'A Year with Jesus' for 9/1/2015
The Destructive Path
Note from Jesus
What you find in the verses below from the early part of Romans will appear to be a collection of harsh words and strong language. It is certainly not what you might expect from the premiere letter of Paul about the Father's grace, My sacrifice, the Holy Spirit's power, and your faith that connects you to salvation. And yes, I acknowledge these words are hard words, bold words, and frank words. But, dear child of the Father, these are true words. Part of what Paul was doing was demonstrating the need for the salvation and spiritual blessings that We offer. He will discuss these at length later in this letter. First, however, Paul needed to address what happens when folks worship created things instead of the Creator!
Paul had powerfully proclaimed the nature of the one true God — Us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in his sermon in Athens. He had called on people to turn away from idols. They must seek after the One Who "made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth" (Acts 17:24). We made the universe and all that is in it so that all people would seek after Us and find Us. We are close to you, not far away (Acts 17:27-28).
Unfortunately, much of humanity has often refused to believe in Us even after seeing the evidence in nature of Our glorious presence and the indications in the universe of Our eternal existence. In fact, people have often drifted into celebrating and worshiping the things that We created to bless them instead of celebrating Us, the source of all their blessings!
Paul told the Roman believers that people became so caught up in chasing the thrills of their existence that they had forgotten about the Father's love, My creative attentiveness, and the Spirit's work throughout creation. They then gave themselves so completely to reveling in the created things and celebrating the created experiences that they abandoned the love, grace, and power of their Creator. They gave themselves over to all sorts of depraved distortions of Our creative gifts because they forgot the origin of these gifts. They failed to see that their ravenous desire for more of these is the sinfully destructive hook repeatedly baited by Satan to enslave them in their own depraved desire for more. They experienced one thing after another, but never had enough and never found satisfaction in what they had because they lost sight of the Father. Their hearts grew so cold to the Father's love and grace that He turned them over to their own lustful drives and to the destructive consequences they bring.
Beloved, what you see so prevalent in your own culture is a similar process happening before your own eyes. The Creator has largely been forgotten in your world. Those who have been created have forgotten their Creator and become more and more self-absorbed. The result has been the exaltation of created things and special experiences to the point that they are made common. They have become debased because they have lost their grounding in the intent of the Creator and the purpose of their creation.
So what was the punishment for those who pursued this "counterfeit" path of self-indulgence? The Father stepped out of the way of these sinners and "turned them loose to follow the unseemly designs of their depraved minds and to do things that should not be done." They were allowed to lose themselves in the depravity they pursued. Their destruction was of their own making and breaks the heart of their Creator!
Be warned. What was true in Paul's day is also true in your own day.
Verses to Live
I challenge you as you read these verses not to assign them to long ago and far away. Think of how your own time and culture are reflected in the following verses. Then, choose to give thanks and praise to the Father, your Creator, as the One from Whom all good and perfect gifts have come (James 1:17)!
For the wrath of God is breaking through from heaven, opposing all manifestations of ungodliness and wickedness by the people who do wrong to keep God's truth in check. These people are not ignorant about what can be known of God, because He has shown it to them with great clarity. From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes His undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible; and it voids the excuses and ignorant claims of these people because, despite the fact that they knew the one true God, they have failed to show the love, honor, and appreciation due to the One who created them! Instead, their lives are consumed by vain thoughts that poison their foolish hearts. They claim to be wise; but they have been exposed as fools, frauds, and con artists — only a fool would trade the splendor and beauty of the immortal God to worship images of the common man or woman, bird or reptile, or the next beast that tromps along.
So God gave them just what their lustful hearts desired. As a result, they violated their bodies and invited shame into their lives. How? By choosing a foolish lie over God's truth. They gave their lives and devotion to the creature rather than to the Creator Himself, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen. This is why God released them to their own vile pursuits, and this is what happened: they chose sexual counterfeits — women had sexual relations with other women and men committed unnatural, shameful acts because they burned with lust for other men. This sin was rife, and they suffered painful consequences.
Since they had no mind to recognize God, He turned them loose to follow the unseemly designs of their depraved minds and to do things that should not be done. Their days are filled with all sorts of godless living, wicked schemes, greed, hatred, endless desire for more, murder, violence, deceit, and spitefulness. And, as if that were not enough, they are gossiping, slanderous, God-hating, rude, egotistical, smug people who are always coming up with even more dreadful ways to treat one another. They don't listen to their parents; they lack understanding and character. They are simple-minded, covenant-breaking, heartless, and unmerciful; they are not to be trusted. Despite the fact that they are fully aware that God's law says this way of life deserves death, they fail to stop. And worse — they applaud others on this destructive path.
Response in Prayer
Father God, the Creator of the universe and the God of all grace, thank You! I recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from You. I believe that You long to bless me. So I choose to see Your call to holiness and to righteous behavior to be the outgrowth of Your desire to bless me. I believe that Your words about holy living are not arbitrary rules that were given to bind me and deny me of blessings but that they are there to channel me to even deeper blessings. Forgive me for the many times I have enjoyed Your gracious gifts and assumed that I deserved what I received rather than being thankful for Your grace. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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