Friday, April 17, 2009

Captivity of Grace

Have you ever come across a piece of scripture that grab your attention and for what purpose, you were not sure? Maybe you didn't even fully understand it? Boy that is where I have been with Romans 11:11-24. I knew the Lord has something for me here. The first time I read it in the NIV version, then my favorite version the Holman's Christian Standard Bible, but ended in the Message version. Take the time to read these versions. Engulf the whole picture. I have sat in this chapter for three days waiting on God to speak. What captivated me most were verses 17-22 and the concept of the engrafted branches To engraft is to plant firmly. So what was Paul referring to here in thee verses?
17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." 20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
You see, Paul is addressing the fact that Christ was being rejected by the Jews, God's chosen people, descendants of Abraham. So He, God, has had to "break off" from His chosen people. He chose to embrace the Gentiles, that is you and me, to engraft them into His kingdom work. Paul, being a Jew, found completeness in ministering to the Gentiles. He was called to this. And so are some of us. As I dived into commentary after commentary in these verses, God showed me how similar my own surroundings are to these verses. Can you hang with me? It may also speak of your life.

Our church is going through changes. We have purchased land to build a bigger place of worship as we literally squeeze into our current facilities. This has caused much pain however. Rebellion and attitudes have emerged to the point of members "breaking off" in unbelief that this is what God has called the church to do. So what happened? A church that has a mission of reaching the broken hearted has seen new, broken, wounded people ingrafting into our church body. They are full of new life and an eagerness to see God's plan happen and they are being nurtured from the roots (God's word) and the stronger branches (ministry leaders, committed members to fulling God's plan). Souls that have been dieing are finding new hope.

One commentary I found is Matthew Henry's commentary's. I do not know him or his background but he said:
The gospel is the greatest riches of every place where it is. As therefore the righteous rejection of the unbelieving Jews, was the occasion of so large a multitude of the Gentiles being reconciled to God, and at peace with him; the future receiving of the Jews into the church would be such a change, as would resemble a general resurrection of the dead in sin to a life of righteousness. Abraham was as the root of the church. The Jews continued branches of this tree till, as a nation, they rejected the Messiah; after that, their relation to Abraham and to God was, as it were, cut off. The Gentiles were grafted into this tree in their room; being admitted into the church of God. Multitudes were made heirs of Abraham's faith, holiness and blessedness. It is the natural state of every one of us, to be wild by nature. Conversion is as the grafting in of wild branches into the good olive. The wild olive was often ingrafted into the fruitful one when it began to decay, and this not only brought forth fruit, but caused the decaying olive to revive and flourish. The Gentiles, of free grace, had been grafted in to share advantages."

We become captivated by Grace. Do you feel the true meaning and depth of these three words?Captivated can take on the form to enslave; subdue; overpower; charm; enchant; bewitch; fascinate; capture; lead captive (dictionary.c0m). There can be both negative and positive aspects to being captivated. But this type of capivation Paul talks about, the engrafting, does not seem so confining does it?
God has laid before me a potential outreach ministry that has been on my heart for almost a year now. I have grown frustrated with our women's ministry at church, the lack of involvement and commitment to Bible study and mentoring. I felt God was calling our ministry to reach outside our church walls and presented this in an end of the year meeting this past December. Another lady felt the same. So we started exploring ways we could reach out. We have hit road blocks, we have hit success (such as with our community Bible study using Esther). However, a new door may be opening for us to start a women's Bible study in a rehab center.

This was mentioned by another new women who has just started coming to our church and this group (and who is quickly becoming my partner-thank you Jesus!). She has the connections, knows the resources-her husband has and is in rehab too. She saw this as a much needed ministry for the women there. The night she presented this request I about jumped out of my skin! Yes Lord, your timing and my heart's longing-BEAUTIFUL! I am excited! And to know that this dear lady was sent to me by God was confirmed when I opened our meeting that night with the verse I had been praying over our ministry with:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Eph. 2:10 (NIV)

It was the same verse she had chosen to pray for this ministry that very week. God is awesome like that isn't He?

Earlier this week I met two of these ladies at our community Bible study. It is so real. I am so unworthy of such a ministry but as our Esther study ended tonight..."I am not responsible for how this works out"! Ohhh His timing again. Because I chose Captivity of Grace. And then for Him to send a beautiful godly women dressed for this role to lead this ministry with me.

How many of us have been the decaying branch? Did we not find an olive tree to sit under and then find our self engrafting into it? Did we not discover this captivating grace to be from the root of our faith in God? Captivating does not sound so restrained as it does comforting in this text does it? It is what helps us to stand in faith, to engraft. It is what helps us to minister to the gentiles around us, nourishing them with this election of life-giving grace we live in.

God's confirmation to go out and engraft has been so good to my soul. Of course, we must read on and be aware of the end of verse 20. As stated in Matthew Henry's commentary....
"They ought therefore to beware of self-confidence, and every kind of pride or ambition; lest, having only a dead faith, and an empty profession, they should turn from God, and forfeit their privileges. If we stand at all, it is by faith; we are guilty and helpless in ourselves, and are to be humble, watchful, afraid of self-deception, or of being overcome by temptation. Not only are we at first justified by faith, but kept to the end in that justified state by faith only; yet, by a faith which is not alone, but which worketh by love to God and man."

It's all about Him. Engrafted. Revived and flourished by the root of our Lord though the Captivity of Grace.

I love the title above. It really stirred my soul but I cannot take credit for it. I saw it at Denise's blog "Teacups & Time" and how fitting it is for this entry and the spiritual journey I have walked these last few days in Romans 11. So I have borrowed her title and I am encouraging you to visit her blog and be blessed by this same concept on "Captivity of Grace". Thank you Denise.

Captivated by grace~Pamela


Amy said...

Hi, Pamela!
Thank you for thinking of me. My life has been crazy lately. I won't bore you with all of the details...but just to name a few, my daddy had a mild stroke, our youngest son has gotten into some trouble, and our Allie is not doing well. I have just been overwhelmed. If you feel led to do so, just say a prayer for our family.
How are you and your family doing? I have missed you. I hope to return to Blog Land at some point, but right now, I am just overwhelmed.
I pray that you and your family are well. Please let me know if I can pray for you in any way.
God Bless,

P.S. My email is

Melanie said...

It sounds like God is on the move in you.
I hope you'll keep posting about the fruit of this new ministry.

Jill said...

Pamela, I enjoyed your post and pray God will continue leading you in the direction He wants you to go. Amazing to see Him provide for that in ways only He can. Blessings, Jill

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Such a rich post, Pamela. It's obvious that God is moving in your life in full and exciting measure ... something I long to see in my own heart and life. I long to see where He is leading me. In the meantime, I'm content to soak up from the rooting that grounds me to Him.

I love your constant obedience to the Word of God! You are a faithful pilgrim. Thanks for shining as a bright witness to me.


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