Cutting away the old flesh…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 2:17-29

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God

and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;

and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?

You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.

For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.

But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Circumcision was given as a sign to Israel of the covenant with God that included God’s favor.  A covenant is an agreement between two parties leading to favorable results for each.  The agreement promises an end result.  In this case, God finds pleasure in the obedience of his people and his people enjoy his favor.  The physical sign was a symbol of that special covenant between God and his people.  It carried with it obligations to be met.  What was repeatedly told to God’s people is the first requirement; to love God and our neighbor.  All else is driven by those two bits of criteria to be met by God’s people.  When we begin our relationship with God we experience that love and return it.  There is a circumcision of the heart.  Circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh.  We experience a cutting away of the flesh-driven impulses and the new birth of a spiritual nature.  The old is cut away and the new becomes manifest.  We are made clean and become new creatures.  Obligations are now want-to’s and a joy; they have ceased to be a have-to.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

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Ask, receive…joy

John 16:17-24

Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?  Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 Birthing something new involves pain of various degrees: a sense the labor and pain will never end,  fear can be a factor for those in it for the first time, regret for being involved in the process.  Once the new has been revealed, whether it is a child or anything else, the labor and all it entailed is forgotten.  It wasn’t taken away, it still existed but the joy of the baby erases the pain, labor, fear and regret.  Jesus relates this to the birth of the new covenant.  There was all of this: pain, labor, fear, regret and more but with His resurrection, with the knowledge of what He was bringing to the world came joy that covered it all.  While we are in the process of working for the kingdom of God, he promises us we will receive anything we ask of the Father in His name.  He also promises a time when we will no longer ask him for anything.  What will make the difference?  We will have received and our joy will be complete.  The birth will have taken place, the new will have been revealed.  Can this be applied to many different situations?  Absolutely.  And we can move forward in the knowledge He leads, we can ask and will receive and there will come a day when our joy will be complete.