Monthly Archives: July 2015

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 31

Read Romans 16

In this concluding chapter, Paul sends his greetings to many people, along with his wishes for the church at Rome to treat them well.

First, note how many people he desires for the church at Rome to greet! The work of the ministry is hard, and it’s time to reap the harvest (John 4:35). As a result, we all need each other. We all need to work together, all gifts, abilities and skills, young and old, all nations, for the sake of the gospel. Everyone has an ability to help, and therefore we should find a place for everyone to help. What work are you doing for the kingdom? Where is your niche, your area of service?

Second, see how hard many of them have worked! Paul describes Phoebe as “a great help,” Priscilla and Aquila “risked their lives,” Mary worked hard (as did Tryphena and Tryphosa), Andronicus and Junia were “outstanding,” and the mother or Rufus was like a mother to Paul, not to mention all the other saints named in this chapter. What would you like to be said about you? What would you like to be known for? Do you know what your spiritual gifts are (everyone has at least one)? What talents or abilities do you have? If you don’t have a good sense of your spiritual gifts or talents, pray that God would make that known to you. If you do, ask God to strengthen you in your calling of task. And thank God for the fellowship of believers, and the way it enriches our Christian life and testimony.

Written by Greg Goss

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 30

Read Romans 15

Romans chapter 15 is a continuation of chapter 14 where we are basically told to “not tear apart the work of God over what you eat” 14:20 NLT

Let us not let the little things or physical things hinder the much more important spiritual life of the church.  Refer back to yesterday’s devotion if you missed it!
Consideration, Unity, honor, teamwork, community, these are words that we hear often today but do we practice them?  We must realize that without these character traits the church will not work.

Consideration – I think of others, I try to look at your perspective. Unity – We work hard to make it work together as one. Honor – you are important to me and to the larger body. Teamwork – our roles are unique but let’s fine tune actions to make it work like a puzzle. If we play our position well it works! Community – We spend time together, we get to know each other, we help one another, we must do this together, we celebrate together. We sit at the feet of Jesus together. Two more: Acceptance of each other for Gods glory.  This is clearly speaking about diversity as he mentions the Gentiles in vss. 9-11.  Reminders – Like a parent, Peter and Paul give a lot of reminders vs 15, “Now, let’s go over this again”

Verse 5 tells us that it is God who gives us the patience and encouragement. Please let us ask Him for help and sustenance and protection.  This is not about self-improvement or just doing better.  Only the spirit of God can make these changes in our lives.  He will show us our needs. He convicts us of these important traits but we must take the time to listen to what the Spirit is telling us.  This is true devotion. Getting on our knees and not just asking for requests but asking to be spoken to, to be led by the spirit.

About the same time as I was given Romans 15, my brother in law, Bruce Lengeman shared a transcript of a new book he has just written. “Living and Leading in a Culture of honor” in which he share these five points:

A culture of honor is an environment of grace where
* people are valued,
* diversity is celebrated,
* problems are solved respectfully,
* true authority is given deference,
* people prefer others above themselves, and as a result,
* Wholesome productivity is maximized.

Lord, please help me to value others within our church as well as those outside our church who we are trying to reach for you, please give me a heart of serving and a minister of Your grace.  I confess too often just thinking of my own needs and wants.  I ask that You would help me to see and server others the way You would.

Written by Darrell Proctor

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 29

Read Romans 14:13-23

Paul gives us some more guidelines on the issues at hand.

First, Paul notes that he is not neutral on these issues. Specifically, he believes that it is OK to eat meat that comes from the marketplace (v. 14, 20). But he gives us two more principles to consider.

First, love trumps doctrine. That is to say, it is more important to love your fellow Christian (and say nothing), than to prove that you are right (and potentially hurt our brother or sister, v. 13).

Second, love trumps freedom. We are free in Christ from the Jewish Law (Gal 5:1; Rom 7:4), but our freedom must not be used to harm another (v. 15), either intentionally (by flaunting their choices in front of others), or unintentionally (by failing to consider how others may be affected by our choices). Those who consider themselves “strong” in the faith need to be considerate of the weak (and not vice versa) in the same way that adults need to considerate of children.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a pushover. If someone doesn’t remain silent but speaks against your position, you can defend it (v. 16).

So, these principles apply: (1) love trumps being right or being free, (2) act out of conviction rather than fear or doubt, and (3) when in doubt, remain silent.

And pray that we would remember that love of God and our fellow believers is to take priority in all our decisions, and pray that we use our freedoms to build up the body of Christ.

Written by Greg Goss


Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 28

Read Romans 14:1-12

Paul gives the Romans (and us) some very helpful guidelines on getting along with fellow church members.

The general issue is: how do we get along with others when we disagree on matters of doctrine or practice? Paul dealt with two specific issues. First, may Christians eat meat, (with the possibility that it had been previously sacrificed to idols; see 1 Cor 8, 10), or may they only eat vegetables (thus taking the safer route)? Second, are the Jewish Sabbaths or festivals still to be observed, or are all days alike?

Paul gives church laypeople (not pastors or elders) two principles to follow.

First, “each one should be convinced in his own mind” (v. 5). That is, people should do what they believe is right, without being cowed or intimidated by others, or by operating out of fear or prejudice.

Second, mind your own business. Each person’s acts are part of their devotion to the Lord (v. 7-9), and Christ died for believers on both sides of an issue (v. 10). Each person is responsible to God and will be judged by God (10-12). So, MYOB! Silence is golden.

The application of this passage should be fairly obvious: (1) love one another, (2) give one another the benefit of the doubt, (3) if you feel you must speak with someone, talk to a pastor or elder and let them handle it.

So, thank God for our freedoms, and pray for all believers that we may make choices that honor and please God.

Written by Greg Goss

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 27

Read Romans 13:8-14

Paul continues speaking on the pattern of obedience to our leaders and seeking to live peacefully with all. While the previous passage spoke of being obedient to the law in our obligations to political leaders and others, here he speaks of going beyond the laws of God and man.

How do we do so? By loving our neighbors as ourselves, “for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (v. 8). How can Paul speak of love as an ongoing debt? It is so in the sense that it can never be fully repaid or completed. To whom are we in debt? To Christ, who, by paying our debt of sin, has reconciled us to God, and who has tasked us with take his message of reconciliation to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:19-20).

Paul speaks of love here not primarily as an emotional or physical urge, but as an attitude of wanting the best for someone else. When viewed in this way, there is always someone to love and a way to show your love to them. The fact that we have loved someone yesterday does not lessen our responsibility to love them today, or tomorrow, or forever. Thus, love is greater than any spiritual gift or act we can do (1 Cor 13:1-3), and love is eternal (1 Cor 13:13).

What would our church look like if we had such an attitude? What would our town (or nation) look like, if the churches would live like this? If you determined to live tomorrow with the aim of loving everyone you met, what would your day look like?

Pray for yourself, that you would follow the example of Christ and be more loving toward others, and pray for others to do so as well. Pray for our church to be more loving, as well as for the other churches in our town, and in our nation and world. Finally, can you think of any practical ways to show your love to others?

Written by Greg Goss


Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 26

Read Romans 13:1-7

During this time, the Romans were going through much suffering, and needed some understanding of a government, one set up by God.  Paul wanted the new believers to follow God’s word so that they could learn to love one another and give what must be given. [6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor (Romans 13: 6-7)].

Although this demand may seem like a challenge in our lives, it is important to remember to give what you owe.  I owe my parents more than I can ever imagine, but I will be able to give back to them and to God by having my own children one day.  It’s not necessarily what goes around comes around, but God wants us to treat one another with dignity and respect and the best way to do so is by giving back.

Lord, remind us to give to others like you’ve given to us.  We don’t always see it fit to return what we owe, but we are not the judges.  Thank you for giving us your only son, which was the greatest sacrifice of all.  Amen.

Written by Kelsey McClernan


Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 25

Read Romans 12:9-20

Nothing is more central to Christian living than love, the supreme Christian virtue (1 Corinthians 14:14). Love seeks out, thinks on, and develops affection for things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). For the Christian, love seeks the highest good of another. It is sacrificial and self-giving.

Today, we read Paul’s words in which he gives practical ways the Christian is to love. Our love is to be genuine and holding fast to what is good. We are to having a loving affection and honor others. We are to rejoice in hope and be hospitable. We are to rejoice and weep with others. We are to live in harmony without compromising truth. We are to live peacefully insofar as it depends on us. And we are to leave vengeance to the Lord and overcome any evil toward us with good.

God has loved us and shown us mercy and grace because of His goodness and steadfast love. We are commanded to imitate the love of Christ and extend this love others. We are to show this love to everyone we come in contact with each day. We put their welfare before our own interest. We are to be more worried about giving than receiving. This includes even those who are a challenge to love, even our very enemies. We love them by treating them better than they deserve by blessing them from our heart and helping when they need us (Luke 6:27-31). This is the character of our Savior and how we point our enemies to Him.

“Lord I give my life, a living sacrifice. To reach a world in need, to be your hands and feet” -Casting Crowns, Lifesong

Written by Dave Riddle


Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 24

Read Romans 12:1-8

Paul begins Romans 8 with a comparison of what we are and what we were, of life lived in the Spirit given to us by God and of life in the flesh. Where following the flesh brings condemnation, following the Spirit brings freedom.

Yet he is clear that this freedom is not found in any striving for good works or trying our best to abstain from sin, it is found in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the righteousness that brings through Him alone.

Knowing this, knowing that we are not slaves to flesh but rather free in His Spirit the next question is are we living this we way. Do our actions and thoughts demonstrate life in the Spirit, following after him, or do we continually try to put back on the chains and shackles of the sinful flesh even though they have been torn away? Verse 6 says “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” We know that by Christ’s work we have that peace but are we living in it?

Let us turn away from the mindset of this world, of the flesh, of our sinful nature and let us truly live in our new nature. Let us live in the Spirit, truly following after him and live in the life and peace we have already been given.

Written by Janine Fleming


Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 23

Read Romans 11:25-36

In Romans 11: 25-36 Paul reminds the Gentiles (and us) of depth of the mercy of God. Israel will be saved, once the requisite number of Gentiles has been saved. “25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[a] all Israel will be saved.” I think was anxious to share this because he himself was a recipient of God’s mercy. Paul had previously been one of the hardened in Israel, one of the defiant, someone who persecuted Christians. Then for reasons only known to God, Paul was chosen to receive mercy and grace.

As sinners, we aren’t very different from Paul.  We’ve hardened our hearts against God, sinning and turning our backs on him, yet God offers us His Grace and mercy despite our actions.  “29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience,31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[d]receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” God will always take us back. He will always show mercy to us. Unlike some friends or family where our actions or attitudes can drive them away from us forever, God will always be there for us. All we have to do is ask Him.

We aren’t completely aware of God’s plan or His timing. As Paul says “34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor? 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.     To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Because of this, we should praise God all the time. We should praise God for what we understand about His plan and will and we should praise God for what we don’t understand. Sometimes, that’s what faith is all about – putting yourself in God’s hands.

Written by Peg Buckley

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 22

Read Romans 11:11-24

Paul wrote this letter to the Gentiles during a time of strife between the Jews (God’s Chosen People) and Gentiles when the Gentiles were getting a bit arrogant over their salvation. God calls his children to salvation and like children, we don’t always listen and can rebel, rejecting God’s gift of eternal life. Thankfully, this rejection isn’t necessarily final. When God’s chosen people, the Jews, rejected him and began to worship other idols he cut them off like the broken olive branches in Paul’s message, offering His salvation and eternal life to the Gentiles.

We need to remember that while we can reject God and the gift of salvation, there’s nothing that we can do to earn salvation. The Gentiles didn’t have to perform to receive God’s grace. This is God’s gift to us. It is His grace that makes our eternal life possible. Like the root of the olive tree He nurtures the branches (believers) and supports them. One branch is no better than another and we need to remember – “18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”

Paul also goes on to offer us hope that even if we reject God, we may be welcomed back into his family “23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” How truly amazing is God’s love for us. God’s rejection may not be final. If we repent and ask for forgiveness we may be redeemed, again not because of anything we have done, but because of God’s grace.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Let us remember that this gift is not predicated on anything that we do – not our tithes, good works, the church we belong to, but only through Your Grace. We are sinners Lord and through you we receive our salvation. Everyday let me honor and serve you, striving to be faithful to your teachings.

Written by Peg Buckley