Romans

Romans

Thoughts, by Sarah Phillips

I am sure that you know many people who buy great big “beware of the Dog” signs to put outside their houses, dog or no dog, in order to scare off those shifty eyed characters we all know look every house over at one time or another. It has become a common practice, ever since burglars mastered the art of sneaking past the alarm and stepping over the invisible infrared beams, to claim the possession of a four-footed, sharp toothed pal. It is, for the most part, effective, especially against burglars who have had experience with dogs(and perhaps a scar or two to boot), and it’s effectiveness will never diminish. In fact, years ago I heard a story about a bugler who had been stalking a particular nice looking house for weeks, waiting patiently for the one night that the owners would choose to be away. Finally, his chance came, and he watched as the family loaded their suitcases in their car and drove down the driveway and off into the sunset, giggling and chattering about their exciting destination. When the coast was clear, he walked quietly up to the door and rang the doorbell. There was, of course, no answer, and with a happy snap of his fingers, he neatly picked the lock and let himself in.

“Is there anybody home?” he called into the darkness, chuckling to himself as he searched his pockets for a flashlight. Suddenly, he looked up, stunned, when a voice replied: “I see you, and Jesus sees you, too.” Terrified, he called out: “who is there?” Again, the voice repeated: “I see you, and Jesus sees you too.” Finally finding the strength to switch on his flashlight, the man aimed it’s beam in the direction of the voice. Relief suddenly poured over him when he saw who the speaker was: a colorful, pompous looking parrot perched inside his cage. He laughed out loud, trying to calm his shaking limbs, and switched on the light. Oh, how he wished he hadn’t, for at that moment, he saw it. Underneath the parrots cage was the most enormous Doberman he had ever seen. He didn’t even have a moment to register what was going on before the screeching voice of the parrot filled the room again, this time crying: “Attack, Jesus, attack!”

For Christians, the bible is our Doberman. When the temptations, challenges, and ways of the world try and steel their way into our hearts and minds, we need a dog to warn them off. Owning a sign that says that we have one isn’t enough- we need an actual living, thrashing, drooling animal to protect ourselves.

The apostle Paul’s masterful epistle of Romans is more than simply wonderfully living, thrashing, and drooling. It is Paul’s most important theological legacy, perhaps the best of the gifts that God gave to us through him. To me, the book of romans is more than just 16 chapters of the bible. It is 16 life altering, earth shattering chapters of the bible. For the next few minutes, I have the privilege of telling you why, with a few thoughts and favorite verses.

Chapters 1-5:

The first of my favorite verses is one of the most profound verses I have ever read. It lies in the very first chapter of Romans. Romans 1:16-17 says “for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salivation to everyone who believes, to the jew first, and then to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, for faith, as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.” Paul’s inspiring words have given me courage in many a situation. To me, these words celebrate God’s word in a special way, and prepare me to keep reading.

The most striking element of chapter one is Paul’s teaching of God’s wrath upon the unrighteous. He tells us that God has revealed himself to us over and over, ever since the beginning of the world. Those who claim there is no God are without excuse.

God’s judgment is righteous, as we learn in chapter Two. It is indeed a marvelous chapter, which brought great relief to me. I understood, when reading it, that the God’s law is there to help me, guide me, and show me that I am indeed a sinner, in need of a savior. But I don’t necessarily have to earn patron saintige. Indeed, all the way through chapter three, we learn that God’s righteousness in unobtainable by our own efforts. We need God to change us. To make us whole. Chapters 4-5 emphasize to us the importance of faith. Within chapter five dwells another one of my favorite verses: Romans 5:1: Therefor, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the greatest of all strengths. It is indeed the key that unlocks the door to our salvation. Having just looked over Romans chapters 1-5, it has occurred to me that Paul uses these chapters to truly expound the meaning of the gospel. The very last verse of chapter five serves as a wonderful finis to an enchanting symphony: So that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Chapters 6-8:

In chapter 6, Paul has turned toe the very important topic of the gospel effecting and changing our lives, especially when it comes to our struggle with sin. We are justified by faith alone. In chapter 7, we learn that we are released from the law by God’s grace, and in chapter 8, we dive headfirst into the deep idea of living life in the spirit. Romans chapter 8 is probably my most favorite chapter of the book. Not only do we in learn that we are heirs with Christ, that we have much future glory to look forward to with him in paradise, but we are given the incredible hope and promise of another of my favorite verse. Romans 8:28-29: “and we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We also learn in chapter 8 that we are predestined, called, justified, and glorified by God, and that nothing in all the world can separate us from his love.

Chapter 9

Romans chapter 9, in my opinion is the heaviest chapter of them all. It tackles the Doctrine of election with vigor, and the first time I finished reading it myself, I had bloodshot eyes and sweat pouring from by brow. Needless to say, we learn in this chapter that God has only chosen some for his kingdom, not all. We have been elected by him to be his children, and he has chosen to give us the free gift of grace and salvation. We are chosen by God, and saved through Christ.

Chapters 10-12

While chapter 10-11 speaks upon the topics of spreading the message of salvation to all, chapter twelve dives into the gifts of grace and the marks of a true Christian. “Let love be genuine.” states verse 1. Verse 18 commands: “As much as it depends upon you, live at peace with all.” “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice”, and “Do not be conformed to this world”, are important statements also found in this chapter, and in my opinions, are among the most important teachings of this book. The last verse of chapter 12 would do well to stick in all mankind’s memory: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Chapters 13-16

In chapter 13-16, Paul continues to instruct us on living a holy lifestyle. Submission to authority, fulfilling the law through love, not passing judgement upon one another or causing the other to stumble, and following the example of Christ are the ornaments that adorn these chapters, as well as Paul’s affectionate and hope-filled last words. “The God of peace will soon crush satan under your feet. The grace of our lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Verse 20 says.

The book of Romans is a declaration of the gospel, a theological guide, and an exclamation of joy, all at once. As Paul concludes his remarkable epistle, his joy and faith in Jesus Christ was incredibly inspiring to me. It makes me long to posses the same strength of faith in all circumstances that Paul often displayed.. God loves us, takes care of us, and provides us with everything that we need. One of his best gifts I think was Romans, our good old Doberman, which helps us, instructs us, protects our hearts, and makes us want to bubble over and drool with joy. Thank you God.

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Forgiveness

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Today, not being the easiest day in the world, produced a very discouraged and depressed me. I had received a bad grade on an important test, which didn’t boost my confidence in myself. In fact, a lot of things were making me worried, but the biggest thing on my mind was a load of guilt. I had been mean today, to several members of my family. I had awoken today with a frustrated, bad attitude, and I had never got rid of it. Throughout the whole day, I had realized that I was sinning, and I felt horrible about it.

This is certainly not the first time I have felt guilty about not pleasing God, which is a good thing. I prayed today, asking God for his forgiveness, but somehow, it didn’t seem like enough. You see, I have learned something about my self recently: I have a tendency, like many Christians, to worry while asking God for forgiveness. Will he really forgive me? I mean, I am constantly asking God for forgiveness. I am really pathetic, arn’t I? And, I never feel truly forgiven. Because of this dreadfully bad habit, I end up feeling very angry and regretful, disliking myself immensely. But today, as I grabbed my pretty leather bound bible and headed for my swing, I realized my mistake. Flipping through the light, comfortingly black and white pages of my bible, my eyes rested upon Psalm 51: 1-15:

1 Have mercy on me,O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

What precious words! God was talking to me; I could feel it very strongly. The words cleansed my soul, and suddenly what had been given to me on this page by God began to speak truth into my heart. God has abundant mercy, and he will blot out my transgressions. I have sinned against God, but he will forgive me. He delights in teaching me wisdom and truth, just as he was doing that very moment, and he always will, if I will always listen. He uses my sin to teach me, and enables me to teach others of his righteousness. He shall wash me clean, and will hide his face from my sin. He will not cast me from his presence, and he will, when I ask him, restore me to the joy of my salvation. This had hit me so hard that I almost toppled out of the swing.

So, my musing today was this: When we sin, we cut ourselves off from the joy of pleasing God. I have cut myself off from that joy today, since I was selfish and sinful. But when we ask God to forgive us, he will restore our joy, and we will sing praises of thankfulness to him. We will grow stronger, and closer to God. As Christians, we need to remember that God will forgive us when we ask him. When we sin, we may feel very guilty, but we shouldn’t fret over whether or not God will forgive us. We should ask him to help us feel forgiven, and remember that God will restore our joy, especially when we make things right. Which is exactly what I am off to do, right now!

~ Sarah

TM’s reading list!

For many of those who appreciate and enjoy the masterful work of William Shakespeare, The tragedy of Hamlet, prince of Denmark, will be among their favorites. I am among this crowd myself, and I agree whole heartily. In my opinion, Hamlet is without a doubt one of Shakespeare’s best tragedies.

Hamlet is the story of the young prince of Denmark who has just experienced the unexpected death of his beloved father, King Hamlet. When the story opens (only two months after the unfortunate death), Hamlet is both grieving for his father and angered at his mother Gertrude’s hasty marriage to his uncle Claudius, the late king’s heir to the throne. In the story, the ghost of Hamlet’s father comes to him and informs him that he was murdered by his brother, King Claudias, who wanted to steal both his throne and his queen. Since he died without repentance, he is condemned to hellfire and wishes for his son to avenge his unlawful death. Hamlet resolves to do so, and after much drama and tragedy, he accomplishes his task, although he himself perishes as well.

As I was reading this play, I understood Hamlet’s anger toward both his Uncle and his mother, the former for murdering his father, and the latter for marrying his uncle so soon after her late husband’s death. I could see myself in Hamlet’s place, wanting to avenge the father he lost by killing the brother who murdered him. I do not however, believe that the Bible justifies Hamlet’s actions.

Romans 12:17-19 states: “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written , Vengeance is mine; I will repay , saith the Lord.”

I don’t think that Hamlet made the right decision when he decided to kill King Claudius. He made several bad decisions due to his anger, and it ended up costing him his life and the lives of his family and dear friends. I believe that he could have responded in a much wiser way by proving his uncle guilty by trial according to the law of the land, without killing him with the sole purpose of revenge, and therefore usurping a responsibility solely possessed by God.

I believe that Shakespeare’s readers can learn a great lesson from Hamlet, and the story has helped me to better consider the consequences of my actions, especially when I am angry, however justly.

I love Shakespeare’s way with words, his poetic dialogue, and wonderful stories. I also appreciate the great meaning that can be found in every verse, and the deep lesson’s that his winding and weaving plots teach. I found great incite in Hamlet’s verses, such as Polonius’s words to his son, and both Hamlet and Claudius’s soliloquies. Although I felt saddened by Hamlet’s deep grief and rash choices, I enjoyed the story immensely. I took many positive thoughts away from it that I will continue to ponder, as well as and even greater desire to explore more of Shakespeare’s wonderful literature.

Therefore, this story has won it’s way onto Truth Musing’s highly recommended reading list!

~ Sarah

A clever rhyme

Good morning!

It is truly fascinating how something, like a word, colloquialism, euphemism, saying etc., can be handed down from generation to generation, and most people aren’t even sure about its origin. The original writers of these little treasures must have never dreamed that their work would travel so far, and become so well known.

For example: during the fifteenth century, which is a time I happen to be studying at the moment, it was dangerous, and sometimes illegal, for most Europeans to make fun of their government. Some very clever people, however, managed to get around that: they would write little songs and sayings, poking fun at their rulers, without danger of punishment.

A well-known nursery rhyme, Little miss Muffet, was probably one of these. As you know(if you are familiar with nursery rhymes), it sings:

Little miss muffet sat on a tuffet,
eating her curds and whey.
Then a big spider sat down beside her,
and scared miss muffet away.

This poem originated in Scotland, and it was written about Mary, Queen of Scots(also known as Mary Tudor.) Mary was little miss muffet, who quite enjoyed her reign(upon her return to Scotland, after the death of her husband, King Francis II of France), for the short time that she could remain in Scotland. What with the protestant reformation and political troubles, Mary fled Scotland, but most liked to think that it was John Knox, a protestant reformer, who scared her away. He is the big spider that the rhyme talks of.

So my friends, if you ever have an urge to write something, and express what you feel, do so. You have no idea what sort of an impact it will have upon future generations, or even where it will travel, just as the author of a simple rhyme must have never imagined that his work would be heard in almost every nursery around the globe.

My musing today was that I should never underestimate what God will use me for!

~ Sarah

Welcome!

My Dear Friends,

My name is Sarah, and I am sixteen years old. Welcome to my blog! I have finally decided to start a blog where I can muse, and write whatever God inspires into my heart. I plan to share stories, movie reviews, and musings, in order to share my life as a Christian teen growing up in modern culture. Enjoy!

~ Sarah