Summary: In preparation for Easter we consider the truths Paul

Romans 1:1-6, 16

Good people can be made better

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God--the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

From 1990 to 1995 we lived in the upper east end of Hamilton. Our street was mostly seniors, husbands and wives who had bought their homes early in their married lives. They raised their children, survived the empty nest, flourished in retirement enjoying their life long friends, their now larger families. It was an interesting neighbourhood. The house we lived in had been owned by The Salvation Army for many years. One of our neighbours had seen many families come and go out of that house and she was only too happy to tell Wendy and I all about them. She loved sitting in her chair on the front porch – not that the porch was very big. I would often go over, especially if the weather was nice and sit on her step with her and her husband sipping on a cold drink or a cup of coffee.

What made her an interesting part of the neighbourhood was that she was THE “Neighbourhood Watch”, all that that means rolled into one person. She knew the details of most people’s lives on that street, and she kept me “informed”.

It didn’t take Wendy and I long to figure out that we were being watched too…in fact I discovered that often when I came home she would be looking out the window at me. She watched in a manner that obviously she felt was not detectable from our driveway…but most of the time I could see her just behind the sheers peering out….and it seemed to me that no matter what time it was, she was there.

Much to Wendy’s horror, I started to wave at her even if she was suppose to be “hiding”. It was great fun!

She and her husband were very friendly, and as time passed by I tried to build a bit of a bridge of friendship into their lives. They were not church attender’s so one day I asked her about her relationship with God. Her response: “I am a good person – I don’t need to worry about that”

It was an answer that saddened me, and I set about trying to help her see how good people could be made better by a relationship with Jesus.

People who care for others, can become more caring. Generous people can become more generous. Loving people can become more loving….and so on.

What we can become is of course of great interest to us. We realize that we have short comings, and personal biases…we know that we could be better husbands, better wives, better parents…better citizen’s and God offers a way…

But it is not through our ‘trying to be better’…but by allowing God to have greater reign in our lives, by giving more fully our wills into the hands of the one who offers us the freedom to exercise our will.

I want to take you to the book of Romans. It is perhaps the single greatest work in the New Testament. It is testimony – that of what God can do for us. It is theology, a study of God and His work and ways in saving us. It is encouragement – to know that I can move past ‘doing what I do not want to do…’ It is teaching, direction for living for those of us who would be more like Jesus. It is hope – living in the Easter moments – knowing that the power of God is demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus. And so I would like to begin with you a walk through some of the early chapters of Romans from today through to Easter Sunday.

So I found myself last summer being led to this book as a means of leading us to Easter…so on the first Sunday of Lent I make you this invitation. Read with me, through these first 8 chapters of Romans, and as you do I would like you ask yourself some questions.

• What does this Word say to me about what God has done in His name for me?

• How am I intentionally following God’s lead?

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