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

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 21

Read Romans 11:1-10

When we study this scripture, we are strongly reminded of the Old Covenant – a covenant between God and Israel where Israel’s righteousness was dependent on following laws – and providing sacrifices for worship and repentance of sin.  The Jews living during the time of Jesus (and Paul) were hearing about the New Covenant – one where they would gain righteousness through belief in Jesus and his death on the cross freed them from sin.  Many Jews during the 1st century AD clung to the belief that their works (following the laws and providing their own sacrifices) would make them righteous before God.  Let us today pray with thankfulness that God’s love and mercy  has provided  ALL PEOPLE the opportunity for a different path to righteousness, the one that leads right through the cross of Jesus.  Let our FAITH/BELIEF in Jesus lead us to do good works in his name!!

Written By Randy Buckley

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 20

Read Romans 10

Paul, much like Moses in the face of unbelieving Jews (Exodus 32), agonized over his lost countrymen and even wished to suffer God’s curse for their sake. Of course, neither of these men could endure this curse for the sake of others since they themselves were both sinners. Only Christ, the Holy One, could suffer and satisfy God’s curse for them.

The problem with these first-century Jews is their lack of understanding and spiritual zeal for God and His law. Perhaps this sounds strange. The Jews, in hoping to avoid a second exile, emphasized great study and practice of God’s law. Admirable! However, what was in the beginning obedience motivated by repentance and gratitude for the forgiveness God had sadly turned into a system of works-righteousness. In their zeal, many missed the righteousness of God. They missed the pointing of the law in showing them their inability to meet God’s standard and their desperate need for His righteousness. They missed seeing Jesus as their Messiah.

Let’s make no mistake here. Obeying the commands of the Savior is not optional “if you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). However, obedience will by no means put us right relationship with the Father or make us any more worthy of heaven. For all fall short of His glorious standard.

May God’s law lead us the one who can give us righteousness demanded in the law. Christ bears the curse. He provides the perfection. We are only worthy of heaven by the righteousness of Christ Jesus our Lord, imputed to us by faith alone.

“Thy work alone, O Christ, Can ease this weight of sin. Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, Can give me peace within.” – Horatious Bonar, Not What These Hands Have Done

Written by Dave Riddle

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 19

Read Romans 9

Do you constantly struggle by trying to earn God’s favor? I know I do. Isn’t it ironic how we seem to do that more when we become Christians? Romans 9 reminds us that we are the chosen ones of God and that it is not by works or anything that we have done, but what He has done.

But what does it mean to be chosen? Christians and non-Christians alike may often wonder, “Aren’t we all God’s children?” The answer is that we are all God’s creation, but we are not all God’s children. When we accept Christ in our hearts by faith alone, then, we become the adopted sons and daughters of our most merciful God.

Romans 9 also discusses the problem with the Jews who tried so hard to get right with God by trying to keep the law and by being “good”. Unfortuantely, they could never really succeed. We have the same problem today, we try, and try each day to “be good” and we fail miserably according to God’s standards every day.

This is when I say, “Thank you, Jesus! Amen and Praise be to you!” Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are now able to forgive ourselves knowing that God forgives us for our failures so that we may live each day with freedom in Christ. To know that God is not mad at us, but that He loves us, and that we may fail each day, but that as we pray, and depend more and more on God, He sanctifies us, and fills us with the Holy Spirit. To know that although we may fail, God will never fail. Whatever struggles one may face in this life, it is not meaningless, He can use that to mold us, like clay in a potter’s hand, and in His sovereignty, ultimately use it for His purpose. What an amazing comfort to know that He can even use our sufferings, sins, and failures to carry out His most glorious plan in our lives today! Amen!

Written by Raquel Nieves

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 18

Read Romans 8:31-39

As we read through today’s scripture, Paul runs the reader through a series of challenges that could possibly hinder their confident assurance of present preservation and future glory. And what we ultimately see at its conclusion are conquering sheep.

So how can we have such confidence? We start with Paul in Ephesians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to competition the day of Jesus Christ.” What God begins, He finishes. This is the promise of Romans 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” The past tense predestined, called, justified, and glorified tells us from God’s standpoint the work is good as done.

And not only do we have God’s promises; we are also preserved through the intercession of Christ. While His work of sacrificial atonement was finished on the cross, He was also raised for our justification and ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God making intercession for His people. We get a sweet taste of His intercession when we read the words of John 17 as Christ prays for the preservation of those the Father has given Him.

May we hold fast to the confidence that our ability to persevere isn’t so much our own ability as it is God’s preservation of us by His grace and the power of His intercession. He began the work in us and is actively involved in bringing that work to completion. Though we are flawed, He will bring His people to perfection. If we are truly in Christ, then nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the commitment of Almighty love. The God of the universe is for His people in and through His Son.

“What God’s almighty pow’r hath made His gracious mercy keepeth; By morning glow or evening shade His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth; Within the kingdom of His might, Lo! all is just and all is right; To God all praise and glory.” -Johann Schutz & Frances Cox, Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above                          

Written by Dave Riddle    

 

Romans Reading and Devotion // Day 17

Read Romans 8:18-30

Did you know that even creation waits eagerly for the resurrection of God’s children? Since the fall of Adam and Eve creation also fell from the perfect state in which God created it to bondage of decay.

Christians also have the first fruits of the Spirit, we grown inwardly as we wait eagerly four our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

I am happy to know that when I do not know how to pray the Spirit intercedes for me with groans that words cannot express. I am sure that from time to time we have all experienced traumatic incidents where we want to pray, but the words don’t come. This is when the Spirit intercedes in accordance with God’s will. I have recently experienced the loss of my brother and at such a time we cannot gather our thoughts together to pray, but it is comforting to know the Spirit is interceding for me.

The most well known verse from this scripture is 8:28 which reads; “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those He called He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long range good. He is not working to make us happy, but to fulfill His purpose. This promise is not for everybody, it can be claimed only by those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Written by Elynor Smith