one of these precious ones.  What is stopping us other than a lack of awareness, selfishness, and fear?

Are we really taking seriously the command of God to take care of the orphans? It would be a powerful testimony in your community if it could be said, “There are no orphans here because the church in my community has handled its business.”

May Jesus soften the heart of His church to the needs of the least of these!  May we stop asking the question, “God, do you want my family to adopt?” and start assuming His command to love our neighbors does apply to us in this area by asking the question, “God, is there a reason you have why we should not adopt, or is there a reason you want us to wait to do this?”

Take a look at the kids available in Georgia at My Turn Now.  A quick Google search is all it takes to find the kids in your state.

On Saturday, Claire and I went to an “Adoption Gathering” in Gainesville, Georgia.  (I’ll have to tell you the story sometime of why every time I hear the word “Gathering”, I think freaky cult group.)  Okay, let me get back on track.  We had never been to an event like this, and we did not know exactly what to expect.

We arrived at 9 AM and had an orientation with other prospective parents.  It was mostly common sense stuff like, “Don’t ask a kid, ‘Would you like to be adopted?'”  They had lots of roundtables with an activity at each one: make a hat, paint a stuffed animal, make an airplane, or make a cookie dough jar.  They also had a couple of those mini-basketball games, and a football throw.  You could spend any amount of time you wanted at any of the activities and the kids could do the same.  The goal was to spend some time with each child, not monopolizing any one kid or ignoring others.

The real interesting part for us is that we connected more with two middle school sibling groups than we thought we would.  We really had not opened ourselves up to that age group before.  It challenged us to have our box expanded once again.  If there is anything we have learned from this process multiple times now is that what we thought we could not or would not want is now very much a possibility.  Over the last year we have gone from “only infants please” to “yeah, I think we could handle a couple of 8th graders.”

We are still seeking God and praying for His will to be done with our family.  Could we be privileged enough for God to use us to step in and give someone the opporuntiy for a radically different life?  We are excited about what the coming months may hold.

II. Timothy 2:1-3, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

I have had mentors, role models, and friends who have help shape my life to this point.  I wanted to share with you about 3 of my heroes who have inspired me, in hopes that a little bit of their lives might rub off on you as you read.

1.  My parents – I’m going to get a “two-fer” for my first one.  I admire my parents for their steadfastness in following Jesus, for taking the road less traveled, and for the sacrifices they have made. They have consistently sought to do His will regardless of the consequences.

2.  John R. – I first noticed his life when I was a young teenager.  He is seven years older than I am, and I was magnetically attracted to His passion for Jesus and life.  He has been a consistent challenge, mentor, and friend in my life for about 20 years now.  I respect him more now than ever because he is still passionate about the things of God, and he still challenges my heart to be more like Jesus.

3.  Jose B. – my friend and inspiration down south – way south as in Mexico south.  I can only pray and hope to have half the passion and drive that he does when I am his current age.  He and his wife have given their lives away so that others may know Jesus.  Spend a day with him, and you will know you have been in the presence of someone who has a BIG heart and that heart is close to God.

What do they all have in common?

Jesus is first in their lives, they pray a lot, and they take the words of their Saviour seriously.

Who are your heroes and why?

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I hope you enjoyed this little break from Romans.  I know the Romans study can be tedious at times, but I believe you will be blessed if you stick with it.

Romans 2:17-3:8 – Part 4

Romans 3:1-8, “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:

‘That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.’

5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?
7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.”

Romans 2:17-3:8 – Part 4

The Apostle Paul has laid out the guilt of his own people as part of his theme that all people are guilty before a Holy God.  Here he wants to make clear that though all people are guilty before God and in danger of God’ wrath, that there is an advantage to being a Jew.

I find it fascinating that he states, “Much in every way!” And then he states only one thing, “To them were committed the oracles of God.”  All other blessings were summed up in the fact that God spoke to them.  What a privilege they had, and we should all be so thankful because regardless of whether you are a Jew or Gentile you now have access to the Word of God because of them.

Paul then goes on to state that though some Jews did not believe it did not negate the faithfulness of God but rather amplified it.  Some twisted people in their minds then wanted to use this fact as an excuse and a way to call God unfair for judging them.  “For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?”  Paul is rightfully angry that others have claimed he has taught this heresy.  Later in the book Paul will handle this way of thinking in more detail, but for now he just wants to lay this out as perverse thinking and that those who think this way deserve the condemnation they will receive.

The primary lesson here is that people are always looking for excuses for why they should not be judged.  However, the only correct response is to admit our guilt and seek forgiveness from a Loving, Holy, and Just God, through Jesus Christ who paid for our sins at the cross.

We should also note that anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus and has anti-semitic tendencies or is blatantly anti-semitic needs to seriously reevaluate what they believe.  For they are in serious error on many levels.