Today’s readings.. (2 Samuel 17), (Jeremiah 21), (Romans 7), (Romans 8)
    Paul’s 7th and 8th chapters of Romans are among the most profound in the whole Bible.  We must beware of taking any verse out of context, these chapters are the climax to chapters 5 & 6 we read yesterday. 
    At the very beginning of the Bible we read how the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters that covered all.  Now we perceive how much God’s Spirit was involved in his new creation brought about by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – leading ultimately to the climax – not only of the resurrection and glorification of those who truly belong to Christ, but “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay …” [8 v.22]  How this will occur we struggle to imagine, it is the time when (as we read earlier in Isaiah this month) “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together and the lion shall eat straw …” [65 v,25]
    In chapter 7 we see how Paul acknowledges, “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” [7 v.23] – then in chapter 8 he starts by declaring “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” [v.1, 2]
    Verses 5 & 6 describe the challenge to us – the vital importance of the SET of our minds “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  – the “peace which surpasses all understanding.” [Philpns 4 v.7]
    So we see the way we ‘set’ the direction of our minds is vital – what we allow our minds to feed upon. Paul had his mind set in the wrong way – until he was confronted by Christ on the Damascus Road.  We all need to “meet” Christ – and have a spiritual awakening – maybe for some – a reawakening; for God’s nation that will be the case, as we will read in the next 3 chapters. 
    Baptism is of no avail unless a real awakening occurs at some point in our lives – with this comes the recognition of what Paul meant when he told the Athenians of the true God, that “in him we live and move and have our being” [Acts 17 v.28] The significance of Paul’s words here in Ch. 8 (from v.26) are then appreciated, “… the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words, And he who searches hearts knows …”
    Yes, he knows all things, you cannot separate God from “His Spirit” – it is a way of describing God in action. There are times when “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” [v.27]    Think of the relationship David had with him as expressed in Psalm 139.  We read today of David’s distress and how God’s spirit provided for his material needs by stirring the hearts of others(see 2 Sam 17 v.27-29).  And Jeremiah’s agonies also, “to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.” [21 v.8]  And how are we really responding to what God sets before us?    
    “He who searches hearts knows”