Thursday, September 23, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-23 [Romans Ch.8] New Management #2

10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Romans8:10-11

Yesterday we saw how Spiritual Rebirth (trusting in Christ as our Saviour and Lord) allows us a new management option. Instead of the "default" management (that Paul calls the "flesh" or "body" (and I call the "unholy trinity")) being the only management available, we are now able to come under the management of the Spirit.

Paul describes the Spirit as the One who raised Jesus from the dead!

When we allow the Spirit to have His way in our lives, He will raise us up from Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and ultimately Physical death.

This means that:
- old habits can change
- temptations that always beat us can be overcome
- short fuses can be lengthened
- stubborn hearts can become pliable
- doubting Thomas can become courageous
- hardened cynics can learn to hope
- cold and prickly can become warm and sincere
- lazy and indifferent can become passionate and caring

The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.
If we would just let Him, He will bring life into our deadness.
Are you open to His management?
The eDevs will take a break over the school holiday.
If you are travelling, travel safely!
God bless!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-22 [Romans Ch.8] New Management #1

9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Romans8:9

Before we gave ourselves to Christ, there was only one management option: The unholy trinity of me, myself, and I. Paul calls it the "sinful nature" (After all the middle letter of sin is "i" :-) )

It is not a management structure that can bring true and wholesome life, because it is focussed on self and not on the Author, Architect and Creator of Life. It is the only management structure we have. We might worship fashion, culture, materialism for a while but it all leads back to "what's in it for me?"

- we recognise that we need a Saviour to save us,
- we give ourselves to Christ,
- we confess our sin
- we choose to follow Him,
He performs a miracle in us - He _regenerates_ us by washing away our sin and pouring His Spirit into us.

The presence of His Spirit gives us a new management option. We can choose to be governed by the Spirit. God does not do a "hostile takeover" - we are not forced to accept the guidance of the Spirit, we must give over willingly.

The important truth in this verse is the clarity with which Paul reminds us that we receive the Holy Spirit when we give ourselves to Christ.

There are many who imply that the receiving of the Spirit is a separate experience and that one needs to have a "second blessing." The Scriptures make it clear that the work of the Spirit begins the minute we are born again.

If you are sure that your sins are forgiven and that you will be with God in heaven, then the Holy Spirit lives in you! The only way not to have the Spirit is to not be born again.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-21 [Romans Ch.8] A Copernican Shift

5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Romans8:5-8

Copernicus was the courageous scholar who first who suggested that the sun and not earth was at the centre. This would be proved by Galileo although it was only recognised after his death.

As human beings we tend towards worship. Unfortunately we start off worshipping the "unholy trinity" of "me, myself and I." This is particularly visible in two-year-olds, but is actually true throughout our lives.

Paul reminds us that the unholy trinity is selfish, sensual and desirous of only that which gratifies self. This unbridled pursuit of the enthronement and pleasure of self can only lead to chaos, struggle and pain because what I want for me doesn't fit in with what you want for you. When we are all worshipping our unholy trinity there is no hope for life and peace and no room for the one true God.

The unholy trinity is also not satisfied by God's law, because God's law points us toward Him and towards sacrificial love for community. When we have "self" on the throne, sacrifice is not high on the priority list.

So, this is our predicament, from birth we are geared toward satisfying our needs. Babies cry when they are hungry, toddlers tantrum to get their way, teens pout and rebel when they are given boundaries, and adults connive and manipulate to feather their own nests. This is bad news for society.

When we turn to the Holy Trinity, we connect to pure love and ultimate goodness. When we understand that all is about Him and not about us, we have a Copernican shift: The Son and not the self is at the centre, and we can find life and peace.

It's quite a relief!!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, September 17, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-17 [Romans Ch.8] The Mechanics

3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans8:3-4

This passage does a nice job of explaining the mechanics of our salvation. Although Paul has alluded to the process in the preceding verses, here he reiterates and unpacks it.

- The Law (which is the standard of righteousness) can only save us if we keep it perfectly.

- Unfortunately we do not keep the Law because we are weakened by our sinful nature.

- When we do not keep the Law, it becomes a double-edged sword because it reveals our lack of righteousness _and_ we are condemned (there's that word again) by it and condemnation means the wrath of God.

- Jesus came as one of us, but did not sin. So He was able to bear your and my condemnation on Himself.

- Now the law is satisfied on both counts: Jesus was fully righteous _and_ our unrighteousness was condemned by His death on the cross.

- Now Jesus imputes His righteousness and His wrath-satisfying death onto us. When God sees us through the lenses of what Christ has done, the requirements (righteousness and wrath-for-unrighteousness) of the law are fully met in us.

- This clean slate means that we have a new start, a new birth and we can live under new management. The law has been satisfied, we can move beyond the Law to the Spirit.

"Hallelujah!" is, I believe, the right response...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-16 [Romans Ch.8] New Regime

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans8:1-2

Cape Town has an interesting history - originally a Dutch Colony it came under British rule - then under Dutch rule again ("Die Kaap is weer Hollands!") - then a British Colony again. Each time the ruling country changed, the language changed and the policies shifted.

Paul describes human beings as being under the regime of the "law of sin and death." What he means is that under that regime we need to satisfy the Old Testament Law - and because we can't keep even the ten commandments, we are guilty and under a death sentence.

But not only are we under a death sentence in the sense that the sentence is hanging over us, death is actually already at work in us in the sense that no matter how hard we try, we can't get closer to God and we find that our consciences actually grow duller: i.e. the more we sin, the less it bothers us. It becomes the vicious cycle Paul describes in chapter seven "What I should I don't and what I shouldn't I do."

So we need a new regime. Paul calls it the law of the Spirit of life. When we place ourselves under the regime of the Spirit, we find that life is unleashed in us:
- We begin to recognise tawdriness of sin
- It bothers us when we do what's wrong
- We get better at recognising temptation
- We get stronger to resist temptation
- When we do stumble and fall, we know where to go for healing.
- Our language changes from hate to love

But it requires being under new management - we have to open our hearts to the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit means we are giving Him control in our lives - we're repeatedly saying "not my will but Yours..."

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-15 [Romans Ch.8] No condemnation

Sorry it's late today!
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans8:1

A word that carries cold-chills with it.
It implies that guilt is proven and punishment is pending.

Unfortunately for many of us the word "God" carries the same set of emotions and vibes as the word "condemnation" does.
But while it is true that God is holy and that He morally hates sin and while it is true that we are guilty of sin, what is not true is that punishment is a foregone conclusion.

The punishment for the sin of every human being has already been paid in full on the cross. Jesus Christ, aka the Son of God, aka the Word made Flesh, aka the Lamb of God died on the cross and completely and utterly dealt with sin and guilt. Put another way, He was condemned in our place.

When we are IN Him, when we are clothed in His grace, when we rely on His forgiveness, when we ask Him to be our Representative, Advocate, Intercessor, Rescuer and King or, to use the classic terminology, when we ask Him to be both Saviour and Lord, we are free of condemnation.

The principle of double jeopardy says it is impossible to be tried twice for the same crime - so why do we come into God's presence with an air of condemnation about us? Jesus was tried for our guilt, the punishment has been served! Sure we need to take sin seriously and we need to strive to be holy, but why behave like the condemned?

Lift up your heads!
Shake off your chains!
Shrug off the darkness and gloom!
In Christ there is no condemnation!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-14 [Romans Ch.8] Introduction

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans8:1-2

There are some chapters of the Bible that are simply brimming with awesome truths and comforts. Romans 8 is one of them for the next little while we'll go through the chapter in "microbyte" style.

My Study Bible has a diagram that explains the structure of Romans as describing a series of concentric cages, each with a "gospel gate" to escape.

The innermost cage is sin-guilt, the simple fact that we have sinned and come before God with a "criminal record" that we can't wipe out. Romans 5:1 (being justified by faith in Christ) is our gateway out.

The second cage is our broken tendencies and our habits. Paul describes this dilemma very effectively in Romans 7 where he laments that the good he should he doesn't and what he shouldn't he does! He ends the chapter asking "Who will rescue me from the wretched man that I am?"

Romans 8 is the gateway from the second cage as it describes the transforming power of the Spirit. This is what we are going to focus on.

(For those who are curious, don't like loose-ends and prefer to get closure (i'm like that too) the third cage is about the perception that the gospel is only for the Jews and Paul opens that cage door in Romans 10.)

So, Romans 8 starts off by addressing the fact that even though we are forgiven, we still keep doing the wrong things and we don't always do what is right.

It's an awesome chapter because it describes the phenomenal life-giving work of the Spirit of Life who sets us free from the law of our broken human nature.

I'm looking forward to the journey...
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Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, September 10, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-10 [Keeping going] Conclusion: Consider Him

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews12:2-3

When we struggle we feel all alone. But we are not. The Son of God has walked much further along the road than we will ever have to.

Imagine being born to die. Jesus lived His life on earth with the cross as His focus. He lived with the burden of knowing that the "cup of suffering" that He had to drink was to be separated from the Father as He became the object of Divine Wrath and Justice on behalf of every human being.

He did this for us, and now when we find ourselves on the road of loneliness, betrayal, suffering and abandonment, we are never alone.

The gospel band "Third Day" put it very well in their song
"Carry my Cross"
As long as I remember
I've been walking through the wilderness
Praying to the Father
And waiting for my time
I've come here with a mission
And soon I'll give my life for this world

I'm praying in the garden
And I'm looking for a miracle
I find the journey hard but
It's the reason I was born
Can this cup be passed on
Lord, I pray your will be done
In this world

So I'll carry my cross
And I'll carry the shame
To the end of the road
Through the struggle and pain
And I'll do it for love
No, it won't be in vain
Yes, I'll carry my cross
And I'll carry the shame

I feel like I'm alone here
And I'm treated like a criminal
The time has come for me now
Even though I've done no wrong
Father, please forgive them
They know not what they've done
In this world

Three more days and I'll be coming back again
Three more days and I'll be coming back again

(You can listen to it at )

So, when trouble threatens to overwhelm you, "consider Him..."

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-09 [Keeping going] Company #3

24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews7:24-25

We are not alone when we have to "keep going."
Christ tasted the brokenness of our world, experienced the agony of death and endured the separation of wrath.
He did all of this for us.

He rose from the dead - obtaining forgiveness for us.
He ascended into heaven - indicating that His work of redemption was complete
He sits at the right hand of God - where He prays for us.

In the Old Testament it was the priest's job to intercede ("come between" or "connect") God and His people. The priest would bring the needs of the people to the Lord. In times of drought, war, disease and famine the priest sought the face of God. In times of celebration like circumcisions and weddings the priest mediated God's blessing and pleasure. People found it difficult to relate to and appropriate God's interest and presence in their lives but the priest made it easier for them to grasp these truths.

Jesus is our ideal mediator. An Old Testament priest could be corrupt, fallible and frail. Jesus is none of those. He is holy, perfect and eternal.

And He prays for us.

He represents us to God.

And He knows what and how to ask on our behalf because He's been where we are.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-08 [Keeping going] Company #2

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews4:15-16

Yesterday we looked at the ways in which Jesus connected to humanity and shared the experiences and impacts of brokenness although never succumbing to temptation Himself.

But you might be asking yourself "So He really understands what we are going through... So what? How does that help me?"

Here's how:
1. The throne we approach is a THRONE of grace. The One who sits on it saw our brokenness and died and rose again triumphing over it. He is victorious! He is ultimately in charge - trouble has limits!

2. We can approach CONFIDENTLY. We know where we stand with this God. He is neither too harsh or too soft on our sin. He has dealt with it perfectly and completely. His exposure to the realities of the broken world means that my failures don't shock Him. When I come to Him, He is a complete realist about my sin - He knows it is fatal and He has already died in my place and risen in victory.

3. I receive MERCY and GRACE. (Mercy is not getting what I do deserve and Grace is getting the goodness of Gods presence, forgiveness and love even though I don't deserve it.)

4. His love and understanding compassion are not overcome by the troubles of this world. He knows the troubles of the world and He knows just how to give us HELP in a time of NEED.

When we struggle, we are not alone. He carried the cross to Calvary and it signified the weight and burden of a broken world that He carried in His heart.

But there's another great truth about our Companion and we'll deal with it tomorrow.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-07 [Keeping going] Company #1

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews4:15-16

"No-one understands what I am going through!" This is the oft-heard heart-rending cry of a teenager who is convinced that his or her parents just don't get it! While the outcry of the teen can be a bit drama-queenish, there are good grounds to argue that some of us have faced troubles that others don't.

BUT the writer to the Hebrews comes up with an amazing comfort: He argues that Jesus is our High Priest who has experienced *ALL* our weaknesses and temptations. He carried it all on the cross.

It started with the Incarnation: all of God squeezed into the itty-bitty living space of Mary's womb. Jesus knew the frailty of being human. He was hungry, tired, probably had a cold or two and probably had teenage acne. He knew the ache in the muscles after a hard day's work in the carpentry business and had hands that got splinters and blisters until the work created callouses.

At His baptism He furthered His connection with us by figuratively taking on our sin. John's baptism was one of repentance but Jesus was without sin so He didn't need to do it - except to identify Himself with us. (It's like bathing in someone else's dirty bathwater - you pick up their dirt)

The temptations by Satan in the wilderness are symbols of the ongoing temptations He faced throughout His life:
Stones into bread: Give in to your bodily desires
Jump off the temple: Be impressive, manipulate with showmanship
Bow down to Satan to rule the world: Get power by taking shortcuts.

The Hebrews-writer is adamant. Jesus might not have had the internet, but He was tempted to satisfy a body desire - just as many are tempted with porn today. He wasn't an MD of a big company, but He was tempted to take a shortcut.

He was tempted - in every way - just like we are...
He understands us and He can help us... (more tomorrow)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, September 3, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-03 [Keeping going] The straw revisited...

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1Corinthians10:13

We talk about "the straw that breaks the camel's back" but Paul argues that this is not something that God plans for us. In God's economy trouble is on a leash and we may experience trouble, persecution, hardship or grief, but they should not break us.

When we taste hardship and trouble, it is what is "common to man." But when trouble comes our way we're tempted to think "Woe is me! I'm being singled out! Why me? Why is _this_ happening to _me_?" But we are not being victimised, we're just experiencing the brokenness of the world and I can guarantee that it will not be a long search to find someone who is going through as much or more trouble than I am!

And trouble does not have to break us. Many people think that this is a foregone conclusion. They seem to think that there will be the back-breaking straw and that this is where trouble always leads. But Paul is adamant: while trouble and temptation may tempt us to break, God's plan is for us to endure and overcome.

And God provides a way out - this is not necessarily a "get out of trouble" pass, but a lifeline that we can climb, a rock on which we can stand, a thought or Bible Verse that fortifies or sustains us, or a friend with a listening ear and Godly counsel.

The sad thing is that many people allow their backs to break when it is not necessary. They fear that trouble will get worse and anticipate that things will get much worse than they are. They're actually tougher than they think but they give up when they are three steps from the finish line.

God does allow us to taste trouble - this is the consequence of our free will and our sin. But He does not allow trouble and temptation the power to break us. We need to be courageous and hang in until the breakthrough.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-02 [Keeping going] Corinth Lessons #5 Prayer Helps!

10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2Corinthians1:10-11

When we face trouble and struggle to keep going, there's an "arrow in our quiver" that many of us forget to make use of and that is the power of prayer.

When we are in trouble we can ask for prayer. The Biblical Truth is that God inspires us to pray for others and that our prayers become a vehicle taking God's grace, peace and strength to those we pray for.

One of the most graphic examples of this is in Exodus 17 when Moses watched the Israelites go into battle against the Amelikites. In vs 11 the passage says: "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning."

Throughout the Old and New Testament the lifting of hands signifies prayer:
Lamentations 2:19 "Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to Him
for the lives of your children,"

1Tim2:8 "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer..."

When we pray for others, it helps them!
When we are in trouble, the prayers of others help us.

Paul was not shy to ask for prayer, but many of us suffer in secret and in silence. Paul was helped because of the prayers of _many_. We should not be too shy or too proud to ask for prayer.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-09-01 [Keeping going] Corinth Lessons #4 Track Record

10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us 2Corinthians1:10

There's a lovely practice in the Old Testament that is a good life lesson for us. Throughout the OT we find God's people building rock-cairns as monuments of remembrance.

When they walked through the Jordan river on dry land, they took 12 large stones (one for each tribe) from the river bed and piled them up on the river bank to commemorate God's miracle of opening the river for them.

In 1 Samuel 7:12 we read "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."

There are many other instances of rock pillars being made or places being named to remember something God had done for Israel.

If we make a habit of remembering those times that God has delivered us, they become a powerful aid when we face trouble again. Some people record their "Ebenezers" in a journal, others rely on their memories, others will keep a memento from a tough time on their desk or in a special box.

The bottom line is that when tough times come, we should have some way of recalling God's Track Record - that He has been good to us in the past and He is not about to stop now.

When facing a giant ahead of us, we need to look back at all the conquered Goliaths on our path and then set our hope on Him "that He will continue to deliver us."

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at